Honda website
Honda website

MAY 31, 2003

A BAR brawl

BAR has confirmed that France Corbeil, of Partnership Production Group International (PPGI), has obtained a court order in Monaco to seize three of the team's Grand Prix cars. Corbeil is claiming that he should be paid a commission for a sponsorship deal with BAR sponsor Teleglobe, a deal that was done five years ago, before the current BAR management was in place.

BAR says that it believes that Corbeil's claim are "baseless" and said when the claim was first presented to the Monaco courts several weeks ago it was rejected. The claim was re-presented with additional information on Wednesday afternoon, just prior to a national holiday weekend when all the Monaco courts are closed. As a result, the team was not made aware of the action and did not have any opportunity to respond. Despite this Judge Philippe Narmino granted Corbeil a seizure order in a private capacity.

BAR says it is confident that when the courts open for business on Monday morning the seizure order will be overturned. The team says it is seeking legal advice regarding counter-claims against Corbeil.

The Teleglobe deal was for five years and was supposed to have been for $12m a year. In F1 circles it is usual that commission of 10% is paid on such deals but it does not seem that Corbeil has anything in writing. Teleglobe was forced to withdraw from F1 in 2000.

To further complicate matters PPGI's actual role was not as a sponsorship agency but rather as a TV production company. It was heavily financed by BAR's parent company British American Tobacco, which wanted TV coverage of its F1 sponsorship in Russia, China, India and other parts of Asia. The TV rights for these countries were acquired from F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone although that deal eventually failed as well.

The big question is not whether or not BAR cars should be seized but rather who owes what to whom and which deals were paid and which were not.