Tyrrell sells on team to new force
The chequered flag finally fell on 30 years of motor racing history yesterday when Ken Tyrrell confirmed that he had sold his Formula One team to form the basis for the grand prix ambitions of Adrian Reynard, one of the sport's most thrusting and ambitious entrepreneurs, whose company will spearhead a bid for world championship honours with backing from British American Tobacco (BAT).
Those close to the new team say that the BAT investment will be close to £250 million over five years, starting in 1999, thus making it one of the biggest sponsorship deals in the sport's history. BAT, Reynard and his partner Craig Pollock, Jacques Villeneuve's business manager, will own the new company called British American Racing and are understood to have paid £18 million for Tyrrell which will continue to operate as an independent entity until the end of 1998.
Thereafter the new Reynard operation will begin fielding totally new cars from a brand new 80,000sq ft factory currently under construction at Brackley, near Silverstone.
Pollock's comments yesterday fuelled speculation that Villeneuve will make the switch from Williams in 1999 to drive for the new team. "Obviously Jacques' name keeps coming up in the press and as managing director of the team, it is my job to ensure we have the right drivers in the car," he said.
"You could say that Formula One represents the final challenge for us," said Adrian Reynard. "We have won first time out in every category we have previously contested, from Formula Ford to Indycars. In 1991 we tried to do F1, but it didn't come off. Now all the ingredients are in place and we believe we can get the job done."