Jaguar set to lure design ace Newey from McLaren

Jaguar Racing appears poised to pull off a spectacular coup by luring Formula 1 racing's top designer Adrian Newey away from McLaren. As exclusively reported in this week's Autosport magazine, Newey is set to join the Milton Keynes-based team in a multi-million pound deal when his current contract expires in August next year

Jaguar set to lure design ace Newey from McLaren

Newey, whose benchmark designs have won two drivers' and one constructors' world title with McLaren-Mercedes, plus four drivers' and five constructors' crowns with Williams, is believed to have been offered a five-year contract said to be worth around £3.5 million per season.

F1 paddock sources say a deal is imminent, but it remains unclear whether Newey will complete his contract with McLaren or if an arrangement will be struck to allow him to begin working with Jaguar earlier than August 2002.

Jaguar has denied reports that Newey has already agreed a contract to join them, while a McLaren spokesperson said: "Adrian has got more than a year to run on his contract with McLaren. We are currently negotiating with Adrian in good faith - and, based upon what he has told us, we don't believe he has signed for Jaguar Racing."

Newey is thought to have been in negotiations with his close friend, Jaguar team boss Bobby Rahal, for several months. The pair successfully worked together in the US-based CART series in the mid-1980s, with Newey engineering Rahal to the '86 drivers' title.

Rahal joined Jaguar at the end of the 2000 season and has since made several high-profile changes to the team's design staff, including bringing in former McLaren R&D chief Steve Nichols as technical director. But Newey's signature on a contract is seen as the key step in transforming Jaguar from midfield runners to genuine title contenders.

Newey is believed to want a fresh challenge and a new environment to re-assert his claim to be F1's top designer. The contract would give the 42-year-old Englishman complete technical control of the team and would allow him to dictate such fundamentals as the size and shape of the car's Cosworth V10 engine.

Jaguar Racing, which was formed from the Stewart F1 squad, scored its first ever podium in last Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, courtesy of team-leader Eddie Irvine, but has struggled in its first year and a half of GP racing. In its debut season last year, the team scored just four world championship points.

For the full story and background on Jaguar's design coup, see this week's Autosport magazine (on sale Thursday, May 31).

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