Button had no choice says Jordan

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The Independent Online

Former grand prix team owner Eddie Jordan believes Jenson Button had no option but to sign for McLaren following the Mercedes-Benz takeover of Brawn GP earlier this week.

McLaren today announced the signing of reigning world champion Button on a "multi-year deal" that will see the Briton paired with Lewis Hamilton from the start of the 2010 season.



The move followed weeks of speculation over Button's future, with reports suggesting talks to extend his stay at Brawn collapsed owing to his financial demands.



However, Button's reported salary at McLaren of £6million a season over three years is, if accurate, far below what has been commanded by other world champions in recent seasons, and Jordan believes there was never a deal on the table for Button to drive for the rebranded Mercedes Grand Prix team.



"We're all assuming Jenson had the opportunity to drive at Brawn [Mercedes]," Jordan told BBC Radio 5 Live.



"I don't believe that is the case and my inside information is that Mercedes released him and advised him to take employment elsewhere."



Mercedes' takeover of Brawn on Monday gave rise to reports the new owners were seeking to bring together an all-German line-up for 2010.



With Nico Rosberg already signed up, Nick Heidfeld became the front-runner for the second seat, leaving Button out of the picture.



"I think that Mercedes...want a German team. I didn't think that there was going to be a place for Jenson there," Jordan continued.



"It is a pity - I would have liked to see him defend his title in that team, which gave him the chance to be champion. However, that wasn't to be.



"The dice changed against Jenson and he was left really with only McLaren, and he should consider himself quite lucky to be there because it's a very strong team."



Jordan warned, however, that Button would have his work cut out to compete alongside Hamilton, who has spent his entire F1 career with McLaren having been groomed for stardom by former team principal Ron Dennis, and won the world title for them in 2008.



"It's a team that was built for Hamilton and it's clear that the whole team are behind him," he said. "However, Jenson will bring a different feeling - two world champions in the same team.



"[But] if any team is capable of handling this kind of ego and talent, then McLaren are the team, so from that point of view there is no danger."



Three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart was less enthusiastic about the move, however, and believes Button could have stayed on to contest Mercedes' maiden campaign.



"I think it's a mistake," the Scot told BBC Radio 5 Live. "If I had been Jenson, I would have wanted to do a deal with Brawn because I know the culture of the Brawn team, I have a high respect for [team principal] Ross Brawn, I know the mechanics.



"There's a totally different culture in McLaren - something that he might not have experienced before.



"They have a very clinical culture which doesn't have the emotion or drive in the same passionate way than Brawn would have had with him as the reigning world champion."



Stewart echoed Jordan's view that McLaren is very much Hamilton's team, and pointed to the failure of two-time world champion Fernando Alonso to settle at the team during Hamilton's 2007 rookie season as a good example of the power he wields.



"I believe the McLaren car next season will be one of if not the best car on the grid, so therefore he's going to a team that wants to succeed," he continued.



"But I think it will be difficult for him to take on Lewis Hamilton.



"It will be like walking into the lions' den because Lewis has had three years with McLaren now, he has it his way and he has already disposed of one driver that came in there in Alonso.



"Fernando Alonso couldn't cut it against Lewis Hamilton, and I think Hamilton will want to retain his position of prominence in that team. He will be a tough guy."



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