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JUNE 19, 2004

Williams and the Royal Bank of Scotland

The Royal Bank of Scotland is believed to be on the verge of signing a significant sponsorship deal with the Williams team but things have been rather complicated by the fact that the bank is being represented in F1 by Sir Jackie Stewart, who is on the board of directors of Williams's rival Jaguar Racing. It is not clear how Stewart had been able to reconcile these two roles but it seems that Jaguar Racing boss Tony Purnell is unperturbed by the goings-on.

"Jackie has acted correctly in that he informed the board and the HSBC that he was going to take up a roll with the Royal Bank of Scotland," Purnell said. " There's nothing untoward there. Jackie is the father of Jaguar Racing. He's worked for Ford for 40 years. He's got huge standing in the sport. That implies a set of first-class ethics. Jackie's always assured us that he's steadfastly behind the team, and I'm sure he is."

It is always possible that the Royal Bank of Scotland has made it clear that it is not interested in backing Jaguar and that Stewart is therefore continuing his involvement simply to be paid a commission on any deal that happens with Williams. The bank is also understood to have talked to British American Racing.

Stewart in the meantime is keeping up his public profile in the United States and on Sunday morning will be marching at the head of 300 bagpipers as part of the pre-race events at Indianapolis. Stewart will wear a glengarry hat and tartan trews and will be carrying a traditional mace, although it is not clear whether or not the BRDC president will try twirling this device.