Jenson Button has urged McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton to ink his own contract extension with the Woking-based operation in order to renew their battle with Red Bull Racing.
Button began the Japanese Grand Prix weekend by announcing that, despite rumours linking him to both Red Bull and Ferrari, he had signed a multi-year extension to his deal with McLaren, and called on Hamilton to put his disappointing 2011 aside and take their partnership into a fourth year when his deal expires next season. The pair have formed a far more harmonious relationship than many paddock insiders predicted and, despite Button appearing to have seized the upper hand this season, remain on good terms.
"Having a competitive team-mate is the most important thing for a driver in a top team because it does push you," the 31-year old told journalists at Suzuka, "Having a whole team behind you is great. Knowing they are putting all their efforts just behind you is fantastic.
"I am sure that is how it feels for Fernando Alonso at Ferrari, but I think having a team-mate who is quick and will fight to the death is a good thing. Some days you think 'sh*t, I just couldn't beat him today because he was so quick' but, on other days, when you do get the upper hand, it is a great feeling and it keeps working like that. You push each other on. I want him to re-sign."
Hamilton's relationship with the team that nurtured him from karting to the top flight has shown signs of cracking under the pressure of battling not only Button but also Alonso and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in 2011, with a much-publicised, and completely impromptu, visit to RBR's Christian Horner in Canada headlining several hints that he may be looking to jump ship at the end of his deal.
While Red Bull have said that it has no interest in signing Hamilton, and it is unlikely that he would want to team up with Alonso at Ferrari following their far from amicable season at McLaren in 2007, there are few obviously viable options for the Briton.