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Can Jenson hold on at McLaren…? Thursday 30th June 2016

Lewis Hamilton may have dropped back in the title race, but can former team-mate Jenson Button hold on for 2017…?

The debut grand prix held on the streets of Baku in Azerbaijan proved to be more of a high-speed tech puzzle for Lewis Hamilton - to guess the correct engine mode - than a wheel-banging race. Lewis continued the momentum he got from his Monaco and Canadian wins with pole position, but an ongoing race saga created by an underperforming Mercedes engine had him furiously switching dials to capture the speed he had in practice and qualifying.

With Nico Rosberg taking advantage of his team-mate’s technical problems, his Championship lead has gone out again as we approach the Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring.

Both Mercedes drivers are likely to be lining up for the Silver Arrows in 2017, but further down the grid we are approaching the traditional ‘silly season’ which normally occurs around the time of the British Grand Prix. With less than half the season run already the media are speculating on significant moves in the driver market.

Two World Champions may find themselves on the way out of the sport, or at least driving for teams in more reduced circumstances. Kimi Raikkonen is a widely (and wildly) popular figure in the sport, but his tenure of a Ferrari drive may be about to end in 2016.

Sergio Perez was once part of the Ferrari young driver programme and after two impressive podiums in Baku and Montreal for Force India, the experience of driving competently for McLaren, (and backing from one of the world’s richest men, Carlos Slim), the Mexican must surely be the favourite to replace him.

McLaren’s Jenson Button is out of contract at the end of the year and is under pressure to be replaced by reserve driver Stoffel Vandorne, whose boss Ron Dennis has described him as a big part of the McLaren future. With Fernando Alonso already signed up for 2017, there’s only one seat he can slip into. Expect to see a lot of love expressed for JB at the upcoming British GP on July 10th.

Right now Paddy Power don’t see a strong result for either Jenson or Fernando Alonso at his home track. Jenson is down at 200-1 for a race win at Silverstone, the same as Alonso. However both are masters in the wet, and given the highly changeable weather conditions in the UK this summer, a sprinkle of rain could make them likely candidates for a cheeky little each-way bet.

Other bets we’d like to see Paddy Power create some odds for

  • What are the odds of Daniel Ricciardo being lured away from Red Bull to join former (much loved) team-mate Sebastian Vettel?

  • Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene is under pressure to deliver a win for the team – will he be in charge at Maranello next season?

  • Britain’s exit from the EU has been dubbed ‘Brexit’. Will Jenson’s exit from McLaren be dubbed ‘Buttexit’?