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Button and Brawn: Now it’s getting bitter
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Button and Brawn: Now it’s getting bitter
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Nov 2009   |  8:04 pm GMT  |  211 comments

It’s amazing how little time there ever is in F1 to enjoy the moment, to celebrate something special, before something comes along and makes it all turn nasty.

The bitterness is starting to come out now in the aftermath of Jenson Button’s shock move to McLaren on a three year contract.

Brawn&Button
According to Ross Brawn, who has actually been trying to have a holiday this week while all of this has been going on, Button breached the terms of his contract when he visited the McLaren factory last Friday mid-way through the negotiations over a new deal. At the time it is now being suggested, the deal on the table was for £8 million with a back-end deal based on performance which could have lifted his total take to £12m, just short of what Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso earn. The difference is that their salaries are more fixed, with less performance points.

After Button visited McLaren and made it public, with quotes from his manager Richard Goddard about Button wanting to be ‘”valued”, Ross Brawn made his feelings clear to Button in a phone call on Sunday. He withdrew the offer on the grounds of breach of contract, he told Bob McKenzie in the Express. “I was very disappointed at the way things finished up with Jenson,” said Brawn.

The door was not closed, but positions had been taken and Button then fixed his attentions on McLaren and concluded a deal relatively quickly, certainly in time for it to cast a shadow over Mercedes’ announcement of its takeover of Brawn on Monday. The announcement of that – via a hastily arranged conference call with German and British media on Monday morning – suggests that Brawn and Mercedes felt the Button defection was imminent and wanted to get their positive news in first.

The Button to McLaren rumours were swirling that day, taking the shine off the announcement and McLaren was able to turn its deal with Button around quickly and get it announced so that it dominated the news agenda and cast McLaren as the all British champion team against the German team without a winning driver. This fits in very well with McLaren’s repositioning of itself for the future as the “British Ferrari”.

Mercedes boss Norbert Haug has hinted optimistically that there could be surprises in the driver line up, which has got people thinking that he might mean Michael Schumacher, but Brawn has squashed that one today, “When I last spoke with Michael. I did not get the impression that he wants to make a long-term comeback,” said Brawn. Schumacher is contracted to Ferrari and it is staying that way.

All at Brawn are disappointed by what has happened here. Button visited the factory yesterday and spent a few hours with his mechanics and engineers. Button revealed that the deal he has accepted at McLaren will pay him less than he would have earned with Brawn but he had to move because he needed a fresh challenge in his life.

“We offered loyalty which we hoped, perhaps naïvely, he would return,” Brawn CEO is quoted as saying in the Mirror. “There is bravery and there is stupidity, and we will only find out which it is next year.

“We believe we made Jenson a good offer – one that was significantly more than he is being paid at McLaren. We are all mystified by this decision. We think he has been badly advised and had his head turned by McLaren’s glitzy headquarters.”

So the notion of Button being pushed out by Mercedes, which I have never believed, is receding, as is the idea that Button went to McLaren because the financial offer from Brawn/Mercedes was derisory. The belief he would get a more competitive car and the fresh challenge if beating Hamilton are high on his list of reasons.

Button has a history of making moves in the driver market. He twice backed out of moves to Williams and got himself into a mix up. The second time, he had signed a deal and then wanted to get out of it because Williams lost BMW engines. He had to pay a multi-million pound settlement to the team, the negotiation of which was one of Richard Goddard’s first acts as his new manager.

So what next for Brawn? “I believe that the available seat with us is the most attractive on the market,” said Brawn today. The team is in no hurry and can afford to keep Nick Heidfeld waiting. There is quite a lot still in play and Robert Kubica could end up back on the market if Renault decide to pull out. The team has said that it will announce it’s plans at the end of the years, although Indications from French colleagues are that they will stay at least for 2010.

Meanwhile the FIA and FOM are working on a response and possible sanction for Toyota for pulling out of F1 after signing the Concorde Agreement. Until that has been put together, Sauber doesn’t have a place on the grid. Renault will not make it’s decision until it sees how Toyota’s withdrawal is handled by the FIA, although this is by no means its only consideration. This process would ideally be in place in time to be announced at the FIA World Motor Sport Council on December 10th.

Should Renault pull out, Robert Kubica will be available again and Brawn may well want to see how that situation pans out, as it could be less than a month away and Heidfeld’s next best option would be Sauber, which has to wait for its place anyway. The Brawn talked to Kubica over the Autumn but he did not want to wait around to see the outcome of the Button talks.

Kubica and Rosberg is a more formidable sounding line up for Mercedes in 2010 and maybe one worth waiting for.

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211 Comments
  1. I hope this doesnt degenerate into “he said she said” playground stuff.
    Last year for Brawn GP was amazing and lets remember that and not let the off season stuff spoil it.

    I still think if all parties wanted this then Jenson would still be at Brawn but clearly one side didnt.

    Interesting that Jenson may have been in breach of contract – could this lead to legal action??

    1. Josh says:

      Some great thoughts James, thank you for the post.

      The off season stuff won’t spoil it… come on man. Next year looks thrilling now with the seat shuffle.

      “The belief he would get a more competitive car and the fresh challenge of beating Hamilton are high on his list of reasons.” J.A

      That’s why as a young child i would tune into to watch prost/senna. That is what makes F1, F1!!

      Button it turns out is a real racer. Come on TWENTY-TEN.

  2. Mark Edwards says:

    OK so Jenson wants a fresh challenge, he clearly didn’t do it for the money, he honestly wanted to have a crack at Lewis – fair play! Many would have side-stepped it but he’s up for it.

    I can empathise with Brawn, but he knows better than anyone that this is business and sentiment is not really relevent.

    Jenson being an F1 driver is in a position most of us would do unspeakable things for and he’s making the most of his career and I salute him for it!

    1. Michael Grievson says:

      I agree. People can say what they want about him using Reubens’ setup etc but he still beat him. He won the championship because he scored the best.

      Even if he doesn’t beat Lewis its no big shame. He’s still a hell of a driver.

      1. Josh says:

        Couldn’t agree more.

    2. Andy Fov says:

      Fry has come out of this looking foolish.

      Firstly he’s on the radio playing hardball saying Jenson’s offer is fixed and he can take it or leave it. Now he’s contradicted all that.

      Then all the spiel about loyalty. Rubens drove his socks off in the last half of 2009 and what loyalty was he shown? It’s ridiculous, there’s never been much loyalty in F1, expecting us to see Jenson as the villain of the piece is taking us for fools.

      1. Mark Edwards says:

        Fry and Brawn should think things through before talking about loyalty. The circumstances might well have been unavoidable, but I’m sure those people who lost their jobs earlier in the year wern’t feeling much loyalty!!!

      2. michael c says:

        hear hear – if they did so – whoever played hard ball at Brawn has misjudged it – and possibly also stopped us seeing Kimi and Lewis in the same team – I suspect a more equal match – sorry Jenson – I still wonder how Mclaren will deal with the two different driving styles they will now have

  3. Jeb says:

    Disappointing for sure. I like Button and this doesn’t change that, but I can recognize a rash and poorly considered decision.

  4. Damian says:

    From what I recall, James, it is not true that Button “twice backed out of moves to Williams”. The first time, he wanted to move to Williams but was held to his BAR contract. It was only the second time that he backed out of moving to Williams, as he freed himself from the contract he signed a year earlier (now that BAR had massive Honda backing).

    But you are right to say he had two acrimonious and painful contract negotiations that both went to the courts. This is the third time he has upset teams with his negotiations and the second time those in Brackley have been the aggrieved party.

    But I 100% support his move this time. After winning one title “because of the car”, what would he gain by winning another at Brawn/Mercedes? Any further achievements at his old team would have been worthless. As the driver who most needs to improve his reputation, taking on Hamilton is the only way he can achieve that.

  5. Don says:

    as Dell Boy would say …. Jenson you’re a right plonker!

  6. Janet says:

    Great article as always.

    James,

    I noticed that you left kimi out of the equation. Is it safe to assume that Brawn is looking elsewhere for their driver lineup? Have the rumoured talks between Brawn and Kimi’s management not progressed?

    1. James Allen says:

      Read the Kimi post from this morning

      1. Janet says:

        Got it..it’s all there! Thank you

  7. ronik says:

    It’s a real pity to see Brawn losing both it’s drivers after winning the world-championship. Sort of feels like the party didn’t last too long.

  8. Frankie Allen says:

    “We think he has been badly advised and had his head turned by McLaren’s glitzy headquarters.”

    Forget all the money, forget the car, it’s all about the glitzy headquarters? If that is the best response available, really lame! Jenson was desperate to get a deal done but bigger things were in the pipeline involving Mercedes and this is where all the trouble originated. Button got some feed back from Mercedes whether correct or misleading but it was enough to make him feel his future now lay else where. I don’t see Ross Brawn being instrumental in this albeit with the contract issue once Button had visited McLaren, the damage had already be done for Button to take that step. Button had a genuine affection for those at Brawn, including Ross. He knows the task that faces him at McLaren, which is clear from his press releases.

    1. Rich C says:

      Those glitzy HQ’s ? Sounds like they were pulling out the Big Guns! LOL
      First thing RB has ever said that I thought made him look like a twit!

  9. James, might Mercedes be looking at a deal with Red Bull to swap Vettel for a long term supply of engines ?

    After all, Red Bull must be very worried about their engine situation, if not for 2010, certainly for 2011 ?

    Mercedes could even be prepared to sweeten a deal with the loan of Rosberg as a temporary replacement.

    1. James Allen says:

      Dynamite wouldn’t get Vettel out of there

      1. Fran says:

        nicely put!
        What is Vettel’s salary?

      2. Paul says:

        Some good logic though James, Mercedes want Vetel and Kimi then partners Webber at Red Bull, hmmmm….. fireworks…. as they are the best of mates!!!! Clearly in Red Bull interests if Renault pulls out, surely a Mercedes engine Red Bull driven by Kimi would be better than a Cosworth engined one driven by Vetel.

  10. Young Slinger says:

    How sad. As Lewis said at Abu Dhabi, ‘S*** happens’ in F1. Don’t be bitter and make fools of yourselves, don’t release to the media only what makes one party appear in the right, drivers will go for the best car, whatever. There is NO loyalty anymore in F1, so do not play that card. Money is not everything!

  11. rpaco says:

    Thanks James that covers rather well my request in the other thread.

    I have a solution for Sauber, all they need to do is change their name to Toyota, and borrow some old decals, badges etc and practice reversing their ls and rs. (I am still convinced that this was how the Colt (later Mitsubishi) Starion was born; having worked for a Japanese company for several years I saw many such incidents.)

    Seriously, if Sauber actually offered to assume Toyota’s obligations to the FIA shirley a deal could be worked; whilst Tony Blair effectively abolished common sense in the UK, there must be a vestige of it in the international arena. (no not the O2)

    1. Rich C says:

      Sure, why not? Thats what that faux “Lotus” bunch has done.

  12. Jeremy says:

    so it appears Mr. Goddard has led him into a black hole again. Let’s hope Jenson will stick it out and prove everyone it was a good move.

    Are Brawn looking for a penalty on the breach?

    They will be together for the next 3 yrs if the performance is decent and it’s a good time frame to really build a strong relationship and a rebirth to the winning ways of McLaren.

    It will be fantastic for British motorsport and the pocket book of Mclaren as well.

  13. Charles Kane says:

    According HS – the biggest newspaper in Finland – The Robertsons have called Nick Fry and they are still trying to see if they can negotiate a seat for Kimi. Norbert Haug has confirmed this to be true so it is not a rumour. However – how far from each others the parties are is not clear. My believes are there are more will to get Kimi to the team on the Mercedes side and maybe not so much at the old Brawn team people.

