The FIA's Contract Recognition Board has reportedly ruled that Jenson Button's contract with BAR Honda for 2005 is valid and it seems unlikely that the Briton will be able to drive for Williams-BMW next year.

The FIA's Contract Recognition Board has reportedly ruled that Jenson Button's contract with BAR Honda for 2005 is valid and it seems unlikely that the Briton will be able to drive for Williams-BMW next year.


CARtoday.com recently reported that Button had signed a contract with Williams-BMW for 2005 and 2006 but BAR boss David Richards has insisted that, prior to that deal, the 24-year-old driver had signed a contract with them for next season.


BAR's case was strengthened Tuesday by a ruling from the FIA, Contract Recognition Board. It read: "The FIA contract recognition board acknowledged in writing that, as of today (Tuesday), the BAR contract with Jenson Button is the only valid contract registered for the 2005 season."


Should the board maintain their stance, Button will either have to drive for BAR next season or sit out the campaign... Under FIA rules, a driver's super license - which he must have to compete in F1 - is only valid if his contract has been lodged with, and approved by, the contract recognition board.


The increasingly acrimonious dispute between the British-based rivals shows no sign of quieting down despite a meeting between Button and Richards on Sunday where the driver confirmed that he wanted to be at Williams-BMW in 2005.


Button said his management company believed there was a technicality in his contract that gave him an option to leave.


"I have clarified that I am not moving for money and my motivation is straightforward determination to win a world championship, determination which I am sure any competitive person well understands," Button said. "Naturally, the main element of disagreement is whether these ambitions would be better served by Williams or BAR, but I have made my decision."


"Drivers are changing teams up and down the paddock at the moment - an accepted and fundamental element of our sport - and I wish that my return to Williams could have been less acrimonious in light of the contribution I have made to BAR this season," he added.


But Richards was adamant that Button is contracted to his team for 2005: "There is absolutely no way I am going to back down on this matter. No way. The guy has a contract with our team. We are talking here about a point of integrity. You can't just welch out of your commitments."


"I've also had letters of support from several other team principals saying they support my position and that this sort of behaviour just has to be stopped."


"(Sunday) was an opportunity to have a sensible dialogue with Jenson. I wanted to point out that it was up to him to come and explain himself before (he signed for Williams), not after," Richards added.


The lastest unconfirmed reports suggest that Button and BAR fell out about points related bonuses not paid to the Englishman. With 61 points to his credit, that could amount to quite a tidy sum for Button.