APRIL 22, 2002
All this talk of Button...
THE news wires have been buzzing in recent days about the possibility of Jenson Button moving to Ferrari. It's a good story for the British media but there is not much evidence to back up anything other than vague discussions on both sides. Ferrari is happy to have the rumors out there as negotiations push on with Rubens Barrichello. The Scuderia needs a credible alternative if it is to keep Barrichello's demands down. For Button it is good news as it raises his reputation and at the same time reminds Renault that it may not be in the team's interest to let him go.
But it is all largely irrelevant because the only person making decisions is Frank Williams, who has the first option on Button's services in 2003 and 2004 and is believed to have an option for him in 2005. Frank will not want Jenson going off to Ferrari on a long-term deal as he is likely to take the Englishman on when the current deals with Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya ends. By then the Williams team will know which is the better driver of the two.
The problem is that Button has to do something for the next two seasons and Williams will want him in a decent car but not with a rival. The obvious place for Jenson to go is British American Racing although Jaguar could also be an option.
Ferrari is not thought likely to sign up Button because Michael Schumacher does not need a new team mate. Barrichello is doing what is asked of him and earning a lot of money. He may decide to leave but there is no obvious drive available in which he would have as much chance of winning races. The Ferrari team will also not want to train up Button and then see him driving for Williams in 2005. At the same time it is hard to see that Button would want to throw himself up against Schumacher as such a move could ruin his career. It is better to find a way to beat him in another car and then, if Ferrari come calling, to be available when Schumacher retires.
Our money in one BAR for two years.
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