  14. russ parkin says:

    james what is likely to come of the toyota/fia situation? could toyota be forced to race? jenson is not good with contracts it seems. do you predict he will last the 3 years at mclaren?

  15. Meeklo says:

    Does Jenson get to keep DriversTrophy, or will Brawn be holding on to it?

    1. Josh says:

      Jenson keeps it!

      1. Neil Williams says:

        Isn’t it effectively on loan to the WDC/WCC for the year? I seem to remember a piece (on BBC?) that suggested that a replica can be made by the same company that produced the original but that the original is then passed on to the next champion. Or am I thinking of the FA Cup? :-)

  16. Gavin says:

    Hi James,

    Why are you so derisive of Nick Heidfeld?

    He’s provided some excellent overtaking the past couple of seasons, especially in the wet and I believe the points totals between him and Kubica over their 3 years together at BMW Sauber are 140-131 in Heidfelds favour.

    I don’t buy into the Kubica hype. I’d much rather see Heidfeld given a decent car for a season.

    I see him as an Alesi type in luck/team choice if not in driving style, always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Something you could have said of Button until 2009.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m not, I admire him. But he’s everyone’s idea of a journeyman who will get the job done. If it were not the case he’s always be the first guy to get signed up

      1. jose says:

        Don’t you agree that kubica is overated, heidfeld is underated, but both are of the same quality? A step behind the current top drivers, ham, alo, vett.

  17. Nick says:

    I’m not Brawn really have grounds to question Button’s loyalty. OK, the Team (in its current guise) gave him a Championship winning car, but (apart from the Williams fiasco over two consecutive seasons) he stuck with that team for a long time in spite of some really poor equipment at times, and was almost never seen to comment badly on the team.

    This years car was just reward for Jenson’s commitment and I’m not sure that either side owed anything after that.

    1. Baz says:

      Absolutely. Button has shown more commitment to a team than the majority of others on the grid, to the extent that he almost ruined his career. But his commitment finally paid off and good on him.

      I think his move to McLaren is more than being impressed by their glitzy headquarters. He wants to be competitive, defend his title and wants fresh challenges. The fact that he’s going to McLaren for less money than if he had stayed at Brawn, should be applauded.

    2. Jason C says:

      Absolutely. Brawn have just found out the hard way that money wasn’t everything to Jenson. And who’d have thunk it? I say good on him for going for the challenge rather than the money.

      Barring this year and 04, that team’s been a permanent underachiever. Button’s in the prime of his career, and no doubt is seeing that there are fewer years driving in front of him than behind him. The chance to drive at a grandee team, one of the legends of F1, arose; why would he not take it?

      All the bitterness is uncalled-for and diminishes its perpetrators rather than its target. It looks very much like a sticky cocktail of sour grapes and egg on faces.

    3. Spyros says:

      I absolutely agree, Button has been patient enough with BAR/Honda for a long time now. Fry and Brawn may not remember that, but I’m sure he does.

      1. rpaco says:

        I have always found that loyalty is a strictly one way thing. Employers expect it of employees, but it rarely materialises in the other direction.

      2. Neil Williams says:

        I’m sure Mr Fry does as he was the dud in charge at the time. The 2004 season was the legacy of Dave Richards year in charge. Nick, you couldn’t organise a p#ss-up in a brewery and it took Ross to come along to turn the team into winners.

  18. GQsm says:

    I feel sad that it seems Ross and Jenson aren’t on good terms now.
    I get the feeling Brawn played games with Jenson regarding his contract, Nick Fry probably being the one involved with this side of things. I think he thought he could do what he liked and Jenson wouldn’t walk away.
    Maybe Jenson got fed up of the games and the McLaren visit was to end the messing and get the deal done, instead Brawn closed the door more than opened it and Jenson thought I’ve had enough, I’ll go to McLaren.

    James, I would appreciate your thoughts if possible.

  19. Richard says:

    James

    Do you think that the rumours circulating that Kimi might consider the Mercedes drive have any credence or is this just idle talk? The pairing of Raikkonen and Rosberg does feel a little more formidable. I think you commented some time ago that a clinical team is a better fit for Kimi than one driven by pure passion and that this was one of the reaasons why McLaren would be a good destination for him again (simple, accurate feedback to the engineers and the like). One might think the same observation could be made of Brawn under Mercedes ownership and they are sure to be keen to mount their own coup. I think it is fair to assume that Kimi was McLarens first choice. If the opportunity to save face costs Mercedes, say, an extra $4M on top of the publicised Button offer then it may well be a price worth paying.

    1. James Allen says:

      Read the Raikkonen post from earlier today

  20. Penfold says:

    James do you not think it’s a bit rich for team bosses to start talking about loyalty? Lets face it drivers get precious little time to deliver in this sport and when they don’t they get slung out pretty quickly. Button had options to take other drives in 09 but made the right decision and it paid off. I also think it somewhat odd that Brawn are so surprised by Jenson’s decision. After all Mclaren are great team with a lot of history, and regardless of Mercedes defection Jenson is now at the bigger team, simple as. He’s put himself in the shop window and secured himself a big time drive. I should also think that Whitmarsh and Dennis reveled in taking there revenge and no doubt will be chomping at the bit to spray that number 1 on there car.

  21. Han says:

    James,

    Do we know if the offer on the table was only upped to that amount after extensive negotiations that might have frustrated button? or was button pretty much set on moving to Woking regardless of what was offered from brawn? Also, any truth to the rumor that button had an outlined deal with mclaren since before brazil? Thanks!

  22. Matt W says:

    It isn’t often that I disagree with Ross Brawn, but Button showed his loyalty last winter when he stuck it out despite not actually having a drive for 2009 at one point. For Brawn to take the offer from the table seems a little bit spiteful and in the end they have lost their lead driver, Barrichello and the number 1 from the car.

    Brawn has definitely mismanaged this situation, but he has the smarts to rectify it.

    1. Dauné says:

      Again I say, which were the teams that tried to snap Button up when Honda withdrew?

      1. James Allen says:

        Renault had a nibble, apparently

  23. NickB says:

    James, what’s the general mood among team insiders, of any team? Do they think Button should have stayed at Mercedes, or is McLaren the right move?

    I can see how McLaren is an attractive proposition. Though the way Button got ruffled by the press when Rubens began to come back on Jenson, God knows how he’ll react if Lewis starts beating him left right and centre…

  24. swayze says:

    It is a shame the mud slinging has started but that’s F1

    James if the deal on the table was for £8million then next time you speak to Ross could you ask him why Jenson didn’t sign it?

    He (Ross)must have been aware there was a problem before Jenson visited Woking and “alledgedly” breached his contract.

  25. MorrisOx says:

    I should be careful what I say here…

    I once had a long conversation with a lawyer who specialises in motorsport contracts and he was, at the time, involved with one of several parties to a contract which involved JB.

    A seasoned pro used to the way the industry operates, even he was surprised by the unsentimental approach taken to said contract by the representatives of someone who, at the time, was very much the blue-eyed boy.

    Always best to remember that this part of it, at least, is business.

  26. Tim Lumley says:

    I’m quite suprised and somewhat disappointed in Ross Brawn throwing his toys out the pram just because Jenson visited McLaren. He was not contractd to Brawn for 2010 so was exercising all possibilities for a drive for next year.

    I say good luck to him at McLaren, I think he has made the right decision. He knows Lewis Hamilton will take some beating in the same car but is prepared to have a go and give all fans of F1 and especially British fans the prospect of a fantastic dual next season. Lets face it if we don’t get a British Grand Prix next year it’ll be the only thing keeping the British fans satisfied.

  27. Stephen Kellett says:

    Amazing. There I was thinking Brawn had possibly offered a poor 1 year deal (although I couldn’t work out why they would do that) and that is why he moved.

    Now we find out he had a good deal and walked anyway. Wow, does Jenson have a habit of making bad moves between teams or what?

    Well, whichever way it turns out I think most people are going to be in the “you made your bed so you can damn well lie in it” camp on this one.

    I hope it turns out well. Shame about the sour relations with Brawn over this.

    1. Glen Slagg says:

      With all due respect, we don’t know anything. Just a load of press hearsay and speculation. And I don’t see how moving to McLaren (for 3 years) is any kind of bad deal.
      I could understand you saying that if he had done a Ralf Schumacher and gone to Toyota for billions and no hope of a win, but he’s joining one of the 2 best teams.
      Brawn could have snapped him up months ago, if they really wanted him. Everything you hear from them on this subject is PR spin.
      Since when was the idea of a driver moving teams so shocking? It happens every season.
      In fact, most driver moves are arranged months or years in advance. Many drivers are happy to sign with another team mid season then spend months denying it (Alonso, for example, but it happens with nearly all driver moves). That doesn’t seem wonderfully loyal, does it?
      Yet Jenson hasn’t done that, he has waited till the end of the season to determine his future and has been pretty open about it all.
      But I get the impression that he would be derided no matter what he did. If he’d stayed with Brawn the FanBoys would be saying that he was scared of being beaten by Hamilton.
      Only a couple of days ago, there were lots of haters rubbing their hands together with glee at the idea of Jenson possibly being without a drive next year. Now he has secured a top drive, I think they are in shock and have switched their tack to “he really should have stayed at Brawn, he’s disloyal”.

  28. Stu says:

    This will only go to further Ross Brawns reputation and make drivers think twice about crossing him in future. It also makes Jensen look like a guy with no class. We always here about tapping up in football, and F1 should be no different.

    I love the quote about bravery or stupidity.

    As for that 2nd seat being kept open. How about Kimi. I know he said it was either Mac or nothing but that was before Merc bought Brawn. Fingers crossed eh?

    1. Glen Slagg says:

      Please explain what Jenson has done that makes him look like a driver with “no class”?
      When Alonso moved to McLaren, did that make him a driver with “no class”? When Rosberg left Williams to drive for Brawn, did that make him a driver with “no class”.
      When Brawn decided not to renew Rubens Barrichello’s contract this year were they the ones with “no class” or was it Rubens for actually finding himself another employer?
      Driver moves happen every year, Stu.

  29. Steve Mc says:

    James

    First off; it’s great to have the posting issues sorted now (fingers crossed that I haven’t just jinxed that…). Secondly, I think that the fun part for all us armchair sages is that we will never truly know exactly how things went down, which means we can all dream up our own little conspiracies and intrigues.

    I’m dead interested in what parallels you draw between this situation and the end of Nigel Mansell’s second stint at Williams in 1992?

    Is there a chance that the humongo-million deal that both Ross and Nick Fry have been hinting at in the last two days came at the very end of the game. In other words, much in the same way as when Peter Windsor whispered in Nigel’s ear before he stepped on to the stage to announce his retirement, the damage was done earlier in the process. So, by the time the big money offer was forthcoming, do you think JB already had the feeling of being a superfluous cog in the Brawn/Merc machine?

    Cheers
    Steve

    1. Steve Mc says:

      …Actually; scratch that – After watching Jake Humprhey’s interview with JB on the bbc website I’ve decided to not believe anything I read in the papers or on the internet anymore – it seems that Jens really just wanted to go toe to toe with Lewis to challenge himself.

      Does this mean that all of Richard Goddard’s bluff and bluster about paltry salaries, and Ross’s own assertions that the meagre salary they were supposedly offering could be topped up with personal sponsorship deals so he could afford to wash his fireproof smalls, were all just part of the pantomime?

      Shonky contract history aside, my respect for the size of Jenson’s orchestras has gone up a notch or two.

      I just hope that he doesn’t end up having his a** handed to him by Lewis…

      1. Jason C says:

        Shouldn’t that be a***?

      2. rpaco says:

        That’ll be the American spelling of the animal instead of the British of the body part.

