Analysis: CRB Ruling Leaves Button in Dilemma

Jenson Button's dreams of a return to Williams-BMW next year were left in tatters on Wednesday night when a controversial switch from BAR-Honda was blocked following a long-running legal war.

Analysis: CRB Ruling Leaves Button in Dilemma

Jenson Button's dreams of a return to Williams-BMW next year were left in tatters on Wednesday night when a controversial switch from BAR-Honda was blocked following a long-running legal war.

Button secured a deal to join Williams in August but his current boss David Richards contested the move after claiming that the Briton had already signed a deal to extend his current BAR contract into 2005.

Richards joined rival boss Sir Frank Williams to fight it out at a hearing of the Contracts Recognition Board in Milan on Saturday but the pair were forced to wait until Wednesday to hear the result.

After an anxious wait ahead of this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix a Williams spokesman said: "The CRB has adjudicated in BAR's favour. A full statement will follow in due course."

Button has become hot property since he scored his first podium in Malaysia this year and he will finish the season in third place behind Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello.

The 24-year-old, who made his Formula One debut with Williams in 2000, has claimed 10 podium finishes and scored 85 of BAR's 116 points this season as they rose to an unprecedented second place in the Constructors' Championship.

Both sides were confident they had Button tied to a legal contract and the trio of lawyers in the CRB were brought in to determine which one was binding and where Button must drive in 2005.

Button, who has managed to avoid a rift since the initial announcement of the proposed move, must now discuss his future at the team and could decide to take a year out before finally joining Williams when his contract comes to an end.

If so, BAR will face the dilemma of choosing a replacement for their departing driver and are likely to pick either their English test driver Anthony Davidson or Scot David Coulthard, who will leave McLaren at the end of the year.

Richards said before the hearing that Button is not indispensable.

"Whatever anyone thinks about who sprays the champagne, who stands up on the podium, at the end of the day this is a team sport and life goes on," he said. "Jenson is a very key member of the team but let's not worry about individuals because team efforts are about every single person in the team, every person plays a significant part."

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