After much speculation over the past several months of the futures of Jenson Button and Juan Pablo Montoya, the first piece of the puzzle was put in place today, with the announcement that Button would be joining Benetton-Renault for the 2001 ...
After much speculation over the past several months of the futures of Jenson Button and Juan Pablo Montoya, the first piece of the puzzle was put in place today, with the announcement that Button would be joining Benetton-Renault for the 2001 season.
The young Briton, who made his Formula One debut this year with Williams, will be joining Benetton, which will be running a works Renault team, for the next two seasons.
Button expressed his satisfaction with the announcement, saying "I am really happy to have signed with Benetton and Renault for the next two years. They are not only a team with a world championship-winning history, but there is also a strong future with Renault."
Button's future was cast into doubt once rumors began to circulate that Montoya, the regining CART champion, would be joining the team for the 2001 season. Both Button and Montoya are under long-term contracts to Williams, but the team made clear that it was still committed to Ralf Schumacher as its #1 driver.
So it was up to Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head to find a home for Button for the next few years in order to keep him in F1 without releasing him from his contract.
"Jenson has astonished the BMW Williams F1 Team with his immediate grasp of Formula 1," said Sir Frank. "There is no doubt in my mind that Jenson will go on to be a truly great racing driver."
At the other end of the bargain, Benetton boss Flavio Briatore is happy to have a high-quality young driver joining the team after the recent disappointment with the performance of Alexander Wurz, in spite of the fact that Button will return to Williams in two years' time.
"Jenson has natural talent and intelligence, which are two important characteristics for a driver," said Briatore. "I think his partnership with Benetton and Renault will be very beneficial to both sides."
As for Button, he is ready to go, and is looking for the opportunity to challenge for the top with the Renault power: " I want to start winning races and it's great to know I will be with a team that can help me do that."