At a press conference in London held by Ford's Vice President and Head of the Formula One Programme Richard Parry-Jones and former Stewart Racing boss Sir Jackie Stewart, it was announced that Niki Lauda has been axed as Jaguar team principal.
At a press conference in London held by Ford's Vice President and Head of the Formula One Programme Richard Parry-Jones and former Stewart Racing boss Sir Jackie Stewart, it was announced that Niki Lauda has been axed as Jaguar team principal. Jaguar had been under scrutiny for some time by parent company Ford after a string of disappointing results and more recently it was rumoured that Lauda's position was uncertain.
Jaguar managed to fight back to eighth in the Constructors' standings this season starting with an unexpected fourth place finish by Eddie Irvine in Australia. However, it was to be thirteen races later in Belgium before another point was won, followed by third place at Monza, both provided by Irvine. The upturn in fortunes towards the end of the season did not come quick enough for Ford to be satisfied. Lauda also steps down from his position as head of Ford's Premium Performance Group. (PPG)
"Niki Lauda is relinquishing his role as head of PPG and Jaguar Racing," said Parry-Jones. "I have asked Niki to fulfil the role of special advisor to me and I very much hope he will accept the post." Technical specialist and head of PI Electronics Tony Parnell will replace Lauda at PPG but so far a new boss for Jaguar Racing has yet to be decided: "We recognise that it is a key appointment and we do not want to leave it open for very long," said Parry-Jones.
Jaguar announced recently that job cuts were to be made but it was not suggested Lauda would be included. The team intends to concentrate on technical and engineering departments and Lauda was not considered to have the right engineering know-how to take Jaguar forward. Parry-Jones and Parnell will continue to consider a suitable replacement for team principal and also intend to appoint a chief of development for next year.
Parry-Jones explained: "The key to competitiveness more and more is technical competence and that calls for a change in the management philosophy." He also said that Parnell, who already works in the team, would be good for continuity: "He (Parnell) has a pretty low profile but he has an interesting track record. He is not an outside appointment. He has an intimate knowledge of the team and he will bring continuity."
One of Lauda's last decisions was to dispose of drivers Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa in favour of up-and-coming Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia. The two start Jaguar's winter testing programme this week in the unenviable position of being new to a team that continues to be fraught with uncertainty and change.