Button offered Honda contract exit
|By Jonathan Noble||Saturday, December 6th 2008, 09:33 GMT|
Jenson Button will be offered the chance to get out of his Honda Racing contract in the wake of the Japanese manufacturer's withdrawal from Formula One, senior chiefs at the car maker have revealed.
The British driver, who won the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix for Honda, recently signed a multi-year contract extension amid the belief that the team were totally committed to returning to the front of the grid in F1.
But he has now been left in limbo by Honda's decision and could find himself without a drive in 2009 if Honda Racing's team principal Ross Brawn and CEO Nick Fry cannot find a new buyer.
Although Button has said he remains totally committed to the team and is vowing to stay positive about his future prospects, while Honda's senior management in Japan have claimed that contract talks between them and the Briton will reopen to make him a free agent again.
Honda's chairman and CEO Takeo Fukui said: "We had a deal with Button and we are going to restart the talks to undo that contract."
Button's British bosses have also said that they will not stand in his way if he feels that he needs to race elsewhere to keep his F1 career alive.
Brawn told autosport.com: "We will have to discuss his situation, now and ongoing. If Jenson gets an opportunity I am sure we will sit down and see what the situation here is and what the opportunity he has got.
"Given that he is part of the team, I don't think he will rush off and make that decision without discussing it with us.
"We will keep an open dialogue. If we can keep him here we will be delighted but we also understand that it is very difficult for an F1 driver to miss a season - unlike engineers."
Brawn also said that they were still thinking about the second driver situation - with Rubens Barrichello having shown a willingness to prove his motivation and Bruno Senna having been set for a second test next week before plans to run were cancelled.
"Rubens was very upset as well. He has been committing to next year fearlessly. He has lost 3kg, he won the kart race in Brazil, and he was going for it. Regarding Bruno, he had a very good test with us and we were planning to test him again at Jerez next week."