Tuesday June 5th, 2001
Engineering challenges outside of Formula One could have been the reason why McLaren technical director Adrian Newey went into talks with Jaguar Racing, according to former McLaren man John Barnard.
Newey said he was keen to develop a partnership with close friend Bobby Rahal at Jaguar, but Barnard, former technical director of McLaren, believes that the company may also have offered him options outside Grand Prix racing.
Newey has always been keen to explore road car projects and it has been suggested that such a deal was instrumental in the conversations he had with both Jaguar and McLaren.
"There is only a limited amount of time that you can apply yourself 100 percent," said Barnard. "And to look for a way that will give you a little more of an easy life is quite attractive. Somebody like Jaguar could probably offer him all sorts of things."
But Barnard added that the excitement of a new challenge could have been what pushed Newey into Jaguar talks.
"I've been in the same situation," said Barnard. "I hadn't though about leaving McLaren until I got a phone call from Ferrari and then I had all the private jet treatment to Maranello and so on.
"When that happens you have enormous amounts of pressure on you and they don't want you to leave without signing anything. I signed a letter of agreement, but they are not very binding."
But Jaguar have confirmed through the Queen's Counsel that their contract with Newey is binding, and the legal wranglings will go on for some time.
Barnard says McLaren's high expectations will have intensified the pressures on Newey, arguably the most influential designer in Formula One.
"Ron doesn't understand the kind of pressure a designer has," Barnard said. "After a time you start to wonder how you can keep the momentum up and it is something that requires tremendous effort.
"I don't think Ron appreciates that - not with me, and now not with Adrian. It's all part of how things happen."