AUGUST 9, 2004
Is this why Button moved to BMW Williams?
While the Fomula 1 press has been getting its knickers in a twist over whether or not Jenson Button should move to BMW Williams next year, Bernie Ecclestone has stepped up on to the moral high ground, telling The Daily Star that "morally Jenson has an obligation to stay" at BAR.
There may however be other issues involved which have not yet come to light. It is clear that the dispute over Button's contract is one of wording but we hear that there is an underlying problem between Button and BAR which has been kept very quiet this year. It is not clear whether or not it has been solved but certainly earlier this year there was a dispute going on about the payment of bonuses for points scored. We believe that when Button signed for BAR he was taken on a relatively small salary, because after two mediocre years at Renault he was not as valuable as perhaps he should have been. In order to offset this the agreement is understood to have included a bonus scheme. In F1 this is usually something between $50,000 and $100,000 a point. Earlier this year we picked up suggestions that there was friction between the team and the Button camp over this as the money expected was not arriving. As Button has scored 61 points this year that could be a very sizeable sum of money. We were told that the problem had been solved but we believe that this may simply have been to keep the story out of the media.
The opportunity to go to Williams would thus give Button the chance to get a bigger basic salary (although Williams is not paying much next year to its drivers) and, at the same time, get his own back on BAR over the bonus dispute.
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