World Champion Jenson Button has heightened speculation about his 2010 plans by visiting the McLaren factory.
Button has yet to finalize a new deal with Brawn GP, despite both parties repeatedly intimating that their preferred -- and most likely -- option is to stay together for next season, and in recent weeks McLaren has been rumored as an alternative destination.
The Woking, UK-based team had been expected to sign Kimi Raikkonen to partner Lewis Hamilton next year, but this deal has also yet to come to fruition, although Raikkonen and his management are reported to have made their own visit to McLaren earlier this week.
Button visited McLaren's headquarters yesterday for a meeting that the team described to the British press as "a quick hello", although Britain's The Guardian newspaper reports that he was given a guided tour by team boss Martin Whitmarsh -- who also reportedly met with the management team representing ex-Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen.
The stumbling block in Brawn's negotiations with Button is understood to be a financial issue. Button took a pay cut this year to help the team stay afloat in the wake of Honda's withdrawal from Formula 1, but is now looking for a salary more appropriate to his new status as World Champion.
Button's manager Richard Goddard said they had already made compromises in their talks with Brawn and that they were currently looking at all available options.
"As I've said many times before, Jenson wants to drive a car which is capable of winning the next world championship," Goddard told the Guardian. "We've been talking about possible terms for 2010 with Brawn for months and we're not being difficult or unreasonably expensive in our demands for Jenson. In fact we've given up quite a lot of negotiating ground in our discussions with them.
"I think it's also important that Jenson wants to feel valued in whatever situation he finds himself next season," Goddard added. "He needs to explore all the feasible options."