DECEMBER 1, 1997
It's BAT week - while other firms wait
THE worst kept secret in Formula 1 will be officially announced this week in London with the tie-up between British American Tobacco, Reynard Racing Cars and Tyrrell expected to be revealed. Exactly what will be announced is uncertain as it would be more logical for the team to wait a few months before holding another launch to name the BAT brand which will support the team. This will probably be Lucky Strike but it could also be 555 State Express.
It also remains to be seen whether or not the Tyrrell part of the deal will be made public. We believe that the deal is agreed but that there are still things which need to be settled among the Tyrrell shareholders. Ken Tyrrell's team is expected to be sponsored by BAT next year and so it would be more logical for that part of the deal to be revealed at the brand launch.
BAT Reynard sources insist that an engine deal is done and that it will involve some kind of badging deal using Renault technology. Renault and Mecachrome, however, say that there is no such deal available as they are restricted to supplying engines to Williams and Benetton in 1998 and 1999.
Someone is clearly not telling the whole truth...
While BAT is to trumpet its arrival in F1 several of its tobacco rivals are waiting to see whether Grand Prix racing gets its exemption from the European Union tobacco ban. If this happens we can expect to see several other cigarette companies coming into F1 to make the most of the situation.
The obvious candidates are RJ Reynolds (Camel or Winston), Imperial Tobacco (John Player Special, Embassy or Gold Leaf), Spain's Tabacalera (Fortuna or Ducados) and the China National Tobacco Corporation.
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