McLaren boss says Button’s move not about money
18 November, 2009
Nov.18 (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.
The world champion’s “defection” was expected, although it appeared that there was a eleventh hour bid to keep Button in the Brawn/Mercedes fold. Earlier in the dayRoss Brawn told the Independent: “Negotiations are continuing and the reports that he has already agreed terms with McLaren are not helpful.”
Numerous F1 pundits had advised Button to stay put rather than share a garage with McLaren favourite Hamilton, and in the British media on Tuesday, the likes of Johnny Herbert, Murray Walker and Martin Brundle agreed. But, referring to the salary standoff, Niki Lauda told the Daily Mail: “If he did not feel valued there (at Brawn) then he should go. If those (reported) figures are right, I would be upset by that after winning the championship,” added the former triple world champion.