Red Bull is Jaguar's last chance

Red Bull has emerged as the last remaining hope that the Jaguar team has of remaining in grand prix racing next year, high-level insiders have told autosport.com. A sale must now be agreed with the energy drinks giant before November 15 or the team will probably be closed

Red Bull is Jaguar's last chance

A series of interested parties have come forwards in recent weeks expressing a desire to buy the team, with some also putting in bids for engine company Cosworth, but most of these have not lived up to expectations after further close analysis by the HSBC bank, which is handling the sale of the team.

A recent bid by the Brand Synergy marketing group, which has close links with Nigel Mansell, was rejected when financial guarantees could not be met. Similar interest from a Chinese consortium, which is now talking to Jordan, and the new Midland F1 team have also proved unfounded.

A source close to the negotiations between HSBC and Red Bull told autosport.com: "Red Bull is the only bidder left - and we expect talks to go right to the deadline."

The fact that Red Bull is now the only remaining bidder puts in a position of strength - because it will almost certainly be able to force Ford to back down on points of the sale that have not previously been agreed. Agreement has to be reached by November 15, which is the date when entries to the 2005 F1 world championship must be lodged.

According to a report in this week's Autosport magazine, the sale to Red Bull is being held up by minor points of disagreement between the two parties. Although the energy drinks company has met all the financial requirements laid down by Ford, the car manufacturer is still reluctant to agree to the sale.

Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko told Autosport: "We are still talking. There is an offer on the table, as there was before. We have no deadline. Alas, Ford seem to have been unable to clearly react to our offer."

The Red Bull offer is only for Jaguar Racing, although there are understood to be several serious bidders keen to buy engine partner Cosworth Racing. Should the Red Bull deal be given the green light then the team will likely stick with Cosworth engines for 2005 - after evaluation of a switch to Toyota engines indicated it would be too expensive and complicated to change power-units in such a short time frame.

Jaguar is still continuing work on next year's car and is still scheduled to test later this month when Formula 1's winter testing ban comes to an end. The cars are expected to run with a black paint scheme for the first test.

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