With the season ended, it seemed it would be just a matter of time before Brawn GP announced that they had signed a new contract with Jenson Button and the remaining drivers’ seats would be decided. With negotiations seemingly stalled over the money Jenson could demand for his number one status things were moving on behind the scenes. Whilst still in talks with Jenson, Ross Brawn announced that the team which bore his name had been bought by Mercedes-Benz and would be renamed Mercedes GP, a return of the “Silver Arrows” seventy-five years after their first appearance.
Although Brawn and his management team were to remain at the new squad, the deal would see 75.1% of the team sold off; Mercedes parent company Daimler AG would hold 45.1% of the shares with the remaining 30% belonging to the Daimler shareholder, Aabar Investments. The take-over of Brawn would ultimately change the partnership Mercedes had enjoyed with McLaren for the past 15 years but both sides maintained this was by mutual agreement and was a “win-win situation for both McLaren and Daimler”.
“Brawn GP has been through an incredible journey over the last 12 months. From fighting for our survival to forging a strong relationship with Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines, winning both the constructors’ and drivers’ world championships, and now accepting Daimler and Aabar’s offer to buy our team, which will secure its future.”
- Ross Brawn
In the midst of the Brawn sell-off, and still without a contract for next year, the World Champion headed to Woking for a tour around the facilities at McLaren’s headquarters. Impressed at what he had seen and keen to take on new challenges, Button had signed a deal to partner Lewis Hamilton for the next three years. It later transpired that McLaren’s coup in signing Button had not been about money after all; the £6 million per season he was to earn was less than he had been offered to stay at Brawn. “Life is about challenges. Most important of all, it’s about challenging yourself” He’ll certainly have that at McLaren with many observers believing this was the wrong choice for him and he’ll struggle against a stronger team-mate.
With Button’s confirmation, the remaining drivers market could move up a gear. Kimi Raikkonen announced his sabbatical from F1 and will take part in the World Rally Championship next season; Lotus opt for Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen whilst Manor, now known as Virgin Racing, has gone for Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi. With few seats remaining, who’ll partner Nico Rosberg at Mercedes? …
Day 24 of the 2009 season review.