The discrepancy between what newly-crowned F1 World Champion Jenson Button wants to be paid in 2010 and what Brawn GP is willing to give him is 'a bridge that can be crossed', insists Nick Fry – as both sides admit their desire to keep working together next year in search of continued glory.
Button has already affirmed that he is keen to remain on-board at Brackley in 2010 in a bid to become the first British driver in F1 history to clinch back-to-back world championship titles [see separate story – click here
] – and he similarly revealed that earnest discussions regarding contract renewal can now begin, after he successfully lifted the laurels one race early courtesy of an impressively aggressive performance in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos at the weekend.
It has been repeatedly claimed, however, that talks have reached a standstill due to the Frome-born ace's desire to see the £5 million he gave up last winter – to help the team to stay afloat and rise phoenix-like from the ashes in the wake of parent company Honda's sudden and shock withdrawal at the end of 2008 – re-instated, a demand that team principal Ross Brawn is apparently unwilling to meet.
Brawn is now in a far healthier financial situation than it was back on the eve of the campaign, and Button's argument is that his outstanding results and achievement in 2009 merit a higher retainer. It has been speculated that team-mate Rubens Barrichello's anticipated switch to Williams next year could as much as quadruple the Brazilian's present salary.
“We're not Honda anymore,” Brawn is quoted as having said by F1SA
, alluding to the fact that there is no longer a bottomless pit of funding upon which to draw and stating that the team's 2010 line-up will be finalised 'over the next few weeks'. “We've got to find the balance between what Jenson's happy and motivated with, and what we can afford. I'm sure we will.”
“He wants to be with us and we'd like him to stay with us,” added Brawn GP CEO Fry, “so that is a good starting point. I wouldn't like to say how far apart we are in money terms, but it's a bridge that can be crossed.”