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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-17-2009, 08:36 PM Thread Starter
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Button nearing McLaren deal – report

F1 | ITV Sport

Button nearing McLaren deal – report

Tuesday, 17 November 2009 12:05

World champion Jenson Button could sign to partner Lewis Hamilton in an all-British 2010 line-up at McLaren in a matter of days, reports Tuesday’s Guardian newspaper.

Speculation that Button may turn his back on Brawn – which will now be renamed Mercedes GP following the German carmaker’s takeover of the team on Monday – has heightened since the 29-year-old visited McLaren’s Woking factory last Friday.

Contract talks with his current team are believed to have reached an impasse, with the pay rise Button and his management are looking for to reflect his new status as world champion not having been granted by Brawn’s management.

The deadlock in those talks may now result in Button ending his seven-year relationship with the Brackley squad, with the Guardian’s veteran Formula 1 journalist Alan Henry – who has close contacts with McLaren – reporting that the new champion has agreed terms on a three-year deal with the Woking team.

And although Button has not yet signed, the newspaper says that discussions have led to a £6m a year contract being put on the table which the Englishman could agree to within days.

Brawn’s management are understood to be keeping the door open on its discussions with Button, but team CEO Nick Fry admitted on Monday that the Mercedes takeover wouldn’t result in the German carmaker throwing additional money in the direction of the world champion.

Last winter Button voluntarily agreed to a reduction of the £8m-a-year salary he had previously earned with Honda to stay on at the new streamlined Brawn team following the sudden F1 withdrawal of its former Japanese owner.

Having also paid his own travel expenses during his ultimately title-winning year, Button’s management have been keen to increase his retainer back up towards its original level – although the Briton’s manager Richard Goddard claimed last weekend their his driver’s demands were still “way less than under Honda”.

But although German car giant Mercedes's announcement that it had taken a controlling interest in Brawn and will run the team as its own works squad raised the prospect that Button’s demands could now be more easily accommodated, Fry thinks the offer they have made Button is fair in the current climate.

“We've had discussions with Jenson over what we think is a sensible salary and this deal is not going to change anything in that respect," Fry told BBC Radio Five Live.

"I hope Jenson will be with us as we've been together for a good few years, but F1 is not divorced from the rest of the world.

"The reason we've survived as a team is that we have operated in our means."

As itv.com/f1 revealed last week, Ferrari refugee Kimi Raikkonen’s management had been guests of McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh at the team’s Technology Centre several days before Button – with the Finn at one stage having looked a strong favourite to seal a return to the Woking squad.

However, the financial terms being offered to the 2007 world champion appear to have remained a stumbling block in talks, with any Button move to McLaren set to throw the Finn’s F1 future into serious doubt.

Brawn has long already been thought to have secured Nico Rosberg's services for 2010, with the German driver having had his departure from Williams confirmed where he is being replaced by former Brawn man Rubens Barrichello.

Fellow German Nick Heidfeld, a free agent following long-time employer BMW’s withdrawal from F1, is also believed to be in the frame at both the former Brawn team and McLaren.

Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug was quoted in the German press over the weekend as saying it had been in talks with its former protégé about next season
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-18-2009, 06:13 AM
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The deal is done

McLaren announce Button signing - Yahoo! Eurosport UK

McLaren announce Button signing

Eurosport - Wed, 18 Nov 12:08:00 2009
Buzz Up!

World champion Jenson Button has signed for McLaren, where he will form an all-British line-up with 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton, on a "multi-year" deal.

The move comes hot on the heels of revelations that 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen will sit out the 2010 season after failing to agree a deal with former team McLaren.

It will see Button go up against Hamilton, widely thought of as the quickest driver on the grid, in the same car as he seeks to defend his title - an exciting duel for British racing fans.

It is the first pairing of two British world champions since Graham Hill partnered Jim Clark at Lotus in 1968.

"It's a great pleasure to be joining a fellow British world champion," Button said. "Lewis has achieved an incredible level of success in a very short period of time, and he's a wonderfully gifted driver who has earned the respect of every Formula One driver.

"I'm sure there's plenty that we can learn from each other, and I'm really looking forward to using our combined knowledge to push the team forward.

"I think it's fantastic that we'll be forming an all-British line-up. I know that we both fly the flag with pride, and I sincerely hope we can make the whole of the United Kingdom, as well as McLaren fans across the world, proud.

"Nothing means more to me than to be able to represent my country, and I'm looking forward to both of us painting Formula One's circuits red, white and blue for many years to come."

Button leaves Brackley-based Brawn GP, the squad he helped to the 2009 constructors' title and who will be known as Mercedes GP next season after a takeover by the German automotive giant.

Brawn were formerly the Honda factory squad and before that BAR, the outfit Button joined in 2003.

