Decision-making at the CRB

Jenson Button, European GP 2004

Jenson Button, European GP 2004 

 © The Cahier Archive

The Formula 1 Contract Recognition Board exists to make legal rulings on whether or not contracts are valid. In the past however it has sometimes acted as an arbitration service in disputes over drivers and has come up with compromise solutions to complex contractual problems. The most notable result was back in 1994 when the Contract Recognition Board ruled that David Coulthard could not leave Williams despite his desire to go to McLaren in 1995. The board ruled that the best compromise was for Coulthard to stay one more year at Williams and then switch to McLaren in 1996. On another occasion in 1997 the decision of the Contract Recognition Board that Giancarlo Fisichella had a contract with Jordan for 1998 was later over-ruled in the High Court in London because the Benetton team's option on Fisichella was not included in the contract registered at the CRB. Because it was not Jordan's fault that the option was not registered Benetton was ordered to pay Jordan $2.4m in compensation.

The contract recognition board was established in the early 1990s after Benetton ditched Roberto Moreno to make way for Michael Schumacher. Moreno sought an injunction and was successful and had to be paid $500,000 by the team before Schumacher was allowed to take over.

If there is a compromise solution this time, Williams will need to find a driver to stand in for Button for just one year, which is not a very satisfactory situation. However if that happens we would expect to see Antonio Pizzonia in the car although BMW favourite Nick Heidfeld may also be in the picture.

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