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November 18, 2009

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Button tipped to drive for McLaren

FORMULA One world champion Jenson Button has agreed terms on a three-year deal with McLaren and could sign a contract within days, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported yesterday.

There was no immediate comment from the Woking-based team or the driver's management.

The newspaper's long-standing Formula One reporter Alan Henry, who has close connections with McLaren, said the deal would be worth 6 million pounds (US$10.10 million) a year to 29-year-old Button.

If the deal goes through, Button would almost double his current salary and partner compatriot Lewis Hamilton in all-British line-up of champions at the Mercedes-powered team. He won the championship with Brawn this year, with that team becoming Mercedes Grand Prix next season after a takeover was announced on Monday.

Button was given a guided tour of the McLaren factory last Friday.

Brawn chief executive Nick Fry said on Monday that he hoped a deal could still be done with the driver but made clear that the Mercedes' takeover did not mean the team would now throw more money at him.

"We've had discussions with Jenson which we think are a sensible salary and this is not going to change anything in that respect," he said.

"I hope Jenson will be with us next season, we've worked together for a good few years now and succeeded in winning a world championship together," he added.

"We want Jenson to be with us but we have to recognise that Formula One is not divorced from the rest of the world. We work within a budget and if we spend the money in one area, we can't spend it in another."

Meanwhile, former Toyota driver Timo Glock has signed to drive for Manor Grand Prix in 2010, the new Formula One team said yesterday.

"I had several options for 2010, some of them with more established teams," the 27-year-old German said.

"Every driver has the same overall objective, to win the world championship one day, but the way I want to succeed is to be part of the process of building a team and to play a key role in developing the car.

"This is why the opportunity with Manor Grand Prix is so exciting for me."

British-based Manor, which has a strong pedigree in junior series, is one of at least four new teams due to enter the sport next season.

The team will hold an official launch later this year with former Brawn sponsor Virgin expected to come in as a major partner.

Glock missed the last three races of the season due to an injury sustained in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix but took two podium finishes including second place in Singapore in September.

"I have spent a lot of time with (technical director) Nick Wirth, (principal) John Booth and other members of the team and what I liked most is that this a real racing team run by true racers," said the German. "The team may be small and new but it has big ambitions and a very impressive car and development programme. I am confident that I can play a big role in terms of my technical input and that's a fantastic opportunity for me."

Wirth said he was delighted to have secured an established driver like Glock.

"To get a driver that has not only achieved podium finishes in 2009 but has such proven talent and the potential to take us forward for many years is very exciting," he said.


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