• Nov 18th 2009 at 1:27PM
  • 43
It's not every day that you see two World Champions teamed up together – especially not the two most recent. In fact, that bit has never happened before in Formula One history, but that's exactly what we'll see next year as McLaren has announced the teaming of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton as its drivers for next season and beyond.

Button's move to McLaren has been long rumored, fueled recently by a visit by the World Champion together with his managers to the team's headquarters in Woking. Negotiations had been ongoing with the Brawn team with which he won his championship this year and which he'll now be departing, but even with Mercedes' injection of cash, the small team apparently couldn't afford the rate which the newly crowned champ was commanding on the open market.

The announcement will undoubtedly be greeted enthusiastically by British racing fans, placing two British drivers behind the wheel of an entirely British team – and the first pairing of two British World Champions since 1968 when Graham Hill and Jim Clark drove for Lotus. Less so for the newly-christened Mercedes Grand Prix team, which is losing both the drivers that brought Brawn GP the championship.

The move also leaves Heikki Kovalainen without a ride and further confirms fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen's lucrative sabbatical. But now that Button's future is settled and McLaren has confirmed its drivers, the rest of the grid should fall into place shortly, so stay tuned. Details in the press release after the jump.

[Source: McLaren | Image: Paul Gilham/Getty]

PRESS RELEASE

VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES SIGNS REIGNING WORLD CHAMPION JENSON BUTTON TO MULTI-YEAR DEAL
Sensational double World Champion driver line-up created as Jenson Button joins Lewis Hamilton at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Woking, 18 November 2009: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is delighted to announce the signing of the reigning World Champion Jenson Button to a multi-year deal. He will be partnered by 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who will be embarking on his fourth consecutive season as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver.

This unique partnership will mark:

- The first time in Formula 1 history that a team has started the new season with a line-up featuring the most recent two successive World Champions

- The first pairing of two British World Champions since Graham Hill [1962, 1968] partnered Jim Clark [1963, 1965] at Lotus in 1968

Jenson Button
2009 Formula 1 World Champion
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes car #1
"It's always a difficult decision to leave a team when you've been there for so long. But life is all about challenges – and, most important of all, it's about challenging yourself. So, although I won the World Championship with Brawn GP last year, and I'll never forget that, I was always adamant that I wanted to continue to set myself fresh challenges.

"So that's why I've decided to join Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. You can't help but be affected by this team's phenomenal history. McLaren is one of the greats of world sport, and its achievements and list of past champions read like a Who's Who of Formula 1 – Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and of course my new team-mate Lewis Hamilton. I've followed the McLaren team ever since I was a small boy, and it feels unbelievable to finally be a part of it.

"When I visited the McLaren Technology Centre earlier this month, it wasn't simply the technical resources and the incredible standards of excellence that impressed me. No, I was equally struck by the ambition, the motivation and the winning spirit that flow through everybody there. And then there's the team's epic history: put it this way, the trophy cabinets seem to stretch for miles.

"From a personal point of view, it's also a great pleasure to be joining a fellow British World Champion. Lewis has achieved an incredible level of success in a very short period of time, and he's a wonderfully gifted driver who has earned the respect of every Formula 1 driver. I'm sure there's plenty that we can learn from each other, and I'm really looking forward to using our combined knowledge to push the team forward.

"Also, I think it's fantastic that we'll be forming an all-British line-up. I know that we both fly the flag with pride, and I sincerely hope we can make the whole of the United Kingdom, as well as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes fans across the world, proud. Nothing means more to me than to be able to represent my country, and I'm looking forward to both of us painting Formula 1's circuits red, white and blue for many years to come.

"While I'm fully aware that there's a tremendous amount of hard work ahead, I'm absolutely certain that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes will be able to deliver where it matters: on track. I'm already looking forward to starting work with the engineers at the McLaren Technology Centre as we begin our preparations for the 2010 season – and the defence of my world championship. This is a team that always goes racing to win, and I'm looking forward to being part of that.

"Last but very far from least, I want to say that the 2009 season will always have a special place in my memory, and I'm absolutely sure that everybody at Brawn GP who worked so hard to achieve our World Championship successes feels exactly the same way about it. Equally, I want to thank the guys at Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines, without whom we'd never have been as competitive as we were. I'm so pleased that I'll still be using their engines in 2010 and beyond.

"So I wish all my old Brawn GP mates well in their new Mercedes Grand Prix adventure, just as I hope they'll wish me well in my new Vodafone McLaren Mercedes adventure."