        Still now we have an unelected Belgian president, anything can happen!!!!

  30. Cabby says:

    You know what, after reading this post, now I’d rather Rubens won the WDC, and I sincerly hope Lewis drives the pants of him

  31. Flavio says:

    Well…No Button and no Barrichello. Rosberg/Barrichello would be a great line-up for MB next year. I guess Ross won’t count the eggs before the Chicken next time around.

  32. Daniel Ng says:

    Wow! You just have to know what is really going on in Button’s head? Just when his newly crowned team is just getting started with a new era of how a modern F1 team should be run, Button bails, which is not his first blunder as you mention in the article. Thanks for the article.

    1. Glen Slagg says:

      Yeah! What idiot would move to a no-hoper, back of the grid, loser team like McLaren?
      He’s insane!!!!!

      1. Daniel Ng says:

        Touché my friend! =P Yes, I forget that McLaren is still one highly coveted drive. Just hate to see Button get 2nd status to Hamilton or worse just plainly beaten by the young phenom.

  33. Matt Herbers says:

    I don’t understand the questioning of JB’s loyalty by Ross Brawn or Nick Fry. They apparently have extremely short memories.

    It seems to me that BrawnGP has been dragging their feet and over-playing their own hand. They alienated their title winning driver and have likely had their reputations bruised as a result.
    Mercedes will not be pleased that the #1 plate is lost for 2010.

    I’ve heard an argument that Brawn’s hands were tied until the pending Merc deal was official, but that didn’t stop them from pulling the trigger on Rosberg what seems like ages ago.

    As to the downside of driving against Lewis, I don’t think it’s as large an issue. Lewis has certainly matured, and Jenson’s ego seems to be properly sized(relative inside F1).
    Regardless, unless Lewis is driving a two-seater next year then every driver on the grid has to race him. Why not do it in equal machinery?

  34. Tim says:

    Big shame. I was looking forward to seeing what Brawn/Mercedes could do with all that momentum and a confident JB in the car.

    Well, if nothing else they’ll be very motivated to beat McLaren next year…

  35. It’s easy to understand Brawn and Fry’s disappointment and surprise at Button’s move, but they had it in their power to prevent this a long time ago. If the deal they were going to offer was so good, why did it take this long for it to be made?

    Look at it from Jenson’s point of view. He’s just won the championship, proven himself to be among the best drivers currently on the grid (I’d say third after Hamilton and Alonso on current evidence), yet what follows is weeks of hand wringing and bargaining. Do you think if this supposed offer was “on the table” at the end of the season things would have turned out like this? I don’t think so.

    Ultimately, much as I supported Brawn, Button and the team this past season, the smart money isn’t on them for the coming season. Let’s not forget that this is the same team that produced complete turkeys for two seasons running. Yes, Brawn is there and they have Mercedes behind them now, but if Button wants to defend his championship then McLaren is the better bet.

  36. Trebt says:

    I don’t think Brawn can act so aggrieved. Button felt that, having won the world championship, he could call the shots. The very fact that negotiations were protracted was insulting to him.

    It always stunned me that Frank Williams and Patrick Head never saw how they shot themselves in the foot by failing to put their drivers on a pedestal (in fact, doing quite the opposite at times). This outcome is bad for Brawn and for Button – history is repeating itself.

  37. Robert George says:

    This is getting nasty quickly.

    My memory is hazy over BAR, Button & Williams and even hazier over Jenson, Renault and Flav.

    “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is ………………… ? “

    1. Glen Slagg says:

      But what has happened? His contract has run out. He has found a new job.
      What is wrong with that?
      Imagine that you have a one year contract to work with company B. You come to the end of the contract and company B are not exactly rushing to get you on a new contract. Company M, meanwhile, really like you. In fact they like you so much that they offer you a 3 year contract. It’s not as much money as company B but it’s a long term commitment. So you decide to join M.
      Meanwhile 10,000 people on the internet, who don’t know anything about you, slag you off for being disloyal to company B. Wonderful.

  38. SD says:

    Banning the visiting of another team during silly season seems like an odd contractual clause. Clearly, since Brawn talked to Kubica in the Autumn, they themselves do not feel bad about reversing the roles.

    Seems a little like Ross cut off his nose…

  39. LMW says:

    What a shame this all is after JB and Brawn winning both championships. I just hope he’s moved for the right reasons and not bad management.

    There’s never a quiet day in F1 is there?

  40. Jameson says:

    Early on it seemed as though Button simply wanted to pack some pounds back into his wallet, not a new challenge as he is now suggesting. He took a £5 million hair cut to help the team this year, and it sounds like you are privy to information that suggests that his £8 million was actually on the table.

    Why would he take less? Do you really think that he wants this new challenge? I’m a Button fan, so I hope that’s the case, but it just seems like such a sudden shift.

  41. Michael S says:

    No mention of Kimi in this article…? Do you think Kubica is more attractive than Kimi? I think a WDC with 18 wins, a huge fan base, and someone McLaren respects makes the driver announcement really pop for Mercedes.

  42. Adam Tate says:

    Even when seemingly on the verge of finally getting the top line drive he deserves, Heidfeld is still denied credit. During their productive pairing at BMW, Heidfeld matched Kubica on every level, and would have won Canada 08 if he had not let Kubica through to the lead. I am convinced the team asked him to, as it was a moral victory and Roberts horrible crash there a year prior. In 2008 alone Heidfeld recorded 4 2nd places. Yes he doesn’t have a win to his name yet, nor does Nico, but of all the drivers in the field without wins, Nick and Nico are the best. I rate them both higher than Heikki, who only lucked into his win after Massa’s engine gave out on him. Don’t be so quick to wrote off two good drivers in what looks to be a pretty darn good team. No it isn’t a super team like Ferrari will have, but I think they will be in the mix.

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Bang on. Glad I’m not the only one who thinks this.

    2. rich_ct says:

      I cannot help feeling that Mercedes could turn around the fact that neither Nico nor Nick have won a GP. If the Mercedes GP is truly capable of being upfront and compete for wins regularly I see no reason why these two drivers could not deliver. A second advantage both drivers have been loyal to their teams (which although debatable with respect to blame seems to be an issue currently with the team0. Nick especially has a very good reputation for car set-up. I understand that Nico is not bad either. If this pair start winning Mercedes can take all the credit for their victories. Ross Brawn spun a British fairy tale this season – I think next season he could spin the German translation of it.

  43. Dave Roberts says:

    James what an unedifying end to what should have been a long and prosperous union. Neither of the two sides come out with any credit. For Brawn to be outraged by Button’s lack of loyalty is quite frankly disingenuous. Had he offered Button £8 million in July, August, September or October Button would not have even considered going to McLaren. Considering that Brawn was so gushing in his early appraisal of Button’s ability he either changed his mind as the season progressed or he gambled on who would blink first.

    Another consideration of the charge of loyalty should surely be the fact that Button not only took the massive wage decrease but paid his own travel costs this season.

    When considering Button’s actions I cannot believe he has moved to McLaren. He has left a smaller team who would have provided a secure and focused seat with an effective number 1 status. Instead he has gone to a team whose whole focus (I know they deny it) is behind Lewis Hamilton. Not only that I fear that Lewis will destroy him! There is far more at stake than just next season’s world championship, there is Button’s reputation that will be written into the history books. By going head to head with Hamilton, if Hamilton out performs him like he has done with Kovalainen people will say that this season’s success was purely down to the diffuser and his achievement this year will be greatly devalued.

    In short I am disappointed with the way both sides have conducted themselves, I expected better.

  44. Leslie says:

    So Ross Brawn is very unhappy and Jenson Button & McLaren will be relying on Mercedes engines next year. Funny That!

  45. Ginger says:

    It will be a shame if a beautiful season is sullied by this now acrimonious divorce.

    I was surprised that Jenson left but at the time I was under the impression that this was effectively allowed by the new paymasters.

    But it would seem that Jenson was the mover here and whilst it would appear that he hasn’t left for the money he thinks that this would be the place to win another title in a fast car with a winning team.

    Good luck to him as I like most people think that he will be trailing Lewis for most of the season.

    It will help Lewis that he has a strong teammate and take points from the other teams at the circuits where McLaren are strong in a way that Heikke didn’t do.

    Great blog by the way……

  46. Tarek says:

    Kubica/Rosberg would be mega! And I, for one, believe that Kubica would do an even better job than Button because he is a more naturally gifted and faster driver and, as he proved in 2008, he can be quite consistent and error-free. If Mercedes produce a race-winner next season, which ı think they will, he will be one of the title favorites. Imagine: Alonso vs. Hamilton vs. Kubica, all challenging for the WDC! A mouth-watering prospect, and of course it would also be unfair to discount Button, Massa, and perhaps even Rosberg.

    1. SD says:

      Don’t forget Vettel!

  47. Mercy says:

    I’m not sure it was a breach of contract as Button has been refused to go and work with McLaren untill the New Year, meaning he is still under contract.

    1. Declan says:

      You could argue that Button was inadvertently promoting the McLaren brand and it’s associated sponsors.

      It didn’t need to be publicized that Button went to the McLaren factory.

  48. Qiang says:

    James,
    Can you give us your guess why Button would want to visit McLaren if there is already such a good offer for him? I remember a report about Ross being mad with other teams trying to unsettle Button during the fight for the championship. If the consiracy theory is true, do you think it is wise for Button to put himself right in the middle of it?

  49. Nicos says:

    Pfff, Rosberg-Kubica… Rosberg-Raikkonen sounds much better. So sure you are James that Raikkonen-Brawn deal will fail?

  50. Crid [CridComment @ gmail] says:

    James, this was another great blog post. I hope you’re making a good living at this.

  51. Crid [CridComment @ gmail] says:

    And Kubica has got to be kicking himself for signing with Renault!

  52. The revealing of what Brawn was offering Button is very telling as it is quite different to what has been rumoured over the past week in the press.

    It clearly shows that Button was not just looking for a package that merited his world champion status, he was looking for a bit more. He clearly feels that staying at Brawn, where he is well liked, has a good relationship with engineers and management, was not enough.

    It’s a difficult one to read, but I think he must feel that Brawn are not going to be competitive. I also believe (as stated in a recent blog comment here) that he genuinely wants this challenge of going up against the best and finding out just how good he is.

    I think he must feel McLaren are a team that long term are going to be better and that maybe Brawn got lucky and will not be able to sustain it. The reaction of Fry and Ross Brawn shows that they really did want Button to say, not at any price, but did have a competitive offer to him. I think they really thought he would stay … we all did, it seemed the logical choice, the safe and easy choice, but Button has other ideas and it will be very interesting to see how next year pans out.

  53. Dave P says:

    I am not sure I can agree with you on this James… Jenson was pushed out.. he could se it coming.. money no longer mattered. In the end Mercedes were going to get Vettel sooner rather than later and then Jenson would have been out. So it made sense to take the McLaren drive while on offer… its a top team with maybe the best car next year… It’s rich of them to talk about loyalty.. since near the end of the season they have kept him dangling on a string … that’s not the way you treat a world champion… its their loss

  54. Steve W says:

    Whilst it could be career suicide going up against Hamilton on his home turf, I think it is refreshing to see a driver like Jenson admit to relishing the challenge of testing himself against the best in the same machinery. So often we see drivers shy away from pairing themselves against the best, instead prefering to stay in the comfort zone of a separate team built around them. So fair play to Jenson for that, and for moving for sporting reasons rather than money.

    You can’t question Jenson’s loyalty either, as he stuck with BAR/Honda/Brawn through the toughest of times, and he leaves them when they are on a high, with Mercedes taking over, and I’m sure there will be no shortage of drivers wanting to move there in the future.

