the Sunday Times July 4th
Jaguar takes leap into Grand Prix.....
by Andrew Lorenz
big cat is poised to leap into the world of grand prix. Jaguar is
preparing to compete in Formula One for the first time in its 77-year
history, spearheading the battle by Ford, its parent company, for supremacy
among global car manufacturers.
vehicle for Jaguar's F1 debut will be Stewart Grand Prix Racing, the
team founded in 1996 by the former world champion Jackie Stewart and his
son Paul, which was bought by Ford a month ago for more than £60m.
plans being considered by Ford, the team would be relaunched with the
Jaguar name to highlight the marque's qualities of sportiness and style.
Experts believe the team's experience will allow Jaguar to enter F1 at the
mighty good news as far as I'm concerned," said Murray Walker, the F1
commentator, last week. "There has been a rumour about this in Formula One
and if it happens it will be great to see a historic racing brand like
Jaguar in grand prix."
move is part of a seismic shift in F1 racing with mainstream
manufacturers stepping in to replace the tobacco sponsors that will be
forced out by new legislation over the next few years.
already powers the McLaren team and Ferrari is owned by Fiat. Next
year BMW will start a partnership with Williams; Jaguar is in danger of
being left on the verge if it does not join the fray.
big cat has a proud heritage in motor racing, having won the Le Mans
24-hour race seven times since 1951. Martin Brundle, who drove a Jaguar to
victory at Le Mans in 1990, said he would welcome the entry of Jaguar into
have won a lot of races with Jaguar and it would be nice to see them
going head to head with the likes of Mercedes and BMW in Formula One," he
said. "They have a great Le Mans tradition but Formula One gets ever bigger
and you can see why they would want to break into it."
Wolfgang Reitzle, Jaguar's chairman, the potential is clear: the
company could gain an edge on its rivals by establishing itself as the
premier upmarket sports brand.
believes a racier image will boost Jaguar. Smaller models - such as the
S-type and the forthcoming X400 baby Jaguar - are intended to attract a
different type of customer from its traditional market of affluent
fiftysomething business executives. It is hoping to quadruple sales by 2002.
is also keen to promote Jaguar in America. Bernie Ecclestone, the
power behind F1, plans to stage the first grand prix there for nine years.
week Jaguar was coy about details, but Reitzle said: "We will add some
excitement around our core products. We are all agreed on adding elements -
both products and activities - that must be convincing bridges to the
sporty core of the brand."
believe the new products are likely to include a two-seater sports
car, heir to the legendary E-type. An F1 entry would be an equally
evocative and high-profile move.
the plan to succeed, experts believe it will be insufficient for Ford
simply to stick the Jaguar name on the Stewart cars. "This would have to be
run by Jaguar, it would have to be a 100% Jaguar project," said one expert.
One issue is the livery that a Jaguar team would use. The company's "home"
colour is British racing green but that may cause problems because it might
not provide clear visibility for sponsors' names.
colours and designs are chosen, one thing is certain: entering
Formula One will cost a fortune. The average cost of running a team is £50m
it's only by doing this sort of thing that a Formula One team can
flourish, because you need massive amounts of money now," said Walker. "As
the tobacco sponsorship is frozen out it would be good for Formula One if
manufacturers came in, because they have the facilities - and the money."
reporting: Tom Robbins