Button speaks of new Formula One challenge
World champion Jenson Button insists he could have earned more money by extending his relationship with Ross Brawn but, instead, wanted to take on the challenge of joining Lewis Hamilton at McLaren.
The 29-year-old, who wrapped up his maiden world title in Brazil last month, announced his move to McLaren on a “multi-year deal” on Wednesday, days after parting company with reigning constructors champions Brawn GP, who were the subject of a takeover by Mercedes-Benz earlier this week.
Button has explained his decision to terminate his long-term association with Brawn as the need for a new challenge after achieving his aims with his former team.
The Briton said: “I am actually earning less than I would have been at Brawn so it's not about the money and everybody involved knows that is not the case. It's because it's something new.
“I knew it would be a challenge to go up against Lewis in his environment and my goal since I was eight years old was to win the world championship and I've done that now and I feel in need something else, a new challenge.”
Button admits his decision, which means the Woking-based company now have the last two world champions in an all-British star line-up, did not come easily.
“I was excited but there was a lot to think about because I'd been with Brawn for seven years,” he added.
“On the emotional side there was definitely a lot to think about but I thought the challenge of going up against Lewis in his environment would be very tough but very exciting.
“I know the environment in both areas and I know what I want to do and I want new challenges.”
Button also paid tribute to Brawn, adding: “I couldn't have done it without him”, but accepted things will change from now on after he yesterday said goodbye to the Brawn mechanics.
“It's going to be a different relationship because I am not within the team any more, we're not fighting for a world championship together.”
“We've achieved that goal so I am going to be a rival. We'll still have a good relationship, we've been through a lot together.”
While he has not yet spoken to Hamilton, Button is certain the pair will be at the forefront of challenging for the title next year.
He said: “I think with both teams you can say there is a chance of defending your title with them: nobody really knows who is going to build the better car next season.
“History would say Ferrari and McLaren would build a very competitive car but last season Brawn came out with a stunner, a car that was beyond belief for a lot of teams, so you never really know.
“You are always taking a gamble choosing any team but I do know there will be four or five teams at the front being competitive and I'm in one of those teams.
“When I visited the McLaren Technology Centre earlier this month it wasn’t simply the tecnical resources and the incredible standards of excellence that impressed me.
“I was equally struck by the ambition, the motivation and the winning spirit that flow through everybody there.”