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Button pulls the trigger on Brawn, now he has to beat Hamilton
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Button pulls the trigger on Brawn, now he has to beat Hamilton
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Nov 2009   |  3:41 pm GMT  |  368 comments

Jenson Button has done what he threatened to do; quit the team he won the championship with and launched a new adventure with McLaren.

Button has a three year contract to race alongside Lewis Hamilton in an all British “World Champions” superteam.

Everyone at the Brawn team in Brackley will be disappointed by this and there will be lots of question marks about loyalty and “feeling valued” swimming around on both sides. But at the end of the day Button has gone because Brawn and Mercedes were prepared to let him – and that says quite a lot.

Button - wanted to feel "valued" (Photo: Darren Heath)
The timing is hugely significant here. From McLaren’s point of view it is a much needed positive on a week when it was effectively divorced from it’s long term partner of 15 years and it really takes the shine off Mercedes’ big moment of announcing its own team with Brawn. They are now facing up to running Rosberg and Heidfeld next season, a line-up which will fill no-one with dread.

Button’s timing is less obvious. He is leaving a team which won the title on a wing and a prayer this season at the moment when it is about to become one of the great powerhouses of F1. In Ross Brawn, Mercedes feel they have a technical leader who can bring them the kind of domination they enjoyed in the 1950s. Brawn is also well set up to adapt to the new F1, under the resource restriction agreement, whereby teams will have to carry smaller staff numbers and will only be able to take 45 people to Grands Prix.

No-one should underestimate McLaren, however and it may well be that next year’s car is the fastest in the field. After all, they have excellent engineering strength in depth. But they still have to go through the painful process of downsizing, especially on the race team side. To remain operationally excellent while shedding 25 or more roles on site will not be easy and McLaren have been asking the other teams for some extra time to get there. I can’t see Brawn agreeing to that now.

Then you have the central question, which is why would Button want to go up against Lewis Hamilton in equal cars, when he could have stayed where he was and raced Nico Rosberg? I’ve said all along that this is a battle I do not believe he can win. But he has chosen to take on the challenge in exchange for a three year contract worth £6 million a year. I spent quite a bit of time with him in Abu Dhabi and he was talking then about “fresh challenges and resetting targets”.

I took it to mean he was afraid of becoming demotivated, having achieved his life time’s ambition and I admire him for deciding to take on one of the greatest challenges imaginable in F1, the other being to race Alonso in equal cars.

It proved too much of a challenge for Heikki Kovalainen, who’s head was completely destroyed by Hamilton. Button is more mentally resilient; he handled being beaten by Rubens Barrichello calmly. But the very fact that that happened quite a bit in the last few years makes you wonder about the wisdom of tackling Hamilton.

At the start of the season, Button will have the psychological advantage of carrying the number one on his car, with Hamilton number two, but that is only likely to prove an even greater motivation for the 2008 champion to assert himself over his new team mate.

“It’s always a difficult decision to leave a team when you’ve been there for so long, ” said Button. “But life is all about challenges – and, most important of all, it’s about challenging yourself. So, although I won the World Championship with Brawn GP last year, and I’ll never forget that, I was always adamant that I wanted to continue to set myself fresh challenges. So that’s why I’ve decided to join Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

“Lewis has achieved an incredible level of success in a very short period of time, and he’s a wonderfully gifted driver who has earned the respect of every Formula 1 driver. I’m sure there’s plenty that we can learn from each other.”

It's staying on a McLaren (Photo: Darren Heath)

It's staying on a McLaren (Photo: Darren Heath)


Much is being made of the ” all British” line up at McLaren, especially in contrast to what is likely to be an all German (and less charismatic) one at Mercedes. This is great news for Vodafone, who will have been concerned by McLaren’s poor performance this season and by the loss of Mercedes. They can get behind this and market the Bejezus out of it.

“I think it’s fantastic that we’ll be forming an all-British line-up, ” said Button. “I know that we both fly the flag with pride, and I sincerely hope we can make the whole of the United Kingdom, as well as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes fans across the world, proud. Nothing means more to me than to be able to represent my country, and I’m looking forward to both of us painting Formula 1’s circuits red, white and blue for many years to come.”

It will be ironic if the ongoing negotiations to save the British Grand Prix in the light of Donington’s failure do not succeed. However I understand that some senior government figures are involved in this and that there is optimism that a deal will be done.

It’s interesting to remember that when Ron Dennis was looking for a partner for Fernando Alonso and hired Lewis Hamilton, he said that he had been through every driver on the grid and they had all either “peaked” or “plateaued” – at the time Button was certainly one of the drivers he was talking about. Button has certainly turned that perception around in McLaren’s eyes.

Final point, it will be interesting to see the two Dads together, John Button and Anthony Hamilton. They have quite a bit of history and not all of it positive. That said they are both professional F1 Dads now and will no doubt put on a show. They have succeeded in the past; Lewis used engines tuned by John Button to win one of his karting championships.

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368 Comments
  1. ardent lewis fan says:

    Good luck Jenson. I fear you will have your work cut out here. Lewis, please teach him how to be a little more modest in his excitement and be just a tad more gentlemanly. DON’T forget your fans Jenson – it’s not all about you. Having said that I wish you the best of British luck. Go boys, Go.

    1. Steve Jones says:

      Come on, that’s a bit harsh on Jenson. I found his excitment at winning this races, and ultimately the championship, this year entirely genuine and great to see. Hamilton too oozes excitment when he wins, and why not! Surely we want our sports starts to be genuinely happy when they win! And I don’t think Jenson’s forgetting his fans in all of this. To me, his move to McLaren is about far more than just the money.

    2. Tomek says:

      Lewis teaching anyone about being modest? Good joke man.

      1. Robert Sherriff says:

        They are both F1 World Champions.

        You don’t achieve that without being ultra competitive.

        Who wants modesty ? I want British world champions !

      2. Med says:

        Took the words right out of my mouth

    3. RS F1 Fan says:

      A good move I think – McLaren will be stronger next year than Mercedes so he is one step up the ladder in terms of getting GP wins. Yes he is up against arguably the best driver in the same car – but the lack of refuelling and tyre wear will suit Jenson more than Lewis in the race. I can see Lewis leading the way in qualifying, however Jenson being more competitive in race distance. Lewis is likely to edge it but it should be fun

    4. Ryan Forster says:

      Lewis modest?! Come on – He is the least modest guy on the grid! “Its always the cars Fault”. Button wears his heart on his sleeve, which doesn’t always help, but thats also great to watch. Go Jenson, teach the school boy some lessons!

      1. Jon Bellamy says:

        Ryan- that is rubbish- Button has blamed his car alot this season- Hungary- “Why is this car so bad!” over team radio. Jenson is arrogant and not a gent, wheras Hamilton is a gent, to the point and helped Mclaren (along with the engineers) change a dog of a car into a decent one- Button didn’t know what to do when the car wasn’t performing hence a very narrow performance window. Button doesn’t fix a problem, he finds someone to blame like he did for the rest of the season- Hamilton has matured a lot this season- and despite only winning 2 races was voted Autosport driver of the year by their editor Mark Hughes. Can’t stand Button- he’s a lucky, arrogant sod who had a magic-carpet ride via technical advantage in first part of the season.

    5. Simon Worth says:

      Ignore the comments by ardent lewis fan, he’s talking rubbish. Jenson, please don’t lose your personality in driving for the ultra corporate (perhaps dull) McLaren team. The last thing we need is another Mr Corporate in F1, don’t let them tell you to shave off the beard, don’t get a short back and sides, and above all else keep the emotion. I think Jenson may lose out to Lewis in qualifying but I think he will be every bit Lewis equal in the races. Can’t wait for next season already!

      1. ardent lewis fan says:

        It’s great that everyone can have a say here. Don’t misunderstand my post. Jenson is a great addition to the team and I love it. I cheered and folowed him to his victory, well deserved after all these years, but didn’t hear any comment about the fans that had paid hard earned cash to follow him for many many years – my brother included. Anyhow whatever our personal views, I agree with the concensus of opinion that next yrs rule changes will be very exciting. Can’t wait.

  2. Lee Grant says:

    This has disaster written all over it…

  3. Dave P says:

    To be honest my concern is the Dad’s…. I can see them getting into a behind the scenes argument about something that happened in the race… and then that spilling into the relationship between the two drivers… Really, I do not think dads should be allowed in the pit garages..

    That said, it really does shows Jenson courage, as I am sure he is aware of all you said James.

    To take on Lewis, leave Ross and Merecedes… it would have been the easy thing to do to just stay put… but if your not valued then taking your chances at McLaren is a good bet… he is no worse off than Massa.

    1. Tim PArry says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Fisticuffs between 2 elderly gents in the pits is not something the sport needs right now.

      1. James Allen says:

        Oh, I don’t know..

  4. Ino says:

    I don’t think Heikki is as bad compared to Hamilton as results show. Jenson will most probably be beaten by Hamilton but it’s a shame that we will probably never know if it was because of the car or because of the skill. Comparing teammates only makes sense when they are equal in the team but McLaren is Hamilton’s team and they will be building a car around Lewis’s driving style. With Jenson and Lewis being such different drivers, this could be very bad for the World Champion.

    1. bg f1 fan says:

      Absolutely correct. The same way I use my right hand when I have to put a nail into the wall. Its just more reliable.

      What’s strage in the teams relying on their stronger hand?

    2. Peter King says:

      why are some people making excuses already for JB even before the first whistle. two drivers in same car, lets see who comes tops. and i’m by no means counting JB out. the cars are so close these days that the whole grid is separated by 1 second. this is not the 1990s where seven or 8 seconds was the difference.

  5. Charlie says:

    Career suicide.

    1. Phil says:

      Don’t forget the match up between Prost and Senna
      20 years ago. I know it all ended in tears on more than one occasion but the two drivers had different driving styles but still managed to get the title to go down to the wire.

      Many people have compared Button and Hamilton’s driving to that of Prost and Senna.

      If anything, at least it guarantee’s a bit of fun drama and entertainment.

      1. Neil says:

        Can you think of *any* past combination of 2 World Champs that has turned out well? Let alone recent world champs?

        Much as I like Jenson, I see Lewis walking all over him. The team is set up around Lewis, and his is a McLaren World Champ, and to the team that counts for more.

        Neil.

      2. Peter King says:

        listen, in sports, if you challenge the Champ you have to show you can beat him. In the case LH has got to be regarded as the champ. Do you really think when Lewis Joined McLaren, they set up the team around him after Ron paid millions to hire Teflonso? the answe is no. But Lewis showed he can beat him hence the attention shifted to him. Let JB do the same.

    2. G Cam says:

      Surely he would have been worse off if Rosberg was beating him in races. Mercedes would probably not have kept him more than one season anyway. I think it’s a very smart, calculated move

    3. Nick H says:

      disagree, career suicide would have been to stay at a team that did not really want him and wanta German driver to win races and the drivers championship.

      Jenson saw what the score was (as did Barechello) in leaving for a team that really wants them.

      1. NikaWatti'nen says:

        Absolutely right… McLaren and Ferrari will have competitive cars next year, so the chances of a repeat at Brawn/Mercedes next year are slim.

        Jenson will only have the World Champion’s leverage this once, then… He has to use it. GBP6m p.a. for three years, or GBP3m for one year, and an uncertain future after being cast aside in favour of Rosberg.

        Right decision.

      2. Nick H says:

        spot on, even James Allen on this site has expressed his belief that Mercedes will want Vettel in the car maybe as early as 2011, Rosberg would not be the one to make way for Vettels arrival.
        Jenson has seen the writing on the wall and sorted his future out now instead of being left in limbo at the end of next season.

    4. newton says:

      still think so?

      1. Charlie says:

        Excellent catch!!!

        Well I do think that Hamilton, much as I don’t like him, still drives the car faster than Button which doesn’t look great for Button’s out and out pace. But I guess when you’ve got egos like Hamilton and Alonso at your team it’s useful to have a quiet team-mate next door. Hence Ferrari and Mclaren’s interest in Button.

        Still, Hamilton’s his own worst enemy. I reckon he’ll still beat Button this season, but he could do better than he does. I was a massive fan of Raikkonen so Hamilton’s gravel mess up in China was gorgeous for me, but it was indicative of how his career was going to progress. It’s a shame that he sometimes still seems a little petulant and restless when things aren’t necessarily going his way. I remember speaking to William’s Head of Marketing (Pat Garret I think his name was) a few years ago and saying rather childishly that Hamilton “was a liability”. He’s not quite that, but he can be a bit of a nuisance for his team.

        Still, to return to the point in hand. I think that Button has shown that he’s not as fast as the likes of Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso by moving to Mclaren. Not quiet career suicide. But I’d not sign him on the back of his displays at Mclaren. If the regulations ever returned to, say 2008, when the only thing that made any difference apart from the drivers’ pace was the erratic weather, then I reckon Button would have been soundly outpaced by his team mate.

        Still. Clearly the man can overtake as he seems to have the overtake-of-the-race for most races!

        Still. Will he win another WDC? I doubt it.

        Ha. You can post back here in a few years when I’m proven wrong again!!!

        C

  6. Ben says:

    I believe Button will be much closer to Hamilton’s pace than everyone thinks; however Hamilton will consistently out qualify him. Qualifying is where Button loses it when he is under pressure and every teammate – including Alonso – has reacted to the pressure of being Hamilton’s teammate.

  7. I think we tend to think of Button as a ‘safe’ driver who does not take too many risks, but we’ve seen from his driving this year that he can be aggressive and take risks. I think this move to McLaren can be seen in a similar light.

    It is a risky move, but I think he really wants that challenge. He’s proved he can win races and can win the world championship. I think he wants to know how good he is.

    In the past, he was willing to be team-mates with Jacques Villeneuve in a season where the loser would have their career effectively finished or tarnished. Button won. He has been better than Barrichello in equal equipment.

    I think he wants to go up against the perceived best to see if he is as good or better. They can’t take the championship from him now, that’s his forever, now he wants to prove his reputation and he can’t really do that against Rosberg at Mercedes GP.

    I thought the McLaren was foolish initially but I am beginning to see why Button wants it.

    1. Scott says:

      Good post – I think I might sway the same way you have on this

    2. Kpb says:

      …”He has been better than Barrichello in equal equipment. “…

      Please be serious, if Brawn GP had been a Brazilian team, the champion would be Barrichello

      1. Neil says:

        I’m not sure how you support that assertion with data and facts?

        I think we can say: if Barichello had won a few early GPs – maybe shared the honours with Button – then we would have a Brazilian champion.

        Clearly Barichello was roughly a match to Button all year, and better at times. And less lucky at times. Personally I’d have loved to see him as a champion. But I can see no evidence that his nationality mattered.

        Neil.

      2. Simon Worth says:

        What facts are you basing that on? JB won the championship in the first 6 races where RB just didn’t have his head sorted. Crazy to suggest otherwise but each to their own

    3. Ryan Forster says:

      Yeah, very good post! good call.

  8. GQsm says:

    I hope Anthony lets his son get on with it on the track and deals with it all without shooting his mouth off. Out of the four of them he comes across as the most volatile to me.

    1. Dermot Keelan says:

      Agreed.

      Lewis by contrast to his Dad is far more relaxed…i suppose this is a product of his father having to fighting tooth and nail to raise the finance to allow Lewis to go racing in his formative years.

      I think Hamilton snr. has realised though, that when he runs his mouth he’s not doing anyone any favours – especially because his actions colour peoples’ opinion of Lewis.

    2. Kedar says:

      Hamilton Vs Button, John vs Anthony I am more keen on seeing a cat fight between Jessica and Nicole. That should make for some good Tabloid news!

  9. Chris says:

    I can’t see anything but a win win situation for mclaren here. Yes they have fantastic marketability oppotunity, and even if what we suspect is true in that button won’t be as fast as Hamilton , they at least have a very strong second driver for the wcc points. But I hope jensen can step up to the plate after all he has always been praise for his potential ability given the right car.

  10. Rick Hayes says:

    James I don’t see why you think Button can’t beat Hamilton, I’ve said it before I don’t believe Hamilton to be the Superstar driver he is made out to be. Jenson’s biggest obstacle will not be beating Lewis in a direct fight on track, but trying to get equal status & help from the team that always favors lewis. Its been said before by many drivers who’ve race at Mclaren they always tend to favor one driver and I don’t see how this will change with the arrival of Jenson Button, even if he is World Champion.

    1. James Allen says:

      Talking to engineers, who analyse the data. Also I don’t agree with the favour thing in McLaren’s history – what about Raikkonen and Montoya, do you think they favoured one there? Generally one rises above the other. Hakkinen and Coulthard was a bit of an exception, but Coulthard still won plenty of races.

      1. Rick Hayes says:

        Montoya did comment once that he felt the team favored Kimi to him, and Ron always tended to pick favorites and while he doesn’t run the team direct he’s still involved I’m sure of it. Lewis will always be his golden boy. I think it should make an interesting battle between the two drivers IF they are fully equal equipment and support wise.

      2. Kevin Baines says:

        I’ve have to agree with Rick here, and I’ve read earlier today that your former co-commentator Martin Brundle made an intresting comment towards this: “In the past they (McLaren) have had a history of really being able to only fully support one driver,” popular commentator Martin Brundle told BBC Radio, reflecting on his own experience at the squad alongside Mika Hakkinen back in 1994.

        And others are saying similar things to. I think that we would all like to see a great battle between the two and I just hope Button is allowed to fully go for it! In the long run it would be great for Britain to have two drivers battling it out for the world title.

      3. mingojo says:

        James, you wrote in F1 racing that Lewis was favoured in race strategies over Fernando, in my opinion it’s not equal treatment. And Ron finest moment in F1: “We were not racing Kimi, we were racing Fernando”

      4. Med says:

        Yeah, but with what had happened with Alonso trying to blackmail Ron, it’s no wonder he wasn’t particularly in favour of him winning the title.

