JANUARY 31, 2000
Exit Jackie Stewart
JACKIE STEWART confused the assembled Formula 1 media last week in London by announcing that he was standing down as chairman and chief executive of the new Jaguar Racing team but then said that he will not be going away. "I will attend most of the races and I will still be at the testing. I will still be very much involved in the team, but not with the same number of hours. For the last four years, I've been working 18-19 hours a day. That's not good for anyone. I need to move over to allow the people who are really doing the job, the space to do so."
To further complicate matters Stewart has not been replaced as chief executive although the Ford Motor Company's Neil Ressler has been named as the new Jaguar Racing chairman.
In the course of the launch of Jaguar Racing, Jaguar chairman Wolfgang Reitzle did let slip that Jackie would still be with the team "for next year" and the implication is clearly that this year is an interim year for the team. Ressler has enough jobs to do with his roles as a vice-president and chief technical officer of the Ford Motor Company, and as chairman of Cosworth Racing and Pi Electronics. It is clear that he will not stay long in all these roles and it must be assumed that Ford is in the process of trying to attract someone with sufficient stature to run all aspects of the program. The fact that the role of chief executive has been left vacant suggests that the company has someone in mind but they are under contract elsewhere for the next few months. People who have been linked to that role in the past include Ferrari's Ross Brawn.
There will be an inevitable period of flux within the team in the next couple of years as there are still plans for the team and Cosworth Racing to move to new facilities. We hear that Ford is encountering problems getting the necessary construction permits it wants before acquiring a site near Northampton. The pressure is on, however, as the current arrangement with the Swift windtunnel in California has not proved to be very successful. The team has recently started doing windtunnel work at the Southampton University facility in England.
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