Stewart Grand Prix
|Based in: Milton Keynes, Bucks|
Founded: 1997 (active since 1997)
Managing director: Paul Stewart (1997-1999)
Technical director: Alan Jenkins (1997-1998), Gary Anderson (1999)
Team manager: David Stubbs (1997-1999)
After almost a quarter of a century, triple-world champion Jackie Stewart has returned to the grand prix scene with his own team and, more importantly, exclusive use of Ford's V10 engine. Stewart had been involved in motor racing team management via his son Paul's team, a staircase of talent which fields teams in British Formula Vauxhall and Formula 3. Young Dane Jan Magnussen helped establish the Paul Stewart team as the ones to beat when he took 14 victories from 18 starts to win the championship in 1994.
Deciding to make the jump into Formula 1, the team quickly abandoned its F3000 team which ran Gil de Ferran and David Coulthard. Despite extensive backing from Ford, Stewart vigorously pursued new and innovative means of finance throughout the early part of 1996, gaining sponsorship from international bank HSBC and the Malaysian government. Arrows designer Alan Jenkins was brought on board to lead the design team, and Stewart was the first to unveil its 1997 challenger, accompanied by drivers Rubens Barrichello and Jan Magnussen. The usual niggling reliability problems meant the team entered the season with a hardly tested Stewart SF1. However, Rubens Barrichello impressed with some superb early season qualifying performances. Results were hard to come by, though, as technical problems continued to frustrate the team. A dream race came in Monaco, though, when Rubens Barrichello scored a fine second in a wet-race thriller.
The reliability problems persisted and, despite some strong runs, the team struggled to gain any further points. With a heavily developed Ford engine for 1998, and a first year of experience under their belts, Stewart hoped to be able to perform more consistently. Barrichello and Magnussen both, surprisingly, remained with the team and were joined by the Brazilian test driver Mario Haberfeld. Jackie Stewart replaced Magnussen half way through the season by Jos Verstappen but to no real avail. Stewart himself remained realistic for the 1998 season, but was disappointed with the season as a whole. The Stewart SF2 was only good for five championship points - even less than in their debut season.
Ford acquired Cosworth Racing in July 1998 and decided to take a big risk on an all-new engine in 1999. Jenkins designed the Stewart SF3 but then departed - to be replaced by Gary Anderson. The team retained Barrichello (after he failed to buy out of his contract and go to Williams) and hired Johnny Herbert to be his team mate. The cars were quick but not always reliable though Barrichello was able to score a string of minor placings. Towards the end of the year Herbert came on strongly and won a lucky but deserved victory in a wet/dry European GP at the Nurburgring, giving the team its first - and last - F1 victory. In June the team was bought by Ford and in September it was announced that it would become Jaguar Racing in 2000 with drivers Eddie Irvine and Johnny Herbert.
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