MOTORSPORT : An all-British line-up at McLaren next season could move closer to reality on Wednesday with Jenson Button locked in talks to become Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate.
An all-British line-up at McLaren next season could move closer to reality on Wednesday with Jenson Button locked in talks to become Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate.
Button has been heavily linked with McLaren since capturing his maiden Formula One drivers’ title in Brazil last month, after talks stalled over a new deal with current employers Brawn GP. Monday’s announcement that Mercedes-Benz had secured a controlling interest in the Brackley-based Brawn team has only served to intensify speculation over where the 29-year-old Briton will be driving next season.
Button and his manager Richard Goddard were shown around McLaren’s Woking headquarters by team principal Martin Whitmarsh last week and, according to Tuesday’s Guardian newspaper, Button has since agreed terms on a three-year deal worth £18million, and will put pen to paper on the contract in the coming days.
When contacted by Press Association Sport, a McLaren spokesperson confirmed talks between the two parties remain ongoing but refused to be drawn on whether a deal for Button was close, saying: “The situation is that we’ve got no comment at the moment.
“There’s been a lot said on it already and there’s nothing I can say over and above what is out there.”
Button’s negotiations with the Brawn team reportedly stalled over his salary demands. It is believed McLaren are more inclined to meet his expectations, although the salary of £6million as reported by the Guardian is short of the £8million figure that had been widely reported.
The Mercedes takeover, which will see the Brawn team rebranded as Mercedes Grand Prix from 2010, has further heightened the doubts over Button’s future.
German driver Nico Rosberg, while still to be confirmed, has a deal in place with Brawn for next season, with compatriot Nick Heidfeld also being linked to the team, but Ross Brawn, who will remain as principal in the rebranded team, insisted nothing had been decided about Button’s future.
He told The Independent: “Negotiations [with Button] are continuing and the reports that he has already agreed terms with McLaren are not helpful. I would be amazed if that were the case.”
“His best future is with our team, where he has a good group around him, and there’s a lot to be said for that. The logical thing would be for him to stay with us, but of course logic doesn’t always prevail.”