Button hangs by a thread

The roller coaster ride of good news, bad news that surrounds Jenson Button's future has headed into another dip of bad news this weekend as yet more rumours have surfaced regarding his replacement by Juan-Pablo Montoya at Williams for next year

Button hangs by a thread

The fact that Button is to be replaced at Williams was reported as long ago as June 8 in Autosport magazine. Since then the speculation surrounding the young Brit's future has been rife, but according to sources from within the Williams team, the threat of Montoya has in fact loomed since the beginning of the season.

"Take my word for it," said a Williams insider, "there was never any question of Button staying on for more than a year. Montoya was always Frank's choice for the long term."

The prospects of Button holding onto his seat looked to be on the increase at the end of last week after Sir Frank Williams stated it was unlikely Montoya would be released from his Champ Car contract with Chip Ganassi racing. That scenario now seems less likely as F1 paddock sources suggest negotiations took place this weekend to fine tune the release of Montoya.

Button told Autosport.com he expected a decision on whether he would retain his Williams seat in the next few weeks. According to reports in several national newspapers an announcement is expected later this week in Montoya's favour, confirming Autosports' reports of early last month. When quizzed, Button's management, which has oft been criticised for over hyping the 20-year-old, claimed they genuinely did not know what the future held for their client. It would seem the waiting game is set to continue.

Button, however cannot afford to wait for too much longer as drives for next year become increasingly scarce as more deals become cemented for 2001. Thus far, the former BRDC McLaren Autosport award winner has been linked to deals with Jaguar, Jordan, Sauber and most recently Arrows. Unless Sir Frank proffers a decision soon, Button may have to make up his own mind whether to secure a deal for next year. As an observer pointed out, finding an alternative drive for Jenson is not Williams's problem - he could be running out of options.

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