"It's always a difficult decision to leave a team when you've been there for so long," Button added. "But life is all about challenges - and, most important of all, it's about challenging yourself.

"So, although I won the World Championship with Brawn GP last year, and I'll never forget that, I was always adamant that I wanted to continue to set myself fresh challenges.

"So that's why I've decided to join McLaren. You can't help but be affected by this team's phenomenal history.

"McLaren is one of the greats of world sport, and its achievements and list of past champions read like a who's who of Formula One: Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and of course my new team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

"I've followed the McLaren team ever since I was a small boy, and it feels unbelievable to finally be a part of it."

Hamilton, partner to Heikki Kovalainen in 2009, was just as enthusiastic about the signing.

"It's fantastic news that Jenson has decided to join McLaren - and I'm looking forward to working with him and our engineers to make sure we kick off the 2010 season with a car that's competitive enough to win the World Championship," Hamilton said.

"I already know Jenson, and we get on very well together. We both really want our team to succeed. Although we'll be pushing each other hard, I'm sure we'll very quickly establish a great working relationship.

"He's an exceptional driver: very controlled and very smooth, and he has a real depth of knowledge and experience. I think we'll complement each other very well, and our collaboration will make the team stronger as a result.

"Also, I'm delighted to be racing alongside a fellow British world champion, and I believe we can pull together to make McLaren the best team on the grid."

The Brawn takeover saw Mercedes loosen its ties with McLaren - they have been partners since 1995 - but Mercedes will continue to supply engines to the Woking concern for the next six seasons.

Having won the World Championship at the penultimate race at Interlagos in Brazil, Briton Button was looking for an increase on his present £3 million salary in line with the £8m he earned in 2008.

He accepted the pay-cut in order to assist team principal Ross Brawn's takeover of fallen factory operation Honda; however the Brawn hierarchy were unwilling to return their level of spending on drivers' salaries to anything like its former level, as that would divert funds from the development of the car. Button will reportedly earn £18m over three years at McLaren.

Mercedes, who combined with Abu Dhabi investment company Aabar possess a 75.1 per cent stake in the world champions, were also thought to be loath to pay Button that salary. German duo Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld are the leading contenders to race for the rebranded factory squad.

Button also seems to have more faith in McLaren's 2010 prospects.

"When I visited the McLaren Technology Centre earlier this month, it wasn't simply the technical resources and the incredible standards of excellence that impressed me," Button continued. "I was equally struck by the ambition, the motivation and the winning spirit that flow through everybody there.

"While I'm fully aware that there's a tremendous amount of hard work ahead, I'm absolutely certain that McLaren will be able to deliver where it matters: on track."

Brawn dominated the early stages of 2009 thanks in part to a revolutionary double rear diffuser, with Button winning six out of the first seven races, but struggled to stay with the competition in the second half of the season.

McLaren recovered from a shocking start to battle for podiums, with Hamilton winning two grands prix by the season's end.

The team, led by Martin Whitmarsh, are buying back Mercedes' stake in their concern in a phased process which will be completed in 2011.

"Everybody at McLaren is absolutely delighted to be able to welcome Jenson to our team," Whitmarsh said. "It has always been our policy to employ the two very best possible drivers - and we feel we not only have the fastest pairing on the 2010 grid, but also the two most complete, professional and dedicated drivers in Formula One.

"Our engineers are already looking forward to working with Jenson, and I'm convinced that such a strong and dynamic driver line-up will make us an even more complete and competitive operation. Now we have to provide Jenson and Lewis with race-winning machinery.

"I want to make clear that Jenson's decision to join us was in no way motivated by money. We'll be paying him no more than he could be getting elsewhere, and that fact is a reflection of not only Jenson's belief in McLaren but also his desire and ambition to build on the phenomenal results he achieved during the 2009 season.

"I also want to thank Heikki for his selfless contribution over the past two years. As well as being very quick, Heikki was and remains a great character who we will all miss considerably."
Jonathan Symcox / Eurosport
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 11-18-2009, 06:13 AM
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McLaren confirms 'multi-year' deal for Button (GMM) McLaren on Wednesday announced that new world champion Jenson Button will be Lewis Hamilton's teammate in 2010 and beyond.

The "multi-year deal" was confirmed in a media statement, at the end of a salary standoff with the 29-year-old Briton's title-winning team of 2009, Brawn/Mercedes.

"I want to make clear that Jenson's decision to join us was in no way motivated by money," said McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

"We'll be paying him no more than he could be getting elsewhere", he added.

McLaren said 2010 will be the first time in F1 history that a team has housed the sport's two most recent world champions, and the first time since 1968 that two British title winners are paired together.

Button said he made the "difficult" decision because he wanted a "fresh challenge".

"That's why I've decided to join McLaren," said the Briton, who will wear the number 1 on his MP4-25, while Hamilton's sister car is to bear the number 2.
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