2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button has expressed his concern over the length of Lando Norris’ McLaren contract after the Woking side’s abysmal start to the season.
Norris signed a new deal over the winter that keeps him at McLaren until the end of 2025, but suggested that there may be “various things” in the deal that could allow him to leave, contradicting team principal Andreas Seidl’s affirmation that there are no “get-outs.”
McLaren have scored six points so fat this year via Norris’ seventh-placed result in Saudi Arabia, while Daniel Ricciardo – partly owing to his engine failure in Jeddah – has not put anything on the board as of yet.
Amid McLaren’s struggles as they try to overcome the issues posed by the new technical regulations, Button is struggling to comprehend why his compatriot signed such a long contract.
“For Lando, it was surprising that he signed such a long contract at the start of his career,” he told Sky Sports.
“We all want to be team players but you never know where the team is going to be in three years.”
The British side have not been a particular victim of the “porpoising” problem induced by the ground effect aerodynamics, but they appear to have a fundamentally slower package than those around them, and the 42-year-old believes this will cause five years of hurt if the team are unable to resolve the performance of the car.
“This [lack of pace] is going to be a big hit. Five years to go and he is going to be like, ‘Oh, okay.’ But all he can do is go back to the team, tell them what the issues are and try and resolve them,” he added.
Button signed for McLaren in 2010 after his championship-winning season with Brawn GP, and spent seven years with the side alongside both Sir Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
He has no doubt that they will be unified in their bid to push their way back up Formula 1’s pecking order.
“This is a great team. They’ve won multiple championships, they have a lot of new people in place that are also very skilled,” he affirmed.
“It’s about that team building, that team staying together and developing the car as well as they can.”
McLaren are currently eighth in the Constructors’ Championship, ahead only of the scoreless Aston Martin and Williams.