Driver-Seeking Jaguar Wait on 'Jensongate'

Jaguar are waiting for a decision in BAR's contract tug-of-war with Williams over Jenson Button before deciding their 2005 drivers' line-up.

Driver-Seeking Jaguar Wait on 'Jensongate'

Jaguar are waiting for a decision in BAR's contract tug-of-war with Williams over Jenson Button before deciding their 2005 drivers' line-up.

"I'm kind of biding my time a little bit until we get 'Jensongate', or whatever you guys are calling it, sorted out," managing director David Pitchforth told Reuters at the Italian Grand Prix on Friday.

"There's quite a lot of drivers that we're talking to. Some of that does depend on how we get the budgets sorted out and divided up," added Pitchforth who said Jaguar were "pushing towards having some experience in the team".

Both BAR, Button's current employers, and Williams have submitted contracts for the 24-year-old. The Briton wants to join Williams but Honda-powered BAR want him to stay. The dispute will be settled by Formula One's contract recognition board, probably within the month.

Jaguar have to find a replacement for Australian Mark Webber, leaving for Williams. Some driver candidates are waiting to see whether BAR or Williams have a vacancy.

There has been speculation that seats could be up for grabs at both teams if the CRB rules in favour of BAR and Button were to refuse to drive for them.

"Depending on who you speak to, it ranges from 'Jenson won't even be in Formula One next year, he'll take an out-year' to 'It's all decided and is as was publicised'," said Pitchforth.

Ford Plans

Austrian Christian Klien, who finished sixth at the last Belgian Grand Prix for his first points in Formula One, is hoping to stay with Jaguar.

"We've invested a lot of time and money in Christian Klien, teaching him the circuits," said Pitchforth. "Ideally I'd like to build on that."

Jaguar's future is also uncertain, if British media reports this week are to be believed. Owners Ford are planning to divert funds from their world rally championship effort and re-brand the F1 team as Ford, according to the reports.

"All this stuff about linking world rally to Formula One - I can see why people make that connection but actually that's very difficult to do," said Pitchforth. "I actually haven't heard anything from my parent company about that. As far as I'm concerned, we're pushing ahead as Jaguar Racing."

But he added: "At the end of the day we are a marketing exercise...we market whatever we are told to market."

Jaguar moved ahead of Toyota into seventh place in the Championship at Spa and Pitchforth was upbeat about the team's future prospects.

"We've got an interim chassis here this weekend to test, wind tunnel work's going really well...the Cosworth guys are really putting in the effort and next year's engine has made some big strides already. I'm quite buoyant about it really."

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