It might have cost him more than 50 per cent of his 2008 salary, but Jenson Button was delighted after his first drive in the new Brawn GP BGP001 car at Silverstone yesterday.
Button accepted a significant pay cut in order to stay with the team, when it passed from Honda's hands into those of the former Ferrari engineering mastermind Ross Brawn.
"Basically, the team could not afford him at his previous salary," a spokesman for the English driver said. "But after pushing so hard to get Ross to join Honda, and then working so hard with him throughout a very difficult 2008, he [Button] was determined to show his solidarity with, and faith in, the team. We had some other options in theory, but he told me that money isn't everything. There was no way he was going to do anything but drive that car. He didn't want to give up on a team he believes so strongly in."
Brawn, the new team owner, yesterday stressed the importance of continuity in his team's driver line-up. "We are very fortunate to have two experienced drivers in Jenson and Rubens Barrichello," he said. "They will enable us to hit the ground running when we test for the first time in Barcelona next week. After four years as team-mates, their experience with our team in Brackley, our systems and our engineers, will prove a real asset.
"They have always had a great relationship and we expect to see them pushing each other over the season to get the best performance from the car and drive forward its development."
But before he got ahead of himself, Brawn acknowledged the tough challenge that lies ahead. "The biggest hurdle we faced was being in a position to race in Melbourne and we will now be able to achieve that target," he said. "Initially we may experience some reliability issues resulting from the lack of track testing, but we feel we have a good car and we hope that our performance will be respectable."
Fast lane line-up: F1 teams and drivers
*FERRARI Felipe Massa (Bra), Kimi Raikkonen (Fin)
*McLAREN Lewis Hamilton (GB), Heikki Kovalainen (Fin)
*BMW-SAUBER Robert Kubica (Pol), Nick Heidfeld (Ger)
*RENAULT Fernando Alonso (Sp), Nelson Piquet (Bra)
*TOYOTA Jarno Trulli (It), Timo Glock (Ger)
*TORO ROSSO Sebastien Bourdais (Fr), Sebastien Buemi (Swit)
*RED BULL Mark Webber (Aus), Sebastian Vettel (Ger)
*WILLIAMS Nico Rosberg (Ger), Kazuki Nakajima (Japan)
*BRAWN GP Jenson Button (GB), Rubens Barrichello (Bra)
*FORCE INDIA Giancarlo Fisichella (It), Adrian Sutil (Ger)