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'Naive' Brawn 'disappointed' and reveals Button breached contract

Recently-crowned F1 World Champion Jenson Button did not leave Brawn GP due to disagreements over salary, Ross Brawn and Nick Fry contend - with a breach in contract caused by his unexpected visit to McLaren-Mercedes having led to an offer of £12 million-a-year being withdrawn
Ross Brawn has revealed that he was 'very disappointed' with the manner in which Jenson Button left the team that carried him to F1 World Championship glory this year – as it emerged that an offer of £12 million had been on the table until the British star breached the terms of his contract by visiting McLaren-Mercedes' Surrey headquarters.

It was officially announced yesterday (Wednesday) that Button has signed a three-year deal with McLaren that will see him partner compatriot and title-winning predecessor Lewis Hamilton on an annual salary of £6 million [see separate story – click here].

However, despite it having been understood that Brawn had been willing to pay just £4 million – half the sum Button was seeking for 2010, and a figure branded 'frankly spurious' by Nick Fry – it now appears a far greater offer had been made before the Frome-born ace angered his bosses by visiting Woking last Friday. Whilst there, he spent a considerable amount of time in discussions with team principal Martin Whitmarsh – in what was regarded by Brawn as a clear breach of his contract with the Brackley-based outfit.

According to the Daily Express, the relationship between Button and Brawn 'broke down so badly that they removed an offer that could have been worth £12 million next year before he signed for McLaren', after the 29-year-old 'was left in no doubt that he had let [the team] down in a 'phone call with Brawn at the weekend'.

That 'phone call, it is reported, led to the £12 million offer – a base salary of £8 million, supplemented by £4 million in points bonuses – being rescinded, and just two days later Button was a McLaren driver, to the evident dismay of Brawn, who confessed that he 'was very disappointed at the way things finished up with Jenson'.

There has also been speculation that the 75 per cent Mercedes buy-in – with Brawn GP henceforth to be known as Mercedes Grand Prix – and talk that the Stuttgart manufacturer is plotting an all-German 'super team' had increased the tension, with The Times stating that neither Button nor his management team had taken calls from Mercedes for more than a week.

Moreover, in light of the significant injection of cash from Brawn's new majority shareholder, the seven-time grand prix-winner is said to have been pushing for a better financial offer – but Mercedes Grand Prix CEO Fry is adamant that money was not the straw that broke the camel's back.

What's more, the Englishman questioned whether Button fully appreciates what he is doing in entering the lion's den in a team that has been largely built around Hamilton over the last three years, suggesting that the decision lacked logic and contending that the new world champion will have to raise his game if he is to beat the former world champion in his own back yard.

“We offered loyalty which we hoped, perhaps naïvely, he would return,” Fry told the Daily Mirror. “There is bravery and there is stupidity, and we will only find out which it is next year.

“We believe we made Jenson a good offer – one that was significantly more than he is being paid at McLaren. We are all mystified by this decision. We think he has been badly advised and had his head turned by McLaren's glitzy headquarters.”

“We made him an honest offer,” concurred Mercedes Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug, speaking to German media, “but without him we can start with a clean slate. We wish him all the best.”

Related Pictures

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Nick Fry (GBR) Sporting Director BrawnGP, Ross Brawn (GBR) Team Principal, Brawn GP, Spanish F1 Grand Prix, Catalunya, 8th-10th, May, 2009
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Cubikrube - Unregistered

November 19, 2009 10:53 AM

If Brawn GP had of made a decent offer early on then Jenson would still be with them. They tried playing hardball, then it seemed they backtracked and by that time Jenson had his head turned. When you see the Macca technology centre it is rather impressive and that is just from the outside! And don't start giving out old history when Jenson bought his way out of a contract, i don't think this has any bearing on what has happened over the last few days. The flipside is that Jenson voluntarily dropped his wages at the start of the year and let's not forget all the talk of Brawn not being(initially) willing to bring those wages back to the level that they were formally despite getting the WDC

Tealeaf - Unregistered

November 19, 2009 10:56 AM

I think that Jenson has done a brave thing here signing for Mclaren, I didn't like the tone of Nobhead Haug's tone at all there and it seems like its the germans and not Brawn/fry that wanted Jenson out. So it seems like Jenson is not motivated by money at all if he took a deal from Mclaren worth half as much, where's all the bashing saying he's only after the biggest paycheck? This man has bottle and steel to test himself against Hamilton and it needs to be admired.

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