OCTOBER 12, 1998
...which leaves Zonta for BAR
WITH all the major players now out of the picture British American Racing looks likely to have to settle for Brazilian Ricardo Zonta as its second driver next season. The team says that the deal is nearly done, but may be held up for some time while the dust settles within the British American Tobacco management as a result of the Formula 1 Commission's decision to ban teams running dual liveries.
BAR has tried to gloss over the damage caused by the new regulation but we understand that the decision has led to major arguments inside the tobacco company with Jimmi Rembiszewski (Vice-President Marketing), David Bacon (head of communications) and Tom Moser (head of sponsorships) all having a less than comfortable time in recent days.
It remains to be seen how BAT is going to solve its branding problems as the entire F1 package was designed around the use of two brands: Lucky Strike and State Express 555 with the money coming from separate sources. With only one brand allowed the financial structure of the deal will have to be rethought.
Throughout the last few months there has also been trouble between BAT brand managers over which driver would be driving which car and in recent days we have heard extraordinary stories about how BAR negotiated the release of Gil de Ferran from Walker Racing in CART in order to sign up a Brazilian, only to be told that this was not necessary. De Ferran then re-signed for Walker only to have BAT come back again and demand a Brazilian driver, by which time it was too late for De Ferran.
It is certainly not easy for the team to please all the BAT brand managers, although with only one brand now allowed there will be less in-fighting going on. The problem now is to find the money needed.
Incidentally, Craig Pollock has denied that he has sold his shares in British American Racing Ltd. to CART team owner Gerry Forsythe. This is not surprising as he did not actually own any shares in BAR as it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of British American Racing (Holdings) Ltd.
The shareholdings in this second organization remains unclear but the board of directors is interesting as it includes not only BAT's Rembiszewski but also Don Brown, the chairman of BAT's Canadian offshoot, Antonio de Castro, BAT's Regional Director in Latin America and Antonio Rodrigues, who is believed to be employed by BAT offshoot Souza Cruz.
We believe that BAT owns the majority of the shares in BAR (Holdings) through its regional subsidiaries but that other shares are owned by a company called Monteagle and it is shares in this organization that Pollock has sold to Forsythe. It is worth noting that Forsythe Racing in CART is half-owned by BAT's Canadian offshoot Imasco and that Don Brown is President of Players Forsythe Racing.
This will, no doubt, be part of the team's plans to be a global force in motor racing although whether or not all the cars will appear in the same color schemes on both sides of the Atlantic remain to be seen. In the United States BAT sponsors Forsythe and Team Green so it is quite possible that a deal could be struck with Tom Walkinshaw's Arrows or even with Sauber, which is currently not sponsored by a tobacco company.
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