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JUNE 24, 2001

Button offered to two teams by Benetton

JENSON BUTTON has been offered to two rival teams by Benetton boss Flavio Briatore, it was claimed on Sunday.

According to sources close to Jordan, the 21-year-old's poor form this season has led to the Renault-owned team considering loaning him out to either Jordan or Jaguar next year.

Button is currently in the first year of a two year loan from Williams, but the form of the current Williams pairing has made it look unlikely that he will back with the Grove-based team in the near future and he is struggling to hang on to his seat with Benetton.

Briatore has denied the rumors and made little comment - but he and Eddie Jordan were seen to be in a heated and long exchange of views on various subjects following a team principals' meeting in the Nurburgring paddock on Saturday evening.

It is believed that Briatore wants to have Jarno Trulli in his team next year, but the young Italian, who is controlled by Briatore under a long-term management contract, is not keen to leave Jordan.

Jordan on Sunday morning confirmed that they will be retaining German Heinz-Harald Frentzen for a further 12 months.

In a further twist to the story surrounding Button, it has been suggested that Briatore could be leaving Benetton and moving to run the Peugeot-Asiatech engine business and, through that, joining Prost and perhaps taking Button with him.

If Button leaves Benetton, it is expected that either Trulli or young Spaniard Fernando Alonso will be brought in to replace him.

Alonso is also a contracted Briatore driver. One source at Jordan said:

"Flavio and Eddie have been talking about this and it is a big subject. Just watch this space and see."