Lauda plays for time

FORD's Premier Performance Division CEO Niki Lauda, who currently devotes the majority of his time to running the Jaguar Racing team since former principal Bobby Rahal's departure, has given 2003 as the deadline for seeing the team break out of the bottom half of the Formula 1 field rather than 2002.

"In 2001 we were eighth in the Constructors championship and in 2002 we want to be fifth or possibly sixth," he said. "My influence can only be measured, therefore, in 2003. It will only approximately show in 2002 whether my influence has brought the team forward."

Jaguar Racing was established in 2000 after Ford Motor Company bought out the Stewart-Ford team, and re-branded it to market the executive sports and saloon cars of Jaguar, initially under the control of Ford man Neil Ressler and then when he stepped down former Indycar champion Bobby Rahal took the reins for 2001.

Rahal did not last much beyond mid-season however, with Lauda having been employed in a senior management role earlier in the year and the pair clearly not gelling. Lauda was often critical of the 2001 Jaguar R2, which he criticized for being too conservative, but clearly the forthcoming R3 is not expected to be Ford's Ferrari-beater either.

"Our 2001 car was approximately two seconds too slow. Next year it will therefore be 33 kilos lighter and eight per cent more drivable. It will also be more effective aerodynamically," Lauda said.

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