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JUNE 25, 2001

Button surprised by paddock gossip

BRITON Jenson Button said he was surprised to be at the center of paddock gossip that suggested he could be on his way out of the Benetton team.

Button said he knew nothing of links to Jordan and Jaguar and confirmed that he will fulfil the second year of his loan deal from BMW-Williams at Benetton.

"It think it's going to be interesting," he said. "I think I am going to be racing with a different team in every race! I don't know if it's nonsense, but, on my life, I have never heard anything at all."

"It is complete nonsense. I'm here next year, contracted and confirmed."

Button could return to Williams, where he enjoyed an impressive debut season, in 2003 but the youngster said that he is not looking too far down the line.

"That's the way it should be, but we'll see," he said of returning to Williams after his spell with Benetton. "I'm not really concerned.

"I'm not really thinking about that. This year, and next year, are the important years for me at the moment, especially this year, race by race, is important.

"I'm not thinking that far into the future. Anything can happen next year. There's a chance that Michael Schumacher might not be at Ferrari in two years. Anything can happen. You never know."

Jordan ruled themselves out of the running for Button earlier on Sunday, but sources close to Jaguar claimed that the young Briton is being primed for a drive in 2003 when Eddie Irvine's contract expires.