It’s official — 2009 Formula 1 champion Jenson Button is leaving behind his Brawn (or Mercedes-Benz) GP team, and signing with McLaren for the 2010 season.
“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 of all, it’s about challenging myself. Although I won the world championship with Brawn GP last year, I was always adament that I wanted to continue to set myself fresh challenges. So that’s why I decided to join McLaren.”
On some level, it may also have something to do with a paycheck. Button had earned close to $4 million a year at Brawn GP, but was seeking something close to $6.7 million annually for his new deal. Brawn/Mercedes-Benz couldn’t make that happen, which led Button looking for other rides. Details of his new contract haven’t been released, but Autocar speculates it’s something close to $10 million.
Regardless of the price paid, McLaren now seems to have a veritable “dream team” of F1 drivers. Alongside Button, the team continues to employ 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton, forming what is essentially an all-star, all-British lineup.
“It’s fantastic news that Jenson has decided to join Vodafone McLaren,” said Hamilton. “I’m also thrilled that we’ll be flying the flag for the United Kingdom, and I think today’s announcement is fantastic news for all British sports fans.”