Formula One
 Sunday, July 16
Button shines after Williams 'reassurance'

SPIELBERG, Austria -- Jenson Button earned fifth place in his 10th grand prix on Sunday after reassurance from team boss Frank Williams in a "friendly chat" about his future.

The 20-year-old Briton said he had "not got a clue" about whether he would stay at Williams next season but he staked his claim by taking two points after starting 18th on the grid.

"Jenson really excelled himself again driving in difficult circumstances at the end of the race and under a lot of pressure," said Frank Williams.

Austrian Gerhard Berger, BMW's motorsport director, added: "Apart from one mistake, Jenson drove an outstanding race, the first corner melee at the start was obviously to our advantage."

Button told Britain's ITV television: "It's good to get some points again after such a long time."

Button, whose place at the team is threatened by the likely return of Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya from the U.S., said he had met Williams over the race weekend.

"It was just a friendly little chat really. Obviously we're both very busy at the weekend so it's good to talk now and again. It was just reassurance really," he said.

"Nothing's been decided for my future next year and it was just reassurance really, (he said) don't worry about it and do your best this weekend.

"We had a good chat, not just about racing but other things as well. I think we're all in good spirits now, especially after today's result."

Button was also fifth in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in April and in March became the youngest points scorer in Formula One history when he took sixth place in Brazil after David Coulthard was disqualified.

He described Sunday's accident-marred race in Austria as "a bit more luck than judgment on the first corner. I suppose I was in the right place at the right time and I think I came out about seventh.

"It wasn't a bad start and then in the pit stops the team did a great job to get me out in front of Salo and Herbert.

"There were cars all over the place, it was just like dodgems. It was crazy," Button added of the first corner crashes that put championship leader Michael Schumacher out of the race after a matter of seconds.

"Then I had my own little excursion towards the end of the race but I've told Frank (Williams) and (technical director) Patrick (Head) that I did that on purpose to make it more interesting.

"I think they were getting bored at the end."

Button's two points lifted him in the standings alongside Williams's former driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen, now with Jordan, on a total of five.

Austrian nightmare for Prost
Team owner Alain Prost, already struggling to secure an engine for next season, had a nightmare afternoon on Sunday when his two drivers collided at the A1-Ring.

Jean Alesi and Nick Heidfeld took each other out on the 39th lap of the Austrian Grand Prix and left the four-times Formula One world champion so upset that he refused to comment afterwards.

"He (Prost) is very disappointed and sad and didn't want to speak to anyone," a team spokeswoman said.

At the French Grand Prix two weeks ago, Prost said he had given himself until the end of July to resolve his engine problems.

On Sunday, he admitted he may be seeking new investors.

"There's a good chance there will be some investors involved but I can't say anymore," said the Frenchman, who has won more Austrian Grands Prix -- three in total -- as a driver than any other.

The unnecessary collision was the last thing the team needed.

Alesi blamed the incident on his team's poor communication and said they should have told Heidfeld to let him through because the German had a full fuel load on board and was therefore slower.

"Nick went out just in front of me with a full tank (after the pit stop). I had the competitive car at this moment of the race so I tried to overtake him," he said. "I was quicker than Nick at the time of the incident. We had touched each other already once. I made a sign with my hands and the lap after that we had a definitive accident."

Heidfeld was disappointed and said he had not seen Alesi, who made clear that he would seek clarification from Prost, when the French driver was chasing him into the corner.

"I was in eighth place when I made my one and only pit stop," said Heidfeld. "Jean was very close behind me after the stop and he was a lot quicker because he was still to stop a second time."

The Peugeot-powered Prost team have yet to score a point this season -- the only team other than Minardi still in that position after 10 races. Both the Minardis finished on Sunday.

Benetton slams F1 rivals 'antics'
Benetton boss Flavio Briatore accused Sauber's Pedro Diniz of unprofessional driving on Sunday after the Brazilian shunted Giancarlo Fisichella out of the Austrian Grand Prix.

"Giancarlo was taken off by an incredible manoeuvre by Diniz which was not at all professional for somebody in Formula One and it's not the first time he has done things like this either," raged Italian Briatore.

Team technical director Pat Symonds was equally angry about collisions that cost Benetton their third place in the constructors' standings as well as taking Ferrari's championship leader Michael Schumacher out of the race.

Schumacher was tapped by the BAR of another Brazilian, Ricardo Zonta, and spun at the first corner.

"The driving antics of some of our competitors at the first corner were appalling and ruined the race not only for many of the drivers but also for many of the spectators," said Symonds.

Briatore also expressed his displeasure with his Austrian driver Alexander Wurz, who is unlikely to retain his place with the team next season.

"I am also disappointed with Alex's performance today," he said after Wurz finished ninth out of 12 finishers.

Fisichella, who has scored all his team's points this season and is fifth in the standings with 18, was furious. "This was just ridiculous," he said.

"As I approached the first corner it was really tight then Diniz hit me from behind at 200 kph and there was absolutely nothing I could do. I can't believe there wasn't a red flag."

Hakkinen leads McLaren sweep at Austrian GP