Lauda comments on Nichols' departure

Jaguar Racing boss Niki Lauda has said that he's confident the new R3 will be better than last year's car, but he was not happy with work that had been done so far. Technical Director Steve Nichols recently left the team and it was problems with...

Jaguar Racing boss Niki Lauda has said that he's confident the new R3 will be better than last year's car, but he was not happy with work that had been done so far. Technical Director Steve Nichols recently left the team and it was problems with the R3 that were thought to be the source of his abrupt departure.

"What has been done until now I was not happy with and Steve, as technical director, was fully in charge." Lauda said. "We confronted him with the criticism and he said, 'I don't want to continue'".

Nichols arrived at Jaguar a little over a year ago and the R3 was the first Jaguar design he oversaw. He told the team he was sure the car would be a major step forward but results in testing recently did not support his opinion. Lauda thinks the R3 will be a better car despite initial problems.

"I'm pretty confident the R3 will be better than the R2, even though the R3 was worse when it was born." He stated. "We are finding a fix for the problems, but every solution for a fix takes eight weeks. We tested at Lurcy-Levis and got some good data and we do know now what the problem was. We have some new solutions ready."

Steve Nichols may have had to shoulder the brunt of the blame for the lack of performance but Lauda said the winter testing ban before the new year prevented work that may have highlighted problems earlier.

"Last winter it was a mistake not to allow testing. Although you could work on the car in the wind tunnel or in computer simulations, you couldn't actually try any components or new parts. When we took the R3 out for the first time, we found that the rear suspension needed to be a lot stronger. It had been tested on the rig but not with the same forces that you would find on the track."

Lauda wants the problems on the car to be fixed before finding a replacement for Nichols but he would be on the lookout for an assitant to Gunther Steiner, who has taken over the position in the interim. "Of course we are going to look for a technical director," Lauda said, "but it is not so easy. Gunther has taken over the role, he works well, he will bring speed for me in the decisions and will fix the R3. When that job is done then I will get him an assistant."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Niki Lauda
Teams Jaguar Racing