Lewis Hamilton
2008 Formula 1 World Champion
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes car #2
"It's fantastic news that Jenson has decided to join Vodafone McLaren Mercedes – and I'm looking forward to working with him and our engineers to make sure we kick off the 2010 season with a car that's competitive enough to win the World Championship – but I want to send my best wishes for the future to my 2008-09 team-mate and now good friend Heikki Kovalainen, who is one of the nicest human beings I've ever met.

"I already know Jenson, and we get on very well together. We both really want our team to succeed. Although we'll be pushing each other hard, I'm sure we'll very quickly establish a great working relationship. He's an exceptional driver: very controlled and very smooth, and he has a real depth of knowledge and experience. I think we'll complement each other very well, and our collaboration will make the team stronger as a result. Also, I'm delighted to be racing alongside a fellow British World Champion, and I believe we can pull together to make Vodafone McLaren Mercedes the best team on the grid.

"I'm sure Jenson has already started to appreciate our team's unique culture and the special family atmosphere that makes it such an incredible place to live and work. We really are like one big family – and I'm sure Jenson will feel the warmth of that welcome from day one.

"Obviously, as a British driver, I'm also thrilled that we'll be flying the flag for the United Kingdom, and I think today's announcement is fantastic news for all British sports fans. I hope they'll be giving us their full support when the season kicks off next March. I'm already looking forward to Silverstone – it'll be massive!

"Looking ahead, I think the results from the second half of 2009 speak for themselves, and I'm convinced we can carry that momentum through the winter and into the new season. I've been closely following the development of our 2010 challenger, the MP4-25, and I think it's going to be a state-of-the-art car that will enable both of us to consistently fight for victories."

Martin Whitmarsh
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
"Everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is absolutely delighted to be able to welcome Jenson to our team. It has always been our policy to employ the two very best possible drivers – and, in Jenson and Lewis, we feel we not only have the fastest pairing on the 2010 grid, but also the two most complete, professional and dedicated drivers in Formula 1.

"Moreover, I'm confident that we'll be able to successfully balance and harness Jenson's and Lewis's complementary skill-sets. Our engineers are already looking forward to working with Jenson, and I'm convinced that such a strong and dynamic driver line-up will make us an even more complete and competitive operation. Now we have to provide Jenson and Lewis with race-winning machinery.

"I want to make clear that Jenson's decision to join us was in no way motivated by money. We'll be paying him no more than he could be getting elsewhere, and that fact is a reflection of not only Jenson's belief in Vodafone McLaren Mercedes but also his desire and ambition to build on the phenomenal results he achieved during the 2009 season.

"I also want to thank Heikki for his selfless contribution over the past two years. As well as being very quick, Heikki was and remains a great character whom we'll all miss considerably. It goes without saying that we wish him all the best for next season, and would be very pleased if he were to secure a good drive for 2010.

"We're ambitious, we're motivated and we're hungrier than ever. We make no secret of our ambition for next year: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes wants to win both World Championships – and, with Jenson and Lewis, we believe we're better equipped than any other team in the pitlane to do exactly that."

Jenson Button (GBR)
Date of birth: 19 January 1980 (29)
World championships: 1 (2009)
Wins: 7
Pole positions: 7
Points: 327
GP starts: 170

Lewis Hamilton (GBR)
Date of birth: 7 January 1985 (24)
World championships: 1 (2008)
Wins: 11
Pole positions: 17
Points: 256
GP starts: 52


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 43 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Jenson is going to be beat considerably by Lewis. Bad move on Jenson's part, unless he knew for sure that Brawn didn't want him.

      I've always liked McLaren as a team, but not a huge fan of either driver, looks like I'm going to have to cheer for Ferrari next season, never thought i'd see that day.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Mercedes didnt want him, Brawn had nothing to do with it. MBGP wants an all German team. They will be silver cars. And they might bring back Michael.
        • 5 Years Ago
        POV: McLaren has major $$$ from Vodafone & their corporate colors are NOT McLaren Orange. You might see a winter testing car in orange (like a few years ago) but thats all
        • 5 Years Ago
        If Mercedes GP goes silver, it would be cool to see MacLarens go to orange...
        • 5 Years Ago
        @POV

