Master of the game

In the epic tale of Mahabharata, there is this amazing story of Ekalavya, a young hunter who wished to learn archery from the revered guru Drona. When the guru turns him down because he doesn’t belong to a royal family, Ekalavya feels dejected but does not give up. After returning to the forest, he makes a statue of the guru, prays to it every day and relentlessly practices in front of it day and night until he becomes an ace archer.

 

One day, he shows off his skills to the guru and is challenged to compete with his royal disciples, whom he promptly defeats. This enrages the guru, who demands gurudakshina, a sort of tuition fees prevalent in those times – except that he asks for Ekalavya’s thumb. It was a time when honor was everything, so the young archer happily cut it off and placed it at the guru’s feet!

Though the story of Jenson Button didn’t begin much the same way, he too, like Ekalavya, was disowned by his master. Sir Frank Williams chose the royal Montoya over him, forcing Jenson to spend two years in wilderness at Benetton-Renault, after which he moved to BAR-Honda in 2003 and continued to hone his skills, never losing sight of his target.

Circa 2004
His hard work and relentless pursuit of excellence paid off last year when he put BAR in the limelight for the first time in 6 long years by scoring one pole and ten podium finishes.

In doing so, he even beat the guru’s royal disciples Juan and Ralf. The guru was thoroughly impressed. Ambition soared and mutual interests met. Jenson wanted to quickly join the tutelage of the revered guru and conquer the world. Sadly though, Jenson’s ambitious and rather ill timed move went kaput once the CRB stepped in.

Circa 2005
The guru’s royal disciples deserted him, forcing the guru to bring in new recruits. Had things been smoothly sailing in the Williams camp, the guru would’ve probably stuck to his new disciples even for 2006. But fate has its ways.

The guru began losing battle after battle. He even lost his most powerful ally. With the threat of one of his disciples (Nick Heidfeld) joining the enemy camp next year, Frank Williams became hell bent upon taking Jenson under his fold. And Jenson himself, contrary to his earlier stance, wishes to remain at BAR. Now, why would the guru want a disciple whose heart lays some place else?

In his eagerness to jump ship, Jenson gave the guru something he now wishes he shouldn’t have – his word, or a contract as it is known in these times. Going by the precedence, there is no way in hell anyone can stop Sir Frank from claiming Jenson for the 2006 season. And that is exactly what the guru could use to make BAR pay for his Cosworth V8 engines next year. For someone who is used to freebies (Williams has been using free engines from Honda, Renault and BMW for decades), forking out US$15 million per annum is surely unbearable. So what better way to finance this unplanned expenditure than by making someone else pay for it? That someone else being BAR.

Jenson Button, to his credit, has publicly offered to compensate Williams by paying US$ 3.5 million of his personal money. Not surprisingly, Sir Frank has questioned his honor. For a guru of epic proportions, what Jenson has offered is too small to be considered gurudakshina. As for Frank Williams, he would surely not settle for a mere thumb!

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