OCTOBER 8, 2001

BAR rumors resurface

Yet again the ownership of British American Racing has been the subject of speculation.

YET again the ownership of British American Racing has been the subject of speculation, this time with team boss Craig Pollock alleged to be planning a buy-out with David Hunt, brother of 1976 world champion James.

BAR was formed in 1998 when Pollock, then the manager of Williams driver and 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, put together the funding for a team with the giant British American Tobacco corporation.

The entry was bought from the Tyrrell Racing Organization as Ken Tyrrell finally called time on a team whose greatest successes - the 1969, 71 and 73 world championship titles - were a fairly dim memory. The Tyrrell team soldiered on for a final year in 1998 with Pollock at the helm when Tyrrell himself resigned over the signing of well-funded Brazilian Ricardo Rosset over talented Dutchman Jos Verstappen.

Scoring no points, the Ford-engined Tyrrell team vanished at the end of the year to return as BAR in 1999 powered by Mecachrome - formerly Renault - V10 engines. Villeneuve, the 1997 champion, joined the team for one of the most lucrative contracts in F1 and, it has long been rumored, a stake in the team.

Although BAR drew criticism in its first year for its high spending on peripheries such as its marketing campaign and motorhomes, Pollock scored a coup in being the team with whom Honda elected to return to Formula 1 as an engine builder after several successful seasons with Lotus, Williams and McLaren until its 1992 withdrawal.

Since then however BAR's progress has been slow and BAT's willingness to fund the project apparently shaky, with Pollock repeatedly put at the heart of stories relating to a buy-out. The latest among them is that Pollock may be planning to team up with Hunt, who himself has a claim to the rights to the Team Lotus name made so famous in the 1960s and 70s.

Honda is believed to be looking to supply only one team in 2003 in order to make a determined push on the world championship. This will mean being forced to choose between BAR and Jordan, and if BAR fails to overcome its rivals then the Lotus name - still a favorite in Japan - may be a handy card to play.