MCLAREN WILL FIELD an All-England super-team next season after confirming the signing of World Champion Jenson Button.
Button has signed a three-year deal believed to be worth ?6 (AU$11) million per annum after Brawn GP refused to match his pay demands.
The 29-year-old reportedly requested a salary rise commensurate with his new status as F1?s leading pilot, but Brawn GP and Mercedes-Benz opted against retaining the Frome-born driver.
Button?s partnership with Lewis Hamilton will mark the first time in Formula 1 history that the most recent successive World Champions will line-up in the same team the following season.
The unique pairing will also mark the first teaming up of British title holders since Graham Hill and Jim Clark at Lotus in 1968.
Button said he was excited to be driving for the team he supported as a child, stating he will relish the opportunity to compete with an outfit so heavily steeped in Formula 1 history.
?You can?t help but be affected by this team?s phenomenal history,? he said.
?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.
He added: ?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.?
While F1 legends including Sir Jackie Stewart and Lauda advised Button against joining a McLaren team seemingly structured around Hamilton, Button said he is looking forward to partnering the 24-year-old.
?From a personal point of view, it?s also a great pleasure to be joining a fellow British World Champion,? he said.
?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.?
Hamilton reciprocated Button?s praise, saying he believes that together, they can return McLaren to the front of the grid following an uncharacteristically poor season.
?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 said.
?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. ?
He added: ?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.?