Tug of war for Button's services
Frank Williams, boss of the Formula One team that bears his name, has publicly insisted that Jenson Button will be driving for the team next year, despite BAR's claims that the English racer is still contracted to them.
"We are of the firm opinion on strong legal advice that BAR have lost the opportunity to retain Jenson", Williams said, "I have no doubt that he will be with the BMW Williams F1 team for 2005".
Williams said that he wanted to settle the dispute between the two teams amicably and quietly, but felt compelled to respond to the claims made by BAR team boss, Dave Richards. He admits that the dispute between the two teams might end up going to arbitration, or even to the courts.
"Whatever I said about contractual details, one fact is not contestable", Williams added, "Jenson wishes and expects to drive for the BMW Williams F1 team in 2005 and 2006, he has made this intention clear".
The argument apparently revolves around whether Williams' or BAR's contractual 'option' for Button's services takes precedence and the legal wrangling could continue for some time to come.
"I called David Richards approximately five minutes after I knew he had received that letter [from Button's manager, John Byfield, to Richards explaining Button's intention to depart BAR]," Williams told the BBC, "and said that we wanted to handle it privately, and that if there was disagreement then the first step would be the contracts recognition board. I had no intention of going public".
Williams asserted that he only released news of the Button deal after learning that Richards had spoken to 'The Times' newspaper.