By S.P. Sheridan - Motorsport.com Motorsport.com was invited to hear the news that Jaguar's main sponsor, HSBC, has signed a significant contract with Jaguar, accompanied by an undisclosed sum of funding thought to be very substantial, putting...
By S.P. Sheridan - Motorsport.com
Motorsport.com was invited to hear the news that Jaguar's main sponsor, HSBC, has signed a significant contract with Jaguar, accompanied by an undisclosed sum of funding thought to be very substantial, putting HSBC on par with other top Formula One sponsors. The guest speakers, Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle (chairman of Jaguar cars), Sir John Bond (Group chairman of HSBC holdings), and Bobby Rahal (CEO of Jaguar Racing) were obviously excited about the deal.
Sir Paul Bond: "I am delighted to announce that HSBC is to renew it's sponsorship with the Jaguar racing F1 team. That sponsorship will now run through to the end of the 2004 season, by that time we would have been in Formula one for 8 years, as we started in 1997 with the then Stewart grand prix team, which today is Jaguar Racing. HSBC will remain Jaguar racing's principle non-technical sponsor. We find the sponsorship to be very successful in terms of improving visibility for HSBC around the world, we operate in 79 countries and every F1 race is broadcast to 325 million people in 120 countries, including four of our major business areas."
"We certainly feel that Jaguar is the right thing for us in terms of image, heritage and passion and we are delighted to maintain our very strong relationship with Ford. We are not going to disclose the amount of arrangement with sponsorship but what I can say is that, it is line with other major Formula 1 sponsors, and we believe we will get a good return on our expense. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Jaguar racing as they head towards the world championship. We were delighted that the team scored in Canada and placed on the podium at Monaco, and we are all looking forward to Silverstone this weekend. Now let me hand you over to Bobby Rahal."
Bobby Rahal: "It has been a great honour for Jaguar to let me be here on behalf of the 320 people in Jaguar Racing, the announcements today from HSBC couldn't have come at a better time for us. Thanks to all the effort put in by everyone at Jaguar Racing, and Niki's persistence. We are going forward in a very progressive way and look forward to a successful future. Without the commitment on the part of HSBC, which is a tremendous vote of confidence, I think, about what we are trying to do in Jaguar Racing what the future will hold, Jaguar I'm sure will sit down and will be working full time to make sure this will be a successful partnership on all counts."
"If you look back at the History of the team HSBC has been their throughout thick and thin and this commitment speaks volumes, and it's philosophy of HSBC, we are very pleased and honoured to be in partnership with HSBC, not only in the UK but all around the world. We get to represent HSBC in all the sponsors 79 different countries, actively of course, on television everywhere else. It is a great thrill to be part of the Formula 1 world championship together. We look forward to a long future, we appreciate your vote of confidence in us and we anticipate great results in the future, we are working hard and all your people are, and together we can acheive our goals, thank you."
Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle: "The future HSBC continued support towards Jaguar racing is very well received and reinforces our outstanding relationship as business partners, and when I say business partners I mean with Jaguar cars, and as chairman of Jaguar cars I work very close with part of this formula One programme and HSBC's commitment to work on our team will definitely play a major role in our success in future."
"As CEO of Jaguar racing Bobby just mentioned something else about the importance of this, but I think I should make some comment's on the relationship between HSBC formula 1 and Jaguar cars, because what you are see here is really a partnership in that twist sense and there are no long standing solutions between HSBC and the automotive industry and when it comes to F1 company and Jaguar cars. Let me give you only a few short examples, in total HSBC provides facilities in 56 Ford subsidiaries overall in 17 countries around the world, this is one of the largest partnerships in the world when it comes to banks and car makers. Ford provide around 26% for approximately 75,000 vehicles to HSBC through contract hire, that's one of the biggest contracts in the industry. HSBC is a major bank for Jaguar cars, on the export side, just think that Jaguar today already exports 70% of its production."
"And by the way on the subject of the X-type and most of you will know that the car is produced in the Liverpool plant where one of HSBC'c biggest in-house bank is actually in the plant at Liverpool, where you can see that our relationship with HSBC extends far beyond Formula one. Our targets and expectations go on and of the track. With HSBC committed now to formula one and jaguar racing, we can continue building to our formula one success."
Another guest speaker was the old champ himself, Niki Lauda. He was on form, and, when asked if he found his new role in F1 more difficult than in his driving years, replied: "The driving is the easy part once you have to prepare these cars to go quick this is really the hard work and these two guys have the easy work." (He motions to his right hand side where Eddie Irvine and Pedro De La Rosa are sitting.)
The drivers are then asked whether this is true?
