When Honda announced it is to become part owner of BAR, it was also made known that team principal David Richards will be leaving. Speaking in teleconference once the news was made official, Richards denied that there was any bad feeling between...
When Honda announced it is to become part owner of BAR, it was also made known that team principal David Richards will be leaving. Speaking in teleconference once the news was made official, Richards denied that there was any bad feeling between himself and Honda. Rumours had suggested that Honda was unhappy with him after the Jenson Button situation.
"I think I was the one person who was undamaged by it quite frankly," Richards said of the summer events that saw Button declare he intended to leave BAR for Williams next year. "I'd rather it had never happened but I came out as cleanly as one would expect."
British American Tobacco (BAT), the co-owner of the team, said in a statement that Richards was leaving because the "consultancy contract" between BAT and Richards' Prodrive company had come to a conclusion. Prodrive was hired by BAT in 2001 to restructure BAR. "We have delivered a five-year plan in three years," said Richards. "My job has been done."
The Button dispute between BAR and Williams was decided by the Contract Recognition Board ruling in favour of BAR, meaning Button will stay with the team next season. Richards thinks Honda's increased involvement with BAR may entice Button to stay longer.
"It's a question you will have to ask Jenson but I think when he sees the performance of the car next year and the team he will realise there are great foundations here and a great team of people to go forward with." However, that's not a decision that will be made for some time. "I think he'll wait to see how next year pans out," Richards added.
BAR was much improved in 2004 and finished the season second overall in the constructors' standings. Button finished third in the drivers' rankings after nine podium finishes. The one thing the team didn't achieve was its maiden win but Richards thinks it won't be too long.
"Honda has done a great job on the new engine, the chassis looks good, the driver line-up is stable and going forward so I think that elusive win that we were looking for this year is now just around the corner," he commented.