Honda website
Honda website

JUNE 29, 1998

BAR's dull engine deal

BRITISH AMERICAN RACING has announced its plans to use Supertec Sport V10 engines in 1999 and 2000 - but the news comes as a big disappointment as the new team had been promising to surprise the F1 world with a new factory-backed engine.

There have been strong rumors in recent months of deals with Honda and Volkswagen but the reality appears to be that the new team has convinced no-one and will be starting out with rebadged versions of the Mecachrome V10, which is itself a rebadged Renault V10. These are likely to be reliable but are unlikely to be challenging for victory in 1999 and 2000.

BAR was keen to promote the idea that there will be "a new generation" of engines that will be developed in 1999 and 2000 but insiders at Renault Sport say that this is a pipe dream and that the engines will be fundamentally the same as those used in 1997 by Williams and Benetton. The Mecachrome engines are also understood to be costing between 20-30% more than last season with rumors of deals costing as much as $16m a year. Williams, Benetton, BAR and Sauber are expected to use the engines.

The setback for BAR comes at a time when people in F1 are beginning to ask why British American Tobacco invested around $30m in buying Tyrrell at the end of last year. The recent revamp of the Formula 1 Commission allows for 12 teams to be represented and the implication is that all the deals will involve that number of competitors. If this is the case there is no logical reason why BAR bought Tyrrell as it is not going to use the Tyrrell facility - which is still owned by the Tyrrell Family - and is not going to get very many members of the Tyrrell staff. In addition the performance of Tyrrell this year has been so poor that the team slipped out of the top 10 teams after the French GP which means that it will have to pay its own travelling expenses for the rest of the year. If the F1 flotation goes ahead BAR may be eligible for shares but at the moment the float is not looking very likely to happen in the next 12 months.