Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has suggested that Jenson Button may be better off taking a year out of the sport rather than subjecting himself to a seat with one of the lesser teams.
Although the last two years at Honda have hardly enhanced Button's reputation as he battled with the likes of Toro Rosso and Spyker/Force India, the Briton is determined to be back on the grid next season, despite Honda pulling the plug on its F1 team before Christmas. His current options appear to rest on either a buyer being found for the Brackley-based team - with which he has a three-year contract - or Toro Rosso deviating from the drivers it has been testing all winter and offering him one of its two seats for 2009.
Ecclestone, however, feels that it would be detrimental to Button's career to risk spending another year battling anywhere but at the front of the field, and he has suggested that the Briton consider sitting out the coming season if one of the sport's top teams do not offer him a seat.
"It's a pity because he's committed to Honda for three years," the 78-year old told the Mandrake column in Britain's Daily Telegraph
newspaper, "He should be in any of the top teams. I'd rather see him wait to get a seat in one of those than race in an uncompetitive car."
Button, meanwhile, appears to have ruled out breaking an F1 career that began with Williams in 2000 and has since seen him race for Benetton, BAR and Honda, but there are no obvious openings at any of the leading teams unless the global financial crisis forces them to field a third car - which would happen should grid numbers drop below current levels.
Race fans have suggested that Button would make an ideal foil for fellow Briton Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, but Heikki Kovalainen remains as team-mate to the world champion for 2009, while Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa retain their places at Ferrari and Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld likewise at BMW Sauber.