Lucky Strike BAR Honda confirmed the first of their long-term plans yesterday with the announcement that Jenson Button will join the team from 2003.

BAR have reached a 4-year agreement with Button with a view to securing the optimum driver line-up going forward. The terms are for an initial 2 years, after which the team will have options for a further two years.

Button is a star of the future, a proven talent and of course British - a combination which fits perfectly with the team's future objectives. In David Richards' brief tenure with BAR, he has made some tough decisions and implemented the requisite changes with which to take the team forward. With the benefit of a long-term partnership with Honda, the foundations are now firmly in place for the team to start making its first real steps towards its World Championship ambitions.

A change to BAR's driver line-up is an integral part of achieving fresh impetus for the team and David Richards, who has been pivotal to the success of World Rally Champions Colin McRae and Richard Burns, has set his sights very much on helping Button to realise his full potential.

Commenting on yesterday's announcement, David Richards said: "I'm delighted to welcome Jenson to BAR. He has an extraordinary talent which now needs to be nurtured in the right environment in order for it to flourish.

"Over the past 7 months the management team have set out a long-term plan which is designed to deliver success to BAR and our partners. This won't happen overnight and we have realistic expectations for the next two seasons. In the current Formula One climate, we are fortunate to have the stability of long-term funding and a strong, developing relationship with Honda. Our agreement with Jenson will enable us to carry that stability through to our driver line-up and, as we move forward, I have every confidence that he will play a pivotal role in gelling the team together."

Button also confirmed his delight at yesterday's announcement. "I'm thrilled to be joining BAR," noted the Brit. "The past few weeks have been very exciting and I've been flattered by the enormous attention I've received. I've had a whole range of opportunities open to me but after careful consideration of what would be best for my future, BAR provided me with an excellent opportunity to progress and ultimately, I hope, to achieve my ambition to be World Champion. David Richards has talked me through the long-term strategy for the team in great detail and I have been very impressed with the strength of the partnership with Honda. I have no doubt that, together, we can all look forward to some very exciting times ahead."

Commenting on behalf of BAR's long-term partner, Shoichi Tanaka, President of Honda Racing Development, concluded: "I am very pleased to welcome Jenson to the BAR-Honda partnership. We are all looking forward to working with him and feel confident that he will play an integral part in our plans to make a big step forward next year."


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