        Let’s not forget, Lewis had a sulk on in Monaco because they told him to hold station behind Alonso, so it wasn’t all in his favour

      5. mingojo says:

        Let’s not forget in Monaco is almost very difficult to overtake. By the way, Alonso was told in Indy to hold station behind Lewis. Regarding Ron’s blackmail, he said it after Mclaren was fined $100 millions. Why did not Ron say it before? In my opinion, he chose to use Alonso as scapegoat.

      6. Paul F says:

        I’ve noticed this on Joe Saward’s blog too – armchair experts often seem to forget that journalists such as James etc travel to every race, spend the whole weekend, including flights and departure lounges – plus a significant amount of time when not at races – talking to the people in the know – team bosses, engineers, drivers, other journalists, and their opinions are based on this information.

      7. Paul Douglas says:

        I don’t know about that, David in particular described in great detail how Ron Dennis used to act like DC and his engineers were the “them” in an “us and them” relationship. Fernando felt the same. That being said, I suspect it was Ron Dennis himself, and not McLaren as a whole, who was creating this atmosphere.

      8. Kpb says:

        I agree with Rick.

        James, what about Hamilton and Alonso, do you think they favoured one there?

      9. Maria says:

        And which engineers you are taking about? Mclaren eh? What do you expect them to tell you the real truth? Come on you know better than that, I dont expect this sort of defense from you James.

        Drivers have been always favored in many teams, and development focused on specific drivers with the other hired to try and do as much to keep the constructors battle going without the adequate support.

        Oh an this is being told by those who work in the field.

      10. Williams4Ever says:

        !!what about Raikkonen and Montoya,!!
        That is not a good example James – That mysterious Injury( Some say Paternity) leave, effective set the tone after the Colombian Returned. Kimi was fighting for title and JPM didn’t complain about team backing Kimi, as he was theoritically never in contention. He won races wherever Kimi was not able to win/ or where car didn’t fail them. And didn’t complain when team demonstrated switch ( Belgian GP’05) where his massive lead in first stint was calculatedly shrunk by pitwall/strategy to get Kimi ahead.

        The team short-changed both the drivers in 2006 by not giving them fair chance to prove their talent to their future employers. Kimi had made his career safe by signing off with Ferrari, else we would have both the Drivers out of F1 or Kimi relegated to #2 status against Alonso in 2008.

      11. Peter King says:

        James, I couldn’t have phrased it better meself. McLaren don’t have this clear No1 and Nu2 in their DNA. One driver always rises to the fore and the rest is history!

    2. John M. says:

      I think it’s as simple as looking at Lewis’ record.

      Rookie year – sets rookie records, narrowly misses WDC.

      2nd season – wins WDC.

      3rd season – helps turn a dog of a car into arguably the best car on the grid in the second half of the season.

      Sure, the McLaren was a very good car in his first two seasons. But, Lewis clearly showed that he has immense talent. Other drivers would have wilted with Alonso as a team-mate, or have been unable to come to terms with their first F1 drive.

      Personally, I think Button is a good driver, but not a great driver. I think he will give Lewis a good run at times, but Lewis will consistently out-perform him.

      1. Maria says:

        Conveniently not mentioning how they sabotaged Alonso and how they had a slave in Kovalainen. Very impressive don’t you think?

        Ron Dennis: “We were basically racing Alonso”

        Impressive again.

        Hamilton is a 2nd rate driver who needs a subdued teammate. They will do the same with Button, so good luck to button and hope he uses that 6 million he is getting for anger and psycho therapy because he will soon find out equality means No:1 status for Hamilton and 2nd fiddle for button.

        Then there is the boxing match that will erupt between John Button and Anthony Hamilton…

      2. Simon Worth says:

        I agree with your comments about the team favouring one driver over another but to say that Hamilton is second rate is simply wrong. I suggest your letting some personal feeling towards Lewis cloud your judgement of him as a driver. I’m not Lewis biggest fan as I like drivers to be a little less corporate but you can’t argue he’s one of the best drivers out there. I think JB is as good as anyone on his day but the car needs to right etc. I really think that JB will be competitive with Lewis is races if not qualifying. JB is every bit as good as Lewis overtaking wise.

      3. Ray says:

        I wouldn’t have even bothered posting Simon. Maria is either a wind up merchant or to be frank utterly deluded if she thinks Hamilton is a second rate driver.

        Does anyone really believe McLaren tried to destroy Alonso by favouring Hamilton from the start? If they favored him later on in that season, it was only because Lewis had already shown himself to be on the same level as Fernando.

        I think it will be an interesting match up between Button and Hamilton – over the course of a season we could see some suprises.

      4. John M. says:

        You can spin it however you want. But, show me another rookie that has performed to Hamilton’s level. And, show me another sophomore that has won the WDC.

        It’s not just any rookie driver, regardless of whether or not the team was favoring him, that can step into an F1 car and immediately be on pace.

        Your assessment of Lewis as a second rate driver is laughable.

      5. Kirsty says:

        Lewis is as second rate as Alonso. Alonso is Flavio’s favourite son, he has a bigger collection of subdued teammates than Lewis. He’s just inherited Schumacher’s lapdog after racing along side rookies for 2 seasons.

        About Button, he’s been beaten by his teammates in the past. He’s not unbeatable, equal treatment or no equal treatment.

    3. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

      Hamilton isn’t a superstar? You have to be kidding me.

      1. Maria says:

        You want a real superstar without blatant team bias to make himself look good? Answer: Vettel

        @John M: You were and are still looking at one, Vettel ;) genuine talent and a real wonder kid.

        If there is any equality at Mclaren Button will have Hamilton and his polemic father for breakfast, lunch and dinner, no wait there wont be a contest because that would be harmful for his current image now wouldn’t it?

      2. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

        There is zero evidence, aside from a poorly worded comment about one race strategy, that McLaren favored Alonso in 2007. The fact is that Hamilton matched, if not bested, Alonso in 2007 in a straight fight. Let’s also not forget instances in 2007 in which McLaren favored Alonso with lighter fuel in qualifying, or in Oz when Hamilton was beating Alonso and McLaren switched the two in pit stops. McLaren only favored Hamilton in the last two races when it was readily apparent that he was mathematically their best chance to clinch the title, and they did a great job of cocking up his season.

        Sure, McLaren has favored Hamilton over Kovalainen in the last season and a half. But that’s because Hamilton beat him very badly by the halfway point last year, became the team’s best bet for the championship, then proceeded to win the championship and seal #1 status in the team.

        Hamilton is easily in the top class of drivers with Vettel and Alonso. On raw pace, he might be the quickest. Through the halfway point of last year, he enjoyed status at McLaren that was no better than what Vettel had at Red Bull, who selected the young German at a very early age and have been building their operation around him.

        Any comments about McLaren doing a massive “coverup” operation just to make Hamilton look good is nothing more than a black helicopter argument. Particularly, it’s stupid to say that McLaren would sabotage a two-time defending world champion to make Hamilton look good. Why would they do that? They’re a racing team, and if Alonso was clearly better, they would have supported him to maximize their chances of victory. Save your conspiracy theories for the Rothschilds.

        I do agree that Vettel is a monster talent, however. But I think Hamilton is just as good, if not better, although I do think the argument that Vettel is better is a valid one.

  11. StJimmyL says:

    I just hope this means Jenson will go back to the red, white & blue helmet that we all know! Let’s hope the car is not a dog and that Jens and Lewis give us a few laughs!

    1. Huggy says:

      I think it will be a modern day Prost/Senna situation. Lewis will win the qualifying battle 70% of the time, but things will be a lot closer in the races. Button’s smooth style will make his tyres last longer and this will give him more options strategy wise. Don’t be surprised to find Jenson picking up the big points on a regular basis. He may get fewer wins but under the current scoring system his consistency will pay big dividends. Also, we should not forget how deceptively quick Jenson can be when the car is to his liking. Its going to be a fascinating battle, can’t wait!

      1. Peter King says:

        i’d say 60/40 in favour of LH

  12. LMW says:

    I agree with EJ’s comments – I don’t think Jenson had much choice in moving. Interesting that in McLaren’s press release. Martin Whitmarsh states that they are paying him no more than he could have got elsewhere.

    1. LMW says:

      I also think, subject to Red Bull retaining Renault engines next year, Vettel will win the Championship due to driver/team stability.

      1. Simon Worth says:

        I disagree, I just don’t think the renault engine is strong enough

  13. joel says:

    great comment. I agree.

  14. Bold move. He has to up his game, Hamilton is by no means easy to beat. Experience is in Button’s favour despite Lewis winning first, but for sheer speed it will be interesting to see if he can be more like Alonso than Kovaleinen, Lewis will probably come out on top, but don’t underestimate Button, he’s cool calm and collected like Prost, and that tallies points steadily. I see a 1984 repeat.

  15. Luca says:

    I agree that on the surface this feels like much better news for McLaren than it is for Button. But consider the following:

    1. Perhaps Jenson’s goals have shifted away from “winning it again” to “maximising returns on the back of the win” and the All-Brit play is a media winner for him.
    2. The way Brawn left the door ajar to Rubens while Jenson toiled really left a bad taste in the mouth and he feels like a change.
    3. It could be Jenson figures that a couple of years playing the wiser, older foil to Hamilton’s more volatile & error-prone ways could actually pay off for him.

    Finally … “Brawn who?” Has an F1 brand ever shone more brightly and disappeared more quickly?

  16. rpaco says:

    “It’s interesting to remember that when Ron Dennis was looking for a partner for Fernando Alonso and hired Lewis Hamilton, he said that he had been through every driver on the grid and they had all either “peaked” or “plateaued” – at the time Button was certainly one of the drivers he was talking about. Button has certainly turned that perception around in McLaren’s eyes”

    Ah yes but the requirements have changed for next year and onwards!

    It will be exactly the same for Jensen as it was with Rubino, his team mate will have an aggressive back hanging out, attacking, type of technique which warms up tyres much quicker.
    However the cars will be a LOT heavier at the start of each race with no re-fueling. (Though unfortunately there will still be tyre changes so a return to the great days of tyre management is not going to happen.) So having said that, he who drives smoothest uses less fuel and can start lighter, so that’s one up for Jense. I would expect him to start a few Kilos lighter than Lewis.

    In fact if you have less fuel ie a lighter car then you need….less fuel. Drivers weights are going to be even more critical next season, expect size zero drivers.

    We passed Bernie’s Silverstone deadline a long time ago, so I would be surprised if a UK/GP is a goer.

    1. bryce says:

      Sorry smooth drivers aren’t the most economical, the engine management in a modern F1 car is totally optimised for 100% throttle opening. When jenson started his career at Williams his fuel consumption was worse then his team mate, telemetry revealed it was because he was feathering the throttle where as his team mate was running wide open ( IE at Optimum efficency) more often and longer. the differnce was substantial, 2.2 MPG as opposed 2.5. Source F1 Magazine

      1. rpaco says:

        Ah well,…. you young people and your electronic toys…….

        Ok point taken, so in fact Jense may use more fuel that Lewis. That seems a bit sad for everything I was taught about driving.

        However going faster does still use more fuel due to the drag (I think it is a cubic factor of speed) thus race speed and aero efficiency will be key ingredients.

    2. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      Don’t buy the fuel load argument. That would imply that under the outgoing regs a smoother driver could run lighter by taking on less fuel at the pitstops. Smoother drivers were not faster under the previous regs.

    3. Ray says:

      I hope that ‘a return to the great days of tyre managment’ was a joke.

      Who the hell cares about tyre management? Show me the fastest driver and the team with the quickest pit crew, not who’s the most adept at looking after rubber.

      1. rpaco says:

        A shame that you did not appreciate the great races between legends before pitstops were allowed. Apart from the decreasing fuel load, the changing tyre performance was one of the main factors in deciding a race, hotheads who charged off into the distance often failed to keep it on the track in the last few laps or slowed and were overtaken by the more fully capable drivers.

      2. Martin says:

        I think 2005 was the only year that tyre changes were banned.

      3. Peter King says:

        “Ray, you took the words outa my mouth mate

  17. Ian says:

    sounds like a very risky move for Jenson, he runs the risk of being out raced by Lewis.
    No refuelling next year may well play into his favour with his ability to look after tyres.

    James, will McLaren be running KERS next year & do you think Jenson will struggle to adapt to using it in the same way we seen Fisi struggle to use KERS at the end of this season?

    1. rpaco says:

      The tyres are exactly the same in the regs for 2010, as are a number of other things which were expected to change.
      KERS is still in and still at the same levels.
      Wheel covers and spinners are not specifically mentioned in the new regs and it all depends on how you read them as to whether they are legal or not, I could make arguments in both directions.
      The movable flaps remain unaltered. The refueling paragraphs have been removed from the regs, there is no spec on the size of fuel bladders only the position of them.

      I see changes coming for the “2010 Stable technical regulations” Oh! but they cant change now except in accordance with the secret concorde agreement. So who knows???
      The bit about the technical working party submitting changes was deleted from 2010 tech regs.

      1. James Allen says:

        Thanks for that rpaco. Always ahead of the game!

  18. Simon Matthews says:

    There may be a #1 on his car but there will be no doubt that Lewis is going to be #1 in the team.

    One year of success shouldn’t overshadow an F1 career all but lacking in it.

  19. Mario says:

    James, do you think Kubica would have got himself a seat in a Mclaren or Merc had he waited up to this point in time?

    Anyway, after all the recent events I think we are in for a fantastic season next year given all the driver line ups. I will miss KR a bit, obviously, but apart from that all is well.

    1. James Allen says:

      No but he would have got a Mercedes!

  20. Lustigson says:

    “… there will be lots of question marks about loyalty…”

    Like there was when Button signed for BAR for 2003 when on a Williams contract, and the other way around 2 years later.

  21. Adrian says:

    James, quite a few online commentators are saying that this could be a similar pairing to Mclaren’s Prost/Senna days, with Lewis being the faster driver outright, but Jenson’s smooth style netting him as many points through consistency.

    What are your thoughts on that?

    Also, let’s not forget 2004 when Jenson beat everyone apart from the unstoppable Ferrari’s. So he is a fast driver, but I will admit he does need the car to suit him to show his best.

    Who would have predicted this 12 months ago though!!

    On a personal note, I now have my 2 favourite drivers in my favourite team… Let the fun begin!!

    1. James Allen says:

      Prost and Senna were two of the greatest drivers in history and they loathed each other. Their cultural differences were a key part of that. This is quite different

  22. Roger says:

    I feek a bit sorry for Jenson’s Race Team at Brackley. They must have given all to Jenson this year only to be rewarded with him leaving. I do, however, believe that he and Lewis will be much closer on the track than most doubters seem to think. I am looking forward to next season mch more than in recent years.

    I think it is a good move for him (and us)
    and wish him all the best.

    1. Simon Worth says:

      I don’t think the race team can be upset with JB. At the end of the day if a mechanic or designer feels their career would be better served elsewhere then they would move.

  23. Phil W says:

    James, I think you’re on to something with the Dads. Perhaps someone in the know could organise an annual “Champion of Dads” to run alongside the Race of Champions. The winner would have to display coolness under pressure, a wide range of facial expressions (including sub-categories for Best Smile and Best Celebration) with the final being Best Shirt Worn In A Championship Decider. Just an idea…

  24. James B says:

    I think jenson saw vettels arrival at MecBrawn in 12 months time and with Rosberg signed on a long term deal decided that he would leave on his terms.

    Jenson is not daft and I think he will go into next year knowing that Lewis will be the faster but with the new regs on tyres bringing the parameters of the car closer to his liking and the fact that it wont be until 50% into the race that the car will weigh the same as the begining of a normal 2 stopper meaning tyre management will be critical, he will feel that he has a good chance of outscoring Lewis over the season.

    It will be interesting finding out

  25. James B says:

    should be 1 stopper in above ! doh

  26. Brian Martin says:

    Button will need to raise his game… otherwise Lewie is going to eat his lunch.

    Hats off to Jenson though. He knows what he is getting into and it will be fun to watch it all play out.

  27. Mark Edwards says:

    There will be much talk of how Lewis will wipe the floor with JB, but lets just wait and see!

    I admire anyone for taking the harder option in life. Assuming JB could have stayed put at Brawn-Merc this really is a ballsy move that many would have walked away from. Who’s to say the Kimi just didn’t fancy it and bowed out with ego intact!

    Personally I think it’ll be close between them year one and JB might just have the carrisma to influence the team beyond that…

    Game on, can’t wait!

  28. Finn says:

    What exactly is the history between the fathers? I’m not fully up to date on that. I remember noticing them two on the telly being a bit unease with eachother, but i didnt know they had a history.

  29. Betbotpro says:

    The proof will be in the racing next year. They are both good racers if they have good cars. Lewis has made some mistakes this year no doubt. Who finished the most GP this year between lewis or Jenson?

    It will be much fun anyway but i hope it doesnt come down to penalties between Mclaren and Mercedes at the end of the season hehe.

  30. Tony Smith says:

    James,
    With no refueling next year I have the feeling that with heavier cars at the start of the race it is going to suit Jenson’s style more then Lewis’s. Lewis seems to like to get the car going sideways through the corners and that will just not be possible for the first 3/4 of the race.

    1. Simon Worth says:

      Great comment Tony

  31. chris says:

    Mclaren,s week gets better and better,

    Buy out mercedes over the next 2 years – check
    negotiate a deal for engine supply beyond 2011 – check
    Retain Mclaren mercedes branding partnership – check
    Hire a reigning world champ in the form of his life – check

    I respect JB for taking on this new challenge. I sniff quite a few one/two finishes for mclaren next year.

  32. Paul B says:

    I’ve not heard of any friction between the Dads previously, I’m interested to hear more about this now, you’ve whetted my appetite. Is it from the karting days?

  33. granholme says:

    ‘..John Button and Anthony Hamilton. They have quite a bit of history and not all of it positive’
    Anyone care to shed some light on this?

