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Home > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report


Button meets BAR boss to explain departure

August 09, 2004 11:19 IST

Jenson Button met BAR-Honda team chief David Richards on Sunday to explain his decision to leave the team at the end of the year and join rivals Williams.

Button was holidaying in the Mediterranean when the controversial move was announced last Thursday and Richards contested that he had already exercised an option on the Briton's services beyond this season.

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But after jetting back for the meeting Button said in a statement: "David is now in no doubt of my intention to return to BMW-Williams in 2005. My contractual position allows for this.

"Given the circumstances, the meeting was constructive and I have also clarified that I am not moving for money and my motivation is straightforward determination to win a world championship."

Button initially refused to field calls from the team but Richards held off plans to legally contest the move until the pair had met. No BAR team member was available for comment after the meeting.

The BAR team principal had been informed of Button's decision by fax last week and was asked by rival team chief Frank Williams to keep the matter private but the news was leaked to the press.

"I do not feel it was constructive of BAR to leak details of these discussions," Button added. "I wish my return to Williams would have been less acrimonious in light of the contribution I have made to BAR this year."

Button has earned seven podiums from 12 races, including second place at the last Grand Prix in Germany on July 25, but he will face a frosty atmosphere when he arrives in Budapest for next weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.

TECHNICALITY

Button's move to BMW Williams is understood to have been made possible by a technicality in his current contract and Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone believes BAR could have a case to contest.

"We have a contracts board in Geneva which will examine the issue and decide what's right and what's wrong, if anything," Ecclestone was quoted as saying by the Daily Star Sunday newspaper.

"If Button is found to be in breach of contract with BAR and wants to move on illegally he could lose his super licence and that would mean he couldn't drive for Williams.

"Morally, Jenson has an obligation to stay but when agents, promises and big money come into it morals go out the window. We are not like football -- I like to think our players stick to their agreements and promises.

"This has all been quite stupidly handled and if a technicality allows him (Button) out of his contract I don't think he would be much of a gentleman to take it."

Button has scored 61 of the team's 76 points this season and has regularly been the closest to challenging world champion Michael Schumacher's 11-race winning dominance.

If his move to Williams is secure Button has six races left with BAR and has promised Richards he will give everything to help them beat Renault -- who have 85 points -- for second place in the constructors' standings behind Ferrari (184).

"Now that I have met with David and we have both had the opportunity to express our points of view the most important matter is (that) the hard work and commitment to racing from everyone is repaid with strong results," said Button.

© Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
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