  55. fausta says:

    James,
    You didn’t mention Kimi at all. Does this imply he is not currently in the picture for the Mercedes drive?

  56. Dan Staisey says:

    James,

    What Brawn has on Raikkonen that stops him moving there? Please give us any inside. Some people mentioned leaked info from Ferrari?
    It is still unthinkable for me that someone of that magnitude and speed, (and popularity, which is primarily important to sponsors) is not having a place in F1. Im starting honestly to think that something wrong is with everyone in F1 and that Kimi is just right as it is.

  57. Phil Snell says:

    James, do you not think that if brawn had wanted Jenson to stay. Then the offer being thrown around at the moment should have been put to button weeks ago. I genuinely think Brawn are the ones who messed this up by not acting quickly enough and trying to play hard ball!

  58. BiggusJimmus says:

    Thinking about this move of Button’s makes me very uncomfortable. If it wasn’t the money that made him leave Brawn, then what was it? The “fresh challenge” excuse just doesn’t cut it with me: why on earth would anyone leave the team run by the best brain in the business that has just secured the kind of backing that allows them to be and remain a true force in the sport? I suspect the championship has gone to his head a little. We must all remember that it’s a team sport, and the driver, whilst the focus of public attention, is just one member of the team.
    And yeah, the Renault move for Kubica always seemed a little odd to me; they just don’t seem to be anywhere close to having a competitive car. Maybe it’s not too late to pull out… there’s a precedent for that.

    1. john g says:

      i agree, i think something went on behind the scenes that we don’t know about. up until now, all the reports were saying that Brawn could not offer jenson a higher package than they were but that he was free to seek personal sponsorship to top up his salary. now all of a sudden, jenson is saying that brawn were offering more than mclaren? So he’s moving from a WCC winning team, who he has been with for many years and with a new team mate is a clear no.1, to a new team built around a very settled driver who is arguably the best around, having to re-learn how things work with different people, for less money… just for a new challenge? just doesn’t sound right to me.

      i think the mercedes buy-out had a lot to do with this. still, looking forward to seeing the mclaren team-mates fighting it out going forward.

      and i think heidfeld would be a good addition to the brawn team – certainly i would have taken him in preference to rosberg.

  59. Luke Robbins says:

    Interesting points, fair play to JB for doing this. He must genuinely think that his best chance of wins comes with mclaren and he may well be right.

    Shame Merc are gonna slag of JB a bit now, esp fry, what exactly does that fella do anyway?!

    Merc do need a top notch driver though you would think. Why don’t they just whack down 15 mill for Kimi, sure they could do a deal where he gets 10 basic then 5 for doing well.

    If not then Kubica is a good option, he’s class. What is the likelihood of him becoming available? Maybe Glock didnt sign because he thinks they are on the way out??

    1. john g says:

      nick fry gurns, mostly

  60. Silverstoned says:

    Raikkonen and Rosberg sounds even more formidable.

    Somehow I’m not too convinced that Brawn lost Jens accidentally. If he wanted him he could have had him.

  61. John says:

    Which contract terms did Jenson breached? I assume if he had talked with McLaren in a pub, everything would have been OK (sort of)?

    So drivers are not allowed to visit their competitors HQ without permission from their own team – make sense!

    Whatever Jenson’s motivation for this move are, I still think he’s committing career suicide. He will beat Hamilton in Triathlon, but not in the Championship.

  62. Rudy Pyatt says:

    I have said before that the very idea of Button’s move has RD’s marks all over it. This looks EXACTLY like McLaren’s acquisition of JPM from Williams, swooping in during a period when JPM felt “dissed” by FW and Patrick Head. Ross Brawn’s comments about Jenson’s “head being turned” are in line with this view.

    But we know how McLaren’s glamour lineups have worked, which is to say they haven’t. Prost-Senna won, but ripped up the team. The Raikonnen-Montoya lineup made a marketing splash (as here) but underachieved and alienated both drivers – one out of the sport and the other out of the team to McLaren’s main competitor.

    This move will be no different. It’s a splash move, but I just can’t seen Button and Hamilton co-existing successfully. I expect McLaren to underachieve*

    *and, if Heidfeld goes to Brawn and wins a race, get anything sharp or breakable away from Ron Dennis…

    1. iceman says:

      I have a hunch it could end up more like Häkkinen/Coulthard. That was a very long-lived pairing (in F1 terms) and quite successful too. I’m sure Button will add to his tally of wins but he’s always going to end up playing back-up man to Hamilton, as Coulthard did to Häkkinen for all those years. I suspect he will fall into the role quite easily.

  63. Rich C says:

    Certainly sounds like Brawn was playing hardball, never comprehending they could *lose. Talk about a miscalculation!

    1. Brace says:

      Assumption is a mother of all f@#$ ups! :)

  64. Josh says:

    Some great thoughts James, thank you for the post.

    “The belief he would get a more competitive car and the fresh challenge of beating Hamilton are high on his list of reasons.” J.A

    That’s why as a young child i would tune into to watch prost/senna. That is what makes F1, F1!!

    Button it turns out is a real racer. Come on TWENTY-TEN.

  65. steves_8 says:

    James, I must be missing something here because I don’t understand why Brawn were so annoyed that Button explored alternatives, when the Brawn team itself was still shopping around for drivers. Surely, until signatures are put on contracts, BOTH sides can (and should, if they have any sense) keep their options open?

    Did they really try to back Jenson into a corner this way, i.e. until you decide whether or not you’re going to sign with us, you MUST NOT enter into any talks with other teams?

  66. Wallers says:

    Wow, I guess it wasn’t just money. Was it just the reported 1 year contract that pushed him away?

  67. C. Rodriguez says:

    I do believe in Jenson’s comments regarding his motivations and feelings. He has always been a sincere person. He made it clear today..

    1. His childhood dream was to be a world champion…he did reach it!
    2. He knows that he has great talent, how he will prove this to himself?
    3. Read David Coulthard Daily telegraph article yesterday…David is a personal friend of Button and he believes that al most nobody knows what his approach is regarding challenges
    4. He is looking for challenges, just like Manny Paquiao wants to prove that he is the best boxer pound x pound and he must fight the best in their weight, Button wants to prove that he is the besto going after the best of the breed in his same “weight” (team)
    5. He want’s to get away from his comfort zone. I really understand that because I have that same approach to life. It is not just about money!

    Having said this, I would like to wait until the testing begins to make my judgments after looking at how Button will adapt to the MP4-25. Then, I will make conclusions…I am sure that we will see Buttons talent at his best.

  68. Harveyeight says:

    My first thought when I heard that Button toured the McLaren HQ was that it was a bargaining ploy, putting pressure on Brawn. When I heard that he had signed I thought I had been way off beam yet again. Now I’m wondering if I was right.

    The fact that Button hadn’t signed for Brawn was an error on their behalf. They had an asset and they did not secure it. There is no excuse.

    A contract is business. Loyalty is shown by effort during the difficult times, by not giving up, by going the extra few yards. It is not shown by ignoring what’s on offer or undervaluing yourself. And it certainly isn’t shown by not meeting one’s driver’s expectations.

    Mercedes have abandoned the most successful team in the last 25 years for powering the WDC. 10 in total. Ferrari managed just 6 in that time. So they will need to show they’ve done the right thing and I can’t see them doing it with their driver line up. Could Brawn’s bitterness have something to do with similar bitterness from the Mercedes management when they discovered they were not getting what they expected in the driver department?

    I can’t see Button’s move being a good thing for either him or his new team. There will be disagreements. Probably not as bitter as those in the Ferrari pit but still quite enough to affect the results. And Button’s move will not be good for Brawn/Mercedes either.

    So it was probably a mistake by Button then. Almost as big a one as the phone call by Brawn.

    And a bit of a downer from the spectators’ view as well I think.

  69. John M. says:

    So, basically Jenson let his ego get the best of him and he decided he needed the challenge of taking on Hamilton in his own team.

    Well, good luck to him. I hope it works out for him. I’m not overly optimistic about his chances, however.

    I couldn’t help thinking back to the BAR/Williams stuff with Jenson a few years ago. It didn’t seem like the smartest play at the time and neither does this current move. Sure, McLaren is probably going to continue to be successful. But, sure seems like a damn good bet that the combo of Mercedes and Ross Brawn guarantees that 2009 won’t be a one-off for the team.

  70. Nick F says:

    ….so Brawn rang up Jenson and accused him of being in breach of contract for visiting the Mclaren factory at a crucial point in the negotiations? …Jenson felt unloved and that helped to push him towards Mclaren?

    I listened to Button on Radio 5 Live today. It sounded to me (reading between the lines) that he wants to prove himself against Hamilton. He’s very aware presumably that most people rate him as a good, but not top F1 driver and he (like all successful sportsmen) has great inner belief and wishes to prove himself. I’m sure he also believes that Mclaren will likely produce competitive car during the next 3 years.

  71. Stuart Wilkes says:

    To be honest, I hope you’re right James. Even if Jenson loses out to Lewis, I think it’s great to want to take him on. Whilst I don’t subscribe to it myself, I’m sure it mud irritate button to hear people say he won the championsip because of Brawn’s performance at the start of the year. There’s little to be gained reputation or challenge wise by beating (or loing to) Rosberg. There’s a great deal to be gained reputation by putting up a good fight against Lewis, however the final result comes out.

  72. Pat says:

    High Stakes Poker – Brawn Lost

    1. Pat says:

      Jenson’s interview on 5live today was great and he gave seemingly honest & plausible responses to some good questioning from Simon Mayo.

      http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/fivelive/mayo/mayo_20091119-1703a.mp3

      He’d achieved all the goals he’d set himself with BrawnGP and wanted to take up the challenge Hamilton has thrown down as David Coulthard has written in the Telrgraph – we’re about to see a Title Unification Fight in F1. :)

      1. Vin Yette says:

        I appreciate you posting that link. Thanks.

      2. jose says:

        Everybody thinks he will be destoyes by hamilton. Let’s give him a chance, and see what he can do with next year.
        At least he is showing some guts, going for the tough challenge.

      3. Jameson says:

        Pat,

        Thanks for posting the link to this MP3. I’m in the States, so I can’t usually access 5Live. I feel like I miss out on a lot of interviews, and as a consequence I can only read news which doesn’t quite have the same impact. Communication via type tends to lose a lot in translation, so you miss inflections and tones that give much more clue to feelings.

        Button sounded exceptionally happy, and eager for the challenge of a new car, new team, and new teammate. I wasn’t convinced that it wasn’t a financial move until I heard the interview, and now I’m ecstatic to know that it was not. I can’t wait to see Button next year!

        I’ve always assumed that Button would be beaten by Hamilton hands down. I may be changing my tune, as they may be more evenly matched with the extra fuel load early in the race. If Button can build up enough of lead with his smooth driving, he may be able to fend of Hamilton later in the race.

      4. James Allen says:

        I think you can access everything outside race weekends. It’s just the stuff from track that is geo-locked

  73. Pat says:

    James

    Any idea where Jorg Zander the designer of the BGP001 has gone to or may pop-up at ?

  74. Wesley says:

    I know many will not agree with me but,I think Merc should take Heidfeld over Kubica.Nick is consistant and hungry for wins.He has outperformed Robert at their stint at BMW.He may not have the attack instinct of some other drivers but,he still knows how to overtake and could bring in steady points.He seems to manage his car very well.Obviously.. he proved that with his most consecutive finishes over the last two seasons.

    1. AlexD says:

      How do you say he outperformed? Based on what? Kubica is much faster driver, in my view.

