Jaguar Racing is to introduce the R4 on the internet in a novel 'virtual launch' on January 21st. The original 'real life' launch was postponed after Jaguar announced its restructuring programme and boss Niki Lauda was axed. Now the R4 will appear on the internet on the same day that the car has its first public shakedown on track in Barcelona.

"With the recent re-structuring programme at Jaguar Racing which resulted in around 70 redundancies, we feel that it would be grossly insensitive to be investing large amounts of resource and money at this time into a lavish launch," said team spokesman Nav Sidhu on the Jaguar website.

"The launch will, however, adopt a 'virtual format' which will result in all the necessary materials and images being made available to the world on January 21st 2003 -- the same day as the Jaguar R4's first public shakedown in Barcelona."

"We are working closely with HSBC, HP, EDS and our other partners in an effort to fully exploit the various forms of technology available to us. In the process, we'll launch the 2003 challenger through the most popular communication tool in the world today -- the Internet."

"We are not trying to be clever or re-write the rulebook on F1 launches. In fact, it's quite the opposite. We have less than nine weeks left until the opening race of 2003 and we are simply going about our business in a workmanlike manner aimed at maximising development time on the Jaguar R4 which is by far our single biggest priority right now."

There has been no word about a replacement for Lauda to head Jaguar. Names such as Jackie Stewart and Nigel Mansell have been linked to the role but so far it is only speculation who might take on the position.