Button, Brawn and business

I'm a bit of a petrol head, it's true. It's something I've clearly passed on to my five year old son as he's obsessed by cars. He spent a large part of the wekend studying the picture in the latest issue of Octane magazine. There's little hope for him now.

I've followed Formula One since I was a kid myself. James Hunt won his world championship when I was six years old but it was my teenage years and the battles of Senna, Prost, Mansell and Piquet that really grabbed my attention. My interest has since ebbed and flowed depending on the personalities and quality of the racing. The last few years have been hit and miss in that respect. The racing hasn't been great, let's be honest, but we've had some British interest to keep us tuning in. I was delighted for Button this year. I've always been a fan of his driving: very smooth and clearly bags of natural talent, just never really having the right car to show it off which is obviously all-important. He certainly did in the first half of this season though and took full advantage.

I've also always been impressed with the way he's conducted himself. He's never been anything other than completely honest – in good times and bad – and seems to appreciate the privileged position he's in. I get the impression he's well liked throughout the sport – the sort of guy you'd be happy to have a beer with. Ross Brawn is cut from the same cloth, which is one of the reasons that their success this year has been so compelling and enjoyable to see.

A lot of the chatter now, of course, is whether Button will stay with Brawn or move on. I think he'll move, and I think he should. Here's why.

Button's world champion, and he has every right to (a) look for the drive that he thinks will deliver the best chance of repeating the feat next year and (b) earning the money that a world champion deserves to earn (and I think the two priorities come in that order in his mind).

Brawn will struggle on both counts next season (in my very humble opinion). Through technical genius and insight, Brawn found a loophole in the 2009 regulations ( the double diffuser) of which they and Button took massive advantage in the early part of the season. I'm not sure that they'll do the same again next season, and with Brawn's relatively limited resources surely having been focused on making sure both championships were won this year, they might also be a bit behind in the development of the 2010 car. It was clear that both McLaren and Red Bull had better cars than Brawn during the second half of 2009.

It's been well documented that Button took a huge pay cut to drive for Brawn in 2009. Let's be honest though, this wasn't exactly an act of altruism on Button's part. Had he not done so, it's unlikely he'd have been driving in Formula One at all. But that notwithstanding, as world champion he can and should be asking for a world champion's salary. Brawn can't really afford that, and it certainly shouldn't put itself in financial jeopardy by trying to. After just one – albeit stellar – season, Ross Brawn's eye is no doubt on the long-term future of his team (certainly if there's truth in this story it is). Button's a great driver – and he took advantage of a great car – but would he really be worth that many more millions than a Heidfeld or a Rosberg? I doubt it. And the number one will still be stuck on the nose of a Brawn car, wherever Button ends up.

I'd love to see Button at McLaren in 2010, and I think he's more likely to have a competitive car under him if he does go there. And the two best British drivers, both world champions, driving the same car? Fireworks for sure. Mind you, they'll also be nicking points off each other all season which will allow Vettel to take the world championship. And Germany will beat England in the World Cup.

5 thoughts on “Button, Brawn and business”

  1. I agree to a certain extent, but dont forget that Brawn started the season with a £100m parachute payment from Honda, so they had some pennies. Also Brawn stopped developing the ’09 car in June, so in theory the ’10 car should be strong.

    The news this morning that Merc are taking a 75% share and leaving McLaren (just supplying engines) sounds to me that Brawn has a pretty good future and maybe this is where Button should stay.

    I think he will loose the political battle with Hamilton, especially without Mercedes to keep him in line. Yiou are spot on though, those two together will hand the title to Vettel.

    Be interesting to see what happens.

  2. Dawn – you shouldn’t worry about it. Like all things that blokes talk about, it is of no consequence whatsoever.

    Duncan – I think Brawn has a brilliant future. In fact, there’s a large part of me that simply says ‘go where Ross Brawn is’. The man’s a genius and has won wherever he’s been.

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