Eddie Irvine: "I think nowadays it's a lot harder than it was in Niki's day we have a lot to do with the sponsors and things like that, and the way the car is handling is more technical so there's a lot more to do than just drive the car, it's not a bad life though." Eddie went on to beam about the massive improvements that the Aerodynamics designers have had and the half second gain on laps because of this, he say's "it's the fastest improvements on aerodynamics he has ever seen," and believe me Eddie doesn't make statements like that unless he feels them from the head!
After the panel announcements, Motorsport.com was able to talk with both Eddie Irvine and Bobby Rahal.
M.com: "Eddie, how frustrating is it when rookies like Kimi Raikkonen consistently out qualify you?"
EI: "Em, they were out qualifying us at the beginning of the start but lately I've been pretty much beating them in the races you know, they had a better car than us and we had to get our car better than his, so I could beat him, but he's done a good job this year, he's very solid."
M.com: "What do you think about F3 guy's coming straight into F1?"
EI: "I think it's no problem if they can do the job you know, if they get a lot of tests beforehand it's not such an issue. If they are good enough they'll survive and if they're not they won't, that's formula 1 survival of the fittest."
M.com: "Was Monaco a big boost for the team?"
EI: "It was great you know, to get the podium there it's fantastic, but you know that each race is each race and Monaco is Monaco, it's a very special race and depends on certain things, and to get a result there does not mean you're gonna go to the next race and get a good result. As we found out, but you know the last couple of races we've had strong races, you know, and em, good thing's are coming up. We have a new aerodynamics expert in the team and so far he's worked hard on the car and done a fantastic job. We've another new Aerodynamic package for this weekend, which is another new step."
Eddie admits it's gonna be a tough race to get points at Silverstone, but has improved and still has a long way to go.
EI: "I don't see me challenging for the championship for one or two years, so it's not an immediate issue for me. I know how good Michael Schumacher is, better than anyone, I know his week points better than anyone does and I know how Ferrari's operates better than anyone else does. Who better than me to challenge for the championship"
Just at that point, the other members of the media began asking boring questions and Eddie seemed to drift into the doldrums, so I sought out Bobby Rahal to confirm some of my suspicions-
M.com: "Hi Bobby, the last time I chatted to you was at Oulton Park, you told me than that you would improve the aerodynamics of the car prior to Monaco and you did, but what about the rest of the technical problems?"
BR::"From a suspension geometry standpoint, this team didn't really have a damper programme at all, that's underway, something that we believe strongly in, in CART, that dampers are everything. That's a very important aspect of tuning and there was not much of that, so we're really planning on getting to the point where a seven post rig actually does something beneficial for us. Rather than just say, we've got one, which I think has been the case in the past. On all fronts we have to improve and it is being improved on all front's. One of the things we are doing will give us direction towards F3, so what we're doing today is gonna have benefits tomorrow."
M.com: "How long into the future will it be before we see Andre Lotterer or James Courtney in F1?"
BR: "In some respects they already are in the team, Andre has done a very good job in test's that he has done with us in Monza last week, and James is gonna run with us next week at Monza. I have great faith, I think James is a great young talent, he's done a very good job in formula 3 for his first year, he is consistently in the front and 3rd in the championship now, and he has got the pace. I think he's just maybe a little light on experience, but he's learning quickly and we want to get him into the formula 1, because if you take what he's doing in F3, there's no reason why he can't do it in F1, certainly we look to James as being one of our guy's for the future and I think Andre is under consideration too, because once you go to the top four or five guy's you know you can't get, or in two or three years from now they may be retired, to me we are looking at very young driver's too groom then, James and Andre are in line."
M.com: "There's been a lot of press speculation on drivers for next year, Button has been linked to Jaguar as have one or two other drivers, who will be driving for Jaguar next season?"
BR: "Well, Eddie and Pedro are our drivers. It seems to be in formula 1 that 2+2=5, which is not the case here it's just very innocent inquiries about contract lengths, nothing more than that."
M.com: "Silverstone this weekend, what are your expectations?"
BR: "I don't know! To be honest, we'll have some aerodynamic developments. Cosworth is making some improvements. I think we'll be pretty much the same as where we've been, which is better than were we were, at the tail end of the grid!"
Bobby pauses to think and then let's out one non compromising word:
M.com: "Thank you Bobby!"
It seems that Bobby isn't interested in other drivers, only his prodigies in F3, to take over the driving of either Eddie or Pedro, but, then again will Pedro last long? Eddie seems happier here than he ever did at Ferrari, but will he do as he says he can do in two or three years' time, and become a threat to Michael?
Only time will tell.