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Button Keeps the Rumour Mill Turning

Jenson Button kept the Formula One rumour mill in motion on Saturday by refusing to confirm or deny widespread speculation about his future

With newspapers variously trumpeting possible moves to Ferrari or Williams, while others insisted he would stay at BAR, the 25-year-old Briton played his cards close to his chest at his home Grand Prix.

In fact, he would not comment at all after qualifying on the front row for Sunday's race in front of his home crowd at Silverstone.

"I read that this morning as well. A nice piece," he grinned when asked at a news conference about a headline on the back page of the Daily Mirror proclaiming "Jenson to join Ferrari".

The newspaper said that Button, who has yet to win a race in 92 starts, was being lined up for a 20 million pounds move to the Italian team as a replacement for Brazilian Rubens Barrichello.

"I can't say anything on my future next year, I'm just living in the moment which is pretty good," said Button.

"I won't (deny the story), but I cannot talk about my future next year. That's it. I am not going to say yes or no."

Button has been at the centre of gossip about driver contracts since Williams and BAR fought in court for his services last year.

BAR won the day but Williams are widely believed to have a claim on him for next year if Button fails to have score a certain points tally by the end of August.

With three races remaining between Silverstone and the end of that month, Button has so far scored five points to Championship leader Fernando Alonso's 69.

"It's been well explained," Frank Williams said this week when asked about Button's situation. "If BAR meet the option, they must take him. If they fail, then he lands in our lap."

Williams technical director Sam Michael said he would certainly be surprised to see Button moving to Ferrari, where Barrichello has a contract to the end of 2006.

Adding to the speculation, but keeping his options open, Formula One's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone was quoted as saying Ferrari would be good for Button but he would bet on a move to Williams, where Button started his career in 2000.

"If I was a gambling man, my money would be on Jenson with Williams next season because it looks as if he cannot get out of his contract with them -- even if he wanted to," he told the Daily Express.

"It wouldn't be the worst move he has made."

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