FEBRUARY 5, 2001
Lauda to get senior Jaguar F1 job
The 52-year-old Austrian, who achieved heroic status by battling his way back to the cockpit of his Ferrari after sustaining near-fatal burns in the 1976 German grand prix, will work closely with the team's chief executive officer Bobby Rahal in an advisory role dealing with any aspect of motor racing politics which impinges on the Jaguar organization.
His appointment will be under the auspices of the Premier automotive group, Ford's London-based luxury car division which includes Jaguar, Aston Martin and Land Rover.
Within the Ford empire Lauda's recruitment is regarded as filling the high profile gap left by Jackie Stewart's resignation from the position of Jaguar racing CEO last year, although the Scot still retains his link with the team, in particular as consultant to their major sponsor HSBC.
Lauda, who won 25 grands prix for Ferrari, Brabham and McLaren between 1974 and 85, held a similar position with Ferrari from 1990 to 93. However the arrangement was not renewed as the his obligations to his expanding airline, Lauda-air, were then making increasing demands on his time.
Two months ago Lauda, who routinely captained his own Boeing jetliners on flights to the Far East and Australia, was ousted from the board of Lauda-air after his attempts to cover a multi-million dollar trading loss by the sale and lease-back of some airliners was voted down by Austrian airlines, his commercial partner and majority shareholder. In motor racing circles, Lauda's appointment was being interpreted as a move by Wolfgang Reitzle, chairman of the PAG, to further raise the team's profile at the start of a year which promises steady consolidation rather than dramatic results.
Lauda has a reputation for being cuttingly direct and to-the-point, with the capacity to get straight to the point of any problem or difficulty. In that respect, however, he is far from the conventional stereotype of the corporate motor industry man and is unlikely to have taken this advisory role unless he was convinced that his opinions would be carefully listened to.