Honda announced today in Tokyo that it has bought out British American Tobacco, the majority owner of the B.A.R.-Honda Formula 1 team, effective December 31. This means the team will run under the Honda brand next year, although BAT will be its principal sponsor until the end of the 2006 season.
The announcement comes ahead of Honda's home Grand Prix this weekend at Suzuka. The announcement included an unexpected twist - there is rumored to be a second Honda-powered team next year, also running the new-spec V8 engines. It is possible that this is somehow linked to Honda's ongoing support of Takuma Sato, whose star-crossed F1 career has been put on hold since he was dropped by B.A.R.-Honda in favor of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, and rumors say that Sato will drive for the new team.

Formula 1 teams don't spring up overnight, and all the existing F1 teams are spoken for, so this would have to be a new team based on an existing operation with the size and facilities to manage an F1 effort. Grandprix.com makes a good case for this mystery outfit being Dome in Japan, but everything is speculation at this point. Then, what else is new in Formula 1?


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