Ross Brawn says that agreeing terms with Jenson Button for 2010 is his team's new priority after the English driver clinched the Formula One world championship in Brazil on Sunday.
Button and Brawn have yet to agree remuneration, but it is thought to be only a matter of time as both parties are keen to stick together. Button is seeking a larger salary after taking a pay cut of 60 per cent to stay with the team for 2009 because he believed their car would be so good. That effectively became 80 per cent because he had to pay all his own travel costs.
Brawn said in Interlagos that they could now thrash out the fine details of a new contract, and it is likely that any shortfall will be made up by Mercedes-Benz, who recently bought a shareholding in the Brackley team.
"We can now sort it out," Brawn said. "We missed the window of opportunity to do that in the summer, and now we will be sitting down with the drivers in the next few weeks to sort it out."
Nico Rosberg is still expected to switch from Williams to partner Button, as Rubens Barrichello crosses over to take his vacated seat. Doubt still remains whether Kimi Raikkonen will join Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, as Red Bull are still believed to be interested in signing him.
Brawn said he believes Button will now be stronger after winning the title, and that initially it had been difficult to form an opinion of him until they worked together. "You don't know for sure until you work with somebody. You have a superficial opinion of them and in 2004 he was giving us a hard time at Ferrari. We had a sensational season but he was always there nipping at our ankles. He impressed us then. He made a big impression. But until you work with people it is difficult.
"Last year was very difficult for me to work with Jenson because of the poor equipment we had [at the Brawn team's predecessor, Honda]. Lots of guys in the team who I respect said, 'Stick with it because he is exceptional'. And I think going through this experience of the terrific first half and the very tough second half of the season is going to be quite a development in Jenson's character."
Brawn added that Button's fortitude had been particularly impressive. "There is this persona people see, but on Saturday night he was destroyed. He knew that together with the team he had done a bad job in qualifying and that it had been a golden opportunity. He went back and he thought, 'How am I going to turn this around? How am I going to put myself in a position to win the world championship?' He came in on race morning really determined and I was impressed."
Button flew home to a hero's welcome and a Virgin party yesterday, but shunned discussion of his tactics for the forthcoming inaugural race in Abu Dhabi on 1 November. "I'm not interested in talking about that yet," he said. "I've just become world champion, and I want to concentrate on that."Reuse content