DECEMBER 8, 1997

The end of the road for Tyrrell...

THE Tyrrell Family last week sold its Formula 1 team to British American Racing (BAR).

THE Tyrrell Family last week sold its Formula 1 team to British American Racing (BAR). The team will continue to run in 1998 but will close down at the end of this season. The announcement heralds the closure of one of Grand Prix racing's most enduring operations, although it is a very long time since Tyrrell ran truly competitive cars.

Ken Tyrrell entered F1 in 1968 and in the first six years won 26 victories with Matra, March and Tyrrell chassis. JackieÊStewart won 25 times and Francois Cevert won once. After Stewart retired Tyrrell was never the same again and added just seven wins in the next 10 years. Since 1983 the team has won nothing and failed to capitalize on big sponsorship deals with Candy, Benetton, Data General, Courtaulds and Braun.

Over the years there were some financial problems but announcing the sale Ken Tyrrell said that he had not been forced to sell because the team had no debts but that at 73 he finally realized that his team could not go on raising the funds required. None of the Tyrrell family have shown any willingness or aptitude to take over from Ken.

"This has probably been the most difficult decision I've ever had to take," said Tyrrell. "It was the decision which I believe is the right one. The cost to compete in F1 has escalated dramatically and the Tyrrell Racing Organization is not satisfied with being relegated to the back of the grid. Our competitive spirit is too high."

Tyrrell will run as planned this year - but without British American Tobacco money - and will close at the end of the season. The team's staff may be taken on by BAR but will have to relocate to Brackley. BAR is expected to begin testing work with Tyrrell chassis in August 1998 but the 1999 car will not be ready before October.