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NOVEMBER 18, 2000

Green light for Jaguar's Silverstone HQ expected this week

IT is a reminder of just how committed Ford has become to the F1 long haul that it is prepared to invest an estimated 40 million pounds in establishing Jaguar's bespoke racing headquarters at the home of British motor racing.

Jaguar Racing's planning permission for its huge F1 complex at Silverstone should get the final green light on Thursday 23rd November when the 21 day period during which Britain's Secretary of State for the Environment can call it back for further review finally expires.

The original planning permission was granted, subject what Jaguar hope will be minor qualifications, on November 2 and it is expected that building work will start in January 2001. The huge facility which will include manufacturing facilities, race preparation, wind tunnel and the engine manufacturing operation in the form of Cosworth Racing, is expected to become operational in the autumn of 2002.

Jaguar Racing chairman Neil Ressler says he is "very proud" that he has been able to push that project through to the point where it will now start out on its journey to fruition. He is also quick to acknowledge that Ford president Jacques Nasser was unstinting in his support for the project, a hard fact which reflects a unique commitment to making Jaguar a serious F1 contender and laying the ghosts of those endless paddock jokes surrounding Ford's on-off, will-they-won't-they, wavering commitment to grand prix racing in the past.

Ressler confesses that in many ways, Silverstone virtually found itself as an obvious location for the new factory "bearing in mind that we needed to get the workforce for Cosworth Racing and Jaguar to commute to the site."

One can only imagine just what a boost the income from the long-term lease of the land involved will offer in terms of a financial boost to the coffers of the British Racing Drivers' Club, Silverstone's owners.

With an 8.5 million pound proposed upgrade to the British track being contemplated for 2002 - assuming, as everybody does, that Silverstone will retain the British Grand Prix beyond the expiry of its current contract next year - there should be sufficient in the BRDC kitty to finance those improvements without in any way jeopardizing the club's independence.