Honda website
Honda website

SEPTEMBER 28, 2002

Castroneves and Jaguar

There has been speculation for some time that Jaguar Racing will soon announce that Mark Webber has been signed to drive for the team next year. In theory therefore the line-up for next year should be Webber and Pedro de la Rosa as the Spanish driver has one year to run on his contract with the team.

But in recent days other rumors have been added to the pot and the recent test by Antonio Pizzonia raised questions. The feeling was that Pizzonia would not have bothered with the test if there was not a serious chance that he might be considered for the drive and this led to speculation in the press that Jaguar might be willing to dump de la Rosa, by paying off his contract and releasing him.

But we hear that things are even more complicated than that. The word from Detroit is that the Ford Motor Company bosses would like to see a driver who would be of some use in the all-important North American market. The problem is that there is no obvious candidate with the profile wanted. The next best thing would be a driver known in the United States and we hear that Ford wants to get double Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves. There is some resistance to this idea but since Castroneves's recent Toyota test - which was very impressive - the momentum has been building and we hear that the issue will now be solved at a Jaguar Racing board meeting next Friday. It is anticipated that if a decision is made in favor of Castroneves he would partner Webber and both Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa would move on elsewhere. Irvine is expected to go to Jordan, which will be an interesting transition as there has been considerable friction in recent days between Jordan and Jaguar personnel, relating to some of the announcements which have been made about the Ford engine supplies next year. There have even been suggestions that there was a scuffle between marketing men from the two teams in the course of Friday.

Funnily enough, no-one wants to confirm that...