By Andrew Benson
Japanese car giant Honda is set to become a Formula One team owner with BAR, BBC Sport has learned.
BAR-Honda emerged as a major player in F1 this year
Honda has supplied engines to BAR for four years but wants to increase its commitment to winning in F1.
A deal is said to be agreed, but sources differ on whether Honda will buy BAR outright or become a co-owner with a 40% shareholding.
BAR team principal David Richards is expected to move on, with managing director Nick Fry taking the reins.
The team would continue to be based in Brackley in Northamptonshire, with Jenson Button and Takuma Sato as the drivers.
It will be the first time Honda has been an F1 team owner since 1968, despite dominating the sport as an engine supplier with Williams and McLaren in the 1980s and early 1990s, and returning with BAR in 2000.
Honda were unavailable for comment.
Fry said: "There is nothing we can say at this stage."
Richards told fellow team principals last week that he was unable to agree any proposals for rule changes because the team was being sold and he had to report back to Honda.
Richards is expected to leave BAR when Honda take control
And a source close to BAR said: "Honda will buy the team eventually - some time in the next 12 months."
Another added: "My understanding is that Honda is going to buy a percentage of BAR, but not a controlling interest.
"There is a deal done, but there are some loose ends to tie up."
The sale of BAR would mean the end of tobacco giant BAT's involvement in F1.
BAT had always said it would quit F1 by 2006, but the introduction of a new British anti-tobacco advertising law next year made its exit more pressing.
The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act, which comes into force on 31 July 2005, bans British companies from any activity intended to promote the UK sale of tobacco products.
But the change in ownership has not yet been presented to the board of BAR.
The team's co-founder Adrian Reynard, who retains a minority shareholding, told BBC Sport: "I hold two seats on the board, but this has not been a board subject, and the co-owners ought to know something about it.
"It wasn't even discussed at the last board meeting and I don't know if it's going to be discussed at the next one, which is on Monday.
"But I can tell you it has always been my dream that Honda acquires either part or all of the BAR F1 team, because I knew [owner and tobacco giant] BAT's tenure was always going to be limited.
"I believed Honda was a perfect fit - it's a great company - and would dearly love it to be the caretaker of the team, so I am totally supportive of this happening."
The move comes at the end of a year in which BAR-Honda finally emerged as a major force in F1.
After years of overspending and underachievement, the team were front-runners throughout 2004.
They failed to win a race, but finished second in the constructors' championship, ahead of F1 heavyweights like Williams and McLaren.