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Why Button would stay with Brawn
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Why Button would stay with Brawn
Posted By:   |  28 May 2009   |  12:38 pm GMT  |  29 comments

There has been quite a bit of chatter in the last couple of days about Jenson Button’s future, in light of comments made by Brawn GP’s Nick Fry on the subject.
Buttn8

“Jenson’s been with us a long time, and we’ve had failures and we’ve had successes,” said Fry. “My objective, and our objective, is to have him for the rest of his career, and nothing’s changed on that front. It’s mutual that he would like to stay with the team, and after five race wins, we should be able to get something together.”

After five wins from six races and with a seemingly unassailable lead in the championship it is hard to imagine either side thinking about other options. Ross Brawn admitted last year that he was still assessing Button, after being quite impressed by him during the 2004 championship when he and Michael Schumacher raced against him in the BAR Honda. As this season goes on Brawn is increasingly impressed with Button’s ability to pull out a lap time in qualifying and to control races.

Although F1 is a cynical business, it matters all round that Button stayed with the team through the winter even when it meant he was potentially risking his career. The team have rewarded that loyalty with a race winning car and no driver can ask more than that.

But F1 is also a fickle business and a driver who was considered to have ‘flatlined’ in his career is now flavour of the month again and in demand from other teams. Jenson was considered to have plateaued by Ron Dennis and was described as a concrete post by Renault boss Flavio Briatore earlier in the year. He responded by revealing that Flavio had tried to hire him over the winter.

This will have been the period when Flavio was unsure whether Fernando Alonso was going to stay with the team. Alonso had been in quite serious discussions with Honda among others, but decided to stay put in the end.

Jenson signed a new contract with Honda just before the Japanese Grand Prix last year, having been made to sweat on it by the Japanese manufacturer. After the pull out he took a pay cut this year to stay with Brawn and is believed to have signed only a one year deal, but he will have had a pay off from Honda for the unfulfilled contract and will have benefitted from bonuses from the success he’s enjoyed this season.

It is clear that some of the established top teams have been making enquiries about getting him for next year. Button will reflect that at 29 and likely to become world champion this year, it could be the time to maximise his earning potential. Also it will be difficult for Brawn to maintain is pre-eminent position in F1 next year, despite Ross Brawn’s acknowledged brilliance at planning and resource management

There is no need to hurry into a decision, especially with the sport in such a volatile state over the rules for next year but it makes little sense for him to think of moving on to another team. Funding remains an issue for Brawn. They stand to win around $70 million for winning the championship, but they have yet to put any more sponsors on the car apart from the relatively low fee paid by Virgin. He will want some assurances that Brawn is going to pull in the sponsor investment for the medium to long term.

Fry made another interesting comment when he said “I’m sure he (Button) and his manager are sitting there thinking his price is going up the whole time. But maybe the sponsorship for the team is going up too, so maybe we can afford it.”

This seems slightly odd because it is acknowledging that they are going to have to pay him a lot more money because of the results. But you could not have a more graphic illustration of the fact that an F1 driver is only as good as his car than Jenson Button’s last two seasons.

Button staying at Brawn is considered more or less a given in the F1 paddock, but there was some discussion as to who his team mate might be next year. Rubens Barrichello has done well this year at getting the car set up and backing Button up by scoring lots of points. The balance seems pretty good between them but Rubens cannot go on for ever.

There are not too many obvious alternatives, although someone like Timo Glock might fit the bill quite well. However he is known to be on Mercedes hit list for the McLaren team as a possible replacement for Kovalainen.

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29 Comments
  1. talkingfuture says:

    I think he will stay there and bask in the victories to make up for the disappointment of the last few years.

    I think Barrichello is 50/50 for next year. He is doing a decent job, but will he want to race for them next year if Button wins the title and he plays number 2?

    Perhaps Anthony Davidson would be a good outside bet for the number 2 seat, he deserves it.

  2. Kirk says:

    It’s the silly season starting in May – a bit early isn’t it? ;-)

  3. Neal says:

    If they keep Mercedes engines next year, di Riesta?

  4. Fabio says:

    I think its quite clear jenson is a top driver and always has been listed as a future champion to some and no to others. He’s better than Barrichello, in a car that suits him and is generally still the quickest in qualifying and race pace.
    I just think people need to calm down a bit about him though. he’s dominated 5 races, but would he have done that had his team-mate been Massa or Hamilton. I can say without a doubt no.

  5. kammy T says:

    One word “Senna”.

    I am sure they would have plenty of adverts stuck on their car.

  6. The Flying Finn says:

    In a budget constrained environment keeping Rubens might not be a bad choice? He’s not doing too shabby of a job and afterall is only 16 pts behind Button and presumably he is also more than fast enough to become world champion if Brawn is able to build another winner next year like this. Therefore I would assume to Rubens would be keen to stay and by extending his contract, Brawn would be able to play them off against each other and keep a lid on the asking price of both drivers. Didn’t Nigel win the championship when he is 40 ? I remeber when they got out of the cars onto the podium in ’92, they could hardly make it up the stairs. So either the cars are a less physically demanding compared with then, or the drivers fitness have improved by leaps. In either case doesnt that suggest the career spans could concievably be much lengthened as well?

