HOW JAGUAR RAC­ING NEARLY BE­CAME FORD TEAM CHINA

Mark Gal­lagher, Jaguar’s head of spon­sor­ship, was tasked with find­ing a buyer…

F1 Racing - - BAKU -

“In the sum­mer of 2004, Ford gave se­nior man­agers at Jaguar Rac­ing three months to find a buyer, oth­er­wise they were go­ing to close down the team. For­mer team prin­ci­pal Tony Pur­nell spoke to driver Christian Klien’s spon­sor Red Bull, while I was despatched to China and spent two months liv­ing in the In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Ho­tel in Shang­hai.

“I was work­ing on sell­ing the team to a group of Chi­nese in­di­vid­u­als with whom Ford had a good re­la­tion­ship. The work­ing ti­tle of the project was ‘Ford Team China’ and some­where in Shang­hai there is still is a 40 per cent scale F1 car branded in Ford Team China colours. That project was never go­ing to suc­ceed be­cause Ford and China didn’t have the hunger to get be­hind it. But then the deal was con­cluded with Red Bull.

“We em­ployed 600 full-time staff and it would have cost Ford £15mil­lion to make ev­ery­one re­dun­dant. We sold it to Di­et­rich Mates­chitz for a pound. There was a great deal of scep­ti­cism at Mil­ton Keynes, be­cause they won­dered how an en­ergy-drink firm could suc­ceed where the might of Ford hadn’t.

“Shortly after the deal was done, Mates­chitz flew over to Mil­ton Keynes to ad­dress us. He stood up in front of the 600 peo­ple and out­lined why he had bought the team and his vi­sion for it, ex­plain­ing that this was the re­al­i­sa­tion of his lifetime’s am­bi­tion.

“He said we were here to win and re­it­er­ated that he had made a suc­cess out of ev­ery­thing he had been in­volved in be­fore, adding that it would be a lot of fun get­ting there. Ev­ery­thing that Red Bull did in F1 was borne out by that first speech – and he ticked ev­ery box of what he wanted to achieve in F1.”

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