SEPTEMBER 14, 1998
Herbert to Stewart
JOHNNY HERBERT also surprised the Formula 1 world by announcing that he has signed a two-year deal with the Stewart Ford team, leaving Peter Sauber after two frustrating seasons with the Swiss team.
Signing for Stewart appears to have been Johnny's only real choice in F1 as Williams was showing no real interest in him and the idea of spending another year at Sauber, waiting for a possible deal with Honda for the year 2000, did not appeal to him.
The Stewart ride is unlikely to help his career. Stewart is struggling to be competitive and will almost certainly lose its exclusive Ford factory status in the year 2000 when Benetton is expected to begin using the Zetec-R engines.
The team is hoping to be able to convince Ford to continue by producing some good results next year and Herbert said that the plans for 1999 had helped to convince him to join the struggling team.
"I believe that with the chassis improvements I know about for 1999 and with Ford pushing ahead with its engine program, I have a great chance to help the team to the top of the F1 tree," said Johnny.
The move is bad news for Jos Verstappen, who had hoped to be retained next year by the Milton Keynes team. Jos is now concentrating on landing the drive at Sauber but may end up having to look to America for employment.