He alluded to it in a recent interview with CARtoday.com, and it’s now official that Jenson Button will leave the BAR Honda team at the end of 2004 to rejoin BMW Williams. Or is it…?

He alluded to it in a recent interview with CARtoday.com, and it’s now official that Jenson Button will leave the BAR Honda team at the end of 2004 to rejoin BMW Williams. Or is it…?

Williams confirmed on Thursday that Jenson Button has signed to race for the team next year, completing driver lineup for 2005 following the recent signing of Mark Webber.

Team boss Frank Williams said: “There has been a long-term relationship between the BMW WilliamsF1 Team and Jenson. Indeed, his Formula One career started with the team in 2000. We have maintained that relationship until the present day, and I am delighted that one of the most talented drivers in Formula One has accepted the opportunity to return to the team.”

Button joined the BMW WilliamsF1 Team from British Formula 3 just after his twentieth birthday, and immediately upset the established order in his début season. He then moved to Renault and most recently, BAR, where he has enjoyed the most success.

In a recent interview with CARtoday.com on a whirlwind tour to Cape Town, Button responded to a comment about seeming settled at BAR by saying: “I joined the team at the end of 2002 on a two-year contract with an option to extend for another two seasons… It is not one 100 per cent certain that I’ll be at BAR next year.”

On Thursday Button said: “I am very pleased that I had the option to re-join the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, where my Formula One career started. For the meantime, the 2004 season has my full focus and attention. Beyond this, I have every confidence that WilliamsF1 and BMW provide the best platform for my future ambitions to be a World Champion.”

“When we signed Jenson in 2000,” BMW Williams’ engineering director Patrick Head commented, “he was clearly a nascent talent.

“In the last three seasons, no-one can have any doubt that he has now come of age and is one of the sport’s leading contenders. In many ways, the challenge is now ours to meet his capabilities, and I have every confidence that the intense investment and re-organisation we have undertaken this year, married with a strong driver pairing, will see a resurgent BMW WilliamsF1 Team next season,” Head concluded.

However, BAR team principal David Richards said the announcement had left him “utterly shaken”. He claimed that Button was still under firm contract to BAR though he had been unsuccessfully trying to reach the driver for more than 24 hours.

Separate reports suggested that Button’s management team had found a clause in his contract offering a release from BAR. Williams told the that BAR’s option on Button had expired recently.

" management called and said it's no longer valid," Williams explained. "They asked: 'would you be interested in his services?'"