JULY 2, 2002
Button and Williams
THERE is a bit of excitement in F1 circles about Jenson Button's future. This is more related to the fact that we are in the run-up to the British GP and the British press is looking for stories than to any reality. The Williams team never comments about its driver situation and so a suggestion that Button is under contract to the team for next year became a story when Williams refused to make any comment.
Button's management team, which took over at the start of this year, has yet to prove that it has what it takes to make it in the hurly-burly of Formula 1 politics, but they seem to be confident that Button will not slide back down the grid.
If he does they will only have themselves to blame...
The Williams situation is that Button is under option to Williams for 2003 and that if the team chooses not take up the option it must find him a seat with another team. Williams is going to want to see Button in the best car possible so that he can learn his trade in preparation for a return to Williams in either 2004 or 2005.
Germany's Ralf Schumacher is contracted until the end of 2003 while Juan Pablo Montoya in under option for the team as well and is expected to sign a new two-year deal at some point later this summer. Montoya has not produced the results expected of him this year and so having Button around is a useful negotiating tool for the team.
Button has been on loan from Williams to Renault for the last two years and there appears to be (and those are carefully chosen words) pressure at the moment for him to be ousted to make way for Fernando Alonso. This does not make that much sense as Button is well-respected amongst the Renault engineers and he has made Jarno Trulli look fairly ordinary on occasion this year. Alonso is seen by some as the next Messiah but there are other sections of the F1 paddock which feel that the Spaniard is over-rated.
If Button is tipped out of Renault (and this may just be a tactic to bring down the money involved) he will be struggling as Jaguar Racing is not such a great option at the moment.
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