DECEMBER 1, 1992
BY JOE SAWARD
Keith Wiggins wants to do Formula 1. His Pacific Racing team has won a championship at every level it has contested and now Grand Prix racing beckons, even if there is a recession.
"Recession or no recession, we're going to do it," says Wiggins. "I cannot help the timing. We have built up through every formula and we have won in each one. There is nowhere else to go. The motivation is to win. It's bloody hard to find money. But it is never going to be easy, so you have to do it sooner or later. I have found that people can relate to F1, whereas in F3000 it has always been difficult. At least you are in a market which everyone knows.
"The other thing," he adds, '"is that the more you get into building an F1 team, the more you want to do it."
But how do you do it?
"You need a fast and reliable customer engine. A sensible engine. That's expensive, but you have to perform well at the beginning. There are only one or two of those and I'm not saying what we've got, so don't ask if it has eight or 10 cylinders.
"To begin with we will construct a car like a lot of other F1 teams do, with out-of-house composites. Obviously we are looking at doing it in-house eventually. We have the space, the people and the know-how. We could do it now, but I am mindful that this is the first year for the team and it is better to control certain areas. The important thing is to come up with a good package. The people I am going to do it with know their areas, so we will have a proven package. I will be using the resources of good people I know."
It all makes perfect sense, of course, but talk is cheap. F1 is not. Does Pacific racing have an F1 budget?
"The budget is in place to get the project started, and we will be making inroads in the next month," says Wiggins. "At the end of the day once we push the button we can move quite quickly. Everything else is done. The design is finished. What we want to do is put everything into place with the engine and then that's when we need the money. I work quite sensibly. I will commit myself 100% but I'm not stupid to start involving other costs until we have them. It's looking very good. We've got a lot of good people working on the sponsorship. We've got a lot of people interested. We've one or two potential sponsors who have real commitment. Providing that money comes into place there will be a car and a deal and we can tell everyone what we are doing. That will help with everyone else we're talking to us. We don't need the car until November or December and as we are now that is easily achievable. Really now we must concentrate on putting the budget together. Sponsors don't like to see a car on paper - you either have a car or you don't"
There is no question of Pacific buying another F1 team?
"No. I don't have the money to buy a team and having a team base of my own I don't see that buying a team would save me money. There are a lot of stories going around."
This is not new. Last winter Pacific Racing was linked with an attempt to buy into the Tyrrell team.
"That wasn't a perfect situation for anyone," says Wiggins. "It wasn't planned in advance. We had won the Formula 3000 championship and we were approached by some people to do F1. I said: "You are mad." They said they had the backing and would like to get involved with Tyrrell. We went to discuss that situation. For a number of reasons it didn't work out, people were not perhaps as straight as they appeared - like most things in F1.
"In the long-term I'm not sure it would have been the most comfortable way to do it. It would have meant that other people were involved and I am not sure I want to change the way I run things at the moment. It is best to stay small and keep control. For the good of everyone involved you have to have the ultimate say.
"Since then I have talked to a few people about buying teams. I didn't approach people, they came to me. These didn't go very far. For a start there aren't that many F1 teams I would want. There are debts; they don't want to change their names - things like that. So why not start with a clean piece of paper? I've got the base and the team."
The current Pacific base is in Thetford in Norfolk - well off the beaten track. Surely that must be a disadvantage?
"You can move down south if you want to spend a fortune on rents. Most of the F1 teams are down there and you spend most of your lives with your mechanics being nicked. I don't see any benefit. Sure, there are places down there to get the carbon done and so on, but its only a motorway away. I don't see any drawbacks with Thetford. We have a facility which is good enough and big enough. It is bought and paid for. We are keeping control of the overheads. Maybe in a year or two we may decide to amalgamate with the people we are going to be working with in terms of the composites, but at the moment we are staying where we are.