HOW JAGUAR RACING NEARLY BECAME FORD TEAM CHINA
Mark Gallagher, Jaguar’s head of sponsorship, was tasked with finding a buyer…
“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.”