  7. Snail says:

    As long as Rubens is driving well and wants to drive, why not continue with the duo as they are? They both drive well, they both work well together and they both like each other and both get on with Ross and the team really well.

    Sounds like a good match.

    Why throw it away by getting a rookie (Senna) just for some sponsorship dollars?

    It must feel really nice hearing that your team wish to hire you for the rest of your career. That is a ringing endorsement of your ability, if ever there was one.

  8. Finn says:

    Would Button be wining in a Toyota, a Renault, or a BMW?

    Would Button be winning if he had Alonso, Kubica, or Vettel as a team mate with the same kit as he’s got?

    Good driver, but the car really is the star … as JB has shown well enough throughout his career.

    Don’t see why Brawn should up his salary at all. Brawn have given him a class leading car and turned him into a winner and now they want to pay him more for the hard work THEY have done? That’s insane. I work faster these days because the company provides me with superb IT resources … I don’t get paid more because I’ve got better IT resources. Why pay someone more because you’ve given them a better car to drive? There are plenty of drivers who could match or beat Button’s performance. He’s never looked like anything special. Good, yes. But special, no. He’s never been a driver to outperform his car’s abilities.

    Button should stay with Brawn and think himself lucky to have any opportunity at all. Ross is the man of F1 …
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/5378983/Ross-Brawn-Formula-1s-kingmaker-profile.html

  9. Lee Grant says:

    Do you think Jenson is the sort of guy who will look back on his career and think “I didn’t get to drive for Ferrari” or do you think he’ll be more of a Jackie Stewart and not seek the prestige drives? (and it certainly did him no harm at all!)

    From where I sit (in front of the TV on a Sunday!), the best place to be (it seems) is with Brawn – Ross Brawn. He seems to the brains, reason and calm of the F1 operation at the moment and he’s not too bad a building great teams.

    I suppose this is all part of the mystery of being a top F1 driver. There are (possibly) two questions that rattle around inside a drivers head that we’ll never ever comprehend because they’re questions that 99% of people who read this blog will never have to answer:

    1) Can I overtake this person at 200 mph?
    2) Should I get out of bed for less than $10m

    When Nick Fry mentions money – can it really be about money for Jenson? Am I naive to think that once you’ve got a couple of million stashed away that you really, really aren’t too concerned if you’re about to be paid x million instead of y million?

    History reminds us that Fangio won 5 titles – I have no idea how much he earnt.

    Would Jenson like to be remembered as a (multiple) World Champion or a man that chased the Dollar and ended up with (more) very poor cars.

    I’m sure you multi-millionaire bloggers will put my pre-conceptions regarding unfathomable wealth into perspective for me ;-)

  10. Dominic J says:

    Has any driver even come close to Barrichello’s record as team-mate to the champion? Especially if he repeats the trick this year, he seems to be cementing a reputation as a great team player, set-up assistant and pressure for a talented rival.

    Obviously Schumacher was that champion most of the time, but it is glaring that he never won until Rubens got the gig there, and didn’t manage it with Massa either.

    All of which is very frustrating for a Barrichello fan. Grumble.

  11. Clare says:

    From what I have read Rubens has no plans to go anywhere else in 2010, let alone retire!

  12. F1ice says:

    Timo Glock and Mclaren… that’s new.

  13. Andrew Webb says:

    I sure hope Button is going to be wise, remember Button Gate in 2005, when he supposedly signed for Williams, then stayed at Honda.
    I think he should stay at Brawn, they have the faster car this season and he surely cannot blow it.
    I mean the Williams ‘Button-Gate’ saga cost Button $10m and they got Toyota engines from it.
    And Williams have a strong line up in Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima.

  14. timbo says:

    F1 is a team sport. The driver has to have a driving style to suite the car and the tactics. Button has done that so so far so I say give him some credit. He has seemed to be able to deliver that little bit more than his competitors each time so I cant see why people have to put him down just because your favorite is being beaten.

    Anyway I cant see the technical designers salary going down either!

    Or Braun for that matter.

    Personally I am enjoying this season, its a shame about all the power games going on as they taking away the limelight from the amazing job the whole team have done.

  15. Mahendar Jain says:

    I still dont believe Jenson is as good as Alonso, Hamilton and Kimi…. Lets face it… Brawn worked on that car for over an year… I personally feel this has been one of the boring season of f1 since 2004 where schumi dominated… I loved 2007 and 2008 where we saw some top notch driving from top drivers… If button wins the next two races its all over…
    I would love to see some competition like we saw last year between hamilton, massa and kimi… Can we get a championship like last year where it was decided in the last corner?

  16. sean says:

    Chase the money jenson you have no idea where that team or car will be next year.The testing ban this year has shown how long it is going to take for the other teams to catch up.At the moment you hold a small advantage but by the end of the year you will be overtaken and next year who knows. You wont have the money the bigger teams have got so will probably find yourself mid pack struggling, noones going to throw big money at you even with the championship.Take the money and run.

