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FORMULA ONE: Button's Future With Williams in Doubt

25 May 2000

By David Treffer
Contributing Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel

Jenson Button's future with Williams could be in jeopardy. In spite of the recent spate of acclaim heaped on the young Brit by everyone on the Williams Team, BMW and in the European press his future for the 2001 season may not be with Williams.

Target driver, Juan Montoya, who is "on loan" to Chip Ganassi is reportedly ready to test the heady environs of Formula 1. If Montoya and Williams boss Frank Williams come to terms in the next few weeks the seat that Button currently occupies will be gone.

It will be interesting to observe if any of the other Formula One teams approach Williams to discuss buying Button's contract. The 20 year-old has displayed an incredible amount of maturity for a "seasoned veteran" of six Formula One races. While the results in his first six races have not been spectacular, Button has contributed 3 points this season. The one item that is not in his favor is that Williams Team Boss Frank Williams does not posses the patience to allow Button to develop. Just ask Alex Zanardi about Frank Williams and patience.

To make matters even more interesting in this drama is that Jacques Villeneuve has expressed a desire to return to the team where he scored his World Championship. The results at BAR have been less than spectacular and Villeneuve wants to return to a team that can bring him a second championship.

It used to be that "silly season" started sometime in August, usually around the German Grand Prix. With the millions of sponsorship dollars at stake the spectacle of driver's musical chairs seems to carry on from the start of the first race. Button need not worry about securing a drive for next year. Frank Williams is in the enviable position of controlling the outcome. Button could be relegated to being a test driver for Williams or some team might pony up the required funding to "buyout" his contract. We will just have to wait and see.

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