FEBRUARY 17, 1997
Williams and BAT
BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO, the world's second largest tobacco company, which had been talking to Tom Walkinshaw's Arrows F1 team about a major sponsorship deal is now tipped to be the favorite to replace the Williams team's title sponsor Rothmans when the deal finishes at the end of this year.
BAT decided last year to increase its involvement in motor racing as advertising restrictions around the world are tightening. This has resulted in the Team Green Indycar operation landing major sponsorship from BAT brand Kool.
Walkinshaw's marketing team had lengthy talks with BAT in the autumn but the talks suddenly stopped in early October when rumors first emerged that Williams and Rothmans might be splitting up after the 1997 season.
It remains to be seen which of its brands BAT might want to use in F1. Current thinking suggests that it will go for a brand which is big in the Asia/ Pacific region, an area where BAT is expanding rapidly at the moment, notably with its State Express 555 brand - which has been heavily involved in the last five years in the World Rally Championship with the Prodrive Subaru team.