Tuesday March 6th, 2001
By Roger Horton, Melbourne
Despite loaning out Jenson Button to the Benetton team for two years, Sir Frank Williams still retains much affection for his former driver, as he expressed after last Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.
Button raced for the Williams team last season, but he was trasnfered to Benetton to make room for rookie Juan Pablo Montoya.
Speaking at the season opening Australian Grand Prix, Williams said: "Everyone at Williams is truly very fond of him, he has a real personality and character, and honest with it, and we care about how he does.
"He is a winner we think and he deserves to win."
Button endured a troubled first race with his new team as they struggled to find reliability with their new package. In the race, after being forced to take the start in the spare, he was forced to take a ten second stop-go
penalty as his mechanics worked on his car past the fifteen second cut off point prior to the start of the parade lap.
He retired on lap 53, some five laps from the end of the race.
Observing Button's troubled day Williams remarked: "He served a bit of penance last year as a beginner and I wouldn't wish him another year of great difficulty.
"He had a good season which I think really saw him flower. You learn by hardship as well as by success, but no racing driver should suffer or needs too much pain or frustration."