The speculations about Jenson Button’s move from Brawn GP to McLaren were confirmed today. The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 team announced earlier today on Twitter their multiyear deal with 2009 F1 champion. This will be the first time in F1 history that a team has started the new season with a line-up featuring the most recent two successive World Champions. This will also be the first pairing of two British World Champions since Graham Hill (1962, 1968) partnered Jim Clark (1963, 1965) at Lotus in 1968.
Many will doubt Button’s motivation for this move especially after all the talk about the failure of Brawn GP (now Mercedes GP) to meet his financial expectations. Martin Whitmarsh was quick to stress that money was not the reason for this move:
“I want to make clear that Jenson’s decision to join us was in no way motivated by money. We’ll be paying him no more than he could be getting elsewhere, and that fact is a reflection of not only Jenson’s belief in Vodafone McLaren Mercedes but also his desire and ambition to build on the phenomenal results he achieved during the 2009 season.”
This is a risky move for Button and many prominent F1 figures believe he is making a big mistake. It will be very interesting to see how both the drivers and the team management handle the new situation. The last pairing of world champion with Lewis Hamilton (Alonso in 2007) was not exactly a long lasting success story … Both Hamilton and Button are however confident that all will be well:
“It’s always a difficult decision to leave a team when you’ve been there for so long. 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.
From a personal point of view, it’s also a great pleasure to be joining a fellow British World Champion. 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, and I’m really looking forward to using our combined knowledge to push the team forward.
Also, I think it’s fantastic that we’ll be forming an all-British line-up. 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.” – Jenson Button
“It’s fantastic news that Jenson has decided to join Vodafone McLaren Mercedes – and I’m looking forward to working with him and our engineers to make sure we kick off the 2010 season with a car that’s competitive enough to win the World Championship – but I want to send my best wishes for the future to my 2008-09 team-mate and now good friend Heikki Kovalainen, who is one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met.
I already know Jenson, and we get on very well together. We both really want our team to succeed. Although we’ll be pushing each other hard, I’m sure we’ll very quickly establish a great working relationship. He’s an exceptional driver: very controlled and very smooth, and he has a real depth of knowledge and experience. I think we’ll complement each other very well, and our collaboration will make the team stronger as a result. Also, I’m delighted to be racing alongside a fellow British World Champion, and I believe we can pull together to make Vodafone McLaren Mercedes the best team on the grid.” – Lewis Hamilton
Let’s wait and see what will they have to say 12 months later …
Button’s move to McLaren means that McLaren will again display the number number one on one of their cars. It also means that Heikki Kovalainen is at the moment without a drive for 2010. We can now expect Mercedes GP (formerly Brawn GP) to announce their 2010 drivers soon with Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld widely expected to get the nod.
Photo: Bridgestone Motorsports