  34. Paul McGinn says:

    Respect to Jenson who is clearly looking for a new challenge, one that was harder than last year, and I don’t think you could find a harder challenge in F1 at the moment. James, how do think Ross Brawn will feel about this move?

  35. Rob says:

    I`m sure he knows what he`s doing,but remember this, Mansell threw all his toys out of his pram regarding his demands and ended up across the other side of the atlantic,where he just became a big fish in a little pond,and then we come to Hill and his demands saw him seeing out his time,first of all running around in arrows being paid by all the parmalat money brought to the team by diniz,and then running around in a jordan,when he could of taken a drive with maclaren and paid on wins,but wanted the money up front,Surely the best option would of been to stay with Brawn/Mercedes and been able to call the shots of being a number 1 in the team.Maclaren may have the resources but they do not have Ross Brawn and have now become a second string team as far as Mercedes are concerned,whatever they say.Less face it also daddy Hamilton will not be a happy man that sees his little soldier having to share the limelight with the more popular British driver.This has Senna/Prost written all over it.Just hope that i`m proved wrong.

  36. Nathan Smith says:

    “But at the end of the day Button has gone because Brawn and Mercedes were prepared to let him – and that says quite a lot.”

    I think you hit the nail on the head there James.

    You have to give Jenson credit though – it takes a lot of guts to go up against Lewis right now, where he will have a very tough challenge when he could have stayed at Mercedes and had a greater chance of beating Nico Rosberg.

    I suspect Brawn thinks he has made a mistake right now, and will really struggle to retain the titles next year with the expected Rosberg/Heidfeld lineup. What are your thoughts?

  37. reason42 says:

    “Professional F1 Dads”! Brilliant!!

  38. tarun says:

    button moves to mclaren: surely he’s gonna find out that he’s made a fool out of himself at the end of the year
    if he loses his battle against hamilton he will only be remembered as a lucky champion when the best of best didnt had the car to take challenge him.
    at the end of it
    not only he has ruined his own career but also one talented finnish driver whom we wont be able to see in the near future.

  39. adrian says:

    Some miscellaneous points:

    (1) James, my understanding is that you have always believed that Hamilton is the next Messiah, as it were, so I’d say I’d suspect your views to be a bit skewed. I doubt any engineer would be able to tell you whether Hamilton or Button was ultimately quicker, and even if they could, it’s who scores more points at the end of the season which counts, and Hamilton makes many more schoolboy errors (e.g. pit lane entry China; pit lane exit Canada…). I’m sure Jenson must have been laughing his helmet off e.g. when he saw in his mirrors Hamilton fall off at Monza 2009.

    (2) I don’t buy the idea that the 2010 Mclaren will be tailored to Hamilton’s strengths; if anything the bigger fuel tanks will necessitate a longer wheelbase and that would tend towards a less oversteery car.

    (3) Hats off to Jenson for not sitting on his laurels and believing in himself. He’ll have no problem in the psychological battle – he’s seen off the notoriously fractious Villeneuve. I remember when he and Coulthard made Hamilton look very stupid by suggesting that they all compete in a triathlon or marathon, with Hamilton reluctantly agreeing and then his Dad having to pull the plug.

    (4) If Jenson has a problem anywhere it is qualifying. We’ll doubtless see whether this is a genuine deficiency, or whether it was exacerbated / caused by the particular characteristics of the Brawn. If a car problem, it will be helped by having a car which is harder on its tyres than the Brawn. If Hamilton consistently outqualifies Jenson it’s not necessarily a massive problem; but it will be if Button is so far down the grid that it seriously compromises his raceday. But Button had no particular problem with qualifying at the beginning of the season.

    (5) Mercedes/Brawn have come out of all this looking a bit silly unless they have a Michael Schumacher-sized trump in their pockets. They have passed up the opportunity of a top-flight driver, the number 1, continuity and goodwill for the sake of trying to save a few million quid if that. Their gamble that Button would swallow the insult of Brawn not nailing him down for a proper fee at an early stage has spectacularly backfired. I’m sure that they thought they were playing their cards cleverly, while the negotiations with Mercedes where developing, but on any view they have not. Of course, I will have to eat my words if Rosberg is WDC next year…!

    (6) Hamilton has already used up alot of his ‘throw my toys out of the pram’ cards at McLaren already. It is pure guff that he “shut up and got his head down” when he realised that the McLaren was way off the pace – every interview I remember he was bleating about how he had exceeded the capabilities of this execrable car. I’m sure that many in McLaren have also not wholly forgiven him for him letting Dave Ryan carry the whole can for the Liegate saga.

    1. James Allen says:

      I resent that. He came in and matched Alonso in his first season. Any driver, whatever nationality, who did that would deserve respect. ITV bigged him up in the pre-show and the Hamilton haters zeroed in on me.

      1. Charlie says:

        Hehe! Ouch Adrian! You just go right ahead there and slag off the man who runs the forum. Boom! I thought James had a slight Trulli persuasion in any case…?

        Anyway…after Legard’s season of complete (and I mean this in the kindest possible way) inanity, I think that in this season of contract talk the Beeb should be thinking about negotiations with Mr Allen.

        That said, James, don’t you think Anthony Davidson has done a good job this season?

      2. James Allen says:

        Utterly brilliant. He is a great broadcaster. I worked with him for ITV in Hungary 2006 when Button won his first race and was astonished at how perceptive, articulate and relaxed he is in a live broadcasting context. He’s a natural.

      3. **Paul** says:

        Glad to see another fan of Ant’s commentary. I’d love to see him do that full time, but would also love to see him racing. We need a Davidson clone I think!

      4. Mitja says:

        07 & 08 season were the best F1 season’s I have seen but sadly the ITV coverage was way to biased towards Hamilton and this made those great seasons less enjoyable to watch. Every third word that came out from presenters mouths was about Hamilton and sad to say you James were the same.

        You guys hardly ever covered any other topics other than Hamilton this and Hamilton that and I understand that Hamilton was the big rising star back then but still it made the show a lot less enjoyable.

        Thumbs up to BBC at least they cover the whole grid from A to Z and not only the H letter.

      5. James Allen says:

        That is totally wrong. Pick any race off the shelf and watch it again and you’ll see that is not the case. What we are discussing here is the question of “undue prominence”. He featured strongly in many of the races, as did Alonso and Raikkonen etc. Allow for the fact that a rookie winning races by beating those two doesn’t happen every day, so is worth the odd mention, but beyond that you will not find a shred of evidence to back up what you are saying.

      6. Simon Worth says:

        Must say I agree with James on this one. The very fact that a driver in his first season could better a driver with the talent Alonso has was phenomenal!

      7. Ray says:

        Yep, agree again James.

        I was away from the UK the whole of 2007 so watched F1 in various different countries.

        In every country the focus was on Lewis. It had to be – he had come in and matched the acknowledged best driver overall in the sport (though I was delighted that Kimi won that year as still believe he is the fastest driver, which is what I want to see). This included those in South America, where the brazilians I spoke to all loved Hamilton. It was only what happened in 2008, where Massa was his rival that put Brazil off him.

      8. Mitja says:

        Sorry James but I totally disagree. Watch any race weekend of 2007 and half of the time it was Hamilton that was being talked about and almost nobody else. All I can remember in the pre-race build up was Hamilton interviews, there was hardly any Alonso or Kimi interviews and I can’t remember when you guys interview Massa during that season. Not to mention the rest of the grid was almost completely ignored.

        I think the overall BBC coverage this year has already been better than ITV and it’s only the first year of the BBC coverage. The only weak point is Legard who I found James to be better and wish he would take his place in 2010.

      9. Robert George says:

        Well ITV got it right.

        Perhaps they noticed his race pace in F3 Euroseries and his racing skills in GP2 ( 3 into Becketts – 2006 – breathtaking )

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zIp3hrSC48

      10. Mav says:

        Exactly James. But don’t let the truth get in the way of a good old Hamilton bash or a dig at you.

      11. adrian says:

        Sorry, James, I retract the first bit of point (1): this was put too clumsily/rudely. I wouldn’t think there’s any shame in an element of favoritism in any commentator for a particular competitor, but if that’s not the case, so be it.

    2. Maria says:

      Indeed, Indeed but oh you cant expect objectivity from the British media now can you?

    3. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      I also think that this is incredibly unfair on James, who is the most objective F1 journalist in the business. I don’t think that favouritism of one driver would have gained James the goodwill that he has with all the drivers across the grid.

      Hamilton arrived after a long absence of true British F1 talent (the last true great talent being Nigel Mansell). Formula 1 had just experienced a vacuum after the retirement of Michael Schumacher. 2007 was the first time that a British driver had challenged for the WDC since 1996. Hamilton was Formula 1′s first “black” (funny, given he’s half white) driver. A rookie was leading the WDC. ITV, is a commercial TV channel with advertising to sell, were inevitably going to focus on him.

      ITV’s Hamilton-centric format not only damaged the image of James, but also that of Hamilton I believe. Hamilton came out of 2007 appearing as a spoilt, privileged kid who had grafted to compete for the WDC. James had to commentate off the front end of ITV’s sometimes tacky format (only talking about format, not the quality of commentary).

      It seems that James is now in a position that he is automatically condemned if he praises Hamilton. I am glad to see that James’s objectivity is not swayed by lightweight fans and lightweight media. A great journalist always maintains his integrity and objectivity.

      I have read many forums where those who criticised James between 2001-2007 are now begging for him to come back. Look what they got stuck with….a person more comfortable commentating on the Chepstow at 2.30pm rather than F1.

      Adrian, with regards to your comments on the ability of engineers to make judgments – you obviously have a very limited understanding of the technical side of F1. Drivers can be compared through mapping circuits against car weight, braking, acceleration, and speed carried through corners.

    4. Martin Collyer says:

      I would have thought that it was Steve Ryder who went overboard on Hamilton in the ITV days.

    5. Jason C says:

      adrian,

      Have you been watching a different Hamilton to everyone else? I don’t find him likeable: for me he seems to have that Schumacher-style awkwardness with the media, sort of highly strung, but it would be hard to deny he was the most exciting new driver in the sport since Alonso.

      For commentators to be entheusiastic about someone like Hanilton is natural. I remember James being equally excited about the other high-calibre drivers during his tenure – no, wait, other high-calibre drives, regardless of the driver.

    6. **Paul** says:

      Great post Adrian, I agree with many of your sentiments.

      I did find ITV’s coverage of Hamilton rather one dimensional, but I guess James could only comment on what we the viewing public were seeing. I think it was rather disappointing the level of coverage that Kimi got in his Championship winning year. Additionally I think the 2008 season for me was the one were I lost a great deal of respect for ITV Coverage. Even after it became apparent McLaren was never a level playing field people continued to talk like Hamilton beat Alonso rather than matching him. James was as guilty as anyone for that in my opinion. Yet in your written articles James I found a different person, everything was more balanced and your blog remains true to this IMO.

      With regards race engineers I think your right. Mike seems to be forgetting that F1 is so hugely car based, the characteristics of a car define how it’s driven, so it’s virtually impossible to compare two drivers unless you have two sets of extensive car data, and even then that wouldn’t take into account the changes a driver is making to extract the best from a said car. Engineers like the limelight of a quick quote if the couple of people I know in the F1 paddock are anything to go by.

      1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        I live half of the year in Colombia, and coverage is provided across Latin America by Fox Sports based in Argentina.

        All they could talk about for 2007 was Hamilton and Alonso. And all they could talk about for 2008 was Hamilton.

        If you want to see biased unobjective commentary then you should take a look at Spanish TV’s F1 commentary where they literally bastardize Hamilton and where Alonso is beyond criticism.

        There has been some utter rubbish written about James’s commentary in this post…and it’s people like this that are responsible for us having to suffer Legard’s drivel every fortnight. The BBC know that James is the best candidate for the job, but are too ball-less to admit their error and to reunite James with Martin.

      2. **Paul** says:

        I do take your point, but feel perhaps you’ve not really picked up on my gripe with some of the commentary and coverage. F1 commentators and Journalists still to this day talk like Hamilton beat Alonso at McLaren in a fair fight. Neither of those are true, McLaren chose to focus on Lewis (and why not, given he was staying with them) and they tied on points that year. So why talk like Hamilton did something else?

        I’m not anti-Hamilton, I like his racing style, I’m just anti Bullshit and there are too many people making huge presumptions about Hamilton’s talent. Only in this coming year will we really get to see a bit of yard stick. Up until this point he’s had preferential treatment for probably all bar 5 races of his F1 career. To suggest anything different is frankly daft given the noises coming from pit lane personnel and ex McLaren drivers.

        Spanish TV may be overly pro Alonso, but that shouldn’t be seen as a precedent for British F1 coverage to be excessively pro British. Unfortunately that was the case on ITV. It’s things like the commentators immediately saying that Alonso brake tested Hamilton in Bahrain in 2008 that grated with many many F1 fans. It wasn’t the case, yet for the rest of the race that’s all we heard about. It left a sour note for many. This is by no means just an F1 issue either, watch Liverpool FC play in the Champions league on ITV and they’d have you think they were world beaters, watch on Sky and suddenly things become a little less biased. It even frustrates my Liverpool supporting friends.

        Back to F1 though, if the BBC want to improve their commentary the solution is simple, get David Croft and Ant Davidson doing it. Intelligent commentary with a modern drivers eye view of things.

  40. Aggie says:

    Hmmm, Rosberg and Heidfeld will “fill no one with dread”? Yet more evidence that to be noticed in F1 you have to like the sound of your own voice. These two guys have been quietly getting sound results in less than fabulous cars. I hope they get the jobs they both deserve and can prove their true worth. Not that we’ll see any of that – I predict the BBC will be a rather predictable Button/Hamilton fest for 2010 – emptiest vessels and all that…

    1. swayze says:

      Aggie you will see plenty of it if they start winning races.

      As for the BBC(British Broadcasting Corporation) focusing on two BRITISH world champions then who would you suggest they focus on Rosberg/Heidfeld ? Do you not think the German Broadcasters will be doing that and ignoring the two most recent world champions.

  41. Simon A says:

    I think Jenson is pushing himself after seeing Kimi lose interest after his WDC. Granted Jenson wasn’t offered the huge money contract that Kimi got (but then he wasn’t asking for stupid money according to reports), but respect to him for going for it and not taking the safer option.

    It’s possible Mclaren might have been a little worried about Lewis sliding the rear in a fuel heavy car and wrecking tyres. Jenson’s smooth style will certainly benefit him over long runs if he can get the balance and stability he likes, although how good a balance can be achieved with the weight difference between the start and end of the race will be an interesting aspect.

    I’d love to see Mercedes throw caution to the wind and get Kobayashi in alongside Rosberg now. If he does well, they will clean up in Japan where Jenson built a huge fanbase on the back of driving for Honda.

    A mouth watering 2010 season in prospect from where I’m sitting. I love this sport I really do, controversy and politics included. If they could just increase the on-track action a little.

  42. Chris says:

    In overall a good result for all parties concerned.

    From Button’s point of view he will get some extra cash that he so desperately needs it seems (not the first time to have a contract saga). He is leaving to go to one of the two major teams of F1, which is an accomplishment in itself. He is leaving Brawn at the time when Honda money is running out and they get a new sponsor by the name of Mercedes. Mercedes is another construtor that was severely hit during the downturn. Who is to say that they will not exit in one year? So a good decision in my eyes, but a short term one. In the next years he will have to deal with getting an also run status as Lewis wingman. So the question for him is whether one championship is enough. I think it is otherwise he would risk to remain in Brawn.

    For Maclaren, this is good news due to the marketing point of view. Again short term, because if they want to attack the sport luxury category they need to have an international profile and not a British one to attract customers from around the world. They also get a guy that is quite consistent and experienced so that he will be giving points for the constructors championship more easily than Heikki.

    As for Brawn, what a masterpiece of strategy. he prepares the ground for an all german team to give the incentive to the Mercedes team to invest heavily on him at a time when he has limited funding coming from sponsors and he saves the team and all the time making an excellent profit for himself. In terms of drivers we may be pleasantly surprised by this team. Nico is difficult to value as he achieved very good results last year but we can not tell if it it was him (if this is the case he can be a star) or the car. His team mate was probably the worst in the field. As for Heidfield, I am very happy that he finally goes back to Mercedes. He has achieved a lot in his career but he was never in a truely competitive car. He managed to get better results than Kimi in Sauber, and better results than Kubica in BMW. He may manage to get some race wins now in a fashion similar to Webber.

    The only bad news is that Kimi will not drive again at the same time when we read news about seeing again nelson Piquet in the new teams. Clearly not everyone wins

  43. Shane says:

    I actually think the 2010 regs will hurt Button, yes while his smooth style may help nurture the tyres under a heavy fuel load, I’d be surprised if he will be able to cope as well as Hamilton with such a shift in the dynamic performance of a car shifting well over 100kg of it’s weight from the rear over a race distance. For all that is supposedly made of Hamilton’s aggressive style and the narrower 2010 tyres, McLarens engineers will already have factored these into the design of the 2010 car. One can imagine the teams will be using the harder compound tyre for their first stints next year, negating one of Buttons advantages. Button has a lot more than just a talent deficit to overcome next year, I fear for his sake he might have operated career doomswitch by teaming with Hamilton, and I’m certainly more of a fan of Jensons personally than Lewis, I agree he should have re-signed with Brawn months ago.

    Secondly, I get the impression you do not particularly rate Heidfeld James? I personally think people would be talking a lot more about a Kubica/Rosberg line-up, but I think overall he matched Kubica in their 3 years together, with Roberts edge in 2008 highlighted more in the spotlight because of the performance of the car. He’s been at the very least a match for every one of his team mates thus far, so surely it’s only time he got his chance, I hope he springs a few surprises next year. If Mercedes have a car advantage similar to that of Brawn at the beginning of last year he could be the Jenson Button of 2010.

