BAR door still ajar for Panis

Olivier Panis may not necessarily find himself out of a drive at British American Racing next year, despite the signing of Jenson Button on a long-term deal, according to team boss David Richards

BAR door still ajar for Panis

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has a year to run on his contract, but may still decide to leave the team. Richards also cryptically stated that there is a scenario to have all three drivers on his books, but refused to explain how.

"I won't go into all the details, but all I would say to you is don't take anything as read," Richards told Autosport.com. "I would like to have a long-term arrangement with Jacques. I believe Jacques is a great driver, one of the icons of the sport and can play an important part in the team.

"But clearly we need to get together on a basis that is appropriate for the team's needs. In the short term there are other ideas and other solutions that could come to fruition.

"I'm not going to elaborate on it, but all I will say is don't rule out the possibility that Olivier Panis will be with us in the immediate future. It very much revolves around Jacques - the ball is in his court, very much so."

Richards added that the signing of Button will not be a complete surprise to Panis. "I believe in being very open with people and I explained to Olivier some weeks ago that there would have to be a change in the driver line-up," he said. "How that will manifest itself over the next few weeks between Jacques' long-term ambitions and Olivier is still undecided. Those discussions are ongoing and I won't set a timescale for them either.

"Contracts are one thing, but you need motivated people at teams. You need people who want to be there. It's like a marriage - if you don't share that then you go your separate ways."

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