BAR PR01: The most controversial decoration in the history of Formula 1

In 1999 the BAR team presented two cars with different decorative designs. The FIA ​​prevented him from presenting himself in that way and the team's solution was to combine them.


Many years ago, tobacco companies played a very important role in the F1 through the sponsorship of different teams. The British American Tobacco It was one of that company that took advantage of the impact of the category to demonstrate its different brands of cigarettes. In the late 1990s the English businessman Craig pollock, who was known to be the manager of the Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, convinced BAT to buy a team and stop being a mere sponsor.

British American RacingPollock aimed the cannons at Tyrrell, team that subsisted on the memory of its golden years. The transaction was carried out in 1997 by 47 million. While things were put in order and the project continued to advance, Tyrrell kept his name until 1998. Thus it was that in the 1999 season, the new team called British American Racing (PUB). Your pilots? Villeneuve, who in 1997 had achieved the scepter with Williams; and the brazilian Ricardo Zonta, who reached the Maximum with two titles under his arm, Formula 3000 in 1997 and FIA GT in 1998.

The car was conceived by Reynard, a British company that in those years built all kinds of chassis for categories such as ChampCar (current IndyCar), Nippon formulaand Barber dodge. The motorization, meanwhile, was the responsibility of Supertec, directed by the Italian Flavio Briatore and who used the boosters Renault rs9 built by Mecachrome.

British American RacingThe name chosen for that vehicle was BAR PR01 (PR by Pollock and Reynard) and their performance caused a stir, as much as the American team Haas with his reference to the Russian flag on his car for 2021. However in this case for the decoration of the Villeneuve and Zonta cars.

The Canadian's machine was white with red highlights in reference to his only sponsor: Lucky Strike; while that of the Brazilian, blue with yellow details for its great sponsor: 555. Both cigarette brands owned by BAT.

Pollock's original idea of ​​running his two cars in different liveries lasted as long as a breath. The International Automobile Federation took action on the matter and brought up the regulations that indicated - as at present - that the cars of the same team must have the same colors, with only small differentials such as their number and the name and flag of the driver's nationality .

At BAR they found a simple solution: join the designs. The right side went to 555 and the left side, to Lucky Strike. The horn was painted silver and a zipper was added to the decoration, opening to give visibility to the small sponsors. In addition, the rear wing also had a double image: When the car was seen from the front, the 555 logo stood out and when it was seen from the back, the Lucky Strike logo.

British American RacingIn those races in which tobacco company advertising was prevented, the logos were replaced by symbols in the case of 555 and the legend "Run Free" for Lucky Strike. Villeneuve was the Lucky driver and Zonta was the 555. The mechanics' clothing matched that of the riders they attended.

The results achieved by BAR in its first year were as disastrous as the appearance of its two cars. Villeneuve quit in 12 of the 16 races and Zonta in seven of the 13 he raced. The best result, in short, was achieved by the Finn Mika Salo, who replaced the injured Brazilian in three races. The Nordic was 7th in the San Marino GP and that was the closest he got to BAR PR01 from the points area (in those years they added the first six of each GP).

Despite that unflattering debut, things turned up for BAR the following year. Already with Honda as a motorcyclist the team started fighting in the middle of the pack. Just as he had done with BAT at the time, Pollock convinced the Japanese brand to buy the equipment from him, something that became effective in 2005.

This license, which had started with the team of Ken tyrrell in 1970, it changed hands two more times. At the end of 2008, as a result of the global economic crisis, Honda decided to retire and handed over the entire structure to its engineer Ross Brawn, who founded the Brawn GP. The team, which closed deal with Mercedes to run with his engines, he was invincible in 2009 with the British Jenson Button. After that successful season, Brawn sold the team precisely to Mercedes, who has been invincible since 2014 ...

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Diego durruty

Journalist with 30 years of experience. Worked in magazines STROKE, The graphic, Coequipier y Only TC, on the Internet sites SportsYa!, e-driver.com y kmcero.com and on the radios Rock pop y Vorterix.com. He covered the Dakar rally for the German agency dpa. He currently drives Two Daring Guys, a car magazine that is broadcast on Tuesdays from 18 to 19 by RadioArroba.com; is editor of motorsport in Red Bull Argentina, columnist on the show WorldSport (AM Splendid) and in Surf & Rock FM.  He is also a teacher in SPORTS. Now you can read it on his blog: automundo.com.ar.

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