MAY 8, 2000
Movement at BAR
There are signs that the aims of the parties involved may be changing. The Honda engine is clearly already very competitive but the BAR chassis is not very good. At the same time we hear stories that BAT is unhappy with the entire program and does not want to spend any more money in F1. There are also worries that unless something happens quickly the team may lose its chief asset, Jacques Villeneuve.
There are well-founded rumors in the F1 paddock that BAR is short of money. These seem to be confirmed by the fact that the team is taking legal action to reclaim half a million dollars from Mika Salo. We hear that the company's head of marketing, who was one of the major supporters of the F1 program Jimmy Rembiszewski has been sidelined and there are also stories that the firm's head of sponsorships Tom Moser is also in political trouble within BAT. We have even heard stories suggesting that BAR shareholders have agreed to hand over more equity to BAT in exchange for money to keep the team afloat. This has not been confirmed but if it is the case those shares must come either from Reynard or from a firm called MountÊEagle Inc. Reynard owns 15% of the team but has strong support from Honda. Mount Eagle owns the remaining 35%. The big question is who owns Mount Eagle. There is no doubt that at least half of that company is owned by CART team boss Jerry Forsythe. The other half is believed to be owned by Craig Pollock and Jacques Villeneuve.
The Reynard company is cutting back at the moment. It recently laid off around 50 staff because of the reduction in demand for CART chassis but it is unlikely that Adrian Reynard will give away any of his shares. It is more difficult to understand what is going on with Mount Eagle as Forsythe has broken his links with Honda in CART and is now running Ford engines in the series. At the same time there are persistent rumors that Villeneuve is about to sign for another team and if that happens it is hard to see how he can remain a shareholder in BAR.
Our spies in Japan tell us that Honda is not happy at what is going on in F1 and would like more control. We also believe that BMW's rapid success is worrying Honda bosses.
It is interesting to note, therefore, that Reynard's Rick Gorne, who recently moved to BAR is now tipped to on the way Lola where he is expected to head the CART sales team. Gorne had been expecting a bigger role within BAR.
Clearly there are some delicate negotiations taking place at the moment...