Jaguar’s Formula 1 project is considered one of the biggest flops in the premier class in the recent past. Today’s Haas team boss Günther Steiner recalls the disaster at the time in his new book “Surviving to Drive”.
Steiner, who joined the project in 2001, writes about the 2002 Jaguar R3: “The car was the biggest piece of shit that was ever built. It was developed before Niki (Lauda) and I came along.” Lauda was also committed in 2001.
A few months later he brought Steiner into the team, who had previously worked for the Ford Group in the World Rally Championship (WRC). According to Steiner, he had no influence on the development of the R3 for 2002.
Jaguar’s disastrous Formula 1 record
“The only thing that spoke for the car – and I mean really the only thing – was that it had almost no downforce, so it was fine on high-speed circuits like Monza. If it didn’t fail,” Steiner recalled.
In fact, Eddie Irvine took third place in a B version of the car back then at Monza. For Jaguar it was one of just two podiums in the five Formula 1 seasons between 2000 and 2004. Irvine took the other at Monaco in 2001.
“In the other 16 races of the season (2002), Eddie finished six times and retired ten times! That was always the problem with Jaguar, apart from all that other shit. In five seasons they had 69 retirements,” recalled Steiner.
He continues to write about the R3: “I remember the presentation of this car like it was yesterday. Back then, the launch of a Formula 1 car was always very spectacular, no matter how crappy it was.”
Jaguar drove Niki Lauda mad
“Just before launch, Niki had a meeting with the engineers and when he came out he was furious. ‘You know last year’s car sucked, right?’ he said. ‘Well apparently this car is going to get even worse be.'”
“I’ve never seen a man that angry in my whole life. Niki wanted blood,” he recalls, explaining, “He was about to appear in front of a hundred press people and tell them what a great car it was, though it was a turd.”
Despite major investments, Jaguar ended the season only in seventh place in the World Championship. At the end of the year, Lauda and Steiner left the team, after the 2004 season Ford finally sold it to Red Bull.