Button Expected to Sign with Benetton

Briton Jenson Button increased the frenzy in the Formula One drivers' market with his career-best fourth place finish in Sunday's German Grand Prix.

Button Expected to Sign with Benetton

Briton Jenson Button increased the frenzy in the Formula One drivers' market with his career-best fourth place finish in Sunday's German Grand Prix.

The 20-year-old Williams driver, who swept through the field after starting from the back of the 22-car grid, is expected to be replaced in the BMW-powered team by Colombian Juan-Pablo Montoya who has had a triumphant spell in America's ChampCar series.

According to informed sources in the Formula One paddock, an announcement confirming Button's two-year 'loan' transfer to rivals Benetton is due to be made before the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest on August 13.

But his determined demonstration of obvious talent and potential in the treacherous conditions may have prompted Williams to re-think that plan - and at the same time encouraged rival teams to hasten their approaches.

Benetton team chief Flavio Briatore has admitted he is very keen to sign him.

"The deal is not done yet, but we are very impressed with him," said Briatore. "He is a very good driver, very fast and also very intelligent. He would learn a lot with Benetton and Renault."

Briatore denied weekend reports that a deal was completed, but may now wish it was after seeing Button produce a performance outshone only by Brazilian Rubens Barrichello's charge to victory for Ferrari from 18th on the grid.

Drive Secured

Button, who was only 19 when he secured the Williams drive earlier this year after a 'shootout' against Brazilian Bruno Junquiera, is tied to Williams under a five-year contract.

But the deal allows him to move to another team, effectively on loan, if Williams wish to use another driver.

If Button were to join Benetton for two years, he is expected to return to Williams in 2003 for the final two seasons of his contract.

"I know I have something good lined up for next year whatever happens," said Button. "I am relaxed and happy and I wish everyone else would just chill out and relax too.

"I can't tell you exactly what I am doing, but it is an excellent decision for me if it happens."

If Benetton pull out, Button could still switch instead to British American Racing as 1997 world champion Canadian Jacques Villeneuve's teammate.

Villeneuve's comments following current teammate Ricardo Zonta's collision with him during Sunday's race make it virtually certain the Brazilian will be replaced.

shares
comments
Jarno Trulli Q&A

Previous article

Jarno Trulli Q&A

Next article

Ross Brawn Q&A

Ross Brawn Q&A
Load comments
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Plus

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Plus

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix crash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences

Formula 1
Sep 17, 2021
How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Plus

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021
Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season? Plus

Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season?

OPINION: With Valtteri Bottas already signed up for 2022, all eyes are on the race for the second seat at Alfa Romeo next year. Antonio Giovinazzi is the current incumbent, but faces a tough competition from appealing short and long-term prospects

Formula 1
Sep 15, 2021
The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence Plus

The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence

OPINION: Daniel Ricciardo has long been considered one of Formula 1’s elite drivers. But his struggles at McLaren since switching from Renault for 2021 have been painful to watch at times. Yet he’s recovered to banish those memories with a famous Monza win – built on a critically important foundation

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
How Verstappen is ruining his F1 title battle with Hamilton Plus

How Verstappen is ruining his F1 title battle with Hamilton

OPINION: The Italian GP clash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen followed a running theme in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight. Their close-quarters battles have often resulted in contact - and although Hamilton has shown a willingness to back off, Verstappen must learn to temper his aggression

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
Italian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Italian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Two drivers produced maximum-score performances as, for the second year in a row, Monza threw up an unpredictable result that left several others ruing what might have been

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Ricciardo was set for Monza F1 triumph even without Verstappen/Hamilton crash Plus

Why Ricciardo was set for Monza F1 triumph even without Verstappen/Hamilton crash

The clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was the major flashpoint the 2021 Italian Grand Prix will be remembered for. Yet by this point, race leader Daniel Ricciardo had already done the hard work that would put him in position to end his and McLaren's lengthy win droughts, on a memorable afternoon in Monza

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021