SEPTEMBER 14, 1998
...but changes ahead at Stewart
We hear that the plan has come about largely as a result of pressure from the Ford Motor Company, which is demanding better results from the team in 1999 - which will be in the fourth year of the Stewart-Ford relationship.
There were rumors in the paddock at Monza that Benetton Formula boss David Richards might be moved to Stewart in the role of managing-director, taking over from Paul Stewart. But this would seem to be a negative step for Ford because Stewart still has a very long way to go before it can be built into an industrial combine to rival the top F1 teams. It would be more effective for Ford to supply its engines to Benetton in the year 2000. Richards might however be swayed if a considerable shareholding in the team was made available to him, although this would mean giving up the work he has been doing for the last year rebuilding Benetton.
The Stewart-Ford relationship will continue until the end of the current contract and if the team starts to win - which does not seem likely at the moment - Ford may then decide to continue with two teams, which would be a good political move with Bernie Ecclestone.
While Richards may not be the man for Stewart, there is no doubt the company is looking for a new managing-director following several months during which management consultants have been analyzing the operation.
Hiring a new chief designer is also not going to be an easy task although there are several people in the paddock who might be interested. Mike Coughlan - currently at Arrows but rumored to be on his way to Honda - would fit the bill but will probably need convincing that the Stewart route is a better idea than going with Honda. The job could also go to JamesÊRobinson, Williams's Senior Operations Engineer. While not primarily known as a designer Robinson did lead the design team at Arrows in 1989 and is available, as his Williams contract is up for renewal and he is looking around at alternative work.