AUGUST 20, 2002
Irvine's new Ford deal?
The word from Detroit is that Eddie Irvine has somehow managed to negotiate himself a new three-year deal in Formula 1, signing an agreement directly with the the Ford Motor Company. Irvine is expected to drive for the new Jordan-Ford combination. The signing will almost certainly mean that Jordan will continue to have backing (and perhaps even increased backing) from Benson & Hedges, which wanted a high profile British driver for the sponsorship.
Irvine (36) has enjoyed three years with Jaguar Racing, during which time he has earned something in the region of $40m. His results have not been very impressive but much of the blame has had to go to Jaguar which has not really supplied him with a decent car.
If the stories are confirmed it will underline the likelihood that Jaguar Racing is about to be cut loose by Ford and all the signs are that the team will be bought by Red Bull and transformed into Team Red Bull USA. The plan appears to be for the team to use customer Cosworth engines and the preference would be to have an American driver. There are no obvious candidates at the moment but the appearance of CART driver Townsend Bell might not have been a coincidence. Bell is at the right age to go into F1. Red Bull is also putting in place a scheme to promote young Americans for F1 in the future. This is being run by Danny Sullivan and will be officially announced at the United States GP in September.
It remains to be therefore what will happen to Mark Webber, who was hoping for a Jaguar deal in exchange for an engine supply for Minardi - which has Webber under contract next year.
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