Button fight intensifies
The dispute between Formula One teams BAR and Williams over the services of Jenson Button remains unabated
16:55 10 August 2004
The dispute between Formula One teams BAR and Williams over the services of Jenson Button remains unabated, with BAR now claiming to hold the only binding contract with the driver for 2005.
Button has signed a contract with Williams for 2005 and 2006 but news of that deal angered BAR boss David Richards, who claimed to also have a deal with the Englishman for next year.
Button remains adamant that he will drive for Williams from 2005, but BAR released a statement today claiming that the Formula One's contract recognition board (CRB) supported their right to the driver's services.
The BAR statement said: "A driver's super licence, his right to drive in Formula One, is only valid if his contract has been lodged with and registered by the CRB.
"Any new driver contract (must be) registered 'forthwith', in other words immediately, and without delay, in order to establish its validity.
"BAR has willingly submitted itself to this process, which is final and binding on all parties."
However, Williams hit back, claiming the CRB had "not endorsed the validity" of BAR's claim, but merely confirmed receipt of their documents..
A Williams statement read: "BAR's statement today is misleading. BAR have registered what they believe to be a valid claim over Jenson Button for 2005.
"The contract recognition board have not endorsed the validity of this claim, but have simply confirmed receipt of BAR's documentation.
"This does not mean that their contract is valid, or holds precedence over other contracts with Jenson Button.
"In the opinion of the BMW-Williams team, BAR have failed in their responsibility to correctly exercise certain option clauses in their contract with Jenson Button, and as such, their contract has expired, and Williams' contract is valid.
"The contract recognition board does not, in all cases, make final adjudication on contractual disputes, and may refer cases to the appropriate legal authorities."
The CRB was established in 1992 to prevent the kind of controversy which embroiled Michael Schumacher's move to Benetton in 1991 and is now being mirrored by the dispute over Button.