Ford have sold Jaguar (and Land Rover) to Indian company Tata for ?é?ú1.15bn ($2.3bn). The blue oval ran Jaguar Racing in F1 for five years before selling it to Red Bull in 2004.
As a luxury car manufacturer two of Jaguar’s biggest rivals compete in Formula 1 – BMW and Mercedes. So should Tata bring the leaping cat back to the F1 grid?
Jaguar’s brief time in F1 was not a happy one. Formed from the Stewart Grand Prix outfit that won the 1999 European Grand Prix the green team conspicuously failed to build on that promise.
In 85 races they made it onto the podium just twice, at Monaco in 2001 and Italy in 2002, both with Eddie Irvine.
The team finally looked like making serious progress in 2003 with Mark Webber at the wheel of one of its’ cars who gave them their best qualifying performances – including their only front row start at Malaysia in 2004.
But just as Jaguar were beginning to show promise, Ford cut its funding. They farmed out the second seat in 2004 to Christian Klien for $20m of Red Bull’s cash, before flogging the whole outfit to Dietrich Mateschitz’s company at the end of the year.
Ford’s stewardship of the Jaguar F1 team was shoddy at best and did no justice to a marque of such heritage. But for me it hasn’t diminished the appeal of seeing such a prestigious name in the sport.
And with Red Bull looking to offload Toro Rosso in the near future it could still happen.