McLaren sew up Button deal
McLaren have confirmed the signing of reigning Formula One world champion Jenson Button on a multi-year deal.
Last Updated: 18/11/09 5:29pm
McLaren have confirmed the signing of Jenson Button on a multi-year deal.
The reigning world champion has ended his association with Brawn GP to join up with fellow Brit Lewis Hamilton from next year.
Despite his individual success, as well as helping to secure the constructors' crown, Button's future at Brawn GP had been in doubt for some time.
The 29-year-old had failed to agree terms on a new contract, while the takeover of the team by Mercedes-Benz earlier this week only increased speculation that he would be moving on.
"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," Button said in a statement from McLaren.
"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. You can't help but be affected by this team's phenomenal history.
"McLaren is one of the greats of world sport, and its achievements and list of past champions read like a Who's Who of Formula 1 - Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and of course my new team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
"I've followed the McLaren team ever since I was a small boy, and it feels unbelievable to finally be a part of it."
For the first time in F1 history, one team will feature the two most recent winners of the drivers' title, while two British champions have not been paired together since Graham Hill partnered Jim Clark at Lotus in 1968.
Button, who was given a guided tour of McLaren's factory in Woking last week, admitted he is excited about working alongside his compatriot.
"From a personal point of view, it's also a great pleasure to be joining a fellow British world champion," he added.
"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."
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes McLaren now have the fastest pairing on the F1 grid.
"Everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is absolutely delighted to be able to welcome Jenson to our team," he said.
"It has always been our policy to employ the two very best possible drivers - and, in Jenson and Lewis, we feel we not only have the fastest pairing on the 2010 grid, but also the two most complete, professional and dedicated drivers in Formula 1.
"Moreover, I'm confident that we'll be able to successfully balance and harness Jenson's and Lewis's complementary skill-sets.
"Our engineers are already looking forward to working with Jenson, and I'm convinced that such a strong and dynamic driver line-up will make us an even more complete and competitive operation. Now we have to provide Jenson and Lewis with race-winning machinery."
Whitmarsh also revealed that Button's decision to join the team was not made for financial reasons, adding: "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."