BAR takes on Japanese look

BRITISH AMERICAN RACING's launch in London last week was largely overshadowed by the announcement in Spain that JensonĘButton had been signed by Williams, but the Brackley team hopes that in the course of the season it will get the better of Williams with its new Honda V10 engines. As expected BAR has dropped the ridiculous two-brand livery it was forced to use last year and the predominantly white car features the red roundel of Lucky Strike. At a distance one would be not mistaken for thinking that the car looks like a Japanese flag and there is little doubt that this will have pleased BAR's new engine supplier Honda.

The team's package of sponsorship is otherwise much the same as last year with support from Canadian telecommunications company Teleglobe. There is a small new sponsorship from German car care product company Sonax which has a habit of switching its backing from team to team.

BAR bosses were keen to explain that the team made a lot of mistakes last season but that the suffering had made the team stronger. The rapid rate of growth has continued in recent months with the team having gone from 180 people at the start of 1999 to 300 today.

"It is a dangerous thing to say what we can achieve," said Craig Pollock, "but we have had fantastic first set of tests. We can do well. We have to prove to Honda that they chosen the right partners."

Although Takefumi Hosaka, Honda's F1 project leader said that the company was back in F1 because "we love racing". He did give an indication that the company is interested in more than simple engine technology from the new F1 program.

"Racing chassis technologies, the total management system and a thorough knowledge of the whole picture are areas in which Honda is keen to develop, and these represent a fresh challenge for our third generation in F1," he said. Hosaka's statements underline the belief that ultimately Honda intends to run its own factory team in F1 and is using BAR as a means to that end. With the increasing pressure on tobacco companies in F1 in the future, it is possible that British American Tobacco will eventually sell the team to Honda and so recoup most of the money it has invested to date. Certainly, the color scheme revealed in London was very Honda-friendly.

The BAR-Honda announcement coincided with claims from Japan that Honda has now overtaken Nissan to become the country's second biggest automotive manufacturer with production totalling 2.42m vehicles. Toyota's annual total is an impressive 4.7m, although that figure rises to 5.4m if the production of Toyota affiliate Daihatsu is added to the figures.

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