Could Jenson Button really be in pole position to join Chris Evans on Top Gear?

Formula 1 driver Jenson Button has been tipped to star alongside Chris Evans on the reboot of Top Gear. We examine the former world champion's future career prospects

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Could an actual racing driver be about to join the Top Gear presenting line-up?

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Since Chris Evans was announced as the man to replace Jeremy Clarkson on the most popular car show in the world, rumours have been rife as to who would be joining him.

Evans announced he was holding open online auditions for the roles, adding that he wasn’t just looking for “famous” people.

Even so, plenty of names from Idris Elba to Jodie Kidd have been tipped to join the Radio 2 DJ, and now the rumour mill has offered another name: British Formula 1 driver Jenson Button.

But could the current McLaren driver really be about to give up his F1 seat for a spot in the Top Gear studio?

F1 retirement 

Formula 1 is a sporting world full of gossip and rife with speculation.

Button is currently a driver for McLaren Honda, who are having a pretty torrid time. At the age of 35 Button is the second oldest driver on the grid, after Kimi Räikkönen, and it wouldn’t really come as a shock if he were to retire from the sport at the end of this season.

Button signed a two-year contract with McLaren Honda, but that doesn’t guarantee him a seat in 2016, as the agreement specifies that it will be McLaren’s decision as to whether or not they retain the 2009 world champion.

To make matters more complicated, Ferrari’s Räikkönen looks set to leave the sport by the end of the year. Ferrari are reportedly lining up current Williams driver Valtteri Bottas to replace him, despite deputy team principal Claire Williams’ insistence that she wants the Finn to stay with her team. That could leave an opening for the likes of Button. 

However, after such an abysmal season, perhaps retirement from Formula 1 is exactly what the Brit needs. At the start of July he even stated: “I would be pretty happy if I retired now with my career in terms of achievements.”

A second career in broadcasting wouldn’t be a surprise. Over the years BBC Sport have shown an interest in recruiting Button as part of their presenting team, but a move into Top Gear could be an even more exciting prospect for the easygoing champion.

The next Richard Hammond?

Button has already appeared on Top Gear twice, in 2006 and 2010, and also appeared on Evans’ BBC radio show back in 2013. 

Before the Hungarian Grand Prix last weekend Button said: “I’ve had a lot of questions thrown at me about what I am doing next year but I have not thought about anything, seriously”.

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Maybe so, but having a Formula 1 world championship on your CV is a ‘seriously’ strong bonus for any wannabe Top Gear presenter.