Tuesday August 28th, 2001
New Jaguar team principal Niki Lauda criticised former boss Bobby Rahal on Tuesday for his decision to approach Jordan over the team's lead driver Eddie Irvine.
Lauda said that Rahal was ousted from the team due to "operational differences" following a meeting last week, but added that Rahal's 'joke' offer of Irvine as a replacement for the sacked Heinz-Harald Frentzen was inappropriate.
"Bobby defended the issue by saying it was nothing more than a joke, but unfortunately jokes like this with existing drivers do not work very well," said Lauda. "I stepped in and ended whatever discussion was taking place at the time. Both Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa will line up for Jaguar next season and nothing will change."
However, Lauda admitted that he is now on a very steep learning curve at Jaguar as he tries to learn the business in double quick time. He was appointed as chief executive officer of the Premier Performance division, which controls Cosworth, Pi Research and Jaguar Racing, in February but he still has a lot to learn.
"It will take me some time to completely understand the requirements of running a modern-day Formula One team," admitted Lauda, who has now taken on Rahal's job. "It made sense to extend my responsibilities to include completely running Jaguar Racing. Besides, who else was there?
"Before I was splitting my time between the three companies, but now I will focus 100 percent of my efforts into Jaguar Racing. I now need to get hands-on experience at running a Formula One team. I know what happens on the racetrack and from my presence at the race this year I am not concerned about that aspect.
"I will spend most of my time in the short term understanding our internal processes and figuring out how to best use the resources at my disposal. I must do this before I am well placed to take critical decisions on the running of this team. It will take a while, but we will get there."
Jaguar have scored only five points so far in 2001, only one more than in the whole 2000 season.
Published at 18:06:35 GMT