Fight for Newey intensifies

THE fight over McLaren technical director Adrian Newey intensified on Thursday in Canada as his current employers and Jaguar Racing issued new statements about his future in the sport.

Jaguar and McLaren both lay claim to the services of Newey for next season, and after Jaguar team chief Bobby Rahal said that legal proceedings have started against McLaren, the rival team issued the following statement:

"West McLaren Mercedes has noted a variety of incorrect statements regarding the decision of Adrian Newey to extend his commitment to the team. In order to clarify the situation McLaren therefore wish to put on record the following facts.

"Adrian has 14 months of his previous contract with McLaren to run and despite repeated assurances made to McLaren by Jaguar Racing that it was not in dialogue with any member of our organization, it became clear that they sought aggressively to recruit Adrian. It is a fact that at one point Jaguar Racing had convinced Adrian to leave McLaren.

"However, at no time in the discussions regarding Adrian's contract extension were McLaren aware of any binding contract between Adrian and Jaguar Racing.

"It was made clear to Jaguar Racing by Adrian on the evening of May 31, 2001, that he had decided to remain at McLaren. It was agreed during this discussion that Jaguar Racings planned press release which was scheduled for 0830 BST the following day would not be issued. Despite this Jaguar Racing decided to issue a statement that Adrian was joining them in the clear knowledge that this would not be the case. We cannot account for this decision.

"Adrian and the team decided some time ago that he would not attend the Canadian Grand Prix in order to concentrate on a number of development programs. It is the wish of the team and Adrian to put this matter behind them in order to concentrate on motor racing."

Jaguar, however, who had previously stated that they had a legally binding agreement for the services of Newey, which had been approved by the Queen's Counsel, then wasted no time in releasing the following statement:

"Jaguar Racing this afternoon obtained an injunction at the High Court in London on behalf of Ford Motor Company and Jaguar Racing Ltd. against McLaren International Ltd..

"The terms of this injunction restrain McLaren International from entering into or continuing any contract of employment with Adrian Newey post 31, July, 2002."

The two statements obviously indicate that the two teams are far apart in their versions of the situation and a lengthy legal battle is sure to ensue as both teams lay claim to the highly-rated Newey.

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