Maranello, Thursday: The ongoing battle between the FIA and FOTA took another turn today when FOTA ringleaders Ferrari announced they had brought in “contract expert” Jenson Button to argue their case that they are not legally obliged to compete in Formula One in 2010.
Ferrari have threatened to withdraw from the sport over the FIA’s budget cap regulations, prompting commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone to point to a contract signed in 2005, which committed the team to F1 until 2012. Ferrari believe that this agreement is invalid, and are prepared to go to court to prove it.
“In pursuit of our goal to cleanly break from Formula One at the end of the season if the FIA dare to try and stop us from causing our own financial collapse,” Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo told reporters, “We have recruited the services of an expert on contractual matters to try and get us out of this troubling arrangement that we apparently have with Bernie Ecclestone.”
That expert is Jenson Button, who managed to spend much of 2004 and 2005 arguing over whether he should be allowed to drive for Williams or for BAR, changing his mind repeatedly in the process and eventually leaving with a BAR drive and “only” $20 million out of pocket.
“Getting out of contracts is something I’ve been particularly interested in ever since I accidentally signed for Frank,” the world championship leader revealed. “So I’d be more than happy to help Ferrari out, after all, they appear to be in a similar situation. Basically they’ve signed a contract that they don’t want to commit to any more, so why should they? All this talk of ‘legal obligations’ is just boring,” he added.
Button has reportedly been advising Ferrari that a good approach would be to sign up for another series for the same period, leaving the FIA to fight it out with somebody else over who deserves Ferrari’s services for 2010.