  44. Warwick says:

    Sure, this may end poorly for Button if he can’t beat Hamilton…but just imagine what it will do for him if he CAN best Hamilton on a regular basis in the same car. Every race car driver believes they are the best, and I think that this move has something to do with Button wanting to prove that to the world.

  45. Steven says:

    I think it will be good as Jenson can either prove he is a class driver or just a lucky driver. It’ll be a great season if both Jenson and Lewis can fight for the title against Felipe in the Ferrari (still not warmed to Alonso and doubt I ever will do). I was saddened when Brawn GP were taken over. I can see why Jenson moved to a now independent team that is McLaren. Mercedes could always quit on a whim just like Honda, Toyota and BMW leaving the team in limbo again. I am saddened to see the Jenson/Shov partnership broken up though. They were a great duo especially when Jense won a race. The passion and happiness was obvious from the two.

  46. Tarek says:

    I don’t see what the big fuss is about. To be honest, while I believe that Button is an ambitious and motivated driver, I don’t think he will feel particularly subdued if he is beaten by Hamilton. Why? Because despite Button’s self-belief and commitment, virtually nobody on the grid expects him to live with Lewis’s pace. On the other hand, while I agree that Button has a very small chance of actually beating Hamilton over a season, he will certainly keep him honest (at least more than Kovalainen ever managed to) and you have to believe that he can have better weekends than Lewis on a few occasions. This in itself might serve to enhance his reputation in a team that is widely considered to be Hamilton’s own. That said, Button will not be feeling much pressure, at least not in comparison with his team-mate who in many ways has to beat Button much more than the latter has to beat him. Button just won the world championship at 29, a championship that few believed he could ever win, and will therefore approach F1 in a much more stress-free, comfortable manner. Likening this situation to the Alonso-Hamilton partnership in 2007 would be a mistake. This time it’s Hamilton who has to produce the goods.

    1. Nigel says:

      I think this is a very good perspective on the situation. Jenson is not an idiot for sure and he must have sat down and pondered how to go on from being world champion in a team that dominated the first half of a season.
      He has managed to raise his “stock value” as a driver of an awful Honda machine languishing at the back of the grid, so I would agree that he can’t really come off badly, perception wise in this new role. Most people expect Hamilton to totally dominate, so any time he doesn’t, Jenson will appear a hero. Good stuff and go for it JB!
      I also can’t help but wonder what role Mercedes have had in all this. We probably won’t find out for a bit, but with doors rapidly closing, it is a good move I think.

  47. bg f1 fan says:

    Surely Mclaren people need to prepare adequate psychological help for Button. Historically 50% of the racers that raced with Hamilton eventually lost all control and calmness. I remember Alonso going sour and becoming a menace to Mclaren in 2007 and still shake my head. I think Alonso costed Mclaren 100mil that one season. I sure hope Hamilton continue to outperform Alonso in the future.

    1. fausta says:

      Alonso didn’t cost them team. It was a two-way street there. I think this comment is viewed through tinted lenses.

    2. mingojo says:

      Alonso didn’t cost Mclarn $100 million was Mike Coughan. Also the final apology by MM stated that Ferrari confidential data was known not only by Coughan, De La Rosa and Alonso.

    3. Martin Collyer says:

      I think Alonso’s problem at McLaren was he expected two things.

      1. To be given number 1 treatment in a team that has never, since Ron Dennis took it over, operated in that way.

      2. To be able to be easily quicker than a rookie, but he wasn’t.

  48. Radoye says:

    Button won this years title fair and square and nobody can take that away from him, however it was mostly because of the superior Brawn car.

    Having to take on Hamilton in equal machinery will be something completely different and I’m afraid Jenson has no chances to come on top in that one.

    I do admire his courage to try it though.

  49. Leigh says:

    I don’t really agree with people saying Lewis is going to be faster than Jenson. Hamilton is very quick in qualifying and hard to beat in the race but with no refuelling next season, cars will obviously be starting much heavier. This will definitely favour Button with his smooth driving style and hinder Hamilton’s aggressive style.

    I think Hamilton will have to try and adapt through winter testing, so he isn’t as hard on his tyres. If he doesn’t then Jenson could be the one hard to beat.

  50. Robert McKay says:

    I don’t give Jenson much chance against Hamilton. But I didn’t give Massa much against Raikkonen and he surprised me – although this is not quite the same.

    Ultimately though it comes down to what Mercedes do in 2010. If they are around or ahead of Mclaren it was a bad move. If they are clearly behind by a margin it was probably the right move.

    When it comes down to it Mercedes are still mostly Brawn still mostly Honda still mostly BAR…there’s still a question mark for me ove how good that team really are, especialy in the harem scarem way they won the titles. They’ve got to prove that they can cut it at the sharp end for years to come, unlike Mclaren who even when they have bad years are still able to win races and rack up podiums.

    1. SD says:

      “Ultimately though it comes down to what Mercedes do in 2010. If they are around or ahead of Mclaren it was a bad move. If they are clearly behind by a margin it was probably the right move.”

      I think longer term also plays a role here (Mc vs Mer in 2011,2012). I strongly suspect that the length of contract was a real deciding factor for Jenson.

  51. Steve Jones says:

    A brave decision to be sure, but I admire Button’s spirit and understand his motives. If Brawn/Mercedes really wanted Jenson in the car, it would have happened – simple as that. I’m not saying that JB was pushed out. In fact, I’m sure he could have stayed on for another year or two. But long-term, I think Mercedes eyes are on Vettel and, having (by all accounts) just signed Rosberg, Jenson might not have been offered the length of contract he wanted. A reigning World Champion hardly wants to be a stop-gap driver!

    Although Brawn apparently shifted resources on to next year’s car relatively early, despite this year’s championship fight, I can’t help thinking McLaren will have an edge on Brawn/Mercedes next year – possibly quite a big margin. The resource restrictions might play into Brawns hands long term, but McLaren have been able to pour all their formidable resources into next year’s car. And I expect that to pay dividends, even if Mercedes ultimately eclipse McLaren in F1′s pecking order.

    As for the battle between Jenson and Lewis, I think the handling characteristics of the McLaren next year will be crucial. If the car is well balanced, and neutrally-handling or with a slight tendency for understeer, then I think JB will shine. I don’t expect him to easily beat Lewis by any means, but if the car works well, Jenson will certainly be able to take the fight to Lewis in a way Heikki couldn’t. On the other hand, if the car handles badly, or is particularly over-steery, then I think Lewis will have Jenson well-beaten. Likewise, the need to manage the tyres on a full tanks could also play to Button’s strengths.

    I admit, I still expect Hamilton to beat Button over the season, but I think it will be a lot closer than people expect. And I think there will be days, quite a few of them, when Button will be too good. This year, when Button was on it (Monaco, Turkey for example) he was untouchable. If McLaren can give Jenson a car that suits his driving style, I expect him to silence many of his critics.

    My only concern for Jenson is that this year he sometimes got lost in the set-up of the car. Next year, with a team and with engineers he doesn’t know, and with a car which is likely to have rather different handling characteristics from the Brawn, Jenson might have trouble getting the car set up for his tastes.

    James – who do you expect to be better able to set-up the car next year, Lewis or Jenson? And how does Hamilton compare to, say, Alonso (or even Schumacher)in terms of technical feedback, set-up and development of a car over a season?

  52. jose says:

    If brown didn’t make a bigger effort to keep him, it was for a reason.
    And everybody must agree, that he knows more about f1, than any of the people that write here.
    And now rosberg, becomes number 1 at brown, without much done in f1.
    Is this reason why they call it the silly season?

  53. **Paul** says:

    Good move by Button, he’s everything to gain and nothing to lose:

    1.) McLaren will almost certainly be faster than Brawn next season. Even with Mercedes behind Brawn I can’t see them matching Ferrari or McLaren. Red Bull might have the legs on them too. F1 is 99.9% car. Better to finish the Championship as runner up than 9th or something. Mercedes may become a powerhouse of F1, but that could take another 5 years.

    2.) Increased pay for JB, more in line with what a WDC deserves.

    3.) Who’s to say Mercedes wouldn’t have ditched him for Vettel next season? At McLaren his future is secure so long as he puts in a reasonable show.

    4.) If Lewis beats him then most people won’t be surprised, he’s ‘expected’ to beat Jenson. If Button beats him? Well that’d just blow all the motoring Journo’s minds.

    5.) Going up against someone as well respected (at least for his driving if nothign else) like Lewis shows some balls. It also shows he’s not afraid of anyone in F1. He’ll be able to look back on his F1 career and know he went toe to toe with LH. Not many of the big guns in F1 have the guts to take a risk like that.

    5.) Next season heavier cars will make tyre management crucial in the first stint of a race. Jensons driving style is easy on the tyres, and thus I think it’s a marginally easier task than taking on LH under the 2009 regs.

  54. Steven Pritchard says:

    They key dynamic will be whether Jenson can get his car setup correctly. I believe McLaren to be far better at this than Brawn / Honda / BAR ever were. Narrow front tyres and general race pace (whilst looking after tyres) will be Buttons key weapons.

    Lewis is an exciting driver. But as Jean Alesi’s career will demonstrate, all that energy wasted in dancing the car around does scrub speed.

    I reckon if the car is average -> good, Lewis will win. If the car is excellent and easy to set-up, then Button will win on race pace.

    James, I’m intrigued – are there any particular engineers who have worked with BOTH Lewis and Jenson who are able to do a comparison?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not that I know of. Lewis is only 2 seasons in to his F1 career

      1. Rich M says:

        3 seasons…

      2. Wintermute says:

        Err no, Lewis is in his third season in F1

      3. Penfold says:

        Err no Lewis has completed his 3rd season in F1.

  55. Mat says:

    If all predictions prove correct that McLaren produce a better car than Brawn/Mercedes in 2010 then Button would (at best) only win a few races next year and still be beaten by Lewis. Plus he probably would have then been pushed out of Mercedes to make room for Vettel. This way he has secured himself a drive for 3 years in a car that is almost guarenteed to be a race winner. If he is beaten by Lewis (and that is not written in stone) then what has he lost?

  56. Guyon says:

    All British line up? One’s in Switzerland and the other Monaco!

  57. MikeR says:

    Two thoughts strike me about this move. I think fair play to Button for taking on the challenge, whatever the outcome. Secondly, I wonder whether the length of contract offered by Bra.. sorry Mercedes will emerge as an issue. This will probably be his last big racing contract so the 3 years may have been significant

  58. Stevie P says:

    Jenson, you have some balls! So does this mean we’ll get to see them together in a triathlon? ;-) And Dads? Pah… it’s the girlfriends we wanna see fight… ;-)

  59. yos says:

    James, I find it a bit sad to see many Jenson fans already throwing the towl with an awkard excuse of favoritism, I do agree that Mclaren is hamilton’s teritory (which he has earned it by his talent) but that won’t stop any driver from showing his truc colors on occasions.

  60. Vannman says:

    Can’t wait for next year, and I have to admire Jenson for taking this opportunity.

    We don’t know what length of contract was on the table at Brawn, but in my opinion Jenson was not in their long term plans. To secure a 3 Year contract, at 6 million a year, with a team fighting at the front of the grid can only be a good thing, Jenson must be made up!

    Why does it seem that formula 1 always attracts scores of dads always lurking in the background, hell if I was an F1 driver my old man would’nt be aloud anywhere near the paddock, or TV cameras, and certainly not if he wore a pink shirt all the bleedin time.

  61. rpaco says:

    Many times mentions have been made of rule changes for the 2010 season however if you read the tech regs you will see that there appear to be no changes, wheel covers and spinners are not excluded, the KERS limits are the same, the front flap movement is the same. There is no limit on the capacity of the fuel bladder (only the physical restrictions of behind the driver and forward of the engine) Tyres are the same size.

    1. Stephen Kellett says:

      Why is that other places report that:
      1) Wheel spinners are not allowed – Martin Brundle was talking about that during some of the races this year, if I remember correctly.
      2) Front tyres are smaller
      3) No KERS
      All of these things conflict with what you write.

      1. rpaco says:

        Yes that is exactly why I wrote it.

  62. SplinterBoy says:

    I really admire JB’s self-confidence. Now he’s won the title he wants to cement it by beating the very best in the same car. I’m not sure this was all about money as so many are saying but when he looks back over his career, I can’t help but think he’ll mark out Nov 18th 2009 as the 1st day of the final chapter. Lewis Hamilton will eat him for breakfast imo.

    James, am I right in thinking that Merc will now carry the 3+4 numbers on their cars next yr?

  63. Nick says:

    James,

    What I really don’t understand, is how Brawn/Mercedes have allowed themselves to be left with such a second-tier driver lineup. They’ve lost Button, a known entity who can win races, and gained Rosberg, who’s won no races and makes mistakes. They’ve made a huge financial investment but for the sake of saving a few more million, seem to have lost the plot.

    1. Med says:

      Actually, it’s even worse than that – there’s an article on Pitpass today which reckons Merc could end up paying 50% *more* next season rather than save money

  64. sam65 says:

    Personally I think it will be great to see both Jenson and Lewis racing each other aswell as the improved Ferrari line up.

    Don’t right Jenson off too soon, yes Lewis will take the qualifying honours but with no refueling next year and Jenson is a smoother driver and looks after tyres better, I feel he will take some honours back.

    Regarding Brawn and the salary episode, I doubt we will never find out the true figures (any joy here James??) but you can understand Jenson wanting more value especially as he sacrificed £5 Million last year to keep the team going……..roel on Silverstone…I Hope!!

  65. Jeremy says:

    This entire deal is more than just Jenson vs Lewis. Sure Jenson has a fight on his hands, but he’s a big boy and he’s been there now. He’s gone up against some great drivers and he’s faired very well when he had the car to do so. (which he didn’t have at Williams, Benneton, Renault or Honda) Think 2004 at BAR, finished 3rd in the driver’s behind the dominant F2004 of MSC and Barri. He had little chance of winning races that year besides Monaco behind Trulli, but his consistency and speed netted him the best possible result, 3rd overall. He finished 15 out of 18 races with 13 Top 5 finishes. 10 podiums and 2nd in the WCC.

    this really shows how dominant they were
    http://www.formula1.com/results/season/2004/
    and his results
    http://www.formula1.com/results/driver/2004/

    His biggest career mistake was choice of management.

    This is the best deal for Mclaren, commercially, when they needed it the most. The amount of money to be made in the next 3 years for Mclaren will be astounding and will definitely improve their finances after the loss of Mercedes and Mobil 1. This will help them further establish their engine department, road car business and the future of the company overall.

  66. David S says:

    Great pairing and great for Britain. My main concern for JB is setup differences which must surely favour Lewis in terms of the ethos in the Mclaren design dept.
    I passed by the Brawn factory last week on my way across the A43. The championship decals looked good but the place seemed very dumbed down and tired compared to 2007 when I last visited. I’m sure the silver tinsel will arrive quickly and many will quite rightly point out that this is to be expected given the events of the last 12 months but….Woking must seem like another planet.

    I wonder if Mercedes simply expected JB to accept? I would imagine that Ross feels some genuine sadness in this scenario.

    James – Is your understanding that only a 1 year contract was on offer at Brawn for JB (precurser to Vettel joining?) as opposed to 3 years at Woking?

    Is Mr Schumacher showing signs of interest yet??

  67. Finn says:

    Don’t think this is good for McLaren or Vodafone.

    Don’t think it is good for JB, but probably the best option he had given that Mercedes told him that they didn’t want him.

    Don’t think an all Brit line up is good for F1 or McLaren. If Brawn have an all German line up and with team country names like Force India and USF1, we’re getting into the realms of tawdry jingoism. For an international sport with international sponsors, you need an international line up to give a proper marketing blend.

    Think it is also bad technically as Jenson and Lewis like different types of car design, so one of them will be left struggling.

    Also, neither Lewis or Jenson are great at car set up at tracks (JB owes his WDC to Rubens in large part).

    And in the end, Macca would have preferred to have had Kimi, so Jenson is – at best – their third choice driver and a Mercedes reject.

    With the loss of Merc engines, think this heralds a period of decline for Macca and fully expect that Lewis will have moved to another team by 2011/2012.

    Don’t think Lewis is the best driver on the grid (yet), but he’ll easily beat JB …. just look at the wobbles JB has in 2009 when he didn’t have the best car underneath him.

    This is a nice pay-off for JB. He can take the money into his retirement and quietly follow Lewis around for the next couple of seasons.

    1. Steve Jones says:

      Good point about Hamilton’s long-term commitment at McLaren.

      James – do you think Mercedes’ departure means that Hamilton is likely to look elsewhere when his contract comes to an end?

      1. James Allen says:

        Depends how promising a future they build themselves in the next 2-3 years

    2. Jonathan Chan says:

      Wow, Anti Mclaren much.

    3. fausta says:

      Aren’t they good with Merc engines until 2015?

    4. JB says:

      Some of what you say here is fair enough but…

      1/ Mercedes told Button that they didn’t want him? Fair enough the deal on the table obviously wasn’t very good, be it the duration or the sums of money involved. But from all I’ve read Button would be driving a merc next year if he was happy to do it on the cheap.

      2/ Loss of Mercedes engines? Aren’t McLaren going to continue to receive a supply until something like 2015?

      3/ Kimi first choice? Then why didn’t they sign him? He’s spending the year out of F1, presumably so that he has more time to dedicate to his love of choc ices. I’d think that McLaren could have struck a deal if they really wanted to.

    5. adam says:

      Actually, McLaren have a 2 year free supply of Mercedes engines and an option of a further 3 years as a customer buyer.
      Not that Mercedes engines are in anyway German. They are designed and built in Northampton by the ex-Ilmor factory.
      I expect McLaren will design their own engine before then as they have in their forthcoming range of road cars.

