OCTOBER 9, 2003
Red Bull and Jaguar
The Austrian drinks company Red Bull is bidding to become a major sponsor of the Jaguar Racing Formula 1 team. It is no secret that for a couple of years Jaguar has been trying to sell its engine cover and it seems that Red Bull is very keen on the idea with its aim being to raise the company's profile in the United States of America, while also having a more high profile in Formula 1. We hear that a Red Bull delegation turned up at Jaguar Racing a week ago and there were serious talks about a possible investment. There has been some suggestion that Red Bull would like to see its young protege Christian Klien in one of the cars next year but this is not very likely as Klien has no experience in F1. It is also worth noting that Red Bull is pushing young American drivers at the moment although none of the winners of the Red Bull-funded driver search has done particularly well this year in Europe. Some of the original winners may be retained but there will be another new generation of hopefuls this autumn.
In the interim it may be that Alexander Wurz will find himself at the race place at the right time and may come in to partner Mark Webber next year. Before that happens, however, Jaguar is going to need to show that it can prepare two cars successfully as both Antonio Pizzonia and Justin Wilson have really struggled with reliability this year while Webber has been able to perform without drama on many occasions.
The defection of Red Bull would be bad news for Sauber although there are suggestions in F1 circles that the Swiss team may be planning to move Petronas from being "an engine supplier" to being a more traditional sponsor, in order to make way for a new engine manufacturer. The only possible potential newcomer to the sport would seem to be Volkswagen but the management at VW says that there are no long-term plans formulated to move to F1.
However, there are some intriguing rumors that Ferrari is strengthening its partnership with Sauber to include not only engine technology but also chassis know-how as well. This would give Ferrari an extra ally in the battles with McLaren and Williams and may help to improve the tire development work that is done. The most interesting suggestion we have heard is that the engines supplied to Sauber may be badged Maserati in an effort to raise the profile of Ferrari's sister company. The two cars firms do not compete in the luxury market and so could compete in F1.
This would help to save Ferrari money, enhance its competitiveness and sell more cars.
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