|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Honda to stay with BAR long-term
Alan Baldwin | July 23, 2004 16:14 IST
Honda and the BAR Formula One team have announced an extension of their partnership until at least the end of 2007 and probably considerably longer.
Shoichi Tanaka, president of Honda Racing Development, told a news conference at the German Grand Prix on Friday that the Japanese carmaker was committed long-term to BAR and to winning the championship.
Team boss David Richards added that the deal covering engine and chassis development was a show of confidence in BAR and "provides enormous stability at a time when the sport has so many question marks around it."
The agreement is for a minimum of three years but has a get-out clause if technical regulations prove unpalatable to the engine maker.
"We have in the new contract a clause that when the objective of our participation in Formula One is not achievable by statutory regulations that remove the image of Formula One as the pinnacle of motorsport, then there is a break clause," said Tanaka.
BAR, with British driver Jenson Button and Japan's Takuma Sato, are third in the championship after a strong first half with seven podiums in 11 races.
"2004 has so far been very encouraging for the BAR Honda team and we are on the way to meeting our targets for the year," said Tanaka.
"But although we are going well we have clearly not yet achieved our target of winning races and ultimately the Formula One championship."
Honda returned to Formula One with BAR in 2000, a year after the team owned by British American Tobacco was founded.
BAR have still not won a race in 94 starts but have come closer than ever this season after shedding their image as Formula One's overspending and underperforming team.
While BAT's future involvement remains in doubt with a global tobacco advertising ban looming, Tanaka said Honda had no plans to buy the team or change the name.
"I know that there is a rumour about Honda owning shares in BAR but nothing has been decided," he said. "We have always said that to own the team is not so important for us, rather the technical challenges."
Richards added that it was not certain that BAT would sell out either.
"There is no reason why BAT cannot continue to own this team for many many years to come," he said. "That is not affected by any tobacco legislation whatsoever."
Formula One: The Complete Coverage