LONDON: Jenson Button is set to double his salary after winning the world championship in Brazil on Sunday. The Englishman wants to stay withBrawn to prove he is no "one-hit wonder" and become the first British driver to win back-to-back Formula One titles and he expects a significant pay rise to reflect his new status.
Button took a £5m pay cut at the beginning of the season to help the Brawn team, who had risen from the ashes of Honda. He is believed to anticipate, at the very least, a return to the £8m level he had originally been promised for 2009. Button said yesterday that he wanted to stay with Brawn, having been with the team in its various forms since 2003.
"This team is not a one-hit wonder. And neither am I," said Button. "I would like to stay with Brawn. The team might have changed names and it might have shrunk in size but I love the atmosphere of this team and the way that we all pull together in the difficult times – and we've been through a lot of difficult times in the past. We've enjoyed our success and we'll enjoy this like you cannot believe."
Button has been encouraged by the advanced plans for the 2010 Brawn-Mercedes under the highly-regarded team principal Ross Brawn. "They've been working for a long time on next year's car and I think that comes with good leadership," said Button. "Ross knows that winning the championship this year is so important for this team and for himself. But he also realises that we don't want to be a one-hit wonder. This is a team that's going to stay strong.
"I've read a couple of things in that people are very positive about what the team has achieved this season but they're expecting us to be a good team next season but not challenging for wins. I don't agree with that. I think you will see the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull at the front – and you will see the Brawn GP car at the front challenging for wins as well. I want to be a part of that. I want to arrive next season with No1 on my car – and I want it to be a Brawn."
Button said he had not discussed his future with the team while focusing on winning the championship. Negotiations are unlikely to begin until after the final race in Abu Dhabi on 1 November. He will not demand wages on a par with Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 world champion who earns about £12m a year at McLaren.
"We've been waiting until now [winning the championship] to discuss the future. It's the perfect thing to do," said Button. "It was nice to be able to concentrate on every race this year, especially at this part of the season when maybe the car wasn't as competitive as it was earlier. To be able to focus on that and now that we've won the world championship we can start talking about the future.
"It's not about the money. I want to be with a team that can win. I have become world champion with a team that nobody ever thought would win the championship, especially in their first year but there are many things that we need to talk about. It's not 'I want this, you can't give this, but I want this.' It's just about coming to an agreement and starting talks for next season. We've achieved so much together, we respect each other very much and it's just that the talks haven't taken place; that's it, really."
Nick Fry, a director of Brawn GP, said the Brackley-based team were just as keen to retain Button's services as he was to stay with them. "He wants to be with us and we'd like him to stay with us, so that is a good starting point," said Fry. "From that position then usually compromises can be found. I wouldn't like to say how far apart we are in money terms but it's a bridge that can be crossed."
"It's great to win the world championship and every person that's done it will tell you that," said Button. "But to be able to defend it is exceptional. No British driver has ever won back to back titles – so that's an ambition.But at the moment I'm not thinking about that. At the moment I'm the 10th British world champion and in 2009 I'm the only Formula One world champion. And that's what I'm enjoying at the moment. I'm going to have a smile on my face for many, many more days. I'm not going to get into talks about next year right now; I'm just going to enjoy this moment."