Button recalls angry shout from Fry over ‘crazy’ McLaren switch
August 17, 2021
Jenson Button says his shock decision at the end of 2009 to leave reigning world champions Brawn GP for McLaren sparked an angry reaction from the team’s CEO Nick Fry.
Button had enjoyed a banner year with Brawn GP in 2009, winning six races and conquering the world title at the wheel of the British outfit’s dominant Mercedes-powered BGP 001.
The Briton was expected to re-sign with the winning team in 2010, especially after Mercedes and Emirati state-owned holding Aabar Investments had acquired a 75% stake in the Brackley squad, which was rebranded Mercedes GP.
However, Button surprisingly accepted a multi-year offer to join Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, a decision that many labeled as “crazy” at the time and which did not go down well with Fry.
“We came into McLaren after winning the world championship in 2009,” said Button, speaking to The High Performance Podcast.
“People said it was the craziest move to move to McLaren alongside Lewis Hamilton and even Ross Brawn said that.
“I told the team I was leaving at the end of 2009. I spoke to Nick Fry who basically just shouted at me – he was one of the bosses with Ross Brawn at the time.
“I remember I was going into his office and telling him I was leaving and he just shouted at me and I basically just started laughing because it was a really uncomfortable situation.
“I kind of felt for him, for how aggressive he was. He just looked at me and was like ‘why are you laughing at me’? It was the situation and it was just what I didn’t expect.”
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Button remembers that Brawn was a lot more collected about his decision, although the future F1 chief still cautioned him about his choice and going up against his new McLaren teammate.
“I told Ross and he was very friendly and said ‘I think you’re making a big mistake going up alongside Lewis’.
“I was like ‘this is awesome’, a lot of positive energy I am getting here but it happens. I didn’t have a contract for the next year, it didn’t feel like it was the place for me and McLaren was.”