      1. rich_ct says:

        Until you actually study the results that Kubica and Heidfeld deliver it is very difficult to argue one over the other. Firstly during 2009 Kubica was more typically light fuelled in q3 than Nick if you use fuel corrected weights their times are often very close. At Spa Nick was second fastest in qualifying if you use fuel corrected values. During 2008 Nick recorded two fastest lap of the race, Robert has yet to record even one. As drivers they are different in style but produce similar results (Nick has actually recorded more points per race – he did the same to Kimi, Felipe, JV and Mark when teamed with them).

        We now need to look at next year – most people feel a smoother driver (like Jenson and Nick) might gain an advantage in reducing tyre wear which will increase with the added fuel mass.

        It is also simply not true Nick cannot overtake – type in “Heidfeld” and overtakes into Youtube and you will see just how stylish he is at overtaking. His double overtaking is so beautifully executed that I have got people to start watching F1 after see these clips.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VLdPDo6mP4

        ps Vettel is seriously fast in open air but I cannot remember seeing him overtake – there certainly is not one clip on YouTube.

      2. Wesley says:

        @ Alex D

        2006 (Hungary until the end of the season) Heidfeld 10 – 6 Kubica
        2007 Heidfeld 61 – 39 Kubica
        2008 Heidfeld 60 – 75 Kubica
        2009 (points scored after Singapore) Heidfeld 12 – 9 Kubica
        Total Heidfeld 143 – 129 Kubica

  75. done deal says:

    kimi has a seat.

    1. Renn Sport says:

      Yeah in the local Jobcentre ;-)

    2. supervly says:

      In a WRC citroen

  76. RobbM says:

    Hi James

    I can’t help feel JB and his management have behaved in a underhand way.
    If JB left Brawn for a new challenge (against LH and to try his talents in a new team) then he should’ve sat down with Brawn and explained his feeling to his face, way before now … not going to the McLaren base then saying on the news how undervalued he felt by Brawn. Which as its turned out is plain lies.
    I maybe wrong but i feel this tints (though only slightly) his image regarding how some F1 fans may feel about him. It’ll be interesting to read the others POV about this maneuver.

    I think Ross has got every right to be angry at the behavior of JB and is spot on about his head being turned … which is, in sense unforgivable of JB, as he’s not a young novice but a grown man with experience, his head shouldn’t be so easily turned like that.
    Ever since that time with Williams i always hoped JB never fancied himself as a poker player, haven’t changed that view, if anything it’s reinforced.

    Although another thought occurs to me as i type, this is McLaren having a swipe at Mercedes for leaving them, a swift uppercut at the divorce maybe?

    What’s the mood in the Brawn camp, i know they must be down but i can’t see them picking NH unless they really need too. Any news on Brawn looking for a better driver… Shame Montoya’s not around these days, i kinda miss him especially now Kimi is gone.

    Rob

    1. Axu says:

      Hello, James and everyone.

      I listened carefuly to Jenson’s interview on 5live and detected two bits of statement relevant to this discussion.

      First: Jenson says, at one moment, he had a great relantionship with the team (management), “especially with Ross”. So my understanding was that there were real problems between him and Nick Fry.

      The unelegant statement (and this is elegantly speaking) made by Mr. Fry in the Daily Mirror about Jenson being either brave or stupid leads in the same direction: he didn’t like Button too much. Mr Fry also talks about “offering loyalty” to Jenson. Um, what kind of loyalty would that be? Keeping him in the team even if he (Fry) thought that there are better available solutions (driver value + marketability + making new owners happy)? If that’s what was on Nick’s mind, it would explain a lot about the final outcome.

      It may be that Mr Fry was trying to prove himself as a great manager (overshadowed as he may have felt by Ross) as much as Jenson was overfed with “anyone would’ve one in that car”.

      Second: Mr Button said that even if he has listened to his people (dad, manager etc), he took the decision to go to McLaren from his heart. So, not a very rational move. This would lead to the same conclusion: a great achievement (WDC and WCC) turned all sour because of the emotional mismanagement by someone at Brawn.

      Also, I think Ross Brawn’s perceived surprise (and bitterness) have also to do with the handling of the situation by his own Mr Fry. Reportedly, Ross was on vacation for a week and, most likely, delegated the management to Nick along with some guidelines. And it turned all messed up.

      Aside the MB’s long term vision about drivers (and the short contract offered to Jenson) and some stuff Button may know about the development of next year’s car, I think all that counted for something.

      He might prove to be a great driver or just a merely good one, but choosing to confront the no1 pretender at next WDC crown on his own turf, Jenson demonstrated he has a big heart. And that the difference between him and Kimi, who is as emotional as a cold tyre. The flying Finn has great(er) talent, but much less heart.

      1. Neil Williams says:

        Nick Fry mentioned in Brazil in the fenzied aftermath of the titles being clinched, that it was he who was negotiating driver contracts. His chopper on the block then?!

  77. Nick H says:

    James, you have stated your belief that Mercedes want Vettel in their car.
    Roseberg to Mercedes is a done deal so if Vettel became availible to Mercedes for 2011 surely that would have put Jensons seat at Mercedes in doubt had he had stayed.
    Would a seat at McLaren be on offer had Jenson stayed at Mercedes and the car disapointed…. i doubt it.

  78. Segedunum says:

    Hmmmmm, Kubica and Rosberg doesn’t particularly excite me either versus Heidfeld and Rosberg, especially when you look at the competition. I think Kubica is rather overrated.

    At BMW Kubica has actually been outscored by Heidfeld since they were team mates (over three years no less), and no one is tipping Heidfeld to be a spectacular signing that will take Brawn Merc to another level. You just don’t get the impression that either driver is really going to make the difference in qualifying and in race moments in a way that Button has proved that he was able to this season. Unless Mercedes can more than replace what they’ve lost then all their hard work might come to nought, which seems to be why they seem a bit sore over the Button saga.

  79. Peppers says:

    Wow, nothing is ever simple in F1 is it?

    All these claims and counterclaims.

    James, what do you think will happen with those musical chairs on the grid. Everyone is waiting to see what everyone else is doing. I don’t think Renault will last much longer, and think Sauber will reappear shortly.

    I think the Button/Hamilton partnership will be better than Alonso/Hamilton. I think Jenson will be happy with equal treatment as is McLaren policy, which is what Fernando didn’t like. However, anything less than equal, and I think there could be issues.

    Given the different driving styles of Hamilton and Button, could there be any difficulties in developing a car that suits them both?

    What could they do to Toyota? Are they likely to do anything?

    1. Rich C says:

      “What could they do to Toyota? Are they likely to do anything?”

      If they sue they’ll feel like they walked into a buzz saw. An enormous co like Toysota already has legions of high-priced lawyers on staff. And in the end they’ll find an arcane old Japanese law that loosely translates as “Oh, so sorry, but we didn’t really mean it when we signed that agreement.”

  80. Nick H says:

    I think Nick Frys comments about lack of loyalty are below the belt and completley incorrect.
    Jenson stayed loyal to the team under its various guises as BAR, Honda and Brawn.
    When badged as Honda the car was awful, other drives would have complained loudly and pubically, but Jenson stayed silent and kept his head down.
    Has Nick Fry has also quickly forgoten the voluntary pay cut of £5 million Jenson took last summer to keep the team alive.
    This situation would have been avoided if Brawn had signed Jenson on a new long term contract during the season. Fry has messed up and his comments now look a case of sour grapes.

  81. Martin P says:

    There’s lots of talk about Ross and Jenson, but there’s one man in the thick of this that I can’t help feel plays a part – Nick Fry.

    To be frank his comments earlier today seemed petulant and unworthy of a CEO of a Championship winning team.

    In response to his references to loyalty though, I’d say this him;

    1. By your own definition, should you not have given Rubens a new contract?

    2. By your own definition, should Mercedes have not stayed loyal to McLaren?

    I guess loyalty only counts when it suits what you want.

    I can’t help feel that Fry is a very lucky man. The team didn’t exactly sparkle under his leadership and since Brawn arrived to lead the race team, he hasn’t been that successful in securing sponsorship. Yet he suddenly finds himself a very rich man and part of one of the biggest team names in motorsport history.

    Here’s a question for you though James…. Ross has signed up to continue for an undisclosed number of years as team principle. Is there any hint that they asked Fry to stay on too… or is it just a question of loyalty?!

    1. James Allen says:

      He is there as CEO and is still a shareholder, along with Brawn

      1. Martin P says:

        VERY lucky man.

  82. onyx says:

    If i were Ross Brawn i would get rid of Nick Fry pretty damm quick!He’s only ever done one good thing in F1 ie getting Ross to Honda,now he has screwed up letting Button go.Mercedes must be wondering what they have bought!!!!Looks like deal of the century for Ross-at the end of the day he sold out for the Mercedes dollar-shame on you Ross…..good luck with Heidfeld…continuity?

  83. Fitz says:

    RAIKKONEN WILL NEGOTIATE WITH MERCEDES GP
    19 November 2009, Helsingin Sanomat

    “Norbert Haug confirms that Kimi’s managers have called to Mercedes GP’s Nick Fry to offer negotiations.”

    http://www.hs.fi/urheilu/formula1/artikkeli/Räikkönen+neuvottelee+vielä+Mercedes+Grand+Prixn+kanssa/1135250885855

    This is fresh information from this evening given by Haug to Helsingin Sanomat’s reporter. A very respected and reliable source.

  84. Jake Pattison says:

    This is an unfortunate move for Button. He is really not up to the task of beating Hamilton I feel. He wont be feeling the McLaren love once Hamilton’s won a couple of races.
    I bet Alonso is having a chuckle at the thought of the two poms fighting each other instead of the rest of the pack.

  85. Fausto Cunha says:

    No matter what people say it´s a brave move from Jenson, facing Lewis at Mclaren as a world champion is something that the majority of people didn´t believe, specially everybody at Brawn/Mercedes.

    It´s very interesting that before the deal with Mclaren, everybody was talking about money and wou much jenson was asking, but after the deal with Mclaren everybody starts saying that it wasn´t for money.

    Maybe he wasn´t filling appreciated at Brawn and with the Mclaren possibility just around the corner he took it.Its a top team , that´s what most of the drivers want.

    As for the bitter, it´s normal when people part away without solving their issues.

  86. Sam says:

    James, do you think there is a chance that Michael Schumacher will drive for Mecerdez?

    With 4 race winners in Maclaren and Ferrari, it is fair to argue that Brawn is not doing his job if he aint trying to get Michael.

    Not only for the sake of results but also brand extension which is what they needed most at the moment.

    Maclaren has two world champions, Mercedez needs have an answer to that.

    And Schumi haven’t completely rule that out yet.
    I think you just have to say “Michael, do you want to drive for us for a season or two?”
    He will go nuts, trust me.

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t think so, no. He doesn’t want to do a whole season, he says

  87. Hairs says:

    I think 5 live and Jake today did two interviews with Button that were pretty clear. I think he really does just want to do the difficult thing – to prove the naysayers and doubters wrong. Ross Brawn may not be pleased, but as usual he is pragmatic and professional. Nick Fry, on the other hand, throwing a tantrum and making disparaging comments about his recent best mate Jense is wholly unprofessional, and very much expected from that quarter. I do think Button allowed his management to do too much talking to the media. He should have just got on with it quietly.

  88. piotr says:

    Is there any more we should read into your Kubica suggestion, other than speculations, James? Rosberg, said once during the silly season, that having Robert Kubica as a team mate would definitely cause few arguments between them both, so clearly Nico wasn’t too enthusiastic about it.

    I do not think though, that Kubica would be interested to join a German team with a German driver again, after three full seasons in BMW Sauber. Person very close to Pole said, that the Hinwil team always felt like Heidfeld’s team. Did anyone apart from Martin Brundle notice for example, these quite strange, if not stupid reactions among the BMW Sauber’ team crew, after Kubica was stopped by Vettel in Australia? Few of them were laughing!

