DECEMBER 19, 2006
An interesting move for Purnell
Tony Purnell is 48 and never has to worry about working again. He made a considerable fortune in 1999 when he sold his PI Group to the Ford Motor Company and from there went on to become involved in Ford's F1 activities, as the boss of Jaguar Racing. When Ford decided to pull out of F1 at the end of 2004 Jaguar Racing was sold to Red Bull and soon afterwards Purnell departed and has since been involved in "various business interests".
There is no doubt that Purnell is clever. He has a first class degree in Metallurgy and Mechanical Engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. He then went on a Kennedy Scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he spent two years doing a Masters degree in mechanical engineering and aerodynamics, his dissertation being on the subject of Formula 1 aerodynamics before he returned to Cambridge University in Britain as a research student. While at Cambridge he began working with Lola on electronic windtunnel instrumentation, having been introduced to the company by Carl Haas, who he had met in the United States. As a result of this work Purnell set up PI Research in 1986 to market his software and in 1988 began marketing a data logger system for racing cars and set Purnell on course to make his fortune.
Moving to the FIA may be the first step in a bigger plan. Purnell has on occasion been mentioned as a possible candidate to be FIA President when Max Mosley stands down. The federation has a habit of doing what the current president says and with backing from Mosley, Purnell could be the man to continue Mosley's policies in the future.
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