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  Monday, 22 July, 2002, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Button seeks BAR boost
Jenson Button in the pits
Button is confident his career is still on course

He may still be just 22 but Jenson Button is no longer a bright young thing whose youthful promise will get him everywhere.

The Briton arrived on the Formula One scene in a blaze of excitement in 2000, scoring points in only his second race.

He followed up with a fifth-place finish before an adoring crowd at the British Grand Prix and out-qualified Michael Schumacher in Belgium.

  Button's F1 career
2000 - Williams: 12pts, 8th
2001 - Benetton: 1pt, 17th
2002 - Renault: 11pts, 7th (to French GP)
But others have eclipsed Button since, and his arrival at BAR for the 2003 season will require a period of consolidation.

First there was Juan Pablo Montoya, who took the Briton's seat at Williams despite an eighth-place finish in the driver standings.

And now test driver Fernando Alonso will supplant Button at Renault in 2003.

After a disappointing second season that saw him manage just two points, Button knew that he would have to produce in 2002 to guarantee his long-term future.

And so far he has done just that, sixth place at Magny-Cours taking him a single point behind his debut season points total with still six races remaining.

Renault's 15 points have taken them to fourth place in the constructors' standings, and Jarno Trulli has garnered just four of them.

But, as is often the case in Formula One, there are other factors to consider.

Renault admit that their decision to drop the Frome-born driver is partly down to the fact that he is still contracted to Williams until the end of 2004.

Jacques Villeneuve
Button will join Villeneuve at BAR in 2003
And, with Montoya yet to sign a contract for next season, Button cannot be seen as a long-term investment for anyone but Williams.

The decision to join BAR is an interesting one, as the team's partnership with Honda has still to deliver.

But the presence of 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve and the arrival this year of ex-Williams aerodynamicist Geoff Willis both provide a pull.

The team are headed by David Richards, whose son used to race karts with Button.

And the reported 8m Button will earn over two years is certainly not off-putting.

Ironically, Button's young bachelor image may have clinched him the deal with the team's sponsors British American Tobacco.

The driver's decision to move to Monaco in 2001 and enjoy the celebrity lifestyle may not have gone down well with those looking for a professional attitude.

Jenson Button
Button's image is attractive to sponsors
But is may be exactly what will appeal to a potential youth market, giving him an edge on 35-year old incumbent Olivier Panis.

"I think I am in good shape for next year," Button said recently. "I know what I am doing and where I am going."

The Formula One world knows that Frank Williams has an eye for talent.

And it may be only a matter of time before Button is recalled to his first team, especially if Michael Schumacher decides enough is enough and a grand reshuffle ensues.

In the meantime, Button must concentrate on backing up the youthful promise that brought him that early attention if he is to confirm his position in the premier league.

See also:

21 Jul 02 | Formula One
20 Jul 02 | Formula One
03 Jul 02 | Formula One
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