    Also I think some justice need to be done to the whole “unfairness” voiced about Heidfeld being ordered to let Kubica pass him during Canada Grand Prix in 2008. How many times did we hear over the team radio of any driver orders like: “let him pass you, he needs to stop again”? That’s what Heidfeld heard via his team radio that day. It was German who was heading to the finish line having completed his last pit stop already, while Kubica had to dig deep in order to make his last scheduled pit stop, to come back in front of Nick and still to build impressive gap of 16 seconds at the finish line. Enough said?

    I’ve nothing against Heidfeld, what’s more, I do think he really has been underestimated throughout his career so far. To some extend it is probably due to his “silent” way of driving, but give me a break, to call him another Alesi is too much of a joke. Jean Alesi was one of the best drivers in F1 history, with some unbelievable, breathtaking performances over the years, whose lack of wins was mainly due to some incredibly bad luck. It was Alesi’s sensational debut in 1989 in the underfunded Tyrrel-Cosworth team, which glued me to the Formula 1 armchair for years. Performances, which Heidfeld weren’t able to produce throughout his nine years in top flight.

    And finally a word on Räikkönen. As much as I will miss him, I think he’s lost his heart and soul for Formula 1 some time ago, and unfortunately made salary negotiations more of a sport than pure racing. I guess the fortunate way his career developed spoiled him to the bone, and that is a shame, as he is undoubtedly one of an old-fashioned champions with lot of dignity and disgust for today’s commercialism of this sport.

  89. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    Ross leaked details of the call to Bob McKenzie. I think that what happened is Ross saying in a round about way that even though he walked away from them, they were walking away from him in any case.

    He is right to say that Button (or his management) were not very sensible or professional about the negotiation process. Negotiating in such a public way was a little cheap on the part of Richard Goddard. He tried everything – leaking details about performance clauses, talking about how Mercedes could afford to up the offer, and even pleading that they should be “fair” with Jenson.

    This is not about fairness. Jenson was out of contract with Brawn in 2010…pure and simple. They had carte blanche to look at any driver that they wanted for 2010, and felt that given the drivers available Jenson was only worth x amount. They didn’t reach an agreement.

    Brawn were made to look like villains in all of this and Ross is right to speak up.

  90. I’m not sure I’m as excited as others to see LH and JB on the same team.

    I can’t help feeling that there will be some tension after a couple of races.

    Can’t blame JB for leaving Brawn GP and I don’t see why Ross is crying about it.

  91. Gerry L says:

    Did Brawn actually put a better offer on the table? There has been no word on how long the contract would be. 1 year? If that is the case, I would go for McLaren which offered a 3 year contract.

  92. Matt W says:

    Thinking about it more, Ross Brawn sounds like he thought he was still at Ferrari by taking the offer from the table. They had a fantastic year, but Brawn/Mercedes are not big enough to play hardball like that yet.

  93. Chris Bird says:

    Hats off to Jenson Button – a Driver prepared to go to the ‘lions den’ for less money….I didn’t think he had it in him….glad to be wrong.

    Shame on you Nick fry – snippy comments after the horse has bolted. You should and could have made this ‘right’ a long time ago…enjoy Qwick Nick and Barbie

  94. Tony says:

    You seem to have attributed to Ross a quote that everyone else has down to Nick Fry….

    I think that the stick that Button has got for ‘winning only because of the car’ is a big factor and he is right! What else can he prove staying with Brawn/Merc – if he wins; Ross and the boys must have built another great car… At McLaren, especially against Hamilton; perfect benchmark and even some breathing space to settle in as virtually no-one seems to think he’ll even get close to Lewis… lets see how the points stack up come the end of the year…

  95. grat says:

    Wow. I was telling a friend of mine about the Button/Brawn/Mercedes/McLaren drama, and his comment was “F1 really is grade-school politics with multi-million dollar toys, isn’t it?”

    Personally, it sounds like both parties were playing a game of “mine’s bigger” in the press, and Brawn blinked first. Ultimately, he lost the World Champion, for less money, just as he got a major buy-in from a company that’s trying to move away from the team that just snagged the World Champion.

    At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if McLaren painted their cars green next year.

    Still though… if Hamilton can pick up a bit of Button’s smoothness, and Button can pick up a bit of aggression by competing directly with Hamilton, Ferrari is going to have a bad year– along with the rest of the grid.

  96. Markdartj says:

    James, Didn’t I read in one of your previous posts that Rosberg’s contract has a clause in it that says no teamate of his will get paid higher that him? Wouldn’t this have tied Brawn’s hands? Perhaps Button was an exclusion from this clause?

  97. Matthew says:

    I think since lewis has been on the scene, and showed so much talent, button has been made aware that is who he was once, or at least promoised to be. But it went wrong and he got in his comfort zone.

    Lewis arriving disturbed the waters and sudden button was thinking, “I’m better than him, what’s all the fuss?”

    so he’s been smarting to beat lewis, on the track, and in the minds of the people.

    Personally, I hope this move will bring out the best in him and both of them can drive out of their skins, because that’s what we all want. Proper racing.

    There may even be some over taking! *I’m not betting on it though*

    I think button may be a dormant mega talent, he just needs to find it again and hone it.

  98. AlexD says:

    I personally feel that it was Brawn who made Button the champion and not the other way around. But, I am happy that 2010 is going to prove it is a fair statement. World is going to see that Jens is pretty average compared to Hamilton.

    On the other side, I think that if Kimi will agree to join Brawn, that the team has lost nothing! Either Kimi or Kubica will do a better job at Brawn. Will they have a winning car? I really doubt it – it will all be between Ferrari and McLaren, Lewis and Alonso in 2010.

  99. Darren says:

    IF i was in the same boat as Button, and Lotus came knocking i would have left brawn in a heart beat. If it was the mans dream let he have it.

  100. Mario says:

    I would like to see Kubica go to do some rallying with Kimi, or both of them in Merc F1.
    Anything else will not attract too much of my attention.
    Rosberg/Kubica does not sound good. Rosberg/Heidfeld sounds better.

  101. CptZorg says:

    Honestly I don’t see why we’re so perplexed as to JB’s motives. There are only a few consistently top teams in F1, McLaren being one of them. JB has been a journeyman for long enough in teams that haven’t quite been competitive enough and surely he must also realize the effect of the double diffusers in his WDC (not that it should make a difference to his due credits).

    Whatever kind of car Merc manages to produce for next year, it won’t be a McLaren. If these things didn’t matter, why then would almost any driver on the grid jump at the chance of driving for McLaren or the Scuderia.

    As to Merc’s line up for next year, I think Ferrari’s recent example can give us a clue. It’ll be a driver who fits the marketing bill and who is of most value in Mercedes road car ads.

  102. Tim says:

    Just a thought – Haug said about a surprise. What about Gary Paffet or Paul Di Resta? Both have been talked about as F1 material and didn’t Di Resta show fairly well against Vettel in F3? Both in the Merc camp – and either would be a surprise.

  103. Michael Grievson says:

    I think there are a lot of unnecessary negative comments for Jenson. He’s the world champion because he drive better than everyone else on the grid. Some of it may have been the car but he beat Reubens who was in the same car. Yes he struggledmid season with qualifying and it could have been the preassure. How many of us would have done the same being on the verg of realising a life long dream.

    Ive got a feeling James will soon be telling us why talks broke down at Brawn. Lets face it. Either they didn’t want him or they tried to play hard ball and it all back fired.

    I’d love to see him at Mclaren. Even if he doesn’t beat Lewis he’s still one of the top drivers. If the Mclaren is the fastest car next year he wouldn’t have beaten Lewis in the new Brawn/Merc anyway

  104. Olivier says:

    Jenson knows he owes his championship to Big Bear.

    I am gutted about the timing of his McLaren deal. Only days after the Mercedes Brawn announcement … it seems he did not want his former team to enjoy the moment and the positive press coverage.

    It is the first time I see Brawn taken by surprise. Last week he was 99% sure that Jenson would stay.

    I am very disappointed in Button. Not a gentleman at all. With a lot of disrespect to Ross Brawn.

  105. Spenny says:

    There is a missing piece of the jigsaw; there is something that Ross Brawn or Nick Fry has done that made Button distrust them and felt not just that he was not valued, but that he had been betrayed.

    It is interesting that Brawn used the word naive about himself, because I think the problem is that Button was naive. I suspect there was something said when Button relinquished his contract at the start of the season that led Button to believe that he was entitled to something – either simply respect, a longer contract, or a rumoured offer of a shareholding.

    I think Button was genuinely surprised and aggrieved to be fighting over retaining his seat in such circumstances – to effectively be told that as World Champion you are not the automatic choice for the seat is a pretty big stab in the back.

    As this plays out, McLaren can see that they have got a driver for free – they will easily recoup his salary in additional sponsorship and promotion deals – and they have offered Button his pride – a deal that was concluded so swiftly that it shouts out “This was an easy decision because Button is one of the best.” Button has kept his public comments polite and thankful.

    Meanwhile, Brawn and Fry are spitting feathers: blaming Button, not their failure to negotiate; obviously throwing their toys out of the pram when a driver decided that the failure of Brawn to negotiate quite rightly decided that this meant he should look at the alternatives, and now are looking to enforce the strict terms of a contract against the firm that enabled them to exist – without any contractual commitment.

    If MercGP go down this path, with Brawn showing the nasty side of his Ferrari personality that rubbed others up the wrong way, Fry coming across as a sore loser, they will lose all the goodwill that has seen them through the year. Sponsors will be thinking twice about dealing with a company that comes across as disloyal (even though they sulkily claim that Button started it first).

    What have Mercedes bought?

    1. GQsm says:

      I think we have the same sense of what went on.

      I still think Nick Fry is the one who messed this up and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ross is actually mad at Nick right now.

  106. Graham says:

    James,
    I think that the reason that Jenson left was because whilst Brawn/Mercedes keep talking about the money for 2010 being £8/£12 million there hasn’t appeared to be much reference to anything post 2010. When you look at the length of contracts being offered 2/3 years what drives would have been available to him next year. Jenson has at 29 potentially got at least 6 years left in F1 – he has got himself a seat for 3 of those in a team that has, on the whole, offered the best opportunity to win races/challenge for Championships. Hamilton and Button could realistically be the driver pairing for Mclaren until Jenson calls it a day. I will be very surprised if Vettel doesn’t end up at Mercedes in 2011 – with a supply of Mercedes engines to Red Bull as a sweetener to the deal and I don’t think Jenson would be happy ‘just keeping the seat warm’ for Vettel. It has been said that it ‘irked’ Mercedes that they didn’t have Schumi winning a Championship in their car – Can’t see them letting that happen again. Plus what odds on Schuey back for one season until they get Vettel in the car – he may not want to be there long term but he may be happy for a 1 year deal

  107. Simon A says:

    Having watched the interview Jenson has done with Jake on the BBC website, it is clear that he wanted a new challenge, particularly facing Lewis on his own turf as he put it (he only mentioned it 5 or 6 times in a ten minute interview). Does he see himself as a similar character to Kimi, who once he’d achieved WC status seemed to lose his mojo without the same fire or drive?

    My own view is that loyalty is shown in situations like December 2008, where Jenson stuck with the team and showed his loyalty, admittedly he didn’t really have too many other options, but he could have walked away.

    On the Lewis thing, it does make me wonder if this has been on his mind since 2007 when the ITV coverage went from Button TV to Hamilton TV, and his weekly interview with Steve Rider was replaced with a Lewis interview. I got the feeling Jenson found that a little annoying at the time.

    Whatever the reason for the move there is the potential for a stunning season ahead, I personally cannot wait.

