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Button stays at BAR
Alan Baldwin | September 21, 2005 18:07 IST
Briton Jenson Button is free to remain at BAR next season after buying his way out of a contract with Formula One rivals Williams on Wednesday.
Williams said in a statement that they had reached a financial settlement with the 25-year-old driver "to release him from his contractual commitment to the team for 2006 and beyond."
"As consideration for the release from the terms of his contract, Jenson has agreed a financial settlement with WillimsF1," it added.
No details of the settlement were given but British newspapers have reported that Button had agreed to pay Williams between 10 and 20 million pounds to get out of a deal he agreed last year.
The Daily Telegraph put an 18 million price tag on the agreement.
"I would like to thank Frank [Williams] for accommodating a compromise to what was a binding contract and I regret the difficulties my decision has caused everyone involved," Button said in the statement.
He had previously maintained that the contract was not binding while Williams, who gave the driver his debut in 2000, had previously insisted that no amount of money would persuade him to let Button go.
"I am glad that we have brought this matter to a conclusion and we can return to what we do best -- racing," said Williams, who must now find another driver to partner Australian Mark Webber.
Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia, standing in for injured Nick Hiedfeld in this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix, will be one candidate but there has been increasing speculation that Nico Rosberg, son of former champion Keke, could get the job.
There was no immediate word from BAR, who want to keep Button on a long-term deal to partner arriving Brazilian Rubens Barrichello.
"If he wants to stay with us for the rest of his career, he would be more than welcome," team boss Nick Fry told reporters in July.
"Jenson Button will be world champion, there's no doubt in our minds."
Wednesday's deal ended a long-running saga, with Button trying to join Williams last year but being thwarted after the dispute was taken to the sport's contract recognition board.
The driver, who has yet to win a race in 97 starts, then signed a contract to join Williams in 2006.
He changed his mind however after Honda bought 45 percent of BAR while engine partners BMW announced they were leaving Williams to buy Sauber.
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