FEBRUARY 13, 2002
A year is a (very) long time in politics
A year ago this week Niki Lauda was appointed the head of Ford's Premier Performance Division and put in charge of Jaguar Racing, Cosworth Racing and Pi Electronics. Since then very little has gone right for Jaguar Racing. The team failed to achieve much with the Jaguar-Cosworth R2; the attempt to sign up Adrian Newey to head the Jaguar Racing technical team failed at the last moment. Lauda and Jaguar Racing boss Bobby Rahal fell out to such an extent that they could not work together and Rahal was given his marching orders, a move which sent the team morale spiralling downwards. Lauda tried but failed to hire the Williams design team while plans for a new factory were axed and although a research and development has been hurriedly put together for Jaguar by Adrian Reynard the team's plans to acquire the Arrows windtunnel have also fallen flat.
The new Jaguar R3 is, by all accounts, a disaster and technical director Steve Nichols has already departed.
Lauda is fighting fires but the general consensus in F1 is that there will be further departures in the months ahead and there are very serious fears that the Ford Motor Company bosses may simply overruled Jaguar Cars boss Wolfgang Reitzle and ditch the whole F1 program.
Rahal was not happy to be ousted last summer as he felt that he had not been given a fair chance but he is now delighted not to be involved and is talking about a plan to run a team at Le Mans. Rahal raced at Le Mans as a driver on three occasions and would now like to try and win the French classic as a team owner.
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