        It would be great to see Papaya Orange on the grid next season, tho I'm not sure how that would work with their Storm Trooper looking pit crew.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @POV - agree
        although on TV they might look like Ferraris. So they will probably be grey with orange accents ov visa versa.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Should be interesting to see two British drivers. Yes, Button will not be as good as Hamilton but I hope that both of them do their best next season.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I understand he wants to be in the best car and win BUT his lack of loyalty both to Brawn and back when with Williams is very disappointing. I hope Mercedes/Brawn beats MacLaren next year.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Button has a reputation for being a playboy, But he did take a massive pay cut at Brawn when they emerged from Honda and money was tight, But Brawn did not want to go back to paying him more to stay on. I think Mercedes taking control of Brawn has more to do with this overall. They want German drivers and I can see Vettel going to MB one day.
        • 5 Years Ago
        name some loyal drivers besides Hamilton
        • 5 Years Ago
        I read on Autosport that Mercedes GP didn't want to pay Button more and supposedly the budget for drivers hadn't increased significantly... Mercedes wants to run a low cost GP team and I guess having the current World Champ just isn't "cost effective" for them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      isnt this info like a day old? Next they are going to tell up Raikkonen is goint to WRC! Duh!
      Hamiltion is going to walk all over JB, sorry.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @pat, good point - guess I am just a little hyper with the info gathering first thing in the AM.
      • 5 Years Ago
      For all the racing historians out there, let us hope things go better for Button and Hamilton in the future than they did for Clark and Hill.
      Mexican
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hope both hamilton AND barrichello walk over button next. season. I feel ross screwed over Barrichello and didn't give them a fair fight for the star role at Brawn GP.


      Wait someone answer me this: Merc is taking over Brawn GP right ? = X

      If x=yes then watch ross play favorites again and let us all watch as he screws over hamilton next season.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Mexican
        Mercedes only supplied engines to McLaren. It was never called Mercedes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Mexican
        @Redline:

        The McLaren team is technically called Vodafone McLaren Mercedes at the moment. Button even says it in an interview.
        Mexican
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Mexican
        yeah i agree with gefinley, i'm pretty sure the team name before all this was mclaren mercedes. i actually don't remember the vodafone part being called out a lot to tell you the truth. but yeah i'm pretty sure it was mclaren mercedes.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good luck Jenson, McLaren has not been very good at equal driver treatment in the past.

      All this year I cheered for BrawnGP as I liked both Jenson and Rubens. Ross should have signed both his champs to multi year deals as he would not have won without them. Now he has none of them, and I expect the team to be mid pack next year at best, in spite of his deal with Mercedes Benz.
        • 5 Years Ago
        How do you know it was up to Ross? Nick Fry has said Mercedes was attracted to the current budget levels of the team. MB also is rumored to be wanting an all German team as well.

        Nico Rosberg won't be midpack. By signing Nick Heidfeld, it allows this new Mercedes team to focus on Nico (not Jenson & Rubens...)
      • 5 Years Ago
      kinda sucks that Button says what he is thinking out loud to the press all the time. I mean it is interesting to hear, but when you are competing you want to come off as super confident to make the other drivers around you have self doubt. And when you express your own self doubt out loud the other drivers see you as human and thus can not be pushed around by you, and can actually push you around.
      Hamilton never expresses self doubt publicly. This is a smarter strategy for a racing driver.
      • 5 Years Ago
      this was a career limiting move for jenson, i understand that he wants to maximize his earning potential while he's in the limelight but McLaren didnt have a competitive package and may not this coming season...whereas MB/Brawn will have a car that's going to evolve and now w/ the mothership and a budget they might continue on the roll.

      I dont think Jenson has it in him to push hard...he dominated the begining of the season when all the other teams werent caught up...but as soon as they did he started slipping into the midfield...he's consistent but not multiple world champ material imo
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sorry foo... we agree to disagree.

        Jenson Button has plenty of fire if he's lasted in F1 for over 10 seasons. Staying motivated when you are driving sub-par Hondas requires a driver with "fire".
        • 5 Years Ago
        i'm just saying if he's not given a great car he's ok he'll have a good drive here and there but he doesnt have the fire like some previous world champs that wrings the neck out of the car and pushes
        • 5 Years Ago
        McLaren's car was absolute JUNK at the beginning of 2009. You should go back & study the GP's from the 2nd half of this season.

        For McLaren to give Lewis podiums & for him to dominate most of the Abu Dhabi GP weekend with a car that was so bad at the start says a TON. Also, Ross Brawn is brilliant so MGP will have good cars... but so will McLaren & BOTH have MB motors.

        As for Jenson "not pushing hard..." his 3rd place battle with Mark Webber's RedBull looked like "pushing hard" to me!!! Just sayin'.
        • 5 Years Ago
        :) agreed
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why should drivers choose loyalty over a paycheck? It's business. Look what happened to Raikkonen...Told to pack his shi*t a year early after dragging a dog of a car to several podiums and a victory.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Prost VS Senna!

      Oh wait Hamilton has been through this once before! Except Alsonso is much better than Button!
        • 5 Years Ago
        +1 That was Hammy's rookie year, Button is going to get smoked.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good luck to them all! On their worst day, hand tied, they can driver better than any of us ever thought we could. I personally don't see JB ever winning another crown but I've been wrong before.
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