Button to join Benetton; Panis heading to BAR

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Aug. 21, 2000 -- Jenson Button and Olivier Panis both have confirmed Formula One rides next season as Button has signed a two-year deal with Mild Seven Benetton-Playlife while Panis will drive for Lucky Strike British...

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Aug. 21, 2000 -- Jenson Button and Olivier Panis both have confirmed Formula One rides next season as Button has signed a two-year deal with Mild Seven Benetton-Playlife while Panis will drive for Lucky Strike British American Racing-Honda. Great Britain’s Button is in his rookie F1 season driving for Williams-BMW. That team, which has him under long-term contract, has released him to Benetton for the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Williams-BMW will announce who will replace Button as Ralf Schumacher’s teammate during the weekend of the inaugural SAP United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sept. 24. The team is expected to nominate 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya. “Jenson has astonished the Williams-BMW team with his immediate grasp of Formula One and with the calmness of his approach to driving an F1 car even under the greatest pressure in a qualifying session,” team owner Frank Williams said. “There is no doubt in my mind that Jenson will go on to be a truly great racing driver.” Button will partner Giancarlo Fisichella, whose contract with Benetton was extended last week. The team will run with Benetton livery in 2001 and then in Renault colors when the manufacturer makes its official return to F1 in 2002. “Benetton is not only a team with a World Championship winning history,” Button said, “but there is also a strong future with Renault.” Frenchman Panis spent six seasons driving for the Ligier/Prost team and won the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix before signing on as the test and development driver for the West McLaren-Mercedes team this year. He returns to competition next season as Jacques Villeneuve’s teammate. “Panis is an experienced Grand Prix driver,” said BAR’s managing director Craig Pollock, “and he is a highly rated test driver and a proven race winner. We believe his knowledge and ability will assist the team greatly.”

-IMS-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , British American Racing