Amid increased speculation regarding his career, Jenson Button has admitted that the "joy" of competing in Formula 1 is no longer there.
British newspaper reports have suggested that Button is poised to announce his retirement from F1 at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, after a difficult season with McLaren.
Although McLaren has an option on him for 2016 that could force him to stay, it is understood that the team's financial situation – and an eagerness to bring his salary down – have forced a rethink of the future plans.
And with Honda appearing unlikely to be able to solve all the engine problems that have marred its return to F1, Button may well feel that he would rather walk away from the sport than struggle on for reduced wages near the back of the field.
Speaking to the British media about his current mindset, Button said: “My head knows but my mouth and tongue doesn’t know. The joy of being in the car is only there if you’re fighting at the front, because you feel like you’re achieving something.
“If you’re fighting near the back, you’re driving an F1 car, but you can easily get joy driving something else. The joy you get is from competing. It’s about fighting at the front.
“It’s about the possibility of standing on top of the podium. That’s the joy of F1.”
Honda pushing on
While Button has maintained silence about his future since the reports emerged, when speaking during the Singapore GP weekend he had remained adamant that there was still a big push to make the McLaren-Honda partnership work.
“There’s a lot of meetings in Japan,” he said. “Ron [Dennis, McLaren chairman], Eric [Boullier] will be there. I’m sure there will be a lot of meetings at the headquarters.
“The whole team is together in this. It’s not an easy situation for anyone. The best way is to work together, to make sure personnel and money is being put into the right area. I know the Japanese are working flat out. They have no rest.”
Catch Jenson Button interview on Inside GP...