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Doubt over Button future deepens as Mercedes take charge of Brawn

MERCEDES chiefs insist their takeover of Brawn GP will not mean world champion Jenson Button is forced out to make way for an all-German driving line-up.<br /><br />The German manufacturer yesterday bought a 75 per cent stake in Brawn, in a move that will see the 2009 constructors&rsquo; champions rebranded as Mercedes GP.<br /><br />Mercedes have meanwhile opted to sell their 40 per cent shareholding in McLaren back to the Woking team, although they will continue to supply them with engines until 2015.<br /><br />Ross Brawn will be retained as team principal by Mercedes, but their driver line-up has yet to be announced. Nico Rosberg is widely expected to take one of the two slots, and it has been suggested that the team&rsquo;s new owners would prefer his colleague to be another German, with Nick Heidfeld and Timo Glock the favourites.<br /><br />That has only fuelled already rampant speculation that Button, who is out of contract and has been courted by McLaren, could cut his ties with the Brackley outfit.<br /><br />But Mercedes motorsport vice-chairman Norbert Haug insisted negotiations with the Englishman were ongoing, and that talent, not nationality, would dictate their driver line-up.<br /><br />&ldquo;We are talking with Button and that&rsquo;s why we cannot announce the driver line-up. We have to accept that speculation takes place, but that&rsquo;s the name of the game,&rdquo; said Haug.<br /><br />&ldquo;This will be an international team &ndash; Mercedes-Benz is a global player. We definitely do not want to have a pure German team. It&rsquo;s an international team and we want to have the best drivers in the car.&rdquo;<br /><br />Dieter Zetsche, the chairman of Mercedes&rsquo; parent company Daimler, added that team principal Brawn would have the final say. <br /><br />&ldquo;Ross Brawn is the boss of the team and it would not be smart of us to dictate to him anything like a driver decision,&rdquo; Zetsche said.<br /><br />Button, who took a huge pay cut to drive for Brawn when manufacturers Honda pulled out of Formula One a year ago, is seeking an increase on his &pound;3.5m salary, having won his first drivers&rsquo; title this year.<br /><br />Despite months of talks no agreement has been reached with Brawn, and he was last week shown around McLaren&rsquo;s headquarters, as they step up their search for a partner for Lewis Hamilton.<br /><br />A Button-Hamilton pairing &ndash; two high-profile British ex-champions with glamorous girlfriends driving for the same team &ndash; would be likely to generate huge press coverage, and sponsorship interest, for McLaren.<br /><br />However, 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen is also in contention for the spare McLaren seat, having been paid off by Ferrari to make way for Fernando Alonso&rsquo;s move from Renault.<br /><br />McLaren&rsquo;s agreement to take back their shares from Mercedes will take effect over the next two years.<br />