Jaguar and Red Bull

Christian Klien, European GP 2004

Christian Klien, European GP 2004 

 © The Cahier Archive

It is not a new story but there remains a certain amount of logic in the idea that the Ford Motor Company might sell its Formula 1 team to Red Bull and continue in Formula 1 solely as an engine supplier. This would fit with Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz's desire to run a team with the backing of a US car manufacturer and would solve the problem of funding for Jaguar. There is no doubt that there is an element within the Ford Motor Company wants to see the Jaguar branding dropped and the blue oval of Ford used as the main brand. At the moment however there does not seem to be any actual evidence that Ford has any intention of pulling the plug on Jaguar Racing nor indeed that Mateschitz is interested in doing anything other than talking about buying his own team. Red Bull may well become the sponsor of Jaguar Racing with rumours suggesting that Christian Klien will be joined by Vitantonio Liuzzi next year. This makes a great deal of sense and if Mateschitz shifts the $18m he gives to Sauber to Jaguar and adds it to the $12m he gives to Jaguar there is already a healthy budget for Jaguar to use. Red Bull still wants to have an American driver in Formula 1 and is spending a considerable amount of money to help several young hopefuls move up the ladder. At the moment Scott Speed looks like the best bet, showing dominant form in Formula Renault. It makes little sense for Ford to pull out of F1 if a big sponsor can be found to replace HSBC. The current Jaguar Racing budget is believed to be about $100m with another $90m being spent on the engines. A considerable chunk of this comes from sponsorship and from the sale of Cosworth engines to other teams but the F1 programme is still a big investment for Ford. However Jaguar sales have been doing very well and the image of the company has been changed, even if the F1 team has not won anything. The team argues, quite rightly, that winning is largely dictated by the amount of money available and earlier in the year looked like it was doing a very good job with the budget available. Recently however there have been a string of technical problems, notably the start software which have made life very difficult for the team. That will probably improve and as Mark Webber showed in the European GP the cars are capable of good results on an occasional basis. Thus it is fair to say that Ford will be best served by trying to do a sponsorship deal with Red Bull perhaps with options for the future rather than selling the team and hoping that Mateschitz will do a better job.

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