BAR season review part two

After a disappointing first half of the season, B.A.R arrived at their home race at Silverstone with a point to prove -- they made it in style. The problems in earlier races were instantly forgotten when everything finally came together at the...

After a disappointing first half of the season, B.A.R arrived at their home race at Silverstone with a point to prove -- they made it in style.

The problems in earlier races were instantly forgotten when everything finally came together at the British Grand Prix. Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis came home fourth and fifth after what was truly a team effort.

First points of the season for Olivier Panis.
Photo by British American Racing.
As other teams struggled to get to grips with some typically wet British weather, B.A.R's weather spotters across the Northamptonshire countryside -- and even up in David Richards' helicopter -- kept the pits constantly updated on the changeable conditions and allowed them to coordinate their pit strategy to perfection.

Richards said that everyone had played their part in the result, adding: "It just goes to prove that perseverance really pays off and at the end of the day it's all about teamwork. The drivers drove a faultless race but behind this performance are a lot of unsung heroes back at the factory who played such an important part in today's result."

The Silverstone result meant that the team headed to the French Grand Prix in buoyant mood. Sadly the race proved something of an anti-climax with both drivers retiring before half-distance.

A day later and the team were right back in the headlines. Behind the scenes at Magny-Cours David Richards had pulled off a remarkable coup. At a hastily arranged London press conference Jenson Button was unveiled as their latest capture. The Englishman signed a four-year contract and immediately set his sights on delivering the world championship.

Jenson Button and David Richards.
Photo by British American Racing.
He said: "I'm thrilled to be joining B.A.R. The past few weeks have been very exciting and I've been flattered by the enormous attention I've received. I've had a whole range of opportunities open to me but after careful consideration of what would be best for my future, B.A.R provided me with an excellent opportunity to progress and ultimately, I hope, to achieve my ambition to be world champion."

Richards was equally delighted with his new driver, saying: "I'm delighted to welcome Jenson to B.A.R. He has an extraordinary talent which now needs to be nurtured in the right environment in order for it to flourish."

The signing of Button demonstrated B.A.R's ambition for the future but the 22-year-old was back in a Renault when the F1 circus reconvened at Hockenheim a fortnight later. Olivier qualified a season's best seventh at the heavily-revised circuit but neither he nor Jacques made the finish.

There were three B.A.R drivers on duty in Hungary a fortnight later. Test driver Anthony Davidson having been given permission to race for Minardi in place of a rested Alex Yoong. The young Brit performed creditably before spinning out late in the race.

Olivier finished 12th while Jacques retired with a transmission failure but spirits were lifted by Honda's confirmation that they would supply B.A.R exclusively with engines from 2003 onwards.

David Richards said: "The announcement today that B.A.R will be the sole Honda-powered team from 2003 is excellent news and underlines the potential of our partnership for the future."

Next up was Jacques beloved Spa-Francorchamps. The French-Canadian described it as "like driving back to your house in the mountains". This time out he would enjoy a tremendous scrap with first Allan McNish and then Giancarlo Fisichella on his way to eighth. Olivier retired with a blown engine.

Then a fortnight later at Monza the Frenchman put in arguably his best drive of the season to score a point from 16th on the grid. Olivier charged through the field on an adventurous two-stop strategy to score what proved to be his final point for the team.

He said: "I had a lot of fun out there today and was able to make the most of the overtaking opportunities. I'm really pleased for the team. Every point counts and it is a very important result for us at this stage of the season."

Jacques Villeneuve.
Photo by British American Racing.
It was Jacques' turn to get amongst the points two weeks later at Indianapolis. The French-Canadian qualified seventh and stayed with the leading runners to clinch sixth place.

He said: "The team did a great job today, as they have all weekend. We picked up a very important point and really made the best of things. We've been quite competitive and I could drive the car aggressively and overtake."

After two consecutive points scores, hopes were high entering the final race of the year in Japan. But unfortunately it was not to be and both drivers retired before half distance.

At the end of a long, hard year, David Richards drew satisfaction from the way the team had moved forward throughout the season.

He said: "We have endured some difficult times this season but we have worked together to overcome our problems and make steady but significant progress. I would like to thank the team for all their hard work and congratulate them on a job well done.

"It has been a very tough season but when I look at where we started and where we are now, I am convinced that this level of commitment from everyone at B.A.R Honda bodes well for some very rewarding times ahead."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , Anthony Davidson , Allan McNish , Alex Yoong , David Richards
Teams British American Racing , Minardi