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AUGUST 27, 2002

Jaguar, Red Bull and an Arrows revival

At the Hungarian Grand Prix there is no doubt at all that there were moves going on to nudge the Ford Motor Company towards selling Jaguar Racing to Red Bull. It was a deal which made a lot of sense for all concerned. It seems now that, for whatever reason, Ford is not going to go down that path. Red Bull's attention is being turned back to Arrows but not as a partner as was previously foreseen but as the team owner. It remains to be seen who would run this operation but there are a variety of possible partners for Mateschitz. These include Craig Pollock and Niki Lauda (currently with Jaguar Racing). We have even heard that there might be an attempt to put Formula 3000 team owner Helmut Marko in charge of the F1 team. These are all rumors at the moment.

The news about Jaguar casts some doubt on the status of the Jordan deal that was announced in Hungary unless we accept that Ford has now saddled itself with two "factory" teams competing against one another with different brands. The deal with Jordan makes sense in that if there is a deal between Ford Europe and DHL for parts distribution the engine operation will pay for itself with savings made by Ford. The need for Jordan to have more than just customer status can be explained as a question of the team maintaining credibility without actually enjoying the full benefits of a factory deal and at the same time giving Ford a lever with which to squeeze more out of Jaguar Racing, its recalcitrant factory operation. This is not unusual behaviour for Ford bosses as throwing people up against one another creates competition and hopefully increases performance. There is an implied threat that the team which does the best job will end up with official status.

It would not be the first time that Ford has done this sort of thing. Back in 1993 when Benetton was underperforming badly, Ford did a deal with McLaren to supply its engines to the Woking team. Ayrton Senna blitzed the Benettons and the intense embarrassment led Benetton to redouble its efforts to be successful. The result was a World title for the team in 1994, albeit in highly controversial circumstances.