Pressure building at BAR

THE continued failure of British American Racing to score World Championship points is something of a joke within the Formula 1 paddock - given the new team's extravagant claims since this time last year. However in recent weeks there have been more and more suggestions that there are serious problems between the various partners in the team.

The team's budgetary problems have now been sorted out thanks to another $37m being injected by parent company British American Tobacco. This will undoubtedly help ease some of the pressure but there is also no doubt that BAT management is beginning to pay more attention to the heavy spending.

Things have changed in recent weeks with the completion of the deal for BAT to take over Rothmans International. This means that Rothmans boss Johan Rupert has become the largest BAT shareholder - with around 30% of the equity. Rupert has plenty of experience with Grand Prix racing having funded the hugely successful Rothmans Williams Renault team between 1994 and 1997. That project cost a fraction of what BAR is spending at the moment.

Fortunately Mika Salo's seventh place at Imola earlier this year means that the team is one of the top 10 teams this year and is therefore eligible to receive travel benefits and TV money. We hear that Salo was rewarded for this valuable job by being asked to buy his way out of a BAR option so he could join Ferrari. The deal cost the Finn everything he earned from BAR this year...

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