Motorsport: Button, Palmer to learn fate by September

Jenson Button during the German Grand Prix. Photo / Getty Images
Jenson Button during the German Grand Prix. Photo / Getty Images

Formula One returns from its mid-season slumber this weekend with two British drivers facing a crucial few weeks amid uncertain futures in the sport.

Both Jenson Button, a veteran of 16 seasons, and Jolyon Palmer, the 25-year-old in his first year, are expected to learn whether they will be retained in September, their teams have revealed.

Palmer has been told by Frederic Vasseur, Renault's team principal, that the French outfit plan to decide on their 2017 driver line-up next month. It means the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend and the Italian Grand Prix the following week will be crucial in making an impression.

As the most experienced driver on the grid, Button is more of a known quantity to McLaren. But the team have confirmed they too will decide next month whether the 36-year-old or Belgian youngster Stoffel Vandoorne partners Fernando Alonso in 2017. Button also has to decide whether he wants to remain in Formula One or retire, with a return to Williams possible should McLaren opt for Vandoorne.

For Palmer he is desperate to show he is worth more than one season in the sport. The Englishman faces extremely tough competition from team-mate Kevin Maggnusen, as well as Frenchman Esteban Ocon. Sergio Perez, currently of Force India, is also of interest to Renault if he can get out of his current contact. McLaren may also consider loaning Vandoorne to Renault for one season.

But Palmer believes he still has time to prove himself. The Renault driver says he is performing as well as when he won the GP2 championship, F1's feeder series, back in 2014.

"I feel good because I'm getting better every weekend, and the team can see that," Palmer told Autosport.

"Maybe some of the early races were more difficult, but as a rookie I'm becoming more complete as a driver. In terms of progress, the team are going to make a big step for next year. I want to be here.

"I know if I do the job I'm capable of, the team will believe in me and think I can do the job in the future."

Vasseur was tight-lipped on who would be chosen. "I won't put only Esteban and Stoffel in to the loop - because I think that we have a new generation of drivers who for sure will win the championship in the future," the Renault boss said.

"Our two current drivers are doing a good job. Jolyon is a complete rookie and for a rookie he's improving, while Kevin, as someone who didn't drive last year, he's consistent and has scored points."

There have been no such worries about next season for the other British driver on the grid. Lewis Hamilton has enjoyed a summer break as frenetic as his usual lifestyle, including two stops in the Caribbean, a visit to a tiger sanctuary in Mexico - criticised by animal welfare charities - as well as V Festival last weekend.

Button spent most of his break in the United States, a popular destination for many drivers given their relative anonymity in North America compared to Europe.

- Daily Telegraph UK

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 27 Mar 2017 08:41:06 Processing Time: 657ms