JULY 13, 2015

Button, Vandoorne eye same F1 seats for 2016

Stoffel Vandoorne and Jenson Button have found themselves in competition for the same F1 race seats for 2016, according to the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.

It is therefore interesting that Vandoorne, this year's dominant GP2 series leader, recently split with The Sports Partnership, a management firm headed by Richard Goddard and Button.

The 23-year-old Belgian said it was his "own decision" to split, insisting: "I just feel better with the situation as it is now.

"I don't want to say too much about it," Vandoorne is quoted by the Dutch magazine Formule 1. "It is quite a normal thing to happen.

"There are other drivers as well who occasionally make a change in their management."

He said he has made no decisions about the future, even though he has been linked with the management stable headed by Didier Coton, a fellow Belgian who also works with Valtteri Bottas.

Fascinatingly, Finn Bottas ties in with this story.

McLaren junior Vandoorne and F1 veteran Button are obvious candidates to race for the Honda-powered team next year, but they might also be vying for a potentially-vacant seat at Williams, correspondent Luis Vasconcelos reports.

That is because Bottas is the favourite to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari, which would leave Williams looking for a top replacement.

Turun Sanomat said Nico Hulkenberg is linked with a return to the Grove based team, for whom he debuted in 2010.

The German driver said recently that although he was dumped by Williams he is "not resentful", as it was "other people who had the final say".

It is believed he was referring to the now-absent former team chief Adam Parr, who reportedly made the decision to replace Hulkenberg with Pastor Maldonado.

Le Mans winner Hulkenberg, however, has also been linked with a move to the new Ferrari 'B team' Haas, which could take him one step closer to a future wearing red.

Vasconcelos said McLaren's Vandoorne and Button are also candidates to move to Williams, although the situation may not now develop until September 15, when it is believed the 2016 'option' on Button's existing contract runs out.

And Vandoorne also says he is not rushing.

"It is too early to know anything about next year," he is quoted by Formule 1. "We will see in maybe a couple of weeks or months."