  68. jago says:

    Got to say it’s a ballsy move by Button. We all suspect that Hamilton will get the better of him and he probably will, but with the new rules next year (refuelling ban in particular ) it may well be that this plays to Jensons stengths more than Lewis’s. Qualifying is where the main problem lies for Jenson I feel. I can’t think of a bad race performance from him this year but there were too many errors in qualifying.
    Maybe the fact that Mc Claren wanted Jenson after previously disregarding him has clouded his judgement. Would like to know all the reasons for him not signing to Brawn as I feel sure there was much more to it than just money.

  69. Lawie says:

    James

    Can you comment on the setup differences between Hamilton and Button, from what I’ve read they seem to like opposing characteristics in their cars. Aren’t these differences likely to be fundamental to the car design? If so, how can McLaren accommodate both drivers?

    1. James Allen says:

      As DC says in the Telegraph today, these things are secondary when you are talking about a car redesign to accommodate different front tyres and huge fuel tanks.

  70. bryan says:

    Bet you cant wait for the Button and Mclaren article to drop off the bottom of the list mate.
    Even with Abu Dhabi chat with Jense you didnt see it.
    Never mind cant always get it 100%.
    Pretty damn good otherwise keep up good work.
    Bryan

  71. Randal says:

    With Mclaren now getting the #1 and #2, how do the rest of the teams get their numbers?

    Will Brawn/Mercedes GP or Red Bull be #3 and #4?

    1. Declan says:

      I think apart from the driver world champion’s team having the first two numbers, the rest of the order is determined by the Constructor’s Title. So Brawn/Mercedes would get #3 and #4.

    2. Malcolm46 says:

      Brawn Mercedes will have #3 and #4 as Constructors Champions, which means Red Bull will be #5 and #6 as the rest of the numbers are dictated by last season constructors championship.

      Which is all a shame as I was looking forward to seeing Lewis Hamilton with red #5 in 2010!!

    3. Williams4Ever says:

      Brawn will get the either Nico Rosberg’s relative number(with Lewis’ number adjusted to two) or if Kimi join’s them Kimi’s relative number

  72. Owen says:

    Great read James.

    You absolutely nailed it – Mercedes were willing to pay for Brawn’s genius and ultimately pass on Button.

    Interesting to note as well that in the McLaren press release Whitmarsh makes a point of saying that “…we’ll be paying him no more than he could be getting elsewhere…”

    http://www.mclaren.com/latestnews/mclaren-news.php?article=384

    On another note James, is there any chance that those horrid wheel discs will be banned for 2010? In my view, they ruin the look of the car and sensation of speed (glowing brake discs, etc.).

    Thanks!

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m pretty sure they are out, yes, but I stand to be corrected..

    2. Maria says:

      Wheel fairings are banned in 2010 and beyond. They ruin the wake for the car following to attempt an overtake.

  73. jago says:

    James

    If Jenson beats Lewis next year then where does that leave us as far as rating drivers?
    Everyone assumes Lewis is better and one of the best ever whilst no one has ever accused Jenson of being a “great”, so what would that tell us? Would it down grade Lewis or promote Jenson as a “great”?

    Thanks, Jago.

    1. James Allen says:

      The latter, in spades, of course. People assume Lewis is pretty handy because he matched Alonso in 2007 as a rookie.

      1. Finn says:

        Did Lewis match Alonso or did Macca give Lewis preferential treatment and hamstring Alonso?

        We have stories of Alonso saying he got cars with the wrong tyre pressures, etc.

        Think Lewis is a real talent, but not sure he and Alonso were on equal footing at Macca.

  74. Ben G says:

    JB’s got balls for doing this. I admire his appetite for the challenge.

    1. Finn says:

      Eddie Jordan said Mercedes told JB he wasn’t wanted.

      If that is true, then JB didn’t have balls, he just didn’t have a better option.

  75. Eddyr says:

    I for one am really looking forward to this, I think it’ll be very interesting to see the two brits against each other in equal machinery
    also good for a British team to have two British drivers
    career suicide? Maybe, but I doubt it- even so, so what if it is? Gives us plenty to talk about!

  76. Jasper says:

    I think if anything the 2010 regulations will suit Button more than Hamilton! Hamilton is known to be very aggressive on his tyres and in 2010 the only pit stops are gonna be for new tyres so this is ultimately going to favour those who can can eek the performance out of the car, but without excessively wearing out the tyres and thus making fewer pit stops. I suppose 2005 when the cars had to last the whole race on one set of tyres is similar, in that it became something of an endurance formula, driving as fast as possible, but yet using the tyres carefully. And the World Champion that year was Alonso, so I expect the 2010 regulations will suit him.

    But back to Button, so in my opinion it may not be a bad time to be Hamilton’s team-mate. But I guess you also have to consider that McLaren will be well aware of how aggressively Hamilton uses his tyres and has factored this into the new car design. Meaning that the car will probably work best when driven aggressively. So it may transpire that Button finds himself driving a car that because of his smooth style he has trouble getting the temperature into his tyres, much like on occasion this year…

  77. Adron Gardner says:

    I’ll take Hamilton. Too bad Kubica signed early, he could have had that Brawn seat.

  78. David Whitworth says:

    In your column you state “He is leaving a team which won the title on a wing and a prayer this season” He was 11 points clear at the end of this season. How much did Lewis win by? a point if I am correct. Button is solid, quick, smooth and an intelligent driver. I think people are going to be in for a shock when Button is on par with Lewis. I like both drivers but most of all I am a McLaren fan and just hope they will both be finishing, in first and second place time and again.

    1. James Allen says:

      I meant that they cut it very fine on sponsorship, development etc. They were winging it, in other words. You have misunderstood me

    2. Med says:

      It’s also worth remembering that Lewis was up against it all season with Felipe – if Jenson’s rivals hadn’t kept shooting themselves in the foot in the second half of the season, he would’ve either lost the championship, or been less than the 11 points clear

      1. Jason C says:

        Remember, he was slightly unlucky to ‘lose’ 5 points from Malaysia.

      2. Med says:

        True, but everyone else got half points in that race too, so it was consistent across the board.

        Brawn did very much wing it this year – apparently the car only spent one week in the wind tunnel after Turkey I believe, to give it just enough performance to eke out the championship, while the rest of their effort was focussed on this year’s car; that’s what I’ve read anyway.

  79. Pat says:

    You gotta hand it to Button – the boys got Nuts!

    As soon as Jenson won his title Hamilton was proclaiming that he is the best driver in F1 – in effect throwing down the gauntlet – well Jenson’s picked it up & slapped him round the face with it ….. I bet you Lewis didn’t expect that !

    This is like a unification fight in boxing Jenson’s won his latest fight – with Lewis looking on from ringside – Lewis has called him out and Jenson’s straight back in his Face !

    In those time honoured words of Michael Buffer……

    Leeeeeeeeeeet’s Get Ready to Ruuuuumble :)

    1. Pat says:

      taking this a little further

      He’s obviously confident enough in his own abilities to VOLUNTEER to go HEAD to HEAD in the SAME CAR as one of the most precocious talents on the grid – the safer option would have been to stay at Mercedes GP – But as he says he wants to set himself new challenges and test himself against the best opposition he can find – even Schumacher wouldn’t do that in equal machinery – it also transpires that it wasn’t about money as he is on no more at McLaren than he would have got at Mercedes GP

      You gotta ask yourselves who would he have faired better against Rosberg or Hamilton – He’s CHOSEN the harder nut to crack …I can’t wait :)

      My moneys on Button !

  80. Roger Carballo AKA Archtrion says:

    My point here…. If Raikkonen doesn’t go and jump in the Merc team just to build a winning group around him ala Schumacher, then he deserves a hell’s nightmare and all kind of terryfic things, like going to drive to Nascar trucks championship sharing team with Nelsinho. He would show the whole world that there is no blood on that finish veins. Kimi, man, I know you don’t read this blog. In fact, I know you don’t read a s…, but please, forget all the money you wanted to earn at Woking, take your worksuite, and get that seat in Brown and show the world that you can make it.

    PD…. I would like to be a Kimi’s fan,,,, but I can’t, bros, I can’t…. He is soooo

  81. RON says:

    Button is a nobody… he was merely sitting in the car the FIA fiddled to win more then the others…

    McLaren are merely buying the number plate for the car…

    If Button does a tiny bit better then Heikki, then they have an added bonus there…

    Although, I firmly believe, Button is too boring for a top drive – top seats should be given to real talent, and not for marketing gimmicks…

    1. James says:

      Ron you should go to Specsavers as you clearly missed most of last season.

  82. Pat says:

    Taking this a little further…..

    He’s obviously confident enough in his own abilities to VOLUNTEER to go HEAD to HEAD in the SAME CAR as one of the most precocious talents on the grid – the safer option would have been to stay at Mercedes GP – But as he says he wants to set himself new challenges and test himself against the best opposition he can find – even Schumacher wouldn’t do that in equal machinery – it also transpires that it wasn’t about money as he is on no more at McLaren than he would have got at Mercedes GP

    You gotta ask yourselves who would he have faired better against Rosberg or Hamilton – He’s CHOSEN the harder nut to crack …I can’t wait :)

    My moneys on Button !

  83. Brian Morrison says:

    The thing I find most saddening about this is that the personal loyalty between some of the participants has been broken by money and ambition. I don’t quite understand what Mercedes think they are going to achieve with the Brawn team, they need a driver pairing that will compete with the top teams’ lineups.

    But, now we know that Jenson and Lewis is going to happen, I don’t see it as a bad thing at all.

    Jenson will have a lot of confidence on the back of becoming World Champion and I’m sure he will have plenty of engineering guidance at McLaren although I would have been really delighted to see his partnership with Shov continue.

    I will be waiting on the edge of my seat to see how the testing form shows in the new year, and I’m certain that race weekends are going to be dramatic.

    1. bleh says:

      I fail to see how Button would have given them a driver pairing on par with the top teams.

      Honda pouring unprecedented amounts of money into the car plus Brawn’s unquestioned technical genius worked together to give Button a lead that not even he could squander.

      Yeah, he was faster than Barrichello but Barrichello has been the second driver his entire career.

      Why is everyone treating Rosberg like he’s Yamamoto all of a sudden? You can argue whether he’s in the same league as Hamilton, but less championship caliber than Button? Gimme a break.

      Rosberg and Heidfeld is not a dream team but Heidfeld’s gonna make a great second driver. He can score consistently and is one of those drivers with the uncanny ability to show up at the front when the whole race goes to hell. Also, he was never dominated by Kubica despite everyone always emphasizing what a great talent he was.

      1. Brian Morrison says:

        I’m not so sure that Ross Brawn was the person behind the 2009 Brawn car in toto, it seems much of the development work was done by the people already at Honda.

        I see today that it now turns out that Jenson will be earning less at McLaren than he would have at Mercedes next season. That really puts a different light on this move.

        He’s seen the development rate that McLaren achieved this year, and he’s also experienced the development rate that Brawn managed too. That means that he believes that he will have a better chance than he would with Mercedes because of the expected performance advantage being sustained and perhaps enhanced during the season.

        I agree with you on Rosberg, he will take a while to settle in at Mercedes. Only then will his absolute talent become apparent.

        The real question in my mind is where Ferrari will be, they need to advance from where they were in 2009 and it isn’t certain they will manage it.

  84. Kenny says:

    Nos. 3 and 4 for Mercedes would be ironic- those were Tyrrell’s numbers for many years.

    Quite a few assumptions are being made here. I see this as a clean slate at McLaren, or at least it will be if they play their cards right (they must have learned something in 2007). Why favor one driver from such a high quality pairing? Equal footing + a good car + the one rule system (don’t take each other out) = happy campers + championships.

  85. Pay The Piper says:

    Like Rodney Dangerfield used to say:
    “I get no respect”

    I am guessing all the implied ahh-buts, that Button cheaply double-diffusered himself into a WDC have stung more than he may have publicly cared to admit … it certainly explains this kind of bold manoeuvre.

    I like boldness.

    Switch and be measured directly against one of the best, it’ll either pay-off big, or spiral down in flames, but you got to say it’s the gutsy play.

    Anyone got info on the contract options, is it a straight 3 years or 2+1 or what?
    I know we heard all about dollars at Brawn, but never durations … I got the feeling that Boss Haug was only ever interested in keeping Button as a placeholder till young Vettel arrived, if so, that would also have figured into the the proactive decision to jump now.

    1. Steve Mc says:

      Boss Haug – I like it…

      His second in command at Merc is, coincidentally, Ross-coe P Coltrane.

      Does this mean that the ‘Silver Arrows’ will, in fact, be painted orange with a rebel flag on the air box next year?!

      1. Neil Williams says:

        PMSL! Superb!

      2. Neil Williams says:

        And employing Danica Patrick as Daisy Duke one assumes? :-)

  86. Declan says:

    Hi James
    Have there been any subtle shifts in McLaren culture since Ron ‘left’ and Martin took over? Do you think Martin is better equipped at driver management; as I seem to recall Ron failed quite a few times in that area when he had two lead drivers (Montoya and of course Alonso spring to mind).

    As you pointed out in the post, it is a fantastic contrast of how Team Hamilton climbed the motorsport ladder with intricate planning and support from McLaren and how Team Button seemingly fumbled through (even in F1). And yet both roads have led to a World Championship and now to being team mates.

    I am hoping Button springs a surprise next year and I think the rule changes will help enhance his reputation as someone who is gentle on his machinery/tyres and who is an understated racer.

  87. mike says:

    and its goooooooooooooooooooooee!!! Get yourself back on the bbc , jonathon leggard whilst knowledgeable, he is monotone and cannot commentate. Anyway , to my point……….could you expand in some detail your comments concerning DC and Hakkinen

    1. James Allen says:

      Well things like moving DC aside at Jerez in 1997 and Melbourne in 1998 to get Mika through to win.

  88. kristian says:

    The biggest loser in this saga is Barrichello. Don’t you think he would have resigned with Brawn rather than go to Williams given a choice? Ross Brawn and Mercedes must rue that decision. I’m a huge Williams fan so I’m glad he joined up, but objectively it’s a step backwards at this point.

    The biggest winner is McLaren by miles.

    1. Med says:

      Rubens didn’t do himself any favours with his “blah blah blah” comments mid-season, much as they might rue the decision from a development point of view, Mercedes may have wanted to steer clear of that kind of publicity, after what they’ve been involved with with McLaren.

      I also think that Mercedes would be more likely to have favoured Rosberg over Barrichello, so he wasn’t really in a great position anyway.

      Fingers crossed he can help bring Williams nearer the front next year

  89. Doug says:

    Hi James,

    Great insight into the dads, I like the way you hint at knowing more than you say…c’mon, spill the beans! :-)
    Do you think that maybe Jenson moved because Brawn/Mercedes basicaly said ‘We’d love to pay you more Jenson, but even with Mercedes on board we need the extra £3m to make sure the car is fast enough!’?
    Drivers don’t want to know that a team is under-funded & if Jenson suspects that they won’t have the money to make the fastest car for 2010 then an offer from McLaren must have been pretty irristable don’t you think?

  90. Chris says:

    I view it as a positive for McLaren and JB. JB gets to pit himself against Lewis and prove himself once more (not that there should be any doubt, he’s WDC after all).
    McLaren get a solid driver team so they can score points with both cars consistently and take the fight to Ferrari/Red Bull/Brawn.
    I suspect that Mercedes weren’t willing to commit to JB for more than 1 year so this made sense for him in the long term.
    Misguided thinking for Mercedes if this is the case as Rosberg hasn’t impressed me overly so far.
    @#16, Finn – McLaren have an agreement with Mercedes for engine supply until 2015 I think, there was a press release a few days ago.

  91. Jason says:

    With Kimi gone…I’ll at least have the pleasure of seeing Hamilton push the Button.

  92. Rob says:

    Tying to vote for top 5,is it just me,the page of comments will not load ?

  93. Stu says:

    Hmmm, I think Button is going to find it very tough in a team moulded and shaped round Hamilton. This could go down as being a bit of a mistake.

    And I also think Hamilton’s old man will stick his nose in far too much and make life hard for Button, there is something about him I don’t quite trust…

  94. Maria says:

    Button will be wasted away by Mclaren favoritism, not becuase of his lack of talent, in equal cars he wipe the floor whiner boy hamilton.

    It took Mclaren to meddle with Alonso’s tyre pressures and race strategy and yet Alonso finished equal on points to their favored boy, Alonso litterly blew Hamilton away in 2007 and they know it.

    1. cliff says:

      Go get a life…..please.Your comments are a bit tedious

      1. Maria says:

        Oh but you did take the time to reply, which shows otherwise. I guess that proves you do take them very very seriously because its infact plain obvious and true.

      2. cliff says:

        Maria,
        I agree like everyone else you have the right to an opinion and a preference for a certain driver whoever that may be.
        All i ask is some degree of circumspection in some of your comments….after some if not all of us have not met these drivers to make an exact summation of their personalities.
        I sure look forward to reading your posts though.Thanks

    2. adam says:

      Maria are you Spanish ?
      Alonso has long ago moved on and so should you.
      BTW.wrong tyre pressures is racing speak used when drivers are unable to pin point a problem real or imagined.
      The bottom line is in 2007 Alonso failed to beat a rookie with equal equipment.

      1. **Paul** says:

        I think everyone (without Hamilton blinkers) appreciates that Alonso never really got a fair crack at McLaren. Just like Heikki was never given a fair go either, with Heikki recently commenting that:

        “Every time this season, when Hamilton and I are in the third part of qualifying, I had to do it with more fuel. If you take into account the quantities of fuel, I would have had pole position several times.”

        I did wonder why this happened, I thought it was Heikki’s choice, evidently not. I did think it odd how they always seemed to make him uncompetitive after some great Practice, Q1 and Q2 showings.

        Also

        “I have never wanted to make a big deal about it, but it would have been nice to just once had the new parts on my car, particularly after we lost the chance of winning the championship.”

