The Jaguar-McLaren mess

ADRIAN NEWEY will stay at McLaren until the middle of 2005. At least that is what is likely to happen following a bizarre set of announcements on Friday that Newey was going to Jaguar and then staying where he is. Jaguar is claiming a legally-binding contract but ultimately it is irrelevant because if Newey wants to stay where he is, Jaguar is wasting time and money trying to force him to move.

Clearly Newey had decided to leave but a new offer, very late in the proceedings, made him change his mind. To have done that, knowing that it would be screwing his friend Bobby Rahal, it must have been spectacular. Speculation in F1 circles is that it might even have included the offer of shares in McLaren International - or perhaps options to buy shares.

Whatever the case, Newey was not able to warn Jaguar early enough to stop the press release going ahead and so one can only assume that the final decision was only made minutes, rather than hours, before the statement was published. There is no other logical explanation for what occurred.

Whatever the case it is a huge setback for Jaguar Racing, for Bobby Rahal and for Niki Lauda. With Newey in place the search could have begun for some really topline drivers but without Newey that is not going to be easy.

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