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Fry: de Ferran Move Long Planned

BAR boss Nick Fry has moved to dismiss suggestions that the hiring of Gil de Ferran as the team's new Sporting Director is a knee-jerk reaction to the team's dismal start to the 2005 season

The Brackley-based outfit are one of only three teams on the grid that have failed to score a point so far this season, and remain the only one not to have taken the chequered flag in the first three races of the year.

But speaking exclusively to Autosport-Atlas, Fry made it clear that talks with de Ferran had begun as early as last year - at a time when the team were hoping to build on their second placed finish in the 2004 constructors' world championship.

"We have been talking since before Christmas," Fry told Autosport-Atlas. "This is not a reaction to three poor races, this is something that we have been discussing since the end of last year.

"I believe this re-affirms our commitment to winning. De Ferran has got 20 years of racing experience and Geoff has got more than 15 years of designing cars. This move strengthens our management team.

"We have a lot of management expertise but we are aware that there was a final piece of the jigsaw missing, which was having someone at the senior level of the team who has hands on experience of winning in single-seater championships."

Another former Champ Car title winner who made the switch to Formula One team management has welcomed news of de Ferran's appointment - but warned of hurdles ahead.

Bobby Rahal, who enjoyed a brief tenure as team principal of Jaguar Racing, told Speedtv.com: "Good for Gil. I know he's never led a team but you know he's there because of Honda. Obviously, they think very highly of him and he's a sharp guy.

"Of course it's going to be a big challenge. It's seven days a week, 18 hours a day and it's going to be very demanding."

Rahal believes, however, that BAR are likely to give him more support than he enjoyed from Ford.

"Honda is not Ford and I think it's a relatively patient organization," he said. "What undermined me at Jaguar weren't the people who brought me in. It was the next chain of command and I think Gil will have a good guy working with him named Otmar Szafnauer.

"I hired Otmar at Jaguar to be my COO but Lauda never allowed him to do his job so, after being paid by Ford for three years to do nothing, Honda hired him. He's good."

Rahal added: "Ultimately, he still has to watch his back. It's a whole different world over there."

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