B.A.R will enter an exciting new phase of its development with the announcement today that Honda will further increase its commitment to the team by becoming an equity partner for the first time. Honda is already the team’s engine supplier under a new three-year contract, chassis development partner and a sponsor.
The announcement follows the Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda team’s most successful season to date, in which the team achieved second place in the FIA Formula One Constructors’ World Championship, and underlines its determination to win the world championship.
Antonio Monteiro de Castro, Chief Operating Officer of British American Tobacco and a director of B.A.R, said: "We're delighted Honda wants to increase its involvement in B.A.R which has gone from strength to strength this season. 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.”
Under the new agreement, British American Tobacco will own 55 per cent and Honda Motor Co., Ltd., 45 per cent of a new joint venture company which is planned to replace the existing B.A.R ownership structure.
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.”
Parallel with this announcement is agreement between British American Tobacco and Prodrive to conclude the consultancy contract that has paved the way for this new chapter in B.A.R Honda’s future. Prodrive, the company led by David Richards, was contracted under a consultancy agreement by British American Tobacco in 2001 to restructure the management of the team and put B.A.R Honda into a position to challenge for the world championship.
The team scored 11 podium finishes in the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship and established itself as a leading championship contender. Honda’s decision to strengthen its commitment through equity is evidence of the significant progress that has been made under the leadership of Prodrive’s management.
David Richards commented: “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. 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, British American Tobacco Director, Marketing, who has worked closely with David Richards and Prodrive, reiterated the company’s gratitude: “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.”
The succession planning put in place by Prodrive will see Nick Fry appointed as Chief Executive of B.A.R, while Geoffrey Willis continues as the team’s Technical Director. A phased management transition is underway and should be completed by the end of the year. David will be providing support on various transitional issues at B.A.R until the end of February.
As part of its involvement in the team, Honda will appoint directors to the board of B.A.R, and will add a number of key personnel to the 30 engineers who have been located at the team’s Brackley headquarters for some time, under the joint chassis development programme. The day-to-day management and operation of the team are unaffected by the ownership restructure and will continue to function as before.