SEPTEMBER 16, 2002
The Jaguar miracle
Jaguar Racing could not have wished for a better day than at Monza on Sunday. Eddie Irvine started the year dicing with Minardis in Melbourne and at Monza he stood on the podium and sprayed champagne. The team bosses may have poured scorn on stories that there is an important meeting coming up for Jaguar Racing but close scrutiny of the team's press release indicated that perhaps there are still things that need to be decided.
"Formula 1 needs Jaguar and Jaguar needs Formula 1," Irvine was quoted as saying. "This result went quite some way towards proving that."
Irvine and Lauda both poured compliments on the team under Gunther Steiner which has worked so hard in recent months.
"This is not the car we started the season with," Irvine said. "We have changed the front suspension, rear suspension, front uprights, rear uprights, floor, front wing, turning vanes, rear wing. The engine we have changed. The chassis is the same."
Everyone at Jaguar is now hoping that the meeting that no-one wants to talk about will go smoothly when the Ford Motor Company executives gather at the forthcoming Paris Automobile Show. The signs are that the Jaguar program will get the backing of the company's chief executive Sir Nick Scheele, but he must deal with calls from cost-cutters who want to save money. In all probability Jaguar Racing will continue as it is with Jordan's supposed works Ford engine deal ending up looking more and a more like a tarted-up customer arrangement with a neat business-to-business deal thrown in to help pay for the engines and keep the Deutsche Post sponsorship. In all probability Eddie Irvine will drive for the Irish team but it is not expected that much money will be spent by Ford to support that program. Ford has made it clear that its World Rally Championship project is still a priority and that means that the money available will be needed there.
"I know what I am doing next year," said Irvine. "This result does not change anything at all. My future is bright and it's all pretty much decided. I know what I want to do, people will just have to wait and see."
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