Former Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran was appointed as the new sporting director of the BAR-Honda Formula One team in April — and walked straight into one of the biggest political storms of the past few years.
The Brazilian, winner of the 2000 and ’01 Champ Car titles, hung up his helmet months after winning the ’03 Indy 500. He was a surprise choice to head BAR, which split with its previous chief David Richards last winter. His new role relieves the pressure on team CEO Nick Fry.
De Ferran’s first weekend at work with the team was the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola on April 22-24. The BAR 007s of Jenson Button and Takuma Sato finished third and fifth respectively, only for Button’s car to be found under the minimum weight limit after its fuel was drained in post-race scrutineering.
A hearing on May 4 resulted in the exclusion of both cars from Imola and a ban for the team from the following races in Spain and Monaco, although BAR has protested its innocence.
For more details on the BAR saga, see Adam Cooper’s ‘Track Forward’ on page 22.