Recently-crowned F1 World Champion Jenson Button has answered his critics who claim his move from Brawn GP to McLaren-Mercedes was ill-advised and overly financially-motivated – insisting that he has made the switch because he 'needed something different'.
Button went against the counsel of the majority of the paddock in agreeing terms to join McLaren on a three-year contract from next season onwards, with the naysayers contending that he is leaving the safe, familiar environment of Brawn – now Mercedes Grand Prix – for the lion's den, in that he will be matching himself up against compatriot and title-winning predecessor Lewis Hamilton, around whom some suggest the Surrey-based outfit has been entirely centred since 2007.
The cynics say that for the sake of securing himself a few extra million, the Frome-born ace has sacrificed his chances of defending his crown – especially given that the man generally acknowledged to be the best driver on the grid, Fernando Alonso, was out-psyched by Hamilton during the sole unhappy campaign the pair spent together at McLaren back in 2007, following which the Spaniard ended up terminating his three-year contract with the team two years early.
What's more, his detractors go on, the 29-year-old has previous form of having prioritised a bumper salary over a competitive situation – and it has been well-documented that the primary stumbling block preventing Button and Ross Brawn from concluding a deal some weeks before it was announced that the former was jumping ship was that the seven-time grand prix-winner was demanding more money than his team boss was willing to pay.
Regardless of the varying figures being bandied around regarding what Button was truthfully offered to stay put at Brackley – from £4 million a year as high as £12 million, compared to the £6 million he will receive at Woking – the man himself is adamant that he made the move for all the right reasons.
“I've been with Brawn for seven years,” he told BBC Radio 1
. “My goal since I was eight-years-old and what I wanted to achieve with the team was to become world champion – that's every driver's aim – and that happened this year. After that I thought 'what lies ahead for me?' You never know how you are going to feel after you win the world championship, and for me it was looking for new challenges.
“It was 100 per cent my choice. For me, the move is because it's going to be a huge challenge to go up against Lewis in his environment – the challenge of going up against a new team-mate who is also a world champion. I'm earning less than I would have at Brawn, so it's not the case at all [that the move was financially-driven]. I didn't move for the money and everyone knows it.
“I love challenges, and I needed something in 2010 that was different. This is something new for me. I'll have to work very hard in the situation I've put myself in, and I intend to do it. Of course it's not going to be easy, but I'm very excited about the challenge.”