  108. Mr G says:

    Lewis vs Jenson, a very good fight but Lewis will win it very easily.
    I think JB will regret this move because Lewis will have the upper hand at the end of the season.
    I feel that JB has agreed with McLaren on the back of the fantastic marketing machine that McLaren has developed in the last decade.
    Today in the paddock McLaren, thanks to Lewis and the marketing people, looks the coolest team, the coolest paddock space, the collaboration with the sponsors has been always very clinically precise and directed to the pubblic to show the best of the team.
    I think JB and John Button like that coolness, like the perception of the people outside F1 looking at McLaren people.
    I might be wrong but I feel JB likes to be loved and likes to appear cool and if this will make him feel good, he will drive at 110% of his capability.
    For a driver feel good is very important and I think Jenson did not feel good and happy about staying at Brawns

  109. Finn # 1 (there's more than one "Finn" posting comments) says:

    Think Brawn and Mercedes are doing fantastically well out of this.

    Ross really is a genius and will mess with Button’s head next year so deftly that it will be a joy to watch.

    They’ve got rid of Button, but have cast themselves as the spurned party, which will only needle Button (we know how wobbly he was this season when under pressure) and unsettle Macca.

    Think Macca (and Button) have got their strategy entirely wrong: an all Brit line up will limit their sponsors’ exposure in an international marketplace. It’s all too Little Britain in its thinking and smacks of weakness. In recent years, we’ve had Macca doing the “I want that one” skit, stealing Ferrari’s tech files, screwing up the handling of Alonso and Hamilton, telling porkies to the officials in Australia, losing their team principal, etc. Now they are cast as having ‘stolen’ JB from Brawn … it just looks like another in a series of tawdry events of Macca scrabbling around for other people’s talent/opportunities.

    Think this whole episode is also fantastic for Ferrari and Red Bull: they’re completely out of the spotlight now and can get on with their preparations for 2010. The circus around Lewis and JB will turn into a badly scripted sitcom.

    Fully expect that Macca will finish behind Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes next year.

    1. Silverstoned says:

      That’s right. They’ve taken swapped Button for Mercedes, a pretty good deal by any standards. And it’s how Ross has managed it that takes the bsicuit…

  110. M. S. Koentjoro says:

    It must be that night when everybody else was celebrating and Jenson quietly slipped back to his hotel room and stayed awake all night. That’s when he thought “What now? What’s next..”

  111. Gaz says:

    I’d love to see Schumacher take the remaining Brawn seat. Would make for an epic season next year !

  112. Neil Williams says:

    In both interviews with the BBC yesterday, Jenson came across as sincere, very determined and excited at both the decision he had made and what 2010 holds for him. In not lowering himself to get involved in the mud-slinging that has been coming out of Brackley, he has gone up a notch or two as a person in my opinion.

    I suspect the reality is that Brawn tried to play him hard, through genuine budget concerns or otherwise, and that had they offered him somewhere near to his requirements before or just after he sealed the WDC he would be a Brawn/Merc driver today. To allow things to drag on, again for whatever reason, gives chances for the driver to chase alternatives and others to test the waters.

    However, when you realise a lifelong ambition do any of us know how we would react? That aching, that desire to succeed has gone and what do you replace it with? Where does the next goal/challenge come from? The thrill of the chase of the woman/man you just have to have in your life probably is a poor but similar parallel. Jenson does read the papers too much and takes others opinions of him to heart, cares how he is percieved. His confidence in his own abilities is maybe hurting a little that despite winning the WDC some commentators believe it wasn’t him winning it was the car, it was Ross Brawn, it was the aero-team that gave him the double diffuser etc. etc. He’s taken the next logical step in my view that to prove it is his talent as well as the car that got him over the line, he has to go against the best of the best. Short of joining Alonso at Ferrari, going against Hamilton was going to be the next best thing. Settle for another year of the car is the star or actually provide yourself with a real challenge?

    Good on you, Jense, the best of luck for 2010 but for godsake, stop reading papers and get on with the job!

  113. I think Brawn were negotiating with Jenson on the basis he would sign for then eventually as they perceived that no other top team had a seat available, thinking that McLaren would be signing Kimi or maybe keep Heiki, it must have come as a shock to Ross and Nick when McLaren started courting Jenson, and I doubt that even Jenson had considered anything but staying with Brawn.

  114. Pete says:

    Brawn is bitter, dear oh dear I hoe the reported 35 million he just pocketed from Mercedes easy the loss of button.
    Fair play Button actually more interested in the sport of F1 than the money as he has shown in the past by buying himself out of contracts for more competitive drives. It strikes me as odd they people first accused him of being all about money and greedy now that isnt true and he was motivated by challenge he is underhand and has a history of breaking contracts in the past. Yes he has for the exact same reason, not for money for the better drive the better challenge. Ross Brawn is massively overrated he had massive amounts of resource at ferrari and honda had pumped so much into this seasons “brawn” car it was arguably the most prepared car of all time for an F1 season. The brawn dream wasnt done on a shoe string they had massive resource which was lost mid season and showed. He has replaced hoda with mercedes and has got rich selling his stake in a comapn that him and Fry bought for 1 euro!!!!! Jenson styed with taht team when it gave him nothng but dogs to drive and he also took a pay cut. Bran and Fry should shut up and maybe give him a parachute payment from the millions they’ve just aquired off the back of honda, jenson, rubens and all the guys at brackley ( the ones who lost jobs, if brawn was such a good guy he would of agreed that mercedes deal meant the re-hiring of some of those people)that would be fair that wuld show ‘loyalty’
    Fair play to Button for making F1 more about the drivers and a sport I relish Hamilton v Button it will be amasing. Lets make F1 more about sportsmen then manufacturing if not we may as well play top trumps o decide whos going to win future championships!!

  115. Glen D says:

    Hi James,

    Great post! It amazes me how Ross Brawn goes bleating on about loyalty. Has his memory gone? Jensen stay loyal after the great car Honda gave him in ’06 (if i remember rightly) then in ’07 and ’08 total lames ducks AND then sticking by the team when Honda pulled out.

    It is clear after winning the WDC Jensen is looking for a challenge. With Mercedes buying Brawn he obviously didnt see his future at the team.

    Only time will tell whether Jensen will be a match for Lewis with the new regulations on no refueling.

    I for one cant wait for the new season with Jensen and Lewis in the McLaren and Alonso (hands down the best in F1, IMO) in the Ferrari.
    I just hope Brawn, Fry and co can accept that Jensen has moved on and get over it. They had their chance to sign and should have got it sorted months ago!

    Glen

  116. Renn Sport says:

    It seems as if Ross is rightly miffed at Button.
    I thought button wasn’t getting paid enough so I accepted his switch. However on seeing that Brawn Merc were paying more then it doesn’t make sense.

    Why has Button done this? he’s going up against Hamilton on Hamilton’s home ground. Nobody thinks this is a wise move for a driver of calibre.
    Alonso, Vettel, Kimi and Lewis are the 4 drivers who kill team mates.

    I think Ross is right to question Button loyalty and judgement.

    However if Button bests Hamilton then he can claim to be the genuine article.

  117. Parthi says:

    I think Button’s reason for going to Mclaren is more than wanting a new challenge…

    It’s more likely he sees Mclaren as a safer bet, they should be stronger than Mercedes over the next three years.

    And we know how keen Mercedes is on German drivers, maybe he was worried Rosberg would be favoured by the team. That coupled with Ross Brawn’s past with Ferrari and having a supporting driver to the number 1 driver might’ve had more influence on his decision.

    I know Ross Brawn gave Button and Barrichello equal status in the team this year despite the championship fight, but next year Brawn is an employee of Mercedes.

  118. Finn # 1 (there's more than one "Finn" posting comments) says:

    Great observation in the Telegraph comparing Hamilton and JB with Schumi:

    “Interest in F1 in Britain is glowing red hot following Button’s world championship win and his subsequent move to McLaren. Beyond our shores neither Button nor Hamilton is the big sell that Schumacher is. His brand is global. ”

    Think this sums up the foolishness of Macca becoming an inward looking jingo-team.

    Their sponsors can’t be very happy with them.

    1. Steve Mc says:

      Is that right though? I’m fairly certain that JB is pretty popular in the far east, for example, and, judging from all the American artists and rappers that LH is able to attract to the McLaren garage since 07, I don’t think that McLaren’s marketing potential is as brit-centric as The Telegraph would have us believe.

      Also, from what I’ve read, the JB deal had the full blessing from their title sponsor; I just don’t see why would they get behind a strategy that would have a detrimental effect on the value they get out of their commercial agreement.

  119. rpaco says:

    I wonder if Ross and/or Nick Fry was trying to be too clever and hold out on Jensen until McLaren had made some more positive noises about their final driver lineup and it was too late for McLaren to be an option for him.
    An obvious tactic for Brawn or any team to use, keep the driver dangling until he is desperate, then he will agree to lesser terms.

    Interesting that Ross said that Jensen had broken the contract. So when does a contract for a season end? Does it still apply if/while an extension is being negotiated, or is it suspended? (ironically to quote another Ross, “We were on a break!”)

    Our friend with legal contacts like to come in here?

    1. Neil Williams says:

      Most F1 contracts are for the calendar year so end 31st December. I think Ross’ issue may not have been that Button was talking to another team(s) but that it was done so openly. Personally, I can’t see what difference it makes, but it may have been in the minutae of an F1 contract. He had the right to protect his continued employment in the sport but perhaps could have done it in a more covert way until the McLaren deal was announced.

  120. Gina says:

    Rosberg and Raikkonen would be a dream line-up for Mercedes GP. It would put Mercedes GP at the top along with other teams who have great driver pairs, e.g. Hamilton-Button, Alonso-Massa, Webber-Vettel. Rosberg-Kubica or Rosberg-Heidfeld just doesn’t sound like a top team’s driver line-up :/

    James, I’m confused if Mercedes GP doesn’t do everything they can to get Kimi. Is it really true that Brawn doesn’t think highly of Kimi??? could you explain it, even a little bit? I’m sure Mercedes and the the sponsors would be more than happy to have a driver like Kimi in the team..

  121. Patrickl says:

    Lol, Button just keeps on getting himself in these contract problems.

    The offer on the table for Button was rumoured to be 4 million. Not 8. Can’t fault him for feeling unappreciated for such a low offer.

    On the Mercedes driver front, I’m not sure why they would wait for Kubica. Heidfeld is a better/completer driver than Kubica anyway.

    More surprising is the way that Rosberg is underrated. In the Autosport top 10 drivers list he wasn’t even mentioned. I’d say any driver besides Rosberg is going to be a defacto no 2 driver anyway. Be it Heidfeld or Kubica. Maybe if they could get Raikkonen it would be different, but hopefully he’ll wait for Red Bull in 2011.

  122. Segedunum says:

    I think Kubica is highly overrated. Heidfeld has outscored Kubica at BMW without doing anything spectacular – and that’s over three years no less. I can’t see why anyone would hold out until the new year for him.

    It just smacks of desperation for Brawn now.

  123. Tim says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if JB won BBC Sports Personality of the Year and Brawn GP won Team of the Year!

    Get them both on stage together to collect their trophy!!! That would be more entertaining that I’m A Celeb……. Having said that, Bernie should start selling the TV rights to live coverage of the driver’s contract negotiations. More interesting action than some of the races this year!

    Ant and Dec could make stupid comments in between the action. If Ant and Dec aren’t available Eddie Jordan could do it on his own!!

  124. Érico says:

    Even during the season one could have noticed how the feelings towards Button got colder at Brawn. Brawn, the man, went from “I should have paid more attention in my Ferrari days” to something along the lines of “overcautious”. That Barrichello, out of all people, pressed and bothered Button in the end must have been some sort of let down, no matter how important it was for Jenson to play it by the book.

