Mansell team in last-ditch bid for Jaguar

According to this Guardian article, The Jaguar formula one team could be closed down at the end of next week with the loss of 350 jobs should talks with a consortium headed by Nigel Mansell fall through. Sources close to Jaguar Racing said yesterday that associates of Brand Synergy, which had recently tried to take over the British grand prix, were having confidential talks with HSBC, the bankers handling the sale of the formula one team on behalf of Ford, Jaguar's owners. The bid would appear to represent the last hope for the Jaguar team whose Milton Keynes-based personnel would otherwise be thrown on the dole, adding to the economic depression in the region which has already been hit by the uncertainty hanging over the future of the British grand prix at Silverstone…….It is understood that the new offer from Mansell's consortium also includes a bid for Cosworth, which builds the Jaguar V10 engines, and its associated company Pi electronics. Earlier bids from Red Bull and a consortium of Chinese investors failed to reach successful conclusions thanks to what some believe is Ford's hands-off attitude to the future of the team. The team has had up to eight expressions of interest from potential buyers but none has yet come to fruition.

"The whole negotiation process and the deadline for any deal with an investor has been extended by 10 days," said the Jaguar spokesman Nav Sidhu. "But we have to know by around November 9 at the latest as entries for next year's world championship have to be in by November 15." Red Bull's racing consultant Helmut Marko yesterday told Autosport magazine of the frustrations he encountered when trying to reach a deal with Ford. "The problem is that at Ford the people deciding the future do not care about formula one," he said.

That view is supported by the fact that the Ford president Nick Scheele shook hands on the terms of a Red Bull buy-out with the drinks' company chief executive officer Dietrich Mateschitz over dinner in Vienna in August, only for the plan to be axed by Ford's senior management back in Detroit.

Mateschitz had viewed a partnership with Ford as an ideal vehicle in which to bring talented Americans into formula one. Similarly a planned agreement with the Chinese government, which would have seen the team race under the Team China Ford banner in 2005, was similarly scuppered at a high level.

"All I can say is that the staff are totally committed to keep working as hard as possible, working on developing next year's car in the hope that all will be well," said David Pitchforth, Jaguar racing's managing director. "We have had some really good results from our wind-tunnel program and, in any other year, would be extremely excited about the prospects for next season. As it is, we are just keeping our fingers crossed."

The complication for anybody purchasing Jaguar is that it will also be necessary to buy Cosworth in order to secure continuity of engine supply. Unfortunately, Cosworth's commercial viability depended on it having an engine supply contract with the Jordan team which yielded over $10m (£5.5m) a year. That income stream has now ceased after Jordan's announcement on Wednesday that it will use Toyota engines next season.

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