  17. Colster says:

    I think that any racing driver will stay with the team if he believes that they will supply him a championship winning car.

    James – are you lining up to do Jenson’s autobiography? “9 years and 1 World Championship?”

  18. Thyraeus says:

    “And Williams have a strong line up in Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima”?

    Williams…the F1 Team? That’s news to me!

  19. Lynda says:

    I thought they’d considered young Senna this season so he’s a real possibility…

  20. john g says:

    i would think the mclaren ‘hit-list’ for kovalainnen replacements is quite long!! however, lewis probably won’t want someone too good like vettel or rosberg in there, heikki is a good number 2 :)

  21. Janet says:

    Jenson should stay with Brawn. He made a lot of money with Honda. Now he needs to be in the best car! Brawn is that car……today! That may all change next season, but I think he should stay put. If the car is a dog next season, he can sign with the likes of Macca or Ferrari as by then he would most certainly be a World Champion!

  22. Tom D'Roza says:

    James: Did you get chance to catch Martin’s gridwalk laast weekend? He bumped into Jacques Villeneuve and asked whether Jacques fancied jumping back into an F1 car given the new regulations (slicks, lack of driver aids etc). I can’t remember the exact quote but basically Jacques said he’d love to, and hinted that he might even be talking to a few people about a possible return. My initial thoughts were that he might be referring to Williams because I think they parted on good terms(?) and Patrick Head has been making noises recently about needing experienced drivers. My other thought was about Renault: either as a temporary replacement for Piquet, or as a backup in case Alsonso leaves at the end of the year – didn’t they put Jacques in the car for the last couple of races a few years ago?

    Your article here made me wonder about a possible drive at Brawn though. After a shaky start Jacques and Jenson seemed to get on well. His former engineer Craig Pollock is still there. He knows many of the team from his BAR days – although they split on very bad terms.

    I can’t see it happening but I’d love to see JV back in F1!

  23. Snail says:

    Finn,

    Given that you rate Ross Brawn, why don’t you rate his choice of driver or accept the fulsome praise that Brawn has given for Button?

    Never looked like anything special? Have you forgotten the year at Honda when he came 3rd in the championship (both Ferraris ahead of him) and an ex world champion in the other Honda was no where near him (neither were the rest of the field). If its all about the car why wasn’t JV beating him?

  24. MichaelC says:

    Jenson doesn’t seem to be rated by some people, which is quite strange. He trains very hard and his driving style is one that suits the changes made to the rules recently. He seems to bring little ‘baggage’ as well. Having read the comments Ross Brawn has been making it sounds like he would be an asset to the team. Of course (for sure?) the car is important, I think Alonso said it was 80% car 20% driver, but you need a driver who can get the best from the equipment. It is impossible to know if another driver would do a better job, for example everyone thought Alonso would dominate Hamilton at Maclaren, unless both drivers are at the same team. It is perhaps ironic that Alonso turned down an approach from Honda/Brawn and that Flavio Briatore approached Jenson to drive for him in the winter.
    Certainly (for sure?) teams other than Brawn are interested in signing a driver who with the right equipment can deliver results. Also Jenson did take a pay cut just to drive the unproven Brawn, not to mention buy his way out of the Williams contract to sign for Honda.

    I believe he will stay provided Brawn can prove they have the ambition and resources to push for the title in future years. This has always been the most important thing to him in my opinion. Because he is a good fit with the team and ‘presumably’ has a good relationship with the people there they will be keen to offer him a contract to keep him there for many years more.

  25. monktonnik says:

    Actually Fabio I disagree about Massa. I think that Button would beat him, I really do. Hamilton, maybe not, but then again I think he would run him closer than most.

    It is true when you say that the car has to suit him, but even Alonso had Mclaren change the brakes on his car to suit his setup.

    Button should stay with Ross Brawn, without any shadow of doubt. Button wants to win, and the best man to make that happen is Ross Brawn

  26. Howard Hughes says:

    “I’m sure you multi-millionaire bloggers will put my pre-conceptions regarding unfathomable wealth into perspective for me”

    Sure buddy, what do you need to know exactly?

  27. Sam says:

    Well, the gap between “permanent” F1 drivers shouldn’t be bigger than that. Every F1 driver should be able to beat a champion once in a while, like Fisi did to Alonso, Rubens and Massa did to Michael.
    The difference was though Micheal was generally half a second faster than his teammates with heavier fuel load. Even with Massa, who is currently more than a match to a world champion.

  28. rpaco says:

    If you live according to your means you are no better off as a millionaire.

  29. Fabio says:

    i highly doubt Button could do anything to Massa.
    Put it this way, would Button match Raikkonen, maybe, beat him, not really.
    Button is in a car that’s the quickest in qualifying and race pace. if you think Button would have 5 out of 6 wins with Massa as his team mate, then i must have Felipe Massa confused wth another driver last year…….

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