News and views on motorsports

Friday, November 26, 2004

Ant Update

On PlanetF1 today, Williams have denied BAR's accusations that they have been unreasonable with regards the Anthony Davidson affair. According to a Williams spokesman: "All we asked BAR for was the opportunity to retain Anthony as a race driver in 2006 if BAR were unable to offer him a race seat."

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. In my previous article I speculated that perhaps Williams considers Ant a superior driver to Button and that perhaps the 2005 season would be a try out for a longer term deal after 2006. I was under the impression that Button would be with Williams from 2006 onwards and that Ant is under a one year "loaner." However, if BAR are unable to offer Ant a race seat in 2006, why would Williams want to retain Ant as a race driver? Since they would simply get what they wanted i.e. Button. From the statement one gets the impression that BAR feels that whatever the case may be in 2006, Ant must come back to BAR even if they cannot offer him a race seat. It would seem that BAR are the ones that are being unreasonable then.

No matter what happens, it seems BAR have been making waves throughout the entire year on and off the track. Prior to the start of the season they irked the likes of both Michelin and Bridgestone for choosing to take up Michelin tyres. During the course of the season, there was the Buttongate affair, in the midst of sterling performances on the track. And now Honda ousts the team boss and we have this Ant affair. Not exactly the stuff of a world championship contender at any rate.

If one looks at the latest poll on PlanetF1, the majority of fans out there believe that BARs moves are certainly damaging Ant's career. I would fully agree with that. Racing drivers are born to race not sit on the sidelines preparing cars for other drivers. It seems such a waste of talent in this case. Ant deserves his shot and if a top team like Williams wants to retain him for a couple of years then why not? Even if compensation were paid at least we'd see a great talent on race weekends doing the business. On this, I tip my hat off to Peter Sauber for letting Kimi Raikkonen go when McLaren came a calling. OK, so he charged McLaren for it but at least he was big enough not to stand in the way of letting talent shine.

Perhaps BAR think themselves championship contenders like Ferrari already. What is interesting is that it is apparently Honda who is having issues with the Ant / Williams affair. You can read that story here on Planet F1. This came right after Honda acquired their large stake in BAR. David Richards apparently was the one who agreed to it in the first place.

Should BAR-Honda persist in their course of action I think they'll find that they have two disgruntled drivers in their squad. I'm sure Button is not entirely happy to stay with BAR. Now, I'm sure Ant will feel a little hard done by as well. Ant has been remarkably silent on this issue or at least I haven't read any remarks from him just yet. Perhaps he's got a gagging order placed on him from on high. Such a pity then. He deserves better.

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