Mike Stevens | Oct 26, 2009

FORMULA 1 COMMERCIAL rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has slammed Brawn GP for refusing to meet newly-crowned World Champion Jenson Button’s contract demands for next year.

Button is seeking a return to his wage levels before Honda withdrew from F1 - reported to be in the vicinity of £13 million per season - after accepting a massive pay cut to revive his career with Brawn this year.

The 29-year-old was also forced to pay for the majority of his own travel and dry cleaning expenses, an unheard-of scenario in the financially flush world of Formula 1.

Although Brawn GP and Button are expected to reach an agreement, Ecclestone launched an attack on the constructor’s champions, saying the team should reward the former Williams driver for his success.

“They are being a little bit arrogant considering how long they have been in Formula One. They should remember they have only been in the sport 10 minutes really,” he told the Daily Mirror.

Brawn GP’s reluctance to hand Button a pay rise has sparked rumours the Briton could make a shock switch to McLaren and take with him the prized #1 nose cone.

2009 F1 championship winner, Jenson Button.
2009 F1 championship winner, Jenson Button.

Outgoing Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen has been earmarked for the second seat with the team, but the Finn’s outrageous pay demands has forced McLaren to consider several alternatives, including Button and Nico Rosberg.

With Toyota also vying for Raikkonen’s services, Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug told Autosport that McLaren would not be held to ransom by the former World Champion.

Making thinly veiled references to Raikkonen, Haug said the team’s ideal candidate will be motivated by the prospect of landing a seat with a championship contending team, instead of a mere pay packet.

“One thing is for sure though - guys who are out for money are not the right ones for us, whoever it may be,” he said.

“I won't name anyone, but we want to have full commitment from someone who is success-oriented, not someone saying 'I am a big name, pay me a lot of money and I will drive for you.'

“The team has to be convinced that a driver is hungry, motivated, focused, and that his first thought is not to get more money.”

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