SEPTEMBER 17, 2004

The end for Jaguar Racing

Come what may, there is no future for the team named Jaguar and the striking British Racing Green cars that have graced the circuits in recent years. The team has not been a success and most observers are convinced that the problem was that Ford internal politicking caused more damage than anything else.

Ford's decision to come back to F1 came at the start of 1996 when Jackie Stewart announced that he would be running a Ford-backed team in 1997. Stewart Grand Prix was never truly competitive. It finished second at Monaco in 1997 thanks to the efforts of Rubens Barrichello but was plagued by unreliability. There was a better engine in 1998 but reliability was still a problem. In the middle of the year Ford bought Cosworth and decided to build a new engine for 1999 and the cars were quick. Towards the end of the year Johnny Herbert won a lucky but deserved victory in a wet/dry European GP at the Nurburgring, giving the team its first - and only F1 victory. In June it was announced that Jackie Stewart had pulled off an amazing deal and sold the Ford-funded team back to Ford. The team would become Jaguar Racing in 2000 but the expectations were too high and there began a series of management changes which would lead to chaos for the next two years. Initially the team was run by Neil Ressler and some of the old management from Stewart but Ressler then appointed Bobby Rahal to the job and there began a revamp of the technical staff. Before this could be completed Rahal's position was undermined when the team was handed over by Detroit to the new Premier Automotive Group under Wolfgang Reitzle. He wanted Rahal out and put Niki Lauda in control instead. But soon afterwards Reizle got the bullet and Lauda had his day in the firing line and Detroit took control again with the programme passing to the control of Richard Parry-Jones, who put the current management of Tony Purnell and David Pitchforth in place at the start of 2003. The team did an impressive job with the budget available but Ford has now concluded that to go from the current position to a better position further up the grid is impossible given the money needed and the state of Jaguar Cars.