        That was easy to spot, anything new went on Hamiltons car… and they only ever had one copy of it..unless Lewis broke it at which point another would magically appear.

        So did Alonso do well to match Hamilton? Yes, without question. Matching him was as good as beating him given the distinctly one sided treatment that was dished out.

        It feels a little odd to have to write the above about a fellow Brit, but it seems what I and my F1 fan friends regard as common knowledge isn’t so. Maria’s comments hold far more value than either Cliff or Adam give credit for and I’ve heard people who work in F1 make numerous references to the Hamilton bias. It exists within McLaren, and JB will have to work hard to make things a fair fight.

      2. cliff says:

        Dont you think it demeans Alonso if you continually say he was hampered to allow Hamilton win?
        So what do u say when Alonso was winning races in 08?was he fettered then too overtly or covertly?
        Do you really think that Alonso envisaged Hamilton being that quick?If everyone else could have forseen Hamilton being on pace with Alonso,do you think they would hire Alonso for a start?

        Alonso remains without question a formidable and exceptional racing driver of the top order and so will hamillton be in time surely and of course Raikonnen and Kubica are high class as well.

        We can appreciate their driving skills without wearing ‘blinkers’ as you put it.
        Facts are sacred but comments are free.

      3. Maria says:

        Where is your equal treatment when Alonso and Hiekki takes on the heavier fuel load on almost all occasions? When Alonso alone has his tyres always with wrong pressures? When his car always seems to have faulty parts that need changes oh so frequently enough to ruin his rhythm and plans for a straight forward qualifying and race? Hmm?

        Oh dont forget Mr equality and integrity Ron Dennis: “We were basically racing Fernando”

        Fernando has moved on not because blinkered Hamilton supporters were able to prove any point at all, its because he proved a point that he whoops all corners in the inferior car in 2008. Japanese GP 2008 had no deliberate crashes he earned that win and had his qualifying gone to plan he would have had his fair and square shot at winning Singapore GP 2008 without the team cheating through match fixing tactics.

        Compare that with Hamilton? In 2009 he had to wait till Mclaren really developed the car into a real race winner before which he couldn’t achieve anything tangible.

        And hilariously some claim “he did well”.

    3. Mav says:

      “Whiner boy” “Favouritism”?

      Surely you must be talking about Fernando “My team don’t love me anymore and if you don’t crash into that wall Nelson I’ll kick your ass. BTW, what’s a strategy?” Alonso?

      But keep em’ coming Maria. They’re always good for a giggle!

      1. Maria says:

        Mav: You are talking about yourself there perhaps?.

        “Ron Dennnis: We where basically racing Fernando”

        If that isn’t favoritism and sabotage, perhaps you need to go back to school and relearn some definitions, giggle giggle indeed :D

  95. Lady Snowcat says:

    Interesting to comment that in recent years bringing a strong driver into Macca alongside a star hasn’t worked too well….

    Arguably JPM didn’t work and cost Kimi and Macca the titles…

    And Fernando/ Lewis was disasterous whilst I don’t think Kimi/ Lewis would have been…

    So the question is…is Jenson a top driver?…

    Watch this space….

  96. Maria says:

    Button will be wasted away by Mclaren favoritism, not because of his lack of talent, in equal cars he’ll wipe the floor wit golden boy Hamilton.

    It took Mclaren to meddle with Alonso’s tyre pressures plus race strategies and yet Alonso finished equal on points to their favored boy, Alonso literally blew Hamilton away in 2007 and they know it.

    No one forgets how Alonso destroyed Hamilton in Hungary 2007 on worn hard tyres by 0.4secs against Hamilton’s fresh softs.

    1. lynnduffy says:

      Yadda yadda yadda… Are we not past recycling these silly conspiracy theories yet?

      1. Maria says:

        “Yada yada” is all you can come up with? It figures, usually when there is no argument possible and one doesn’t like to face it ‘yada’ is the end result.

        Shows you see the point but would not like to admit to it XD

  97. James,

    My analysis is that Jenson’s move is very well calculated and timed to perfection!
    He leaves a team that just had a “once in a lifetime Cinderella year”. Braun/Honda miraculously got their package right early and Jenson Capitalized with it! The other teams caught up, especially McLaren, but Jens continued to score points in every event save one. For Braun/Mercedes to repeat so soon next year would be close to impossible.

    In 2010 the Formula One game changes. With no refueling the sport reverts back to tire management. IMHO, there is no one in F-1 that utilizes their tires better than Jens. Hamilton is arguably the quickest drive in F-1 today, and he may capture many polls in the beginning of the season. But I see Hamilton struggling as the early races close (like this years Italian GP) because he will have run out of tire by the end of the race. Jenson’s technique of driving, the smooth as glass style that we saw in Formula Ford and Formula 3 years ago, combined with Mclarens stellar engineering should produce victories, many top five finishes and another championship.

    Ultimately, Hamilton will learn from Jens, and change his style to suit the new rules. I think that Jensen coming to McLaren, with his open communication, team first style, will benefit Hamilton, and help him win many more championships! I agree with you that Jenson is now more mentally resilient and will not be thrown off by Hamilton. Button honed and tempered his psychological bulwark in 2009 season. He became champion, knows how to accomplish it and will be champion again.

    James, you have basically confirmed Jenson’s championship mentality with the observation that the Grand Doubting Thomas of Formula One, Ron Dennis, has changed his mind about the “Seasoned” World Champion. And now wants him at McLaren!

    No-one should underestimate Jenson. He is now the total package and will be significantly missed by Braun/Mercedes. McLaren, in my estimation just added the jewel to their crown for F-1. No team should come close to matching this team in 2010.

    J.B.Welch- USA

  98. Ian Curtis says:

    I can’t believe we have so long to wait for it all to kick off again!!!
    Grrrr… 2010 is setting itself up to be another cracking season… i for one am pleased Jens has jumped ship.. he was definitely being told you’re not worth the money in no uncertain terms, however.. i can see Ross’s point of view too. Anyway.. now no-one loses face and we have an epic Anglo/German battle shaping up next year.. and looking at the teams and the driver line-ups.. i know where my money is going……..
    =====
    The nations, not so blest as thee,
    Must in their turn, to tyrants fall,
    While thou shalt flourish, great and free,
    The dread and envy of them all.
    =====
    - Rule Britania!

  99. Spencer says:

    Too many people here seem to be saying that McLaren have lost Mercedes. Merc at this point in time still owns 40 per cent (I think) of McLaren and now are buying that share back over a staged period.

    The Mercedes engine stays with McLaren until 2015 or until McLaren have developed their own that they are happy with.

    Customer engines are no different to works motors! The same development goes into all.

    As for Jenson and Lewis teamed up in a British team and car…… I can’t wait. Both guys will be trying to proove a point and with Alonso at Ferrari, its going to be fab.

    ROLL ON MARCH

    1. James Allen says:

      So for you being backed by a manufacturer is no different from being an engine customer?

      1. Jonathan Chan says:

        I think you misinterpreted what Spencer was saying, yes it is good to have the backing of a manufacturer but the engines are more or less the same take Redbull and Renault as an example, Redbull have beaten Renault fair and square this season and Redbull are not backed by Renault neither has Brawn or Force India for Mercedes. The only difference in my eyes is the financial security, Mclaren will miss that which will put more pressure on the Mclaren Automotive business to produce significant finances to keep Mclaren in the black.

      2. Rich M says:

        I think it made a massive difference when engines were being developed – i.e. works teams won. With the engine freeze they’re more commodity items aren’t they? Look how Brawn and Red Bull dominated this year.

      3. JB says:

        James, I’ll admit that I’m being naive or ignorant here, but in previous years did the Mercedes engineering contribution to McLaren extend beyond the engine department?

        I was under the same impression as Spencer, that even when they were partners, McLaren built the car, Mercedes built the engine and that was that as far as their F1 car was concerned.

      4. James Allen says:

        The contribution was financial and it was massive

      5. adam says:

        James, how about an article explaining the difference? For example Red Bull did rather better with Renault engines than the works team. There seemed to be no disadvantage being a customer.

    2. Med says:

      The engine might be the same, but if the relationship was the same there’d have been no point in Mercedes buying into Brawn

  100. Frankie Allen says:

    One major point you have tripped over so many times, is it being very clear Mercedes are not worried whether Button goes or stays. Once you factor that in alongside that Mercedes would push the boat out to get Vettel, what sort of position does that leave Button? Will the McLaren offer still be available at the end of next season, will any competitive seat be available next season? Who knows, but it is very clear what is available now and it’s very difficult for Button not too factor all this in and make the decision very easy, even though he is going up against the best driver on the grid.

  101. Steve W says:

    What will be really interesting to know is whether Jenson was pushed out of the door by Brawn, as that is the impression I am getting.

    I admire Jenson’s ambition to take up such a challenge as successfully defending a world championship in a different team is not something I am sure has happened too often. Alonso couldn’t cope at McLaren alongside Hamilton, and remember Lewis was in his first year then. He is a much better driver now, and will I’m sure raise his game another notch next season with the prospect of having a world champion as a team mate again.

  102. guy says:

    There is no refueling next year so one driver will not have any strategy advantage, ergo nothing to hide behind. So when Lewis destroys Button every weekend there will not be any excuses.

    I recall Raikkonen qualifying well with loads more fuel than anyone else in the McLaren days… He will be missed. A Lewis/Kimi combination would have been perfect.

    James,

    Did Kimi actually think he would command the same absurdly high pay as he enjoyed from Ferrari? I don’t understand. It seems as though he wanted to leave F1. Surely his management knew he wouldn’t get what he was asking for…

  103. I really can’t go along with this “great news for Vodafone” line, which all British F1 journalists seem to be parroting.When I worked for the company it was at great pains to stress that it was a global brand and that the UK market was small beer compared to the rest of its global operations. Please explain why harping on about being British is going to attract new Vodafone customers in say Germany (the biggest European market) or here in France. I have always enjoyed F1 as a sport that reaches across international boundaries – for McLaren and Vodafone to start playing the little Englander card is a sad day for the sport.

  104. CL says:

    James, do you see Brawn trying to lure Raikkonen now that Button has signed with Mclaren? I can’t imagine he’d be happy with a Rosberg, Heidfeld paring. Regardless of what Mercedes might want, that team against Hamitlon/Button and Alonso/Massa just doesn’t add up.

  105. Hephaestus says:

    I just don’t understand why you talk about Mclaren losing Mercedes and Lewis moving towards Mercedes by 2012.
    It is my understanding that as part of the deal that will see Mclaren buy out Mercedes share, the german company will supply free engine & sponsorship until 2015 which leaves Mclaren enough time to set up their own engine department or find a viable alternative.
    Knowing how resilient Mclaren are, I am confident that they will still be a driving force in F1.

    1. James Allen says:

      Losing Mercedes as a funding partner. They’ve stuck some serious money into McLaren over the years

      1. Phil says:

        James, don’t you think that people may be underestimating the difficulty in establishing a team at the front – yes Mclaren are losing Mercedes, but I’m not convinced that it’s a shoe-in for Mercedes to establish itself as a front running team. BMW tried it, and it didn’t work out.

        Yes, they have Brawn, and I’m sure they’ll do a good job, but last year was a little unusual in that there where major rule changes, and Ferrari and Mclaren where caught out with the double diffuser.

        I think it’s stretching things to automatically assume Brawn will be a front runner – they had a major advantage at the beginning of the season with a car developed very very early, with a massive amount of Honda money.

        Personally, I think it’s just as likely that this will turn out to be an incredibly bad decision by Mercedes as an inspired one.

      2. Steve W says:

        In the cost cutting age that F1 has entered, will losing Mercedes funding be a big issue for McLaren? Williams already have shown they are happy to go down the fully independent route for next season. McLaren already have state of the art facilities and if they go down the route of building in-house engines in few years they could be quite a force.

  106. John Glynn says:

    Oh to be a fly on the wall in Mr Whitmarsh’s office when they were devising the performance clauses for this contract.

    I’m not the biggest fan of either driver but I think Jenson could seriously surprise his critics. Now they just need to stick him with the right engineer.

    Jenson is the new Kimi. Go Fernando go!

  107. Stephen Crowsen says:

    Until the Merc deal was confirmed Button’s move to McLaren was the most sensible one. Firstly, this is about the only year he will really have a chance to earn the money that comes with driving around with the “1″ on his car. No matter which team he drove for, it was unlikely he would replicate that success (after all, in recent history, and team order results excluded, only Alonso has won two WDC). One of Ferrari, McLaren, or Red Bull are most likely to win the WCC next year, so to replicate this years success he had to be in one of those teams. Brawn GP were obviously close to being declared bankrupt at the early part of last year, and at least until the Mercedes cash injection it is reasonable to believe the cash flow problems will continue.
    On the other hand, even with the recent “big fines”, it was apparent McLaren aren’t as financially cash strapped.
    So just on that basis alone, going to McLaren would have better financially. I can’t see him accepting getting a lot less money than Hamilton, especially as it will be him that gets them the premium garage at each race this year, and he gets a 3 year deal to boot.
    If you then throw in which team is most likely to beat Ferrari, after Red Bull McLaren is the team to pick.
    Sure, Brawn did very well at the start of last year, but that was partly the result of having spent nearly a full year designing the car (and that lesson wasn’t lost on the other teams). After the first few ’09 races it was apparent they weren’t developing as fast as the other teams. I can see the value in them taking resources away from development and putting them into 2010 design, but when the developments aren’t keeping up with your competitors at the start of the season then one has to ask if that is a strategy decision or a budget decision.
    Then, when you consider Kimi seemed to be wanting a Ferrari type salary (even with the compensation), then why wouldn’t McLaren at least consider someone who is guaranteed to attract advertising dollars.
    Lastly, Button would want to prove he is worthy of the WDC title, and doing well against Rubens or Rosberg doesn’t carry the same credibility as doing well against Hamilton.

  108. lynnduffy says:

    James where did you get that surreal photo of Jenson? It’s freaky!!

    Poor old Jenson, he has never yet made a good team move. Anyone know what odds are being offered for Jenson to beat Lewis? Even allowing for the refuelling factor, I just can’t see it. Lewis is faster.

      1. lynnduffy says:

        His nose looks enormous. :) Snoopy couldn’t to better!

  109. allen says:

    Bad move, Jense should have taken the deal at Brawn. They made 2 good drivers look special whereas Lewis can make an average car look special. I agree: career suicide.

  110. SteveEarle says:

    Hi, just typing my random thoughts; credit where it’s due it’s a brave move by Button going up against Hamilton, shows the guy has got balls!
    I know there is going to be an awful lot made in the media about an all British dream team and how they both ‘fly the flag with pride’ yada yada, I just hope there will be one interviewer with the gumption to ask them why if they’re so proud to represent britain, do they insist on being tax exiles and living in Monaco and Switzerland? They’re quite happy to soak up all the glory but they don’t give anything back!
    But most interviewers seem to think an insightful question is “what’s your favorite colour?” and if it’s an in-depth interview “what’s your second favorite colour?”
    End of the day though IMHO this move is F1′s loss in losing Kimi, on his day there is no one better out there!

  111. Hairs says:

    Button is trying to prove something to himself and the world here – that he’s not second best to Hamilton, or Alonso, or Kimi. That he didn’t just win down to the car. But if he’d stayed at Brawn he could have won back-to-back and silenced the critics forever. As it is, he will be stuck driving Hamilton’s car, which won’t suit him at all.

    Again, he’s in the wrong car to do the job, just like the earlier part of his career.

    This does massive damage to Brawn though. They still don’t have a sponsor, no signs of getting one, and this makes the job a lot harder.

  112. mark ashton says:

    I believe if Brawn/Mercedes wanted button, they would have signed him days ago , obviously they [MERCEDES] didn’t want him , their lose McLarens gain.

  113. P Byrne says:

    James, what about next years rule changes – the first time since ’93(?) that drivers carry race fuel. That’s going to be a massive change and – IN THEORY – would suit Button’s smooth driving style more than Hamilton, Alonso or any of the other really aggressive drivers that have succeeded in the last few years.

    On the minus side I don’t think Button is as versatile as Hamilton, the car has to be within a much narrower window in terms of set-up for him to fly.

    Time will tell.

    BTW – you tantilisingly state that the dads have history ‘not all of it positive…’ Hmmmmm… I’d love to hear more but I just don’t think you’re ‘tabloid’ enough to thrash talk them.
    Peace.

  114. Luke Robbins says:

    YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

    This is well cool!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bought my mclaren tshirt already. Who cares who comes out on top, as long as they both have the chance to win races and it would be fun if they could race each other a bit. Maybe LH will come out on top overall but there will be certain races when JB is faster.

    I just hope they keep a good relationship, would be rubbish if they began to dislike each other.

    Anyway, lets look at the positives… good move for JB, maybe he will see out his career at mclaren.

  115. CMR says:

    I don’t know how Ross Brawn let this deal slip, he’s now lost both drivers from the 2009 season – not good for team stability or winning WCC’s. In fact at one point today, I was reading Ross Brawn as saying they were still in talks with Button, and how it would be a mistake to move to McLaren, within the hour McLaren announce Button had signed for them – it’s frankly laughable! Especially given that the deal is worth a reported 15 million plus.

    Button won’t beat Hamilton in outright speed, I think that’s a given – but Button has immense race craft which will stand him well throughout the season. I firmly believe they will have equal opportunity and status within the team until team orders are required to win WDC/WCC. Besides none of us know what was discussed behind the doors at Team McLaren, or what is written into Buttons contract.

    I also don’t buy into this press hype of German team vs British team in Mercedes/McLaren – that’s just hyperbole from the Press! Mercedes GP cars are built in Britain, so are the race engines the team boss is British along with a considerable amount of his staff. Even Mercedes share is split with Arab investment. Yes the two drivers are German but don’t they both live outside Germany now? Probably Monaco along with the rest of the tax dodging Formula 1 fraternity?

