B*A*R and Honda officially confirmed on November 19th that Honda will become an equity partner in the team. Honda has supplied B*A*R with engines for the past few years and with a new three year contract will also be a chassis development partner and sponsor. In the new partnership, British American Tobacco (BAT) will now own 55% of the team and Honda Motor Co 45%.
"We're delighted Honda wants to increase its involvement in B*A*R which has gone from strength to strength this season," said Antonio Monteiro de Castro, Chief Operating Officer of British American Tobacco and a director of B*A*R,
"We are particularly grateful to David Richards and Prodrive for helping to achieve this improvement and providing a springboard for the next phase of the team's development."
Takanobu Ito, Managing Director of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., commented: "This is a natural extension of our relationship with B*A*R and is an important step for both partners. The new commitment will further strengthen the structure for cooperation with B*A*R as we push forward with our Formula One challenge."
Along with the announcement was another that confirmed the consultancy contract between BAT and Richards' Prodrive company would come to an end. Prodrive was contracted by BAT in 2001 to restructure BAR.
Nick Fry will take over as Chief Executive of the team, although Richards will remain until the end of February to provide support on "various transitional issues". Geoff Willis will continue as the team's technical director.
"We were brought in by British American Tobacco to turn the team around and secure its long-term future and that is what we have done," said Richards. "I am immensely proud of what Prodrive has achieved in a shorter time than anticipated."
"I believe that B*A*R Honda is now in a very healthy position to continue its pursuit of the World Championship. Obviously I and all at Prodrive will take a strong interest in the fortunes of the team in the future."
Jimmi Rembiszewski, BAT Director, commented: "Our two companies have worked together for many years in World Rally and F1 with outstanding results. We are truly proud of the achievements of David and his team in such a short space of time. Through their efforts they have helped to make our Formula One programme a real success."
"It continues to make a huge contribution to our international marketing and brand building, motivates our company and makes the B*A*R team a source of great pride for us. This is the end of one great chapter and another is about to begin."
Honda will add directors to the BAR board, and more staff to the engineering team at Brackley in the UK to work on chassis development. The statement concluded: "The day-to-day management and operation of the team are unaffected by the ownership restructure and will continue to function as before."
It seems that BAT and Honda are now seeking to obtain the 10% share of the current holding company jointly owned by Adrian Reynard, Rick Gorne and ex-team boss Craig Pollock.