Honda to give Jordan factory V10s

THE Honda Motor Company has announced its intention to supply Jordan Grand Prix with its factory V10 engines next season. The news comes as a major blow to the ambitions of struggling British American Racing, which had been thought to have a three-year exclusive deal with Honda. In fact the exclusive deal was for a single season and BAR's lack of performance this year meant that Honda felt the need to expand the supply to a second team.

Honda will supply identical specification works engines to both BAR and Jordan but will continue its chassis technology development program with BAR. It is widely expected that Honda will eventually take over BAR but at the moment the price being asked for the team by British American Tobacco is too high. The loss of an exclusive engine deal with Honda and, in all probability, star driver Jacques Villeneuve will hit the team hard. It is expected that chief executive Craig Pollock, who also manages Jacques Villeneuve, will eventually have to leave BAR and will content himself with life as a driver manager. BAT has made it clear that it is not going to go on spending without results. The company set aside $250m in 1998 for the five-year program and our sources say that $200m has already been spent. This means that there is only $50m left for the 2001 and 2002 seasons. This means that the team is going to have to look elsewhere for sponsorship money and it will not be easy to find without results. BAT may elect to sell the team and thus get money from the purchase and save the $50m which is yet to be spent but it is unlikely that anyone will pay the asking price and BAR cannot give the team away because it needs to keep its shareholders happy.

The Honda deal is great news for Jordan as it is the next step towards the team becoming a fully factory-supported operation. Honda has plans to run its own team in F1 and so it could one day buy Jordan but Eddie Jordan seems to be rather more keen on finding an exclusive deal with another manufacturer such as General Motors or Volkswagen in order to take on McLaren and Ferrari.

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