Jenson Button’s roller coaster ride towards the 2009 world championship is currently being matched for nerve-wracking intensity by the efforts of his manager, the congenial Richard Goddard, to prise more money out of the Brawn GP team for next season.
Last winter, with the former Honda team’s future clouded by uncertainty after the Japanese car maker took the decision to withdraw from the sport, Button took a significant pay cut to “do his bit” in guaranteeing that the team would be on the grid in 2010.
If some observers are to be believed, his pay was slashed by 50 per cent to around $5m – and he agreed to pay his own expenses. The Button camp now feels that their man has done enough and, after winning six of the first seven races this season, has politely asked the management if they could revert to something a bit nearer his originally agreed terms.
Don’t get me wrong here; there is no suggestion that the Jenson camp is trying to hold a gun to Brawn’s head. They are just negotiating vigorously with each side fighting their own corner with some determination.
In reality, of course, the glory days of sky-high driver retainers have been long consigned to history. With the Honda support for Brawn expiring at the end of the year, the team is poised to become what might be described as a “conventional” commercial enterprise. And the down-to-earth, pragmatic Ross is not going to pay top dollar for any driver if it risks trimming the budget for design, development and engineering.