In a surprise move, Mercedes-Benz announced this morning that it was taking over the Brawn GP Formula One team, in turn ending its long-standing partnership with McLaren.

Mercedes will continue to supply engines to the McLaren team until 2015 at the earliest, however will divest from its 40% stake in McLaren over the next 2 years. Mercedes-Benz have acquired 75.1 per cent of the Brawn F1 team and will rename it Mercedes Grand Prix as it enters its the 2010 season.

During the past weekend World Champion Jenson Button was spotted visiting the McLaren factory after failing to reach agreement in his contractual negotiations with Brawn F1, further encouraging rumours that he is to move to the Woking based F1 team for 2010.

The 29-year-old has reportedly turned down a £4m offer – representing an increase of £1m above his current deal but still less than half of what he had earned with Honda.

Mercedes’s new stake in Brawn could lead to the German-born Niko Rosberg being retained as lead driver, allowing Button to pursue options elsewhere.

“We are speaking with Nick Heidfeld as well,” Haug said. “Mercedes-Benz supports the idea of signing an experienced and capable German driver. There is however no reason to finalise the driver situation too hastily.”

“Mercedes will compete in the F1 world championship next year with its own factory team,” said head of Mercedes cars, Dr Dieter Zetsche.

“This is possible by the agreed acquisition of 75.1 per cent of Brawn GP, 45.1 per cent from Daimler and 30 per cent from our partner Aabar Investments. The rest will be with the current share – Ross Brawn, Nick Fry and other members. The interests of Daimler are aligned therefore it will be a true Mercedes-Benz team.”

“Ross Brawn will continue to be the team principal and thereby we are maintaining his strength. Just like the engine team at Mercedes Benz High Performance Engines, the new Mercedes Benz grand prix team will be co-ordinated by Mercedes Benz Motorsport which is as everybody knows headed by Norbert Haug”, said Dr Zetsche.