Button: Williams made a mistake getting rid of me

Formula 1's rookie of the year Jenson Button says team boss Sir Frank Williams has made a mistake in replacing him with Champ Car sensation Juan Pablo Montoya next season.

Button: Williams made a mistake getting rid of me

Despite finishing eighth overall in this year's drivers' championship, the 20-year-old has been farmed out to Benetton on a two-year loan deal, with 1999 CART champion Montoya lining-up alongside Ralf Schumacher at Williams.

"In my heart, I think Frank Williams has made a mistake," said Button in an interview with Britain's Sunday Times newspaper. "We've had a great year and I wish things could have worked out differently. But there you go. Things happen."

Autosport magazine broke the story that Button would be replaced by the Colombian on June 8th, but it wasn't until September's United States Grand Prix that Williams officially announced its driver change for 2001. Button admits that the inevitability of the decision, regardless of his on-track performances, was hard to take.

"It was tough," he said. "As soon as I got the drive, I pretty much knew I wouldn't be coming back next year.

"It's going to be interesting competing against Frank and Juan Pablo," he added. "If he's a good driver he'll do well, because the car will be better. We'll see how he copes."

Button's first 'head-to-head' with his successor at Williams should come at a three-day Jerez test starting on December 5th. But the Somerset-born driver isn't making any predictions over the competitiveness of his new Benetton team.

"Until I actually drive the car, it's hard to predict anything," he said. "But they finished fourth this year, and Flavio Briatore is back. He did a great job leading Benetton when [Michael] Schumacher won the title. I'm also starting on equal terms with [Giancarlo] Fisichella. But he picked up a few second places for the team last year; you don't easily do that if you're not with McLaren or Ferrari.

"So it's going to be a real challenge. But guess what? I'm really up for it."

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