Formula 1 02 Aug 2005 03:50 pm

Buttongate II — what will Jenson drive in 2006?

Back in 1999, your correspondent with nerd-ish tendencies had the opportunity to meet and spend a day with Formula 1 driver Jenson Button. This photo proves it:

Jenson Button and the Flying Nerd

Of course, neither of us really looks much like that any more…

But I stray.

Buttongate (the saga about Formula 1 driver Jenson Button’s contracts) is on again.

F1 followers will remember that mid way through last year (2004), Jenson announced that he had signed a contract to drive for WilliamsF1 in 2005 — despite already having a contract in place to drive for BAR. It seems that Jenson’s minders through that WilliamsF1 would be a better place for him to be in 2005 (remember that Williams looked like the long term home of BMW power at the time). Apparently Jenson’s BAR contract had some exit clauses that his side thought could be exercised to break the deal. So they shopped him to Williams, signed a deal and made an announcement without even talking to the bosses at BAR.

BAR took the matter to F1’s Contracts Recognition Board (CRB), which found in their favour. Jenson stayed at BAR for 2005, but a web of arrangements was put in place stipulating that, in the event that he hasn’t scored 70% of the points of the championship leader by a certain point in the season (now passed), then he will move to Williams for 2006.

Well, he didn’t score the requisite points, and so Williams expects the clause to come into operation and Jenson to turn up at Grove (Williams HQ), helmet in hand, for the 2006 season.

But… Williams hasn’t been doing too well this year and, with BMW’s purchase of the Sauber team, they are unlikely to have a top line power plant in 2006. And Jenson has changed his mind, hasn’t he?

Jenson has declared that he wants to stay at BAR for 2006. Williams says he must drive for them. As Mr PRM Jenkins (my old German teacher) used to say when he got confused and taught us the same material two lessons in a row: this all seems vaguely familiar.

I’m going to set up an Information Page (see the right hand column on this site) to track who says what as Buttongate II unfolds over the weeks and months ahead. Be sure to drop in from time to time, as we find out where one of F1’s best drivers (but worst contract negotiators) is going to end up in 2006.

Should be fun.

4 Responses to “Buttongate II — what will Jenson drive in 2006?”

  1. on 03 Aug 2005 at 11:57 (Sydney) 1.Zog said …

    Those Jensens are everywhere – now they’re even in formula one!! Is there no end to the lengths they will go to to…oh, what?..oh…JensOn..oh, never mind then…

  2. on 03 Aug 2005 at 12:08 (Sydney) 2.Richard said …

    I think JensEn drives a Fairmont… And I don’t THINK we wants to join another team. 😉

  3. on 04 Aug 2005 at 17:21 (Sydney) 3.Scott Cochrane said …

    Looking into my crystal ball, I can see that in 2006, Williams will be hopeless in the early rounds, get caught for a minor rule infraction, then gradually get better throughout the rest of the year. This all seems vaguely familiar … 😉

    Meantime, BARrichello will be winning races and Sato will still suffer from a) bad luck or b) throwing himself off the road, though not necessarily in an F1 car.

    I do find it amusing that Bernie is saying “a contract is a contract”. When has that ever stopped him in the past??

  4. on 04 Aug 2005 at 17:25 (Sydney) 4.Richard said …

    Gee, I hope that they don’t get caught with an illegal fuel tank configuratin that allows them to run underweight during a race. You wouldn’t count that as a minor infraction, would you?