    One thing is for sure a Hamilton/Button paring is built to fight the Alonso/Massa duo – and that is a mouth watering prospect!

  116. Robert George says:

    Does Jenson think the Brawn win was a one off which is unlikely to be repeated ? His stock value will never be higher, so it is easier to move now rather than later.

    Perhaps McLaren is actually a safer world championship bet over 3 years ? It still has a decent engine …………

  117. jesee says:

    James….u are better placed than probably most of us to judge drivers because maybe you might have inside information from engineers.
    Iam hesitant of writing Jenson off, but if i may ask why do you think Kovalainen was so poor? Do you think, it is Lewis who was outperforming or it was the car which was not suited to Kovy’s style? Also, what are engineers views with regard to the balance of cars next year…by this i mean…can they set out to build an oversteering car which might favour hamilton or they build a neutral car and the driver may set it any way he want? Thanks

    1. Peter King says:

      the fact is even after just winning the title team principals dont really rate JB.

      Below is the full AUTOSPORT F1 Team Principals’ top ten results of how the rated drivers through secret ballot in 2009.

      bear in mind LH was rated top dog in 08, not sure the result in 07 but i can just imagine who the usual suspect was.Full story on http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/80222

      1. Sebastian Vettel 76
      2. Jenson Button 67
      3. Lewis Hamilton 65
      4. Fernando Alonso 39
      5. Rubens Barrichello 35
      6= Kimi Raikkonen 30
      6= Mark Webber 30
      8. Felipe Massa 19
      9. Robert Kubica 10
      10. Adrian Sutil 8

  118. Neil says:

    The excitment continues, and this year isn’t over yet! (British GP decision?)

    Looks like your book went to the publishers a week or so too early James!

    (Don’t worry – I’ve bought one anyway – I hope you get wrist ache signing them all :-)

    Neil.

  119. Thomas says:

    I think this could be a good call for Jenson. At the moment he is not rated a top driver despite winning the championship this year. This move gives him the opportunity to prove himself a worthy foe to Lewis Hamilton, and finally show everyone that he is the real deal.

    That battle will be facinating, won’t it? Lewis is widely regarded as the better driver of the two, but if Jenson can establish himself as his equal on the track he will get the recognition he so wants.

  120. Gez says:

    haha good luck button =P

  121. Steve JR says:

    If memory serves me correctly, Jenson was faster than Lewis when they went on Top Gear and raced the reasonably fast car around the track – but Lewis did it in the wet and amazed The Stig with his lap time.

    1. Peter King says:

      Jenson was not faster. In fact Lewis matched his time despite the fact that he drove it un wet condition with a track coated in oil spill as opposed to Jensen time in dry conditions. See link http://www.crash.net/f1/news/60581/1/lewis_stuns_on_top_gear_debut.html

  122. virtualmark says:

    James,

    What are your thoughts on who’s going to take Jenson’s place at Brawn in 2010? As others have said already, Rosberg is an unproven talent. I’d have thought that Merc might like to partner him with someone who’s more of a proven race winner, but then there’s not so many of them floating around as free agents at the moment (and I’m not sure I could see Kimi at Brawn).

    Interested in your thoughts on who’s being considered for that second spot at Brawn.

    1. James Allen says:

      Heidfeld, but I’m hearing voices tonight about Robertsons maybe talking to Brawn. If true, Brawn are clearly shell shocked by JB’s decision as they weren’t really considering KR before

      1. AmandaG says:

        Thank you James (again)

        Just a quick question, do you think Mercedes want a WDC in their car?

        Actually no its not that quick a question. Are they looking for the most marketable driver to put in their car? I think its very obvious the reaction of the last 24 hours that a lot of fans are not happy about Kimi not being in the sport. Would he be good for their marketing strategy? I know you said in an earlier blog about questions about his motivation but could something have changed?

        It has come to a lot of peoples notice that when Massa got injured, Kimi’s performances were on a different level.

        So really the question is, the Silver Arrows have returned, they have lost number 1 on the car, do they need a very high profile driver to advertise the fact they have returned to the sport?

      2. James Allen says:

        They need the best drivers available, same as everyone else

      3. Charlie says:

        Ahem…say what?

      4. Olivier says:

        Kimi @ Brawn? That looks like a great cocktail as Brawn will be able to make the car work for him.

        What about Sutil joining Brawn? He is less of a corporate driver than Heidfeld is.

  123. Darren says:

    is it not a all English team.

    so looking forward to next season

  124. gazzap says:

    to be fair I doubt mercedes were offering anything like £18m for 3 years. when a team like Mclaren offer that, you take it. no one turns that down. Even if he is frequently beaten by Lewis he wont care and he wont regret his decision. he is already world champion, and no one can take that away from him.

  125. Chris Bird says:

    James – Does this mean that Jenson will have to shave off his beard? I remember DC commenting when he joined Red Bull that it was in his Mclaren contract that he had to be clean sheven at all times.

    1. James Allen says:

      That was a Ron Dennis thing. New regime is more tolerant of facial hair!

      1. Jonathan Chan says:

        I was posing that question to myself aswell, had Kimi Raikkonen joined Mclaren instead would he have been forced to shave his massive mullet? Took him months to grow…

  126. Tim says:

    Well, good luck to Jenson – he’s certainly set himself a challenge. As others have said, the McLaren will have been designed for Lewis, who seems to prefer almost the opposite in car balance to Button.

    Hopefully Jenson can adapt and the team will be able to help with setup, but history suggests that when two drivers with different styles are in a team, one will struggle. The reduced testing time is likely to be a factor as well.

    As for who’s really quicker – I suspect that when the car is exactly to Button’s liking there wouldn’t be much in it over a lap, but Button’s tolerance for car balance seems to be much narrower.

    A shame for Brawn/Mercedes – I don’t buy the conspiracy stuff, I think RB would have liked to keep Jenson. We’ll probably never know the details though.

  127. Nic Maennling says:

    This is like deja vu all over again !

    I feel a twinge of sadness for Button as he does not have the aggressiveness of Hamilton, and will be overshadowed by him. Had he gone with Mercedes and succeeded, then people would not say that 2009 was a fluke as they surely will now. I predict they will exchange numbers in 2011.

    Forza all teams !

  128. Rob says:

    James,

    Excellent post as usual. I think the only outright winner in all of this is McLaren. Mercedes GP has lost out on some of the ‘World Champion’ afterglow and probably won’t get as good a driver (although as I pondered on an earlier post, perhaps they want a clean sheet and no ‘inherited’ championship). I think Button was between a rock and a hard place, which is incredible considering he is the newly crowned World Champion. A choice between a slap in the face below WDC pay deal from the team that provided him with the platform to win (and to whom he provided a Championship) or face a formidable team mate in Lewis Hamilton.

    A move to McLaren in such circumstances is certainly brave. I wish him well though and think he will be closer to Hamilton than some people predict. Perhaps with carrying a heavy fuel load at the start of the race his smooth style might help nurse tyres for longer.

    By the way, this news tipped the balance for me from a ‘thinking about it’ into a ‘I’ve pre-ordered’ your book; not only will it have the great writing and insight from your blog, but it now has the added significance of a foreword by one-season-only eponymous championship winning team owner Ross Brawn and a great cover photo of the one-season-only Brawn GP livery!

    1. James Allen says:

      A collectors’ item, indeed! Thanks.

  129. Tom says:

    You have to think if Hamilton gives Button a dusting next season it’s really going to take the gloss off his world championship.

    I can’t understand why you would want to leave a team of the future like Brawn/Mercedes. Granted he isn’t going to USF1, but in Brawn you have a team that will be well resourced into the future, with probably the best in the business at the helm.

    In some ways I admire him for taking on the challenge, but someone might’ve pointed out the old saying of “know your limits”. Then again that’s probably not a saying too many F1 drivers would be familiar with.

    In any case it’s great for the fans, and I can’t wait to see how it pans out next year. My money’s on Lewis though.

  130. Paul Douglas says:

    Another angle on this the Honda thing. Could it be that Jenson saw his team once again transforming from a successful independent into a works team and jumped ship to an independent? The last thing he wants is a repeat of the Honda debacle. Once bitten, twice shy.

  131. John says:

    James, do you think the changes i.e refuelling will help Jenson or is this being overstated. Also with Jenson prefering a understeering car will the narrower tyres help him ?

  132. Steve says:

    Has anyone voluntarily left a Ross Brawn car before?

    And how much more are Macca paying him over what Brawn offered?

    1. John says:

      Less from the reports

      £6m a year

  133. Hephaestus says:

    Thanks James for enlighting me.
    I hear some people say that the ban on refueling may well favour Jenson as he is softer on tyres.
    They might be right in some respect.
    But I’m tempted to point that every driver will have to adapt to the new regulation. And to me Hamilton is more versatile and better in adapting his driving style to a new situation and get the best out of it than Button as shown this season.
    Besides, Jenson will have to adapt to a new team.
    Although I’m sure he will quickly familiarise himself with his new environment, this will be a disadvantage.
    To sum up, while Lewis can adapt to the car, Jenson needs the car to adapt to him.
    I do believe though that Mclaren has (at least on paper) the best driver line-up.

  134. Michael S says:

    I am now hearing Brawn is talking to Kimi’s managers about 2010… The Times broke it a few minutes ago.. any truth?

  135. Hephaestus says:

    James I do that having the full support of a manufacturer is much better than being a customer.
    But it seems that Mclaren will have free engine supply until 2015 and Mercedes will remain a major sponsor. Obviously they will not be putting the same amount of money as in previous year but with the budget cap in place and the publicity made by their glamourous line-up, could we think that Mclaren might not be that badly off?

    1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

      McLaren has more resources than any other team. They have the best engineers and the best facilities. They will not be hurting from Merc’s pullout.

  136. LEA says:

    I think that Jenson Button prefers to say that he was beaten by Hamilton than from Nico Rosberg for example. He is not an oustanding driver and I am sure that some of the younger drivers (copared to Barricello)can beat him; Therefore is safer for him to say that was beaten by Hamilton who is an excellent driver and the protege of Maclaren than be beaten by an outsider in his own team.

    1. James D says:

      I suspect that Button does not share your low opinion of himself. Like any F1 world champion he has a more than healthy ego – it’s laughable to think that he is basing his decision on who he would prefer to be beaten by.

  137. Matt Flintelli says:

    People! We are missing the big story here! Ferrari will have 7&8 on the car. Ohh well it will be pleasing to watch car 8 will the championship next year!

    1. supervly says:

      They will probably revert back to 27 & 28 – the numbers they have always carried traditionally

      1. Finn says:

        7 and 8 are considered (by different cultures) to be exceptionally lucky numbers.

        If I were superstitious, I’d happily have a team with 7 and 8.

      2. Neil Williams says:

        Nice thought but not permissable under the current rules. Numbers are allocated in descending order of WCC finishing position (excluding the drivers #1 of course!).

  138. Lin Morris says:

    I’ve never really been a Jenson fan, I simply didn’t think he was that special a driver but even I admit he drove pretty well last year, although I have wondered where he would have ended up in the drivers standings if we didn’t have the whole diffuser shenanigans.

    I just don’t see him in the same league as Hamilton, Kimi or Alonso and I never have. As soon as Lewis entered F1, you just knew he had that extra something that made him special, same with Raikkonen when he started out and you see it with Vettel now but never with Jens.

    So I wait with interest for the coming season and if he drives the a*** off the McLaren then I’ll be the first to say I was wrong about him and better late than never!

  139. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    Button was in a tricky situation. His manager made a complete balls up with the manner in which he made this so public and in a way has diminished Button’s perception and value.

    Having said this, there was no point in Button carrying on at a new set up that clearly did not rate him highly or include him in their grander ambitions.

    Button was right to take the McLaren offer. They wanted him…….albeit as a number 2 with a number 1 on his car.

  140. John says:

    Lewis will annihilate Jenson in 2010, and I say that as more of a Jenson fan than a Lewis fan. No-one would beat Hamilton in a McLaren, it’s a team built around him. I cannot see the logic of it from Button’s point of view, but as always money talks. And I’m sure Anthony Hamilton will be turning the screws in the background to ensure his son gets #1 status (which he probably will anyway, even if he is driving car #2)…

  141. Kenneth C says:

    I agree with the consensus that on the surface it is a bad move on Button’s part and probably on McLaren’s part too. Personally i think with all due respect, Button is the weakest of the recent world champions and definitely not in the same class as Kimi. While Button needs to assert himself in Mclaren, essentially “Team Hamiltion”, Kimi would have got on with the job and drove the nuts of the Mclaren. Simple, no fuss, no controversies. I think we all agree that Mclaren have had enough politiking and controversies to last them a very long time. With Button it can really go both ways but we know with Kimi would have been the wiser choice.

    As for Button, if he does not match Hamilton i think hes credibility as an F1 World Champ would be seriously questioned. For whatever reason Button was chosen instead of Kimi, i think the sport is worse off because of it. the Prospect of Kimi v Lewis for me is more tantalising than Button v Lewis.

    As far as i am concerned, the only winner from all this is Lewis, Kimi would have made more formidable opponent on track.

  142. tamzed ashraf says:

    Hi James

    A lot is being said about no refuelling next year . Looking back a few years one would assume companies like Honda and Toyota who in a real world are more fuel efficient and reliable with their engines have somehow been the opposite in F1.

    Can you please shed some light ?

  143. tamzed ashraf says:

    Maybe in 2015 Honda will return and team up with Maclaren and dominate once again .

    Wishful thinking

    1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

      Or by 2015, McLaren will have their own F1 engines after building their sports car business.

    2. Neil Williams says:

      Do you know Tamzed, that thought crossed my mind too! McLaren-Honda has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?! :-) Do you think they’d be successful? ;-)

  144. tamzed ashraf says:

    Maybe in 2015 Honda will return and team up with Maclaren and dominate once again.

    Wishfull thinking as I still believe they have unfinished business in f1

  145. Ryan says:

    I don’t know what you’re replying to, so I might be missing something… but won’t next season be his 4th?

  146. Rich C says:

    Ppl keep speculating about the drivers and their Fathers being in conlict. I think those two will get on just fine. And McLaren will be an awesome team and win the championship in 2010.

  147. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    James, what do you make of all the comments being made about the 2010 regs benefiting “smooth” drivers?

    I don’t buy into it. Mansell was one of the toughest manhandlers of cars and had no problem winning when refueling was not allowed. Senna was not the most light handed driver either…nor was Gilles Villenueve.

    I remember when they banned traction control a few years ago….with many saying that it would benefit “smooth drivers” And what happened?….Michael Schumacher kept on winning.

    In any case, there is an argument that “smooth” drivers should have benefited from the outgoing regs. Being lighter on fuel and lighter on tyres would have been of benefit to any driver. What matters is having speed….smoothness without speed is useless.

    The cream will always rise to the top and the quickest drivers will always win. In the same way that Mansell and Senna won under regulations that would supposedly would have favoured “smooth” drivers…Prost would have won under regulations that would have supposedly favoured more aggressive drivers.

    In adapting a car around a drivers style, I would guess that a team would always be looking to optimise the set up for speed/fuel consumption/tyre wear.

    Would be great to have your insight on this.

    1. James Allen says:

      Well you can see the point, with the tyre wear on full tanks etc. But I think that more important is an adaptable driver because the car’s handling is going to be constantly changing. Keeping the lap times consistent in those conditions will bring the best drivers to the fore.

  148. Crys says:

    When it was first mentioned, I thought this was a really bad move for Jenson, and I couldn’t understand why Brawn or Mercedes would want to give up that shiny number 1 on the car.

    Having read through the various announcements and articles, it became clearer that Mercedes wanted to back away from McLaren, and wanted Ross Brawn as team principle, but were less bothered about who drove – perhaps (as suggested by many others here) they’re biding time to grab Vettel. Taking that into account, it starts looking better for JB to move.

    Under Ron Dennis, McLaren was entirely focussed on Lewis – I’m no fan of Alonso, but he did get very poorly treated. I’m not sure yet if Martin Whitmarsh is so Lewis-centric. If nothing else, it’s entirely foolish to take on a reigning WDC and deliberately hamstring him, especially when the 2010 rules and regs might make it easier for JB to get good results than LH.

    People may be a little cynical about the “feeling valued” issue, but really, does anyone want to work where they’re not appreciated?

    JB has balls making this move – imagine the names he’d be getting called if it came to light that he’d had the McLaren offer and turned it down for what would probably be a much easier life with Mercedes.

    The 2010 season is going to be interesting – it’s not just about pure speed any more, pit stop strategies will change completely, and race tactics have got to be about preserving tyres and not running out of fuel – I can see lots of folks praying for the safety car to get plenty of mileage!

    IF (and it may be a big if) there is no favouritism at McLaren and LH and JB compete as equals, then we might just see some amazing racing…

    JB is a better driver than many give him credit for. He made some amazing overtaking moves, scored points in every race he finished, even with appalling qualifying performances, and the only time he didn’t finish was when he got pushed off my Grosjean. He did let the pressure get to him midseason, but I suspect that won’t be a problem in 2010, he now knows he can win, so has less need to worry about proving it. Whether he really has the raw pace to match LH in an equal car has yet to be seen.

    LH is a blisteringly quick driver, and can put on some stunning moves, on the other hand, he can be rough on the car (which won’t work well with no refueling) and sometimes pushes too hard and makes daft mistakes, like falling off the track with no help from anyone, trying to get past JB at Monza.

    Together, they could be damn good… I’m looking forward to that competition far more than Massa v Alonso at Ferrari – but I’m not a Ferrari fan, I just don’t like the way they work – though given the silverware they have collected, it obviously works for them.

