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Button likely to join McLaren as Mercedes GP tighten belt

WORLD champion Jenson Button is expected to sign for McLaren this week after Mercedes GP chiefs said they would not raise their offer to the Englishman.<br /><br />Talks between Button and McLaren are said to have progressed significantly since he visited the team&rsquo;s headquarters last week.<br /><br />The Woking-based outfit are keen to pair Button with Lewis Hamilton in an all-British, double champion line-up, and are willing to offer him around &pound;7m a year.<br /><br />Button is out of contract and seeking a significant hike on his &pound;3.5m salary, which is dwarfed by the biggest stars on the grid.<br /><br />Negotiations between him and bosses at the Mercedes team, which this week took over Brawn GP, have been going on for months and appear to have reached an impasse.<br /><br />Mercedes are thought to have offered the Somerset racer just &pound;4m a year, and chief executive Nick Fry said the team&rsquo;s new owners would not be bankrolling a more lucrative deal than that already on then table.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m sorry to say, it&rsquo;s not going to change anything,&rdquo; Fry said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re running with a budget that is probably less than most of the others have spent and that&rsquo;s what Mercedes likes.<br /><br />&ldquo;In these financially constrained times, you do have to tighten your belt. We&rsquo;ve had discussions with Jenson on what we think is a sensible salary and this is not going to change anything in that respect.<br /><br />&ldquo;I hope Jenson will be with us as we&rsquo;ve been together for a good few years, but F1 is not divorced from the rest of the world. The reason we&rsquo;ve survived as a team is that we have operated in our means.&rdquo;<br /><br />Mercedes this week denied suggestions the manufacturer wanted to install two German drivers, with one, Nico Rosberg, already rumoured to have signed for next season.