Tuesday February 6th, 2001
Former F1 World Champion Niki Lauda has been officially named as the new chief executive of a division of Ford's Premier Automotive Group at a press conference in London on Tuesday.
He will head up the Premier Performance Division of the group, which is responsible for Ford-owned companies Jaguar, Aston Martin, Volvo, Land Rover, and Lincoln.
As expected, Austrian Lauda will co-ordinate and support the motor sport activities of Jaguar Racing, Cosworth Racing and electronics company Pi.
"It is good to be back in racing on a full-time basis," said triple world champion Lauda, who has not been in racing full-time since 1985. "I am looking forward to getting started on the challenge ahead.
"My role will be to help put in place the building blocks to enable all these companies to realise their full potential and to work together to the best effect."
Lauda will effectively replace Neil Ressler, the former vice-president and chief technology officer of Ford, who has decided to retire.
Lauda won his world championships in 1975 and 1977 with Ferrari and in 1984 with McLaren. The Austrian also survived an horrific crash at the Nurburgring in Germany in 1976, when he was read the last rites.
Lauda relinquished his role as owner of Lauda Air eleven weeks ago after selling the airline company to the Austrian Airline Group and his appointment to overlook Jaguar Racing's Formula One operation is seen as a big asset.
Jaguar Racing team principal Bobby Rahal said: "Niki's knowledge of all aspects of Formula One racing and his proven credentials as an astute businessman make him the ideal choice for this position."