Richards Says Quitting was a Mutual Decision

David Richards rejected suggestions he was fired from the running of BAR today, stating in a telephone conference that his exit was due to a "mutual decision".

Richards Says Quitting was a Mutual Decision

David Richards rejected suggestions he was fired from the running of BAR today, stating in a telephone conference that his exit was due to a "mutual decision".

"We have delivered a five-year plan in three years," he told reporters. "My job has been done. It's been well done."

BAR said in a statement earlier today that Richards is to stand down as the team boss, with Nick Fry taking over the running. "A phased management transition is under way and should be completed by the end of the year," BAR said.

"David will be providing support in various transitional issues at BAR until the end of February. Honda and Prodrive are also exploring opportunities for working together in the future," the team's statement added.

Richards, boss of motorsport company Prodrive whose staff helped run BAR and also rallying's commercial supremo, took over from Craig Pollock at BAR in December 2001. The Briton and Prodrive, who have guided BAR to their best ever Championship result of second in the Constructors' standings this year, were hired on a consultancy agreement. Richards had a year to run on his contract.

Richards stated this afternoon that he would be rarely be seen at a Formula One track in 2005 but said he could return in the longer term in a similar role. "I've learned that in Formula One, you never say never," he said.

Button Commitment

BAR had 11 podium finishes this year and Richards fought successfully to retain the services of Briton Jenson Button after the 24-year-old sought to join Williams.

Richards said today that Honda's involvement could now prompt Button to rethink his future and stay with BAR beyond his existing contract.

"It will [influence Button] quite probably," Richards said. "I would hope he would realise that we have great foundations here and a great team to go forward with."

Friday's announcement marked the second time in Richards's career that he had been ousted from the job of team principal. In 1998 the former world championship-winning rally co-driver was in charge of Benetton.

Richards' replacement Nick Fry, aged 48, started his career with Ford in 1977 and reached a senior level in that company before moving to Prodrive in 2001 as managing director -- the role he took on at BAR in 2002.

BAR said he would become chief executive with Geoffrey Willis remaining as technical director.

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