Button to Stay at BAR Next Season

Jenson Button will drive for BAR-Honda next season after agreeing a substantial multi-million pound figure for a multi-year deal that releases him from his commitments to Williams, Autosport can exclusively reveal

Button to Stay at BAR Next Season

The agreement was signed last Friday, after Williams accepted cash in lieu of Button's services, and will keep him with the team which he has driven for since 2003.

Neither BAR nor Williams, which have fought over Button since July 2004, would comment, but an announcement is expected on Wednesday.

Williams have always maintained publicly that no negotiation over Button's contract would be possible and that he would have to drive for the team in 2006 and 2007.

But over the past two months, a series of talks have been held between Sir Frank Williams, team chief executive Chris Chapple and Button's management team, which has the backing of BAR-Honda.

It is understood Button, as the party in breach of his contract, will have to pay Williams not to drive for the team. BAR-Honda are likely to compensate him for the loss over coming seasons, however.

Button has been at the centre of a protracted tug-of-love between Williams and BAR for the past 18 months, since the so-called 'Button-gate' saga first broke.

Last October, BAR retained Button after he had spoken publicly of his desire to leave for Williams. This year the situation has been reversed.

Williams, who gave Button his Formula One debut in 2000, held a contractual option over him which they claimed obliged him to drive for the team in 2006.

Under the terms of the contract, Button would have had to score 75 percent of the 2005 Championship leader's points by August 21, in order not to be bound by his Williams obligations.

His failure to do so gave Williams what it claimed was a binding hold on Button for 2006.

Button maintained, however, that he did not want to drive for Williams and that he would try to negotiate a release from the deal.

Button's manager Richard Goddard declined to comment.

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