LONDON, November 18- World champion Jenson Button has signed to drive alongside Lewis Hamilton for McLaren next year, the Formula One team announced on Wednesday.The British driver has decided to end a nine-year association with Brawn, with whom he won his first driver’s title this year.
Button’s move to McLaren fills a gap created by former world champion Kimi Raikkonen’s decision not to race in Formula One next year and gives the team an exciting — but potentially fraught — combination of two of the hottest properties in motor sport.
Hamilton won the 2008 driver’s title and McLaren are expected to have one of the fastest cars on the grid next season after finishing this year strongly.
Brawn, in contrast, faded towards the end of the season after dominating the early races in which McLaren and Ferrari struggled.
Brawn will be renamed Mercedes GP for the 2010 season following the German car giant’s acquisition of a 75 percent stake in the British-based team.
German Nico Rosberg has already been signed as one of their drivers and, following Button’s departure, another German, Nick Heidfeld, is the favourite for the second seat.