If Jenson Button's future was uncertain before the Japanese Grand Prix, it now looks downright perilous. Sebastian Vettel's expected switch to Ferrari should see Fernando Alonso join McLaren, a move that would come as very bad news for the Brit. Jenson will be 35 next season and, with Alonso on board, the team will have their experienced leader in place. Retaining 22-year-old Kevin Magnussen in the second car is thus more likely, with Button now only representing a short-term solution.
That would lead to him departing McLaren after five seasons, and he has made it fairly plain that he doesn't wish to drop down the grid simply to remain an F1 driver. As such it is fair to assume that leaving McLaren would bring an end to his grand prix career.
Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix concluded under a dark cloud following Jules Bianchi's terrible accident, making it difficult for anyone to look back at the race with anything approaching satisfaction.
However, from a performance standpoint, Jenson should be proud of his showing at Suzuka. This may have been his final grand prix at a circuit he loves in a country that is very close to his heart - and he certainly made it count.
It was vintage Button: bolt on some intermediate tyres before anyone else, go out and find the grip in unpredictable conditions.
The same attitude secured him some of his most memorable triumphs: a maiden F1 win at the Hungaroring in 2006; his first for McLaren at the 2010 Australian Grand Prix; and his epic last-lap pass on Sebastian Vettel to win in Canada three years ago.
Button remains brilliantly adept at driving in mixed conditions; he is possibly the best on the grid in such circumstances, and it showed on Sunday as he kept pace with much better cars than his own. Unfortunately, he was never going to compete with the Red Bulls for a podium spot, with their superior aero making Jenson a sitting duck through the high-speed turns.
Nevertheless he gave it his all, displaying superb poise while keeping a cool head. You can’t buy the sort of experience he has: it takes 15 seasons and 262 grand prix starts to develop.
And he continues to show humility and calmness when probed about his future. McLaren have spent the year courting Alonso and Vettel almost publicly, but there has not been a complaint or outburst from Button. He has asserted that he wants to keep his drive, but will accept his lot if he is replaced.
It is worth noting that Suzuka was the first genuinely wet race F1 has seen in almost two seasons - and that Button won the last one at Interlagos in 2012. Perhaps he could have added an extra few podiums to his CV if there had been more rainfall on race days.
Ultimately you cannot argue with McLaren wishing to replace him with Alonso. The Spaniard races at 100% every weekend, whereas Jenson's star turns are a little less consistent. Nevertheless, if this was his final F1 outing at Suzuka, Button did himself proud.