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SEPTEMBER 17, 2004

Jaguar Racing and Cosworth up for sale

The Ford Motor Company has announced that Jaguar Racing and Cosworth are up for sale and will leave Formula 1 at the end of the year unless buyers can be found for the two entities, which will be run as going concerns until the end of the year. Ford's F1 supremo Richard Parry-Jones announced the news on Friday morning, shortly after informing the staff of the decisions made in Detroit.

"I think there are lots of buyers out there," Parry-Jones said, but he refused to give any details saying that all negotiations were done under confidentiality agreements. The HSBC is handling the sale for the two companies for Ford while Ford makes up its mind whether or not to sell Pi Research, the third company in the Premier Performance Division of the company.

The decision has been necessary by the failure of Jaguar Cars to increase its sales as had been forecast. Parry-Jones said that a great deal of effort had gone into arguing for a Ford-branded team but said that Ford's name and international reputation and connection with motorsport is already sufficiently strong to make such a programme unnecessary.

The announcement comes as a major blow for both the Jordan and Minardi teams which had hoped to use Cosworth engines next year. Deals may still be possible with new owners but there will be need to be very swift decisions if the two teams are to commit themselves to 2005 as cars must be built. Jordan did come close to a deal with Toyota recently but that was torpedoed by the F1 authorities because Toyota was asking for certain technology to be left untouched in exchange for agreeing to supply engines to small teams.

If Jaguar Racing and Cosworth are closed down it will mean the loss of around 500 jobs at the team, at Cosworth and at Pi Research.

Parry-Jones said that the staff had taken the decision well and he had asked them "to help us complete the season with pride and dignity".

"This business is about people," he said, "and they are magnificent."

Although Parry-Jones said that the decision had been made because of Jaguar's financial problems he did make the points that one of the contributory causes for the decision was that teams do not get enough of the revenue generated by the sport and that change has been too slow in coming to cut the costs of F1.

"We had anticipated that the sport would undergo reform but it has not," he said. "There are various companies which derive income from the sport. We have discussed with the current incumbent several alternative schemes but nothing has happened. We want to win in F1 and not just be there taking part. To win we need to escalate our investment in F1 and Jaguar Cars cannot afford to do that."