Rahal: Newey is legally committed to us (Update)

The saga of where Formula 1 design wizard Adrian Newey will ply his trade after August 2002 looks set to be settled in court after Jaguar Racing team boss Bobby Rahal insisted the McLaren technical director is legally bound to join the Big Cat

Rahal: Newey is legally committed to us (Update)

Speaking in Milwaukee on Saturday, where he'd travelled to see his CART team in action, Rahal told Autosport.com: "Adrian has signed a contract and he is legally committed to join Jaguar in 2003."

Jaguar announced the signing of Newey last Friday morning, but this was quickly followed by an announcement from McLaren that it had extended the 42-year-old's contract for a further three years.

McLaren and Newey said that Jaguar had been made aware of his decision before it chose to put out its release, but Rahal insists that conversations he had with Newey on Thursday did not change the aerodynamics specialist's situation with Jaguar.

"I met with Adrian late Thursday night," he said, "and we talked about his situation. He told me that Ron Dennis and he had spent most of the day talking about his role with McLaren. I accepted what Adrian had to say, but I told him he had an agreement with us. That's where it stands as far as I'm concerned."

Newey is the most successful designer currently in F1. Jaguar was believed to have offered him a five-year contract at around £3.5m a year. McLaren's counter offer included an opportunity to work on projects beyond F1 and is believed to have matched Jaguar's salary package.

In an official staement from Jaguar Racing, Rahal added further weight to the threat of legal action, saying: "We have a legally binding commitment with Adrian Newey, which has been violated by his apparent signing of a contract extension with McLaren International. We intend to defend our rights through the proper legal channels."

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