Thursday August 23rd, 2001
Jaguar boss Bobby Rahal believes he is doing a good job at the Milton Keynes team despite having scored only five points so far in the 2001 season.
Rahal has been under fire following his decision to offer Eddie Irvine to the Jordan team when the Silverstone-based outfit sacked German Heinz-Harald Frentzen a month ago. The decision, though the American later admitted it had been just a joke, apparently infuriated Niki Lauda, head of Ford's Premier Division.
But Rahal, who joined the team at the end of the 2000 season after a disastrous debut year for Jaguar, has defended his position, saying that he is doing a good job, and claiming that he needs more time before his influence begins to pay dividends.
"I think I am doing a good job," Rahal told Autosport. "The team is starting to come along and I am very optimistic about next year's chassis. When I took on the job, everyone agreed that this was a multi-year programme and this was the year to get our house in order.
"Rome wasn't built in a day and, unfortunately, irrespective of how many years this team has been here, this has been work in progress. It is not a McLaren, Ferrari or Williams yet, but that is our goal. I think next year you will see the real result of this season's efforts."
The former CART champion also said that, despite continuous rumours about a rift between him and Lauda, their relationship was good.
"Niki is head of the company that owns Jaguar, so he is the boss," he added. "But while there have been rumours of difficulties between us, there haven't been.
"I don't party or go to St Tropez. I am in Milton Keynes and probably don't have the social relationship with Eddie [Irvine] that Niki has. But that is because I am working and I don't have the time to do that.
"My job isn't to build a social relationship with the drivers. It is to give them the best equipment, the best systems and the best backing so they can achieve their goals."
Rahal is to meet Jaguar boss Wolfgang Reitzle in London today, when a decision about his future is expected to be made.
Published at 11:01:32 GMT