F1: Brawn seals sponsorship and starts driver talks

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarThursday, August 27th, 2009

 
 

Brawn GP is in business for the next three years, according to its chief executive Nick Fry, and will now be opening contractual negotiations with its drivers.

Jenson Button revealed in a recent press conference at the European Grand Prix that he was not under contract to the team for 2010. The news came despite a statement from Fry in May this year that “he does have a contract for several years to come.”

But team principal Ross Brawn has since said that he sees no reason to change the team’s highly successful driver line-up of Button and Rubens Barrichello, who has just won his first race since 2004, and is a long-standing colleague of Brawn’s dating back to the pair’s time at Ferrari.

Speaking during the European Grand Prix weekend in Valencia, Brawn also said that several pieces of the 2010 jigsaw needed to fall into place, including the finalisation of the sport’s governing Concorde Agreement, before contract negotiations could begin.

Fry told Autosport: “We have zero worries on funding for this year, next year, the year after, and the year after that. I smile when people talk about money, because we’ve always had the finances for this year, and neither Ross nor I would not have taken on the team if we did not have the money for this year.

“We’ve signed some nice contracts, and those will come out into the open when we launch the car next year, but we will see what happens. There is zero worry on our side.”

The magazine suggests that the Emirates airline, Monster energy drink, sports betting company Bwin and Mexican telecommunications conglomerate Telmex are all in the frame, while F1 commentator James Allen thinks the title sponsor may be an Asian company, with other title hopefuls slotting into secondary sponsorship slots.

He also points out that, with Brawn GP’s current level of success, prize money and TV revenues could be funding a large proportion of the team’s slimmed-down budget.

The team’s current sponsor Virgin is widely believed to have concluded a deal for 2010 with British F1 entrants Manor.

Button’s priority, having proved his capabilities in a highly-competitive car after years of trailing round in the mid-field and even in back-markers, will be to drive to a World Championship – especially if he doesn’t pull it off this year.

A high-calibre driver should also be able to command a considerable salary, with Button thought to have taken a pay cut worth as much as £5 million to drive for Brawn GP, including paying many of his own expenses.

But it is arguable that the 29-year-old multi-millionaire would still prize a winning car over a fat paycheck.

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