2009 Formula 1 World Champion-elect Jenson Button has admitted that he 'would like' to extend his relationship with Brawn GP into another season – but his manager has warned that an agreement could be scuppered by an ongoing and worsening salary dispute that has left the British star 'shocked'.
Heading into the final four grands prix of the campaign, Button – who has led the title chase from the word 'go' in Melbourne back in late March – holds a 14-point advantage over team-mate Rubens Barrichello in the standings, and notwithstanding his mid-season slump in form, the Frome-born ace is widely tipped to lift the laurels come Abu Dhabi at the beginning of November, thereby making it back-to-back British triumphs at the highest level. And looking towards next year, he clearly hopes to stay put.
“I am completely happy here,” Button told German magazine Auto Bild Motorsport
. “At Brawn there is a great atmosphere. We have been through a lot together, and now finally we are at the top.
“I would like to stay. I also believe that we will continue to be strong next year because we have the best team boss; Ross [Brawn] will make sure we are still at the front.”
The 29-year-old has competed for the Brackley-based outfit – initially in its former guise of BAR-Honda, then Honda and now Brawn – since 2003, but the one stumbling block standing in the way of a contract renewal, it is understood, is a persistent failure to agree terms on money.
Button accepted a significant pay cut for the present campaign – from around £8 million to just £3 million, it is believed, against the advice of his manager Richard Goddard – in a desperate bid to help the former Honda operation survive the uncertain winter and take its place on the 2009 starting grid under a new name and new ownership. Now, however, Brawn is refusing to re-instate the seven-time grand prix-winner's old pay scale and is offering only a minimal rise – to Goddard's evident frustration.
“When we signed the revised contract last year, we did so in the knowledge that if things went well for the team, they would go well for Jenson for next year,” he revealed to the Daily Mail
, admitting that he had been 'shocked' by the offer on the table for 2010.
Aside from the pay cut, Button also agreed to pay his own way in terms of expenses this year – including personally funding the costs of his fitness trainer and Goddard accompanying him to races – and has received no bonuses for his on-track results, which included six victories from the first seven grands prix of the campaign. The Mail
reports that the past three title-winners – Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso – are on annual retainers of respectively £12 million, £25 million and £12 million.
“We are not being greedy by looking to get what they are paid,” concluded Goddard. “All we expect is for Jenson to be paid on the scale that he was last year before Honda left.”