Ford Motor Company Acquire Stewart Grand Prix - Exclusive Release
Motor racing - 11 Jun 1999
Ford Motor Company has agreed to purchase Stewart Grand Prix to strengthen its involvement in the world's premier form of auto racing.
'Racing provides our company with a great opportunity to connect with consumers in an exciting atmosphere, pilot new technology, develop engineering talent, and strengthen our brands globally,' said Ford's chief executive officer and president Jac Nasser. 'Ford Motor Company has a long and very successful record in auto racing. Our latest move will allow us to take our performance to the next level.'
Since 1967, Ford-powered cars and drivers have won 174 grand prix victories and 13 world driver championships - a record in 1996, Ford began a partnership with Stewart Grand Prix, operated by three-times world champion Jackie Stewart and his son Paul. Jackie won all his world titles in Ford-powered cars. The Stewart-Ford Grand Prix team began competing in 1997. So far this season, it has had a top three 'podium' finish (at the San Marino GP in Italy) and has led its first race (in Brazil).
Ford's chief technical officer and vice-president for research and vehicle technology, Neil Ressler, who is also a director for Stewart Grand Prix, said: 'Our goal at Ford is to race to win. By buying our own team, and applying the company's comprehensive technical resources to it, I believe the Stewart-Ford team will become increasingly more successful. In addition, Formula One provides hands-on engineering experience for many of our youngest and most talented engineers. It teaches them to be bold, to be imaginative, and to be nibble thinking. It also develops their leadership qualities, because in racing you have to take the initiative. Ultimately, these invaluable skills are passed on to the most important people of all, our customers.'
Group vice-president of marketing, sales and service, Bob Rewey, said: 'Racing provides a business link, and an emotional link, to consumers worldwide. F1 racing is the world's largest global TV sport, enabling us to connect with customers in just about every country in the world.'
Said Jackie Stewart: 'Ford's increased commitment to Formula One is great news for the team. To be competitive in Formula One these days, and to win the great benefits available, a team needs strong financial and technical support, Ford can offer that.'
Ford has no plans to change the team personnel, and Stewart Grand Prix will continue to be based in Milton Keynes, England. Jackie Stewart will stay on as chairman and chief executive officer and Paul Stewart will remain as deputy chairman.
Why has Ford decided to buy Stewart GP Team?
Formula One is the technological pinnacle of motor sport, and is the world's most prestigious and most international racing championship. Ford has been involved in F1 for more than 30 years and, we believe it is essential for Ford to continue to compete in F1. In F1these days a team needs vast technological and financial resources. An independent team, even like Stewart grand Prix with Ford back up, would be unlikely consistently to challenge the front runners. To win the world F1 championship -which is Ford's stated goal- we believe it's desirable to own and run the team ourselves.
What's the benefit of F1 to Ford?
F1 is technological hot house. New ideas, many of which find their way into road cars, are often tried for the first time on Formula one cars. It is excellent testing forum, and also an excellent arena for Ford's brightest young engineers to get invaluable training. These technical innovations, when applied to road cars, will help Ford's customers. Also, motor sport involves an important business link, and an emotional link, with Ford customers worldwide.
Will the Stewart Ford race cars change their name in the future, to be called Fords or Jaguars?
There is no change planned for the foreseeable future.
How much of Stewart Grand Prix has Ford purchased?
Ford has reached agreement to buy 100 percent of the equity of Stewart Grand Prix.
How much did Ford pay for Stewart Grand Prix?
Ford will not discuss the financial terms of its acquisition.
Did you consider any other alternatives to buying SGP?
Yes, but this was the best course of action.
What will Jackie and Paul Stewart's roles be in the new team?
Jackie will stay on as chairman and chief executive officer. He has been an ambassador for Ford for 35 years, has an enormous amount of experience in Grand Prix racing, and still has a great deal to contribute. Paul Stewart will remain as deputy chairman. No personal changes are planned.
Why did Ford choose to buy Stewart Grand Prix rather than set up its own team?
Ford has been racing with Stewart Grand Prix since 1997, and has been involved with the team since 1996. Together, we have made significant progress towards our current position in Formula One. There has been a continual cross fertilisation and technical sharing since Stewart-Ford's inception. To start from scratch in opposition to Stewart Grand Prix made no sense.
How long have the negotiations been going on?
We've been talking to Jackie for more than three decades.
Will the team continue to based in England?
Stewart Grand Prix has a new, modern facility, and the UK is at the heart of the F1 industry, so there are no plans to move the team.
What will happen to Stewart's existing sponsors? Will Ford allow other commercial partners?
We certainly have no intention at this stage of changing sponsors - indeed we would welcome a closer and continuing relationships - but we may look for additional commercial partners as well.
Will all contracts, including drivers', be revised?
All existing contracts will be honored.
Does this mean that Ford is looking to buy teams in other racing categories in which it competes?
The high level of technology necessary in Formula One differentiates it from every other category of racing. In the long term, we may take a stake in non-F1 teams, but there are no plans to do so at this stage.
Is the upcoming US Grand Prix, to be held in Indianapolis next year, in any way relevant to Ford's announcement?
No. However Ford is a passionate supporter of Grand Prix racing, and we're keen to make the US Grand Prix next year as successful as possible.
How will Ford manage Stewart Grand Prix?
SGP will be managed by the CEO and his leadership team based in Milton Keynes, England. Ford Motor Company oversight will be provided through a small group of Ford executives chaired by Neil Ressler (Ford's chief technical officer and vice-president for research and vehicle technology, chairman of Cosworth Racing, and currently director of Stewart Grand Prix) and including Richard Perry-Jones (group vice-president, product development), Wolfgang Reitzle (group vice-president, Premier Automotive Group) and Bob Rewey (group vice-president of marketing, sales and services).