    What strikes me now that things have settled in a bit is how easily they let go of Barrichello when a seemingly small effort was made to keep Button. The pair got the best of a car that went from dominant to struggling, thus the WCC. Now that there are important technical changes comming for 2010, it would have made perfect sense to at least keep one of them for continuity’s sake. Hindsight is a gift.

    Anyhow, we should all thank these guys for an exciting turnaround to the winter season. We have gone from manufacturers-leaving-doomsday-beckoning to the prospect of many great duels mixed with nationalist pride and rivalries. Did Bernie have a hand in this is is that dwarf one of the luckiest bastards ever?

    Let’s cross our fingers and hope Renault decides to continue fully committed for 2010. F1 is much better off talking about driver moves and its implication than its selfdestruction.

  125. Christopher Snowdon says:

    James, do you feel that Button felt like he deserved a top team (i.e Mclaren / Ferrari) to go with his status of being the world champion. No disrespect to Brawn/Mercedes, or any other team on the grid, even Alonso felt that way after amazing success with Renault, and lets face it, most world champions do. Hill seemed to be the only real exception to the rule when he signed for Arrows. Am I right in saying that Hill and Villeneuve are the only world champion since Piquet not to drive for one of those two teams, and they all drove for Williams who were seen in the same light as Mclaren/Ferrari back in the 80′s and 90′s.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think he saw a chance to have a fresh challenge, race for McLaren with number one on his car and be part of the birth of McLaren as the English Ferrari, as Ron sees it.

      1. Rich C says:

        LOL “English Ferrari” ??
        Hope Ron didn’t hear you say that!

      2. James Allen says:

        You kidding? That’s his great concept.

  126. Hi James “Schumacher in talks with Mercedes F1 ?” do you really think he would turn his bank on his lucrative very long term tie up with Ferrari just for 1 or 2 years with Merc ? money would have to be massive wouldn’t it ?

    1. Rich C says:

      The German fans would go totally insane and Luca Montezemolo would say he was dis-loyal and had moved to one of those useless, Johnny-come-lately teams he’s always whining about.

  127. Prancer says:

    I’m sure Bernie is enjoying this – the season is over and F1 is still in the news!!
    As a long time Ferrari fan I’m also finding it highly entertaining – though I suspect we may have our own driver problems soon enough…

    Brawn do sound bitter but in my opinion they have nobody to blame but themselves.Someone mentioned Alesi in connection with Nick earlier and I was reminded of Monaco in 2000 when Jean qualified his clapped out Prost in 7th.
    And thats the sort of “How the hell did he do that??” moment I never ever recall seeing from either Nick or Nico, decent drivers as they both are.
    Adequate replacements for Button and Rubens? Not even close to it in my mind.And I suspect a few people at Brawn may be thinking the same…

    1. piotr says:

      Glad to hear someone read my post :) I was provoked by Gavin here (November 19th, 2009 @ 8:52 pm), who compared Heidfeld to great Jean Alesi, which in all fairness is a bit too optimistic in my opinion.

  128. MM says:

    What goes around comes around… Methinks Brawn and Mercedes GP should be very happy with what has expired.

  129. Micheál Breen says:

    This is the third time Jenson has been involved in a high profile contract controversy in his Formula 1 career. It’s a sad way to end his time at Brawn and given what has happened before at Williams and BAR it appears he isn’t the straightest driver to deal with in contract negotiations.

    James, I’m sure the speculation linking Michael Schumacher to a seat at Mercedes is simply wishful thinking but given the column inches it is generating will you be analysing the rumour here over the weekend?

  130. Baart says:

    Well, I believe, that good old Button want to change his old team. To be honest, it was almost like one team, but they change their names couple of years in a row. BAR Honda, Honda, Brawn GP – but still, he felt like driving in one team. He tried to change something in the past, but for some reasons it fails.

    So, now he had the opportunity, so he take it.

    I know something about it, because I want to change my job, but, I am little scary, because it`s always could be worse. But someday, I`ll have enough all of it , and i`ll say – I WANT CHANGE !

    So maybe it`s the same :)

  131. Finn # 1 (there's more than one "Finn" posting comments) says:

    Why would JB want a new challenge. He barely coped with the challenge he faced this year racing the best car on the grid against Rubens Barichello.

    Think he was pushed out.

    Brawn and Merc know what they are doing. Would put a small bucket of dosh on them winning the WDC next years.

    Macca as the English answer to Ferrari? More like the English answer to a Fiat Panda. They don’t even have a clear/well-known logo/image …. other than the borrowed Merc engine logo. Dear oh dear. Ron and his weird dreams.

    1. Brace says:

      They have a logo but it’s a bit too sophisticated if you know what I mean.
      Trust me, I’m a graphic designer by profession and that logo just doesn’t scream uniqueness or recognizability.
      I think they need to develope their visual identity to the new level, now that they are going seriously into supercars market.

  132. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    If the figures that Merc reportedly offered Button are accurate, then I see no reason why they wouldn’t have a run at signing Raikkonen.

    If they think Button is worth a base salary of 8 million GBP with a total of 12 million GBP with incentives, then surely they view Raikkonen as just as valuable if not moreso. Furthermore, if Button signed for 6 million GBP, I’m thinking McLaren didn’t offer Raikkonen much more than that, if any more.

    Raikkonen to Merc makes lots of sense for a number of reasons. In fact, it probably makes more sense than him theoretically having another go at McLaren, where the corporate Ronspeak culture that he didn’t like remains. As I understand it, Merc are big Kimi fans, and surely they’d be willing to cut him some slack on rallying and PR appearances.

  133. Paul Mc says:

    Surely if the real possibility arose of him driving Ferrari would not stop him?

    P.S James as a birthday present today the missus got me a copy of MS:The Edge of Greatness…absolutely loving it!

    1. James Allen says:

      Great stuff! Happy Birthday

  134. peter says:

    I am a bit sad that Jenson got the drive at Macca and not Kimi. I think Kimi would be the only one to challenge Hamilton next year and in the McLaren he would have had a great chance to beat Lewis maybe more often than we think due to raws speed and phsychological reasons. I would have loved to see that.

  135. Michael Brown says:

    The BBC are now reporting that Schumacher is already in talks with Mercedes and Eddie Jordan is saying: “The possibility is being actively pursued and I believe it is going to happen…”.

    Despite being a lifelong Ferrari fan I think this would be spectacular! It would also be the coup of the century and really put McLaren’s “Dream Team” news into the shade.

  136. Doug says:

    Hi James,

    I thought you may find this interesting…
    From ‘Pitlane fanatic’

    “The real reason Button fell out with Brawn!”

    When Jenson Button signed with Ross Brawn earlier this year, it was on the basis that he would NOT enforce the three years left on his contract at a reported £8m (yes his contract was in UK£) each year plus bonuses. He did it on the basis that he would, like RB and Nick Fry, take a small (rumoured to be 10%) stake in the new company Brawn GP Ltd. The deal was apparently shaken on with a number of witnesses present.

    As the year passed, all expectations were somewhat grossly exceeded but the actual paperwork and share transfer forms were never completed. If any blame is to be placed on this aspect, I blame JB’s management team for not following it up. After the first few wins it would have become apparent to a blind man that these shares were now worth considerably more than the paper they were written (on not , as the case turned out) on. But for whatever reason, nothing was said and JB relied on his handshake with RB!

    Now we cut to ten days ago, just before the announcement with MBZ was made official and Jenson was flying in from Toyko after some R&R with his girlfriend and a few friends, feeling quite somewhat smug, looking forward to a windfall of around $20m. With that he could “live” with Brawn/MBZ’s less than ideal salary offer for 2010. You may then work out just how miffed he was, to get off the plane and hear from his manager than RB was not going to honour the “deal” on some kind of flimsy basis that it was never consumated in writing and that it was always going to be subject to a formal agreement, etc., etc.

    Now you can see why a detour to the McLaren Technology Centre for breakfast was a better option than stopping at the nearest Little Chef……….. 8-)

    1. Brace says:

      James, I demand you find out more about this and elaborate on this great piece of information! :)
      Doug, thanks for this. It makes things quite interesting! :)

  137. Kevin says:

    I’m not surprised JB didn’t want his pay based on performance. The Brawn probably won’t be a dominate car like it was this year. Guess I should say Mercedes, it will certainly be good, but he won’t have the edge he had this year to win this championship

  138. Rudy Pyatt says:

    James: A bit off-topic, but maybe one you can address for another day.

    Jarno Trulli has spoken positively about his NASCAR test; JPM has become successful there, and has won the Indy 500; even Scott Speed, drummed out of F1, is competitive. And, of course, there’s the history of F1 greats (Brabham, Clark, Stewart, Hill, Mansell, Fitipaldi, even Alberto Ascari), taking on the ovals, both here and abroad (Moss and Fangio in the The Race of Two Worlds at Monza).

    Given Button’s expressed desire for new challenges, and Kimi’s free-agent status, can you see either of them doing a one-off and racing in one of the American oval classics? For that matter, anyone currently, or recently, on the F1 grid?

    Granting that there will be at least some schedule conflicts (Monaco usually clashes with Indy, but that didn’t stop Clark, Hill and Stewart…), the summer break and February, could perhaps provide the opportunity. If Trulli goes into it, I suspect that will get others interested.

    What do you think? I’d love to see Kimi bombing around the Daytona banking, or JB and Lewis trying to master Indianapolis (if McLaren even remembers or cares about that part of its history), Fontana or Talladega. Given that F1 is unlikely to return to the States in anything like the near term, it may be the best way to build interest for an eventual return, especially if sponsors actually want to be here.

    Who knows? If USF1 comes through, maybe they’ll pull a PR stunt like running their car on the oval at Charlotte!

  139. The Limit says:

    It is interesting to hear Ross Brawn making these comments, considering he sold to Mercedes Benz in the first place. We must remember that Jenson spent six long years at the team, when it was BAR Honda and then Honda, before the team became Brawn Gp. Apart from 2004 and 2009, the other cars Button drove were not good enough to even challenge for championships.
    Jenson has given more than enough to the team, and as you mentioned, stuck with the team when he had a perfectly good opportunity to drive for Frank Williams.
    It would seem that alot of people out there are uncomfortable with drivers going to big teams and earning big money. These guys are not fools, they know their careers are not going to last forever, certainly when they start to push thirty years old when some of their rivals are a decade younger or more.
    Take Alonso for instance. Much like Raikkonen he has had a long and successful career, and his move to Ferrari certainly will not hurt his bank account. Fernando surely, like Jenson, must realise that ‘big opportunities’ in F1 do not come around every day. No matter how good you are, there is always another potential champion waiting in the wings to take your place.

  140. Ads21 says:

    “Kubica and Rosberg is a more formidable sounding line up for Mercedes”

    I really struggle to see why the myth that Kubica is better than Heidfeld is so prevelent in F1. Points scored by Heidfeld and Kubica in their time at BMW:

    2006 (Hungary until the end of the season) Heidfeld 10 – 6 Kubica
    2007 Heidfeld 61 – 39 Kubica
    2008 Heidfeld 60 – 75 Kubica
    2009 Heidfeld 19 – 17 Kubica
    Total Heidfeld 150 – 137 Kubica

    Oh what’s that I hear you cry? “but Kubica has won a race!” Yes, but only because Heidfeld let him past, otherwise Kubica’s race would have been ruined like Alonso’s was. Kubica would most likely have scored no points at all. Heidfeld sacrificed his chance of a win to give the team a 1-2.

    Heidfeld has beaten Kubica, Alesi, Raikkonen, Massa and Webber while racing in the same car. That he is still so misunderestimated in F1 is baffling. Mercedes should sign him, then watch him outscore Nico Rosberg.

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