There was a lot of controversy around British American Racing’s debut in the Formula One. Besides signing Jacques Villeneuve as one of their drivers, there was also the livery on the car. Originally, the team had one car in the 555 colour scheme and the other in the Lucky strike colour scheme. Eventually had to merge both liveries, which resulted in the beautiful zipper livery. To prevent another controversy they had Danish driver Kristian Kolby testing their new livery prior the revelation of the BAR 002, their challenger for 2000.
If you did read my previous article about the two Tyrrells that drove around in Lucky Strike and 555 liver this sounds familiar. While BAR was to use two liveries in 1999 with their debut, the reason they had two cars with the test on Pembrey in 1998, the test in late November 1999 had a different purpose.
Again, when I was doing the research on BAT’s Project de Bono program I uncovered this forgotten piece of autosport history. In August 1999, BAR was considering their plans for the next season. As the 1999 season did not bring what they would have expected. Therefore the team was planning to alternate it’s liveries for the next season.
During the 1999 Belgium Grand Prix a scheme of the new livery was leaked, on purpose or not, when it was photographed by Frits van Eldik. Bernie Ecclestone was holding a map with the livery behind his back. It was a while/silver colour scheme with only the 555 logos (in blue) on the car. Speculations went that BAT was to ditch Lucky Strike. More interesting was the logo’s from Motorola and Becks on it, suggesting the team had found extra funding.
Months later, BAR asked Danish driver Kristian Kolby if he was interested to test a “prototype” livery for the team on Pembrey. It was only a few months after Kolby took pole during the F3000 race on Pembrey. It probably was the weekend of 27 and 28 November 1999 when Kristian Kolby was on Pembrey for BAR.
Instead of a BAR 01 or an older Formula One car, BAR decided to use a F3000 chassis. To test their 2000 livery on. Likewise, a year before this was also a secret test. On the circuit, only a handful bar crewmembers and some BAT representatives arrived.
Performing some slow and fast drives to evaluate the effectiveness of the new design. Looking at the livery that was leaked in Spa and the livery in 2000 I probably was similar only was 555 replaced with Lucky Strike again.
It seems that Kolby was disappointed that he had to test the livery on a F3000 chassis. It seems that he was told, or thought, that he would test in an actual Formula One car. The Tyrrell 026 would have a good choice in my opinion to have it tested. As well, Kolby could experience the real Formula One experience.