SEPTEMBER 10, 2005
The Button saga moves along
The question of whether Jenson Button joins Williams or stays at BAR-Honda in 2006 and 2007 remains a subject of much discussion in the F1 paddock although neither side is giving much away about the negotiations which are taking place at the moment. But this in itself is significant because talks are taking place and judging by the toing and froing in the paddock at Spa there is something to talk about. And that has to mean that Williams is reconsidering its position in relation to Button because the team has previously said quite openly that it would not sell Button's contract. If there is no intention to sell, there is really no need to talk and so one must presume that the attitude at Williams has softened a little and the discussions are now based on the compensation that Williams would receive to allow Button to walk away. The sums involved could be astronomical because the Williams team has always said that they rate Button's talent very highly and need him for next year. In order to move from this position the offers must be sufficient to boggle the minds of the decision-makers at Williams. We are not even going to guess at the numbers being discussed.
If a deal is done, however, Button is going to come out of the whole affair as the loser. He may make a fortune signing a long-term deal with BAR-Honda, rumoured to be around $88m over the next five years but other deals in the future will be more difficult for him because teams will want much tougher contracts. At the same time it will be remembered that Williams was willing to sell him, which would suggest that the team has re-evaluated his talent and concluded that it is not worth the trouble trying to hold on to him. As Button comes up to his 100th Grand Prix without a victory, there are some in the paddock asking whether Button is really worth all the money that is being heaped upon him.
The only way to answer the critics is for Jenson to win races.
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