Benetton boss looking forward to "beneficial" partnership with Button

BENETTON managing director Flavio Briatore is looking forward to a "beneficial" partnership with Jenson Button after confirming he had signed the young Briton for the next two seasons on Thursday.

Briatore signed Button, 20, to partner Giancarlo Fisichella for the next two years, the last of which will see the team re-branded as Renault. Austrian Alexander Wurz will make way for Button.

"Jenson has done an incredible job for his first year in Formula One," said Briatore. "He has shown natural talent and intelligence, which are two important characteristics for a driver. I think this partnership with Benetton and Renault will be very beneficial to both sides."

Pat Symonds, technical director at Benetton, shared Briatore's attitude. Symonds said: "I'm very excited at the news that Jenson will be joining our team. He has shown remarkable maturity and speed in his first season and is the ideal driver to partner Giancarlo and assist the team in its climb back to success."

Button is expected to be replaced at Williams by Champ Car driver Juan Pablo Montoya next season. Colombian Montoya is currently drawing towards the end of a three-year deal at Chip Ganassi Racing and the Indianapolis 500 winner has impressed Williams' managing director Frank Williams.

Williams will not confirm their driver line up for next season until the United States Grand Prix in September. Williams also has the option to re-sign Button in 2003 and 2004.

Williams said: "Jenson has astonished the team with his immediate grasp of Formula One. There is no doubt in my mind that Jenson will go on to be a truly great racing driver."

Button has scored eight world championship points so far this season with his best finish of fourth at the German Grand Prix.

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