The world champion Jenson Button will almost certainly stay with the Brawn GP team to defend his title next year. That is the view of Nick Fry, the chief executive at the team, who is confident that the Briton wants to stay with the English outfit and that the only stumbling block is agreeing on a salary.
"I think it is very likely that Jenson will be staying with the team. He has had a long relationship with this team and together we have achieved our collective goal," he said. "I think it will be unlikely that Jenson will find a car as competitive and a team where he feels as comfortable. "Accordingly he wants to stay with us and we'd like him to stay with the team. "All we are discussing is financial detail and if you go into a discussion with one issue like that it is highly likely the compromise can and will be found."
The announcement came as Button qualified fifth for today's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a time of 1min 41.892secs - nine tenths slower than pole-sitter and compatriot Lewis Hamilton. Button said that he was not content with his starting position after having tyre problems on his final qualifying run. "In Q3, I had massive vibrations and I don't know why, I don't know if it's to do with the brakes or the tyres. Hopefully we can sort it out because that would be a nightmare in the race," he said. His teammate Rubens Barrich-ello starts a place ahead in fourth, while Jarno Trulli completed the top six in his Toyota after putting in a strong final run.
BMW Sauber appear geared up to celebrate their farewell from the championship with a points finish. The team are withdrawing after today's race and the Polish driver Robert Kubica put the car in seventh place, one spot ahead of his German teammate Nick Heidfeld. The top 10 was completed by Nico Rosberg of Williams, who appeared to be struggling in the latter half of the lap, and the impressive Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi - arguably the surprise of the day as he reached the final part of qualifying.
The Swiss driver, who celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday, said: "The car feels very competitive, as indeed it has been for the past few races, and scoring points is a realistic target for tomorrow." With Mubadala having a five per cent stake in Ferrari, the Yas Marina race was effectively a second home race for the Italian team. But it was a disappointing day for them as Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, was knocked out at the death in the second part of qualifying. He will start 11th in his final appearance for the Scuderia before he is replaced by Fernando Alonso next year.
Teammate Giancarlo Fisichella, who is also racing in the Prancing Horse for the final time this season, had an even poorer day. The Italian set the slowest time of the day with a 1-42.184, which was two and a half seconds slower than Hamilton's fastest time. It was also a sorry day for Fernando Alonso, a double world champion, in his Renault could do no better than 16th on his last outing before he departs for Ferrari.
While Hamilton took the front row, teammate Heikki Kovalainen starts 13th after suffering a mechanical failure that forced him to stop on the track. This came on a day he criticised the McLaren team for favouring his British teammate too much with the best of equipment. The Finn, who is almost certainly racing for the last time for the last time, told Finnish media: "It was always difficult to accept that Lewis was always the first to receive the new parts.
"I have never wanted to make a big deal about it, but it would have been nice to just once had the new parts on my car, particularly after we lost the chance of winning the championship. "Every time this season, when Hamilton and I are in the third part of qualifying, I had to do it with more fuel. If you take into account the quantities of fuel, I would have had pole position several times." Meanwhile one driver who definitely knows what he is doing next year is Bruno Senna, nephew of three time world champion Ayrton Senna, who has signed up for the newcomers Campos.
The team's chief executive Enrique Rodriguez de Castro said: "It is a great pleasure to welcome Bruno Senna in the team. He is one of the most promising up-and-coming drivers of his generation." email@example.com