Analysis: BAR Resume Fight for Button

BAR boss Nick Fry has said he hopes that the fight between his team and Williams for Jenson Button's services next year does not end up in court

Analysis: BAR Resume Fight for Button

Twelve months on from the wrangle that eventually resulted in both teams going to the Contracts Recognition Board about Button's services for this year, the likelihood of similar legal action cannot be ruled out completely.

The difference this time, however, is that BAR do not have any form of contractual tie with Button for next year - meaning that their only chance of retaining the Briton is by trying to get him out of his deal with Williams.

When asked at the German Grand Prix whether he believed the situation would end up in courts, Fry said: "I hope not, because to force a driver to do something he doesn't want to do is foolhardy.

"They (the drivers) are not going to give the best they can, they are not going to give their best on the track but also to sponsors and everyone involved.

"I wouldn't want any employee in our team who doesn't want to be here and least of all a driver, because they have to be the figurehead of the team and they have to be 100 percent motivated. And you don't get that by waving a piece of paper at them."

It has not been lost on sections of the paddock that just like in 'Buttongate Part One', the battle at the moment is being played out in the media. And just like 2004, exactly the same arguments about the validity of contracts and the human rights issues relating to forcing someone to work for someone they don't want to are being thrown about.

But the difference this time out is that while Williams play it cool and insist once again they have a valid contract, BAR appear to have changed their tune in their public opinions on how watertight contracts actually are in F1.

After going to the Contracts' Recognition Board last year to fight for Button, and effectively force him to drive for a team he did not want to drive for, BAR now claim that such action is wrong.

This is what David Richards said last year about why he fought to keep Button on board: "We are pursuing this as a point of principle. You just cannot allow a driver to up sticks and walk away when they like. Teams put all their faith, confidence and support behind a driver's career and then something like this happens. It is not correct and we will fight it."

Now, with Williams insisting that they are not open to negotiations about Button's contract, team boss Nick Fry, who worked alongside Richards last year, now claims that contracts may not be quite so solid as his team previously believed.

"Obviously Frank is saying there is a contract and if he says there is, there is," said Fry. "But to me the issue is do you want to use a piece of paper to force someone to do something that they don't want to do, especially when it is an exceedingly dangerous activity. That seems to me to be a breach of human rights."

For the time being, Fry is leaving it up to Button and his lawyers to resolve the situation. Only if that failed would legal action to break the contract appear likely.

"It is nothing to do with us and if there is a contract the two parties need to get their heads together and decide how to handle it," he added. "I don't think Jenson would know what to anticipate.

"It is a bit out of the remits of a driver, everything is being dealt with by his lawyers and his manager. I am sure they will give him advice on how long it will take, but usually these things take a bit of time to get settled."

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button
Author Jonathan Noble
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