McLaren have confirmed that Jenson Button and his management team visited the team’s Woking headquarters this week prompting further speculation about the Briton’s whereabouts in 2010.
Negotiations between Button and Brawn GP have stalled with the Brackley based team refusing to meet the Briton’s demand of a return to the £6-8 million a year salary that he would have received had he not been forced to take a pay cut in the wake of Honda’s exit at the start of the season.
That has triggered speculation that Button could jump ship in 2010 and McLaren-Mercedes have emerged as a possible option for the newly crowned world champion. Those rumours gathered pace this week when it emerged that Button and his manager Richard Goddard visited McLaren’s headquarters in Woking.
“Having just arrived at Heathrow, Jenson made a small detour to Woking to say hello,” a McLaren spokesman confirmed to the British press.
Forumula1.com also understands that Button was absent from Brawn GP’s homecoming parade at Brackley – team principal Ross Brawn and chief executive Nick Fry fronted the show.
It is understood that Brawn are unwilling to give Button a significant pay rise but they are considering offering him a higher proportion of freedom with respect to personal sponsorship deals, which could allow the driver to raise his pay packet to meet his own expectations.
“We aren t asking for anything outrageous,â€ Button s manager Richard Goddard explained to British newspaper the Express.
“Just three months before Honda pulled out last November, Jenson signed a contract which would have given him a lot more money than we re looking for now
“We recognise times have changed but he is the world champion now and the team have turned things around.â€
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes that it is far more likely that Brawn and Button will come to an agreement than Button move to McLaren.
“It would not be an ideal for F1 to have two world champions in the same team,â€ Ecclestone explained.
“But Brawn and Button are probably just sparring at the moment and something will be worked out.â€
It should also be noted that Button is not the only potential McLaren driver who has visited Woking in recent weeks. Early this week, Kimi Raikkonen’s management team went to McLaren’s Technology Centre as guests of team boss Martin Whitmarsh.