Button quits BAR for Williams 06 Aug 2004
Formula One is in shock as the news that Jenson Button will be quitting the BAR team, to drive for Williams next season, begins to sink in.
The surprise announcement comes just days after Williams confirmed Mark Webber's presence in the team next year. Button's arrival will create what many will see as a 'dream team', especially as the young Englishman has shown a remarkable improvement in both form and fortune this season and currently lies third in the Drivers' Championship. The news also comes hot on the heels of an impressive performance at the German Grand Prix two weeks ago, which Button described as the 'race of his life.'
"There has been a long-term relationship between the BMW WilliamsF1 team and Jenson," explained Team Principal Frank Williams in the statement issued to break the news, "indeed his Formula One career started with the team in 2000. We have maintained that relationship until the present day, and I am delighted that one of the most talented drivers in Formula One has accepted the opportunity to return to the team".
"I am very pleased," said Button in the same press release, "for the meantime the 2004 season has my full focus and attention. Beyond this, I have every confidence that the massive investment in resources and the depth of talent at WilliamsF1 and BMW provides the best platform for my future ambitions to be a World Champion".
Button joined the Williams team at the very tender age of 20, straight from British Formula 3. Despite showing obvious promise, he struggled during various parts of the season and was dropped for 2001 and transferred to Benetton, then Renault and then BAR. His return will be seen by many as a vindication of his talents, although it leaves the BAR team without their star driver for next season.
"When we signed Jenson in 2000 he was clearly a nascent talent," said Williams' Director of Engineering, Patrick Head, "in the last three seasons no-one can have any doubt that he has now come of age and is one of the sport's leading contenders. In many ways the challenge is now ours to meet his capabilities, and I have every confidence that the intense investment and re-organisation we have undertaken this year, married with a strong driver pairing, will see a resurgent team next season".