  149. John K says:

    I had the opportunity to offer a quick hello to Jenson several years ago as he exited a limo in downtown Indianapolis a few days before the USGP. He seemed stunned that an American actually knew who he was. I wished him all the best for the race. He was quite approachable and for lack of a better word…nice. I have been a McLaren fan since I was a boy in the mid 70s when the team was hugely successful at the Indy 500. I am looking forward to seeing Jenson in a McLaren. Today has been a good day!

  150. mskoentjoro says:

    Will Jenson be sporting the same haircut and stubble?

  151. mskoentjoro says:

    Will nationality play a part here? Both are British and both are World Champions, so if it is humanly and mathematically possible, then it is an absolutely equal treatment from the bottom of every individual’s hearts of the utterly British team?

  152. piotr says:

    James

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, and maybe somebody already wrote, what I am going to say. I wouldn’t look after any heroism in Button’s decision here (even if at first moment I did), because I strongly believe, that it wasn’t down to Jenson, whether or not he will stay at Brawn GP. In my private opinion, as an “armchair expert”, it was purely Mercedes Benz’ call here, now owners of what previously was a Brawn GP team. JB’s well earned rights to look for improved remuneration, was a perfect excuse for them to make it look like a reason for pushing him into McLaren’s arms and thus make their own dream of all-German line-up come true (as by the current look of things). Mercedes were in very comfortable situation knowing, that McLaren will be very keen to keep their engine deal alive and at the same time they couldn’t expect any veto from Ross Brawn, could they? They were simply in charge here. Button therefore, as a new World Champion couldn’t look for a drive anywhere else, as in McLaren. Especially, that there were no vacancies at Ferrari already, the usual pretender to the title. He simply had no choice, other than taking on Hamilton next season in order to have any chances of defending his title. He’s proud and brave enough to deal with it. Now, all these are my speculations of course, and probably your insights will be less speculative because based on your behind-the-scenes knowledge to some extend.
    By the way. I really liked Pete Gill’s recently made comment at PlanetF1.com calling Nick Heidfeld “the World Champion of F1′s annual musical chairs competition”. Silent fighter… just as well as on track.

    1. James Allen says:

      Nice post, thanks for that.

  153. Amir says:

    i personally feel more for the loss of Kimi from the sport than the gain of button at Mclaren.

    Button lucked himself into a WDC this year, with a car so superior to the others at the start of the season even Nelson Piquet Jr would have been champion.When the developments on the car were made and once the other teams came back, Jenson started to winge like he usually does blaming the machinery, unable to use his so called talents to fight up front with the car and succombed to the pressure- the car wasnt all that bad, at least barichello found some speed.

    Im not a huge fan of Lewis, but i respect his amazing talent; the mclaren was a dog for the most of 2009 and he drove it like a true champ. i sincerely hope he wipes the floor with jenson in 2010.
    The one common factor with nearly all world champions is having the ability to drive the socks off any car, good or bad to acheive truely great podiums or race wins. Jenson has proven that unless the car is perfectly tailored to him and flawless, he’s incapable of fighting it out and trails behind.

    Kimi i feel was pushed out of F1, i know people here talk alot about the money factor, but i seriously think kimi wasnt bothered by that, moreover his desire for other “external” activities in his contract that he damanded and that Uber corporate Mclaren were unwilling to budge on, that being his desire to compete in a few WRC events in-season, the desire to do less of the puppetry PR and promo sponsor work that no doubt jenson was willing to do, and just having the ability to turn up and race, no frills.

    Kimi was forced out by Macca wanting a support driver who would do all the yes sir no sir pr duties and say the same scripted spiel at every event- thats just not kimi.

  154. Sam says:

    A lot of people think this is a career suicide but we must remember that a world champion is not stupid.
    May be, just may be, he thinks being beaten by another world champ (in his team) is better than being beaten by some not-so-popular driver like Nico.
    Nico is a fast consistent driver and he could give Jenson a very hard time.

  155. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    James,

    Here’s a bit I’d like you to chew on.

    The bit that kept coming up in the reports over the last couple of days that Button had agreed a deal with McLaren is that they all indicated Button’s management believes the move is in his best interest long-term.

    Reading between the lines, perhaps the issue between Jenson and Merc/Brawn was contract duration? I don’t think it’s much of a secret that Merc want Vettel when he’s available for 2012(assuming he doesn’t exercise the option). Having that in mind, I would be surprised if they offered Jenson anything longer than two years. Jenson may have seen that writing on the wall and determined it would be better to have a stable three-year deal with arguably the best team in F1 while facing the risk of being beaten by Hamilton. That’s not to mention the fact that Merc have taken over Brawn and are bringing in their man for now, Rosberg, which doesn’t promise the most secure position for him with the team.

    1. James Allen says:

      Nick Fry has said that 2009 was the first year of a three year deal with a good faith agreement to negotiate terms after year 1 depending on the team’s situation. So effectively it was a two year deal from next year on. McLaren offers three years.

    2. Peter King says:

      @Paige, I think you nailed it. I think Button prefared the security of a McLaren 3 year contract than perhaps a 2 year Mercedes one and the ignomity to be messed about perhaps in a year or so to make room for Vettel in the same vein as Kimi was by Ferarri

  156. colm says:

    This is a smart move by McLaren – they will have a large degree of controllability over Button now. (Said without cynicism)

  157. MikeW says:

    I disagree with all the commentators saying that Button has made a mistake.

    The fact is that either Hamilton is a better driver than Button, or Button is better. We don’t currently know which it is, but everyone has their opinion – including the drivers themselves.

    That fact won’t be changed by the drivers being on the same team, just as it won’t be changed if they avoid each other by choosing different teams.

    But here Button has shown he has the courage to take the test, and I actually think it’s a big reason for him wanting the move. I remember the mind games with Jacques.

    Once we know the answer, then we will know the answer. It won’t make Button any better or worse than he actually is, but it does give him and us the measure.

    If the measure shows Lewis is better, it still won’t devalue his current WDC. The people who think he merits the WDC for 2009 will still think that in 2010. The people who think he was a weak winner in 2009 will still be thinking that in 2010.

    So Bravo to Button. I’m looking forward to watching his challenge unfold, and watching it progress as Button find his feet in McLaren. I hope it happens with the team-matieness that went with Button/Barrichello, rather than the battle that went with Alonso/Hamilton.

    1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

      The Hamilton-Button pairing, in my view, is very similar to the Vettel-Webber pairing; young and extremely fast driver paired with a quick and very experienced teammate. As in the Red Bull pairing, I’d expect the younger driver- Hamilton- to win out, but the two will be much more closely matched than many are currently saying they will be, just as Vettel and Webber were more closely matched than people expected they would be.

      1. MikeW says:

        It’s a good mirror, isn’t it?

        Shame it’s so long before we get to see anything happening…

  158. MikeW says:

    I was going to add something about a saying in my profession – “Security through obscurity”, and the fact that obscurity doesn’t help.

    In F1 there are only 2 measures of a driver. The WDC, and your immediate team-mate.

    Button has the WDC, and people are *still* not satisifed. Well, if that’s not good enough, and you want to prove yourself further (either to yourself, or to the public) the only way is to deliberately choose to pit yourself against someone “worthy”.

    He could have chosen the “obscurity” path, and stayed in a Brawn/Mercedes, where measurements against Rosberg wouldn’t have improved his reputation.

    Surely he only stands to gain by going to McLaren. If everyone already thinks Lewis will win, his reputation can’t suffer. Can it?

    I was also thinking about Jackie Stwarts comments about not joining Lotus in 1965. However, this situation is different… Jenson has a WDC under his belt, and wants to step UP, not down.

  159. Paul says:

    Button seems to always trick himself up when it comes to contracts. I just can’t see McLaren being able to design a car that suits both of their drivers styles. So it’s much more likely to suit Lewis’s style, and unfortunately the evidence suggest Button stuggles big time unless the car perfectly suits his style.

    On Brawn, firstly their car is going to be seriously fast next year, James your article on the compromises made in a hurry in this year’s car almost guarantees that. You’d have to expect that Kimi is still a chance of getting the spare Brawn seat, despite the public comments. While Heidfield is expert at achieving a good finishing position, Mercedes will still want at least one star in their car next season. Although now might be a good time to whack some money on Rosberg for WC next year.

  160. Ian Blackwell says:

    Looks like it turned out as predicted. I do not want to take sides or pass judgement but I will not write Jenson off till he gives cause. Even if it does not work out for him on the track he has some 20 million reasons that say he cant lose. The buzz the all Brit pairing will generate should also make it very easy for McLaren to cut some amazing sponsorship deals before 2010. The only losers here appear to be Mercedes who have likely been left with two drivers that have never won a race to defend the constructor’s title with (assuming it is the Rosberg/Heidfeld team they field).

  161. The Limit says:

    I think Jenson Button’s decision is a very brave thing to do, and is probably one of the biggest gambles and F1 driver has made in recent years. Lewis Hamilton has in two years achieved almost total dominance within the McLaren team, and scored the lion’s share of points for the team this year. He is certainly, without question, the biggest challenge Button has ever faced as a team mate.
    For Jenson, I can understand the motives. Obviously, he feels he deserves more millions in referance to his new world champion status. He also desires to be in one of the best teams in F1, a team steeped in the tradition of winning. So that’s two big boxes ticked.
    More importantly though, is how he is percieved. When Hamilton burst onto the world stage almost three years ago as a rookie, Jenson endured a torid time at Honda. As Lewis was winning races, against a double world champion team mate, Button struggled.
    This was the man, seven years earlier, who was Britain’s next new world champion in the making. Now, after years in the midfield in average racing cars, he had to witness a new rookie in a sublime race car capture wins, headlines, and almost a world championship.
    The plus side of this gamble is that if Jenson prevails, the dark days of 2007 and 2008 will be buried deep in the subconcious. His 2009 title will not be considered a one off, and his stock will almost certainly rise.
    The downside is if Hamilton, as widely believed, destroys Jenson at McLaren. Alot was made of Alonso and the infighting at McLaren in 2007, but we must remember that Fernando for all his skills really had to battle hard to keep Hamilton in check!

  162. Barry says:

    Don’t forget Button doesn’t exactly show loyalty, twice in his career he has tried to jump ship from contracts and failed. He has a habbit of moving teams at the wrong times, though I can’t see this being one of them at least for the 2010 season. The car will be a front runner at least, what Hamilton does to him will be another case.

  163. DK says:

    I just wonder if Lewis will just subconciously walk up to the number 1 car and only realise is 2010 …. :)

  164. Tarek says:

    It will be a shame if Raikkonen takes Button’s place at Brawn-Mercedes. That will mean that the team was willing to offer a washed-up demotivated lucky ex-champion (a quick one on his day, nevertheless, though he doesn’t have that many “days”) his desired salary of 7m but not 6m to a man who is motivated enough to challenge the likes of Hamilton!

  165. Casey says:

    Certainly a lot of negative postings on “Jenson’s” decision. Takes two to dance. It’s also just as much about “Brawn’s” choice. Perhaps they offered him no better than what Rosberg is getting. Although I must say I did not care at all the way Button’s manager played his cards.

  166. Lee Gilbert says:

    I think there is a different view here to the “Career Suicide” and “he’ll never beat Lewis” brigade

    What I do believe though is that Lewis will out qualify Jenson a lot in 2010 – as Lewis is an excellent qualifier on low fuel and next year we are back to the good old days of true pace qualifying. JB on the other hand is not so fast in quali or on low fuel

    However, Jenson is a smoother driver who prefers a car that understeers and Lewis is an agressive driver that prefers oversteer. And yes, the 2010 car will have been designed to Lewis’ style (as the design core will be pretty much done by now) BUT having said all of that – Jenson may well do FAR better than many people think in the race next year because he manages his tyres better than Lewis. On full tanks, Lewis will need to develop his driving style to cope with the extra car weight and the subsequent effects on tyre wear.

    I fully expect Jenson to beat Lewis in races where Jenson manages to qualify close enough to Lewis on the grid

    —- But stil for me, Lewis will get more WDC points than JB. However, I think people should not get carried away with the difference and I expect JB to prove he can cope in a number of races next year (especially at high tyre wear and high brake wear curcuits)

  167. Some thoughts on Brawn…Ross must have known back in the summer that Mercedes would be ‘buying in’and would not be keeen on retaining the ‘oldest Brazilian driver on the grid’ and therefor did the Nico shuffle before the end of the season,[I wonder what would have happened if Rubens had won the championship!] if Brawn were staying as a private team in 2010 they would have signed Jenson the day after Brazil, but with Mercedes calling the shots I don’t beleive they were willing to ‘overpay’ Jenson and probably only offered a one year deal, there was certainly a degree of stalling going on. Interestingly all the old ex grand prix drivers seem to concur that Jenson has made a mistake in signing for McClaren, but he may have been manouvered into a corner by Mercedes as part of their ‘grand plan’ for a German team and English team.

  168. Tony says:

    Shame for Button. Circus next year at McClaren then, girlfriends will be competing too!

  169. Jim Belfast says:

    I feel sorry for Jens. He cant convnce people he is up there with the best of them when he wins a championship – then he gets slaughtered for taking on Lewis.

    I respect him for (1)rising to the challenge of becoming WDC and (2)taking on the challenge of trying to beat Lewis in a Mclaren.

    But if Jens wants to win another WDC he would have had to take on and beat Lewis anyway, so at least this way he will know that its his ability, and not a better car design that was the winner.

    Has everyone forgot about the impact winning a 2nd WDC in the McLaren would have on people’s view of Jenson – he would then HAVE to be respected as a great, as he would have beaten the best and also achieved what Alonso never did.

    By the way how good would it be if USF1 painted their car in the Dukes of Hazzard style!!!!

  170. SC00BYD00 says:

    James,
    what are your thoughts on this, something out of far left side of left field!!

    How about Mercedes bring in one of their ex sportscar drivers to the new team. Someone who has vast years of experience, knows how to win races, knows how to set up cars, very great friend of Ross Brawn, just out of contract with Ferrari!!
    Maybe he could do some winter testing on the new car as a favour to Ross, and if the car turns out to be competitive he could sign for the year, if it’s a dog, he was just helping out!
    I’m sure mercedes would find whatever money was necessary to bring back Schuey, even Bernie would chip in for the publicity it would bring!

  171. Jenson vs Lewis……who was it put the car into the barrier in Monaco and again in Monza chasing down the ‘flying’ Button, pressure in 2010 might push Lewis into mistakes again, also apart from Grosjean ramming Jenson off the track [together with Lewis] in Spa Jenson has not put a mark on his car or a wheel off the track during his championship winning year.

  172. Dicko says:

    James, will any of Jenson’s engineers like Shove being making the move with him as part of the deal?

    1. James Allen says:

      Doesn’t sound like it

  173. Bob says:

    James do you think we can safely assume Jenson has either:

    Made a rash, emotional-based decision to move to McLaren or…

    Been convinced that McLaren will have the better car in 2010.

    1. James Allen says:

      The latter definitely and also he wants a fresh challenge and he’ll certainly get it! You have to admire him for that, even if you think he’s nuts. That said, if the car is really good and well balanced, he will have some big days, no doubt. But I still think Hamilton will be ahead more often than not.

  174. rpaco says:

    James there seem to be serious discrepancies between what were thrown about in the press as the salary offers to Jensen and what Ross and Fry are saying now. Any chance of you getting in there to both camps and finding out what actually went on. The original story of Brawn wanting him for a pittance does not seem to hold water any more.

  175. James, when do you think Jenson knew for sure that Merc were buying into Brawn ?

  176. guy says:

    James,

    Do you think it was a mistake for Brawn to let Jenson go? Or do you have a “time will tell attitude?”

    Also it looks like your blog is blowing up! That’s an American parlance for gaining popularity…

    1. James Allen says:

      I don’t think they wanted it to happen, put it that way. Depends who they end up with

  177. Spenny says:

    Looking forward to lots of column pixels on the looming war of words and legal fights as it becomes clear that both sides are extremely aggrieved.

    It seems JB was miffed about more than just the money – was it only a 1 year contract, was it that he believed he had been given a share in BrawnGP in return for not enforcing his 3 year contract?

    Meanwhile, MercGP are briefing away about breaches of contract, betrayal and enforcing JB keeping away from McLaren until December.

    I think Brawn and MercGP are going to end up looking like spoiled sulky losers, and McLaren the knights in shining armour rescuing the driver in distress. All that great PR – which is worth lots of money in sponsorship – is being thrown away, as McLaren get a World Champion for free once the bonuses in sponsorship sales from this deal are accounted for. Brawn enforcing contracts against the team that gave them the World Championship through their cooperation last year. You couldn’t make it up!

    Lots of digging for you to do JA…

    1. MikeW says:

      I’m beginning to believe the key was indeed this “feeling valued”, but the measure wasn’t money – it was the length of contract.

      I suspect that a short contract was on offer so MercGP could time getting hold of Vettel, and Jenson felt devalued at this aspect.

      Guessing further, if he could see that the other top teams wouldn’t have an opening to coincide with the end of his next contract, I suspect he decided that his only option would be to go now rather than then.

      If he had to leave Merc in a year, with Ferrari overflowing with drivers, and McLaren probably full, who would he have gone to then?

  178. AMAY says:

    McLaren strategy is wrong.
    Now Rosberg has green light to develope himself as a no 1 in the team and he will be a dangerous menace for McLaren.
    If McLaren would have forced Button to stay at Brawn GP, Ross’ team would have been very busy with the internal leadership fights while Mclaren can concentrate in racing.

    Now Mercedes GP is showing off disappointment, but internally are very, very happy. They have drop the ballast to McLaren. Good!!

  179. Gabriel says:

    Next year promises to be an intriguing year and now Felipe Massa has weighed in with by insulting Jenson, the fun has started early!

    1. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

      Yeah, it was not at all necessary for Massa to do that. His bump on the head must have done some real damage, as he’s been quite a prick since he’s been back in the F1 limelight.

  180. S Watton says:

    What engine will button have next year?

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