Diniz en route to BAR...

WE believe that Tom Walkinshaw and British American Racing's Craig Pollock are in the process of trying to negotiate a deal which will see Brazilian Pedro Diniz switch from Arrows to BAR as Jacques Villeneuve's team mate. The paddock in Belgium was full of fanciful rumors about a variety of different drivers for BAR, notably Nigel Mansell and David Coulthard, but we believe that the British American strategy calls for a South American driver to partner Villeneuve. There are several youngsters available but the team would benefit from a driver with experience and Diniz has shown himself to be quite competitive in the last couple of years, when measured alongside Damon Hill and Mika Salo.

Diniz is under contract to Walkinshaw at Arrows next year but the possibility of a switch has come about as a result of Walkinshaw's refusal to allow BAR to change the name of the cars it will run from Tyrrell. Tom was annoyed that BAT sponsorship boss Tom Moser had blocked a deal he had lined up with Hollywood cigarette which had been organized around Diniz. Walkinshaw had been demanding $7m to allow the team to change the name of the cars.

Walkinshaw is, however, a clever businessman and knows that if he forces BAT to pay him, it may have long-term implications and that it is wiser to try to find a solution with BAR which keeps everyone happy.

BAR wants to get a South American driver and Walkinshaw has one under contract. Tom wants a bigger budget and if this can be arranged to help BAT's global marketing plans - perhaps in a different region with a different BAT brand - then he will be willing to accept a deal. There are a variety of different BAT brands which Walkinshaw could end up running on his cars and much would depend on the driver chosen to replace Diniz.

This logic would help explain stories in recent weeks that BAT was in the process of buying Arrows in order to run other cigarette branding.

The current plan is for BAT to run Villeneuve's car in Lucky Strike colors - aiming to increase sales in the Asian markets; with the second car in the colors of 555 State Express, with the intention of increasing that brand's sales in South America.

Follow grandprixdotcom on Twitter

Print News Story