McLaren is hoping that Jenson Button will ride out its current malaise and be an integral part of the line-up once its returns to Honda power in 2015.
Both the Briton and team-mate Sergio Perez were effusive in their praise for Honda when McLaren formally confirmed its reunion with the Japanese marque on Thursday [16 May], but neither driver is contracted far enough into the future to be a guaranteed part of the new-look programme when it kicks off in 2015.
Despite Perez being seen as a key component of McLaren's future thanks to his sponsorship links – especially at a time when the Woking team is facing the loss of title backer Vodafone – it is veteran Button who is seen as the bedrock on which the Honda partnership can be built.
The 2009 world champion is a former Honda driver, having spent a large part of his career racing for Honda-powered teams in both BAR and the factory squad that replaced it, and is revered in Japan, thanks in part to both his F1 history and the fact that girl friend Jessica hails from the part of the world.
With his current deal set to expire at the end of 2014, however, there will be much negotiating to be done before Button can be sure of wearing the iconic 'H' logo on his overalls, but McLaren MD Jonathan Neale is optimistic that the Briton – who has suggested that he will see out his career at Woking – will be a part of the squad long-term.
"Jenson will drive here for as long as he wants to drive here," he said of the 33-year old, "He's a great guy and he's doing a really good job for us in some difficult times. He fits our value and our culture here really well."
Button is currently tenth in the F1 world championship standings, with his team-mate just a place further back, after McLaren's MP4-28 proved to be a disappointing successor to last year's race-winning car.