Monday June 4th, 2001
Formula One boss Frank Williams called for a review of contracts for leading technical personnel on Monday following the tug-of-war between McLaren and Jaguar over the services of designer Adrian Newey.
Williams said there was a "strong case" for contract recognition to protect teams' intellectual property and stop the spiralling costs in Formula One.
Jaguar announced on Friday that Newey, Formula One's top designer, had signed to join them from next year but only hours later McLaren issued a statement saying he would be staying. Jaguar Racing have since threatened to sue McLaren and Newey after failing to secure the services of the technical director.
"There is a real case to see if we can extend this (contract recognition) to key technical people as well as the drivers, perhaps to the top three in the technical team." the Williams boss said at the annual Motor Expo exhibition. "It's simply because you pay top people for their talent and also for their loyalty.
"But if somebody triples the money two years down the line with two more years to go (on their contract), the difficulty is that these key people have access to a great deal of intellectual property. The first thing that happens is that this information takes a trip down the road.
"You then find yourself funding somebody else's knowledge bank and of course people are motivated to stop that. If you spend three million pounds ($4.24 million) a year to keep somebody who's really good at his job, and then suddenly half the money goes down the tubes because he's got a better offer elsewhere, it helps nobody.
"It puts the prices up for everyone and eventually Formula One will become unaffordable."
Minardi boss Paul Stoddart put forward a similar argument last month after he lost his technical director Gustav Brunner to the Toyota team in an eight million pounds ($11.31 million) deal. A Contract Recognition Board is already in place to help prevent the poaching of drivers in Formula One.
Williams also explained that losing the expertise of someone as successful as Newey would be a significant loss for any team. Newey was the Williams team's technical director for seven years, during which time they won four drivers' titles and five constructors' crowns.
"Losing someone of the unique calibre of Adrian (Newey) will have a substantial impact on any team," added Williams. "He has enormous experience, he is truly driven by what he loves, he is extremely inventive and creative. He is a leader. It was a major setback when we lost him."