Disappointing exit for Jaguar

The Leaping Cat waved goodbye to Formula One with a whimper rather than a roar when Jaguar brought the curtain down on their brief grand prix career in Brazil.

The Leaping Cat waved goodbye to Formula One with a whimper rather than a roar when Jaguar brought the curtain down on their brief grand prix career in Brazil.

The team were put up for sale last month by parent company Ford, ensuring yesterday’s race at Interlagos was their last after a five-season stay in Formula One.

But the hoped-for positive finish to the season never materialised as Christian Klien shunted team-mate Mark Webber out of the race, hampering his own chances in the process.

Jaguar now begin a crucial week for their workforce, with negotiations to sell engine builder Cosworth believed to be on the verge of completion as talks to sell the racing team also near a conclusion.

Tony Purnell, Jaguar’s boss courtesy of his role in Ford’s premier performance division, paid tribute to the team’s efforts.

He said: “The remarkable spirit of Jaguar Racing has been highlighted this weekend by the number of compliments I have received from other teams, media and sponsors praising the unswerving motivation and good humour that the team has portrayed over the last few races.

“I am honestly inspired by the attitude of this team that has rallied round to split the Ferraris on the grid in Malaysia, fight the Williams in Hockenheim and beat the McLarens in Bahrain.

“The men and women of Jaguar Racing have achieved more in the last two years than we thought possible and they give every other team on the grid a run for their money when it comes to commitment and loyalty.”

Mark Webber had already agreed to leave Jaguar for Williams at the end of the season when the team’s future was thrown into doubt by Ford’s announcement.

He was disappointed to end the season with an accident but more upset at the prospect of Jaguar’s demise.

“Unfortunately we tangled as Christian appeared not to see me coming and that was the end of my race,” he said. “It was a sad end to what should have been a more rewarding race.

“I have had an amazing two years with Jaguar Racing and I am fortunate enough to have had the pleasure to work with some incredibly talented people during that time. I have learnt a lot and shared a lot and it is with a heavy heart that not only do I leave the team but that the team is to close as Jaguar Racing.”

Jaguar, who took over Sir Jackie Stewart’s team in 1999, have endured a difficult life in Formula One.

Despite a big budget and plenty of hype in the early days, the results have never been forthcoming with Eddie Irvine’s two third places – at Monaco in 2001 and Italy a year later – the highlight of their time in Formula One.

Jaguar, who have a proud motorsport history as multiple winners of the Le Mans 24 Hours, leave Formula One with just 49 points on their record from five seasons and 85 grands prix.

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