Jenson Button has revealed he had discussions with Williams about a potential race seat as recently as this year.
The McLaren driver made his Formula One debut with Williams in 2000 but was replaced at the end of the season. He had several conversations with them about a potential return during his career.
Williams originally announced Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll as its drivers for 2017 with Felipe Massa stepping down from racing to make way for the latter. However they were forced to change their plans after releasing Bottas to replace Nico Rosberg at Mercedes following the world champion’s abrupt retirement.
Massa ultimately returned to retake his seat. However Button revealed in an interview with CNN that he also had discussions with Williams this year.
“I’ve almost rejoined Williams I think three times, four times,” said the 2009 world champion. “I spoke to Williams about racing this year, a couple of times.”
“I spoke to them last year and I spoke to them this year as well. It’s a great team but for me, it was time.”
Button, who made a one-off return to racing with McLaren at the Monaco Grand Prix in place of Fernando Alonso, ruled out the possibility of making a full-time comeback with Williams in 2018 if Massa does not continue beyond the end of this season.
Button also came close to returning to Williams in 2004 when he was racing for BAR. A row over the terms of Button’s contract dragged on for several months but ended with him staying at the team.
View the updated list of 2018 F1 drivers and teams
2017 F1 season
- Stripping Verstappen of 2017 US podium was “one of the toughest decisions” – steward
- Sepang pays Haas compensation for Grosjean’s 2017 crash
- Williams revenues rose in 2017 after Bottas deal with Mercedes
- New kerbs at COTA in response to Verstappen’s corner-cutting
- Australian Grand Prix cost government £56 million last year