Jenson Button came close to taking Brawn GP to court, it has been reported, after his former employers attempted to renege on a deal struck early on last year regarding the British star's prize should he win the F1 2010 World Championship.
Prior to the beginning of the campaign and in the wake of the sudden and unexpected withdrawal of parent company Honda that left the Brackley-based outfit fighting for its very survival, Button agreed to a significant cut in salary in order to help keep the team afloat.
In exchange for that, and unbeknown to the outside world until now, a clause was inserted into his contract, to the effect that 'in the event that the driver wins the championship at any time during the term, the company shall transfer...ownership of one chassis of the type driven by the driver during that winning season'.
However, according to the Mail on Sunday
, after the 30-year-old fulfilled his part of the bargain in clinching the coveted drivers' crown, Brawn GP subsequently refused to keep its side, with an e-mail to Button in January of this year claiming that 'we have no spare 2009 chassis, as limited quantities were manufactured for the 2009 season for cost reasons'.
It is understood that six BGP 001 chassis' were built last year, but Button – who switched teams from what is now Mercedes Grand Prix to McLaren-Mercedes over the winter – was initially only offered a replica of his title-winning car, a poor substitute that the Frome-born ace argued would lack the 'special and unique' value of owning one of the cars he raced to the laurels.
However, following the filing of legal action by Button's company JB Next BV in London's High Court in April, Mercedes has belatedly agreed to honour its initial promise and give Button one of the cars he drove last year, with a spokesman for the nine-time grand prix-winner revealing that 'we have arrived at an amicable resolution, so there will no longer be any court action over this'.