FEBRUARY 23, 1998
The Tyrrells quit Tyrrell
The Tyrrells took the opportunity to bail out, using the excuse that the logical but expensive route would have been to hire Jos Verstappen, who has a great deal more experience with the team and in F1.
It is doubtful, however, whether Verstappen would make the difference between Tyrrell scoring points or being an also-ran and some observers have concluded that the signing of Rosset was just a convenient excuse for the Tyrrell Family to use to jump ship and thus disassociate themselves with the team in its last season. It was fairly clear from the moment the deal was announced last year that Tyrrell had little to look forward to: BAR was promising nothing and it was inevitable that team members would start to look elsewhere for more stable long-term employment. And despite transparent attempts to show that morale is high at Ockham, this is clearly not the case at all.
The departure of the Tyrrells will not help matters - there are quite a lot of older staff who have been with Tyrrell for many years - although on a day to day basis the resignations will make little difference. Ken has been the figurehead in recent years and Bob has been supported by a team of marketing types led by Rupert Manwaring and so his departure will have little effect. "The issue we've been grappling with for the last month is the significant difference in agendas for Tyrrell and BritishÊAmerican Racing during 1998," said Ken Tyrrell "We are about to enter what is our final season in the sport and our priorities are necessarily rather more short-term in their focus than those of British American Racing."
A successful timber merchant in the immediate post-war period Ken Tyrrell started running a racing team in 1960 and graduated to Formula 1 in 1968 with Matra chassis. The team was immediately successful and Jackie Stewart won the WorldÊChampionship with Tyrrell in 1969. The team then started building its own cars and Stewart won two more titles in 1971 and 1973. Once the Scotsman had retired, however, Tyrrell never enjoyed the same kind of success and won only a few races in the next 10 years. Since 1983 Tyrrell has won nothing.
Tyrrell's decision to retire was marked by a number of tributes from the F1 world including one from Stewart. "I was very sorry to hear that Ken is ending his association with F1," Stewart said. "He has been an immense contributor. He has introduced and nurtured more drivers than anyone else in the sport. As a result, motor-racing owes Ken a tremendous debt."
Bernie Ecclestone also paid tribute to Tyrrell, who was one of the founders of the Formula One Constructors Association. "Ken leaves an enormous void," said Ecclestone. "I respect his choice, however, and pay tribute to his contribution to the sport of F1 over the last 30 years."
It should, perhaps, be added that Tyrrell was sold to BAR for around $30m of which Ken controlled 50%, his son Bob 23% and his other son Kenneth 10%. The Tyrrell Family may be out of Grand Prix racing in all but name but they have not done badly out of the sport.