SEPTEMBER 22, 1997
Hello BAT men
THE much talked about British American Tobacco Formula 1 project is apparently back on track after a couple of rocky weeks during which it was rumored that the money would be going to David Richards to support his efforts to take over the Benetton team. These were apparently rather wide of the mark.
There have however been problems between BAT and Reynard Racing Cars, Jacques Villeneuve and his manager CraigÊPollock and their business associate Julian Jakoby. We hear that there has been some difficulty with them putting all the necessary funding into place for their shareholdings but this has now been accomplished, although discussions are still going on over the details of the agreement.
It is yet to be decided whether or not they will take over the Minardi team or whether they will start their own project from scratch, but the decision will be based on the details hammered out in the negotiations now taking place for a completely new Concorde Agreement. This may not be completed for some months. If it is decided that a takeover of Minardi is necessary the team will enter F1 in 1998, if it is to be a new team the team will not race until 1999.
The original launch date of the program was to have been next weekend at the Nurburgring but this was put back and we now hear that there is a possibility of the deal being made public on October 23, the Thursday before the European Grand Prix at Jerez de la Frontera. This may again be put back if more details are not finalized in time.
The plans for a Mecachrome engine deal seem to have faded and the word in F1 circles now is that the team is trying to do a deal with Ford, a logical choice given Reynard's involvement with Ford in touring car racing and through the Panoz sportscar program.