Jaguars 2004 offer for Verstappen

Formula Never Happened

Jos Verstappen drove in 2003 for the Minardi team, and if you ask me, he did a marvellous job with the PS03B. For 2004, he could even stay with the team according to Paul Stoddart. Only did Verstappen had other thoughts, as he did not want to race for a backmarker in 2004.  There were a few options left Jordan, Sauber and Jaguar Racing. Let Jaguar Racing made an offer to race for the team. Eventually Klien’s Red Bull dollar’s made the difference.

It’s the 18th of June 2003 when Paul Stoddart purchased five Arrows A23 cars. Arrows went into bankruptcy during the 2002 season. The plans were to compare both the Arrows A23 as well the Minardi PS03. Around that time, the relation between Verstappen and Minardi started to cool down.

Around the Italian Grand Prix, the first cracks appeared in their relation, as Verstappen was far from happy with the Minardi and the lack of development. Moreover, the battle between British and Italian mechanics. Around that time, the first contact was made with Jaguar Racing. Jaguar, on another level though, was also struggling in the Formula One with Mark Webber they had a perfect driver under contract. However, Antônio Pizzonia was sacked after British Grand Prix. The team replaced him with Minardi driver Justin Wilson.

For 2004 Jaguar Racing was clear to keep Mark Webber as their driver, Justin Wilson was not in the picture as driver for Jaguar in 2004.  There were a couple of driver available and Jos was one of their best options. There were even photos edited by fans with Verstappen his sponsors on the race overall from Mark Webber and on the R4. We all wanted it over here to happen.

Around the 10th of October 2003, Jaguar Racing did send a concept contract for 2004 to Verstappen’s management. In this concept Jos his sponsors had to bring in an amount of money to secure the drive. Both Trust, Halfords, Muermans were to stay as sponsor. While Michel Perridon stated in the media around that time that he would increase Trust’s sponsor budget with 50%. However, they were looking for two or three smaller sponsors to gain enough money. It is unclear how much Jaguar asked. Some sources stated 8 million.

On the other hand, Jos his sponsors demanded Jaguar Racing that he would receive the same car, updates, engines and so on. In those days, it was normal that the first driver gained the advantage to get new updates as first.

The search for extra sponsors continued during October and November, what I could uncover is that there were some sponsors ready to join the Verstappen train towards Jaguar Racing in 2004. However, I believe it became clear that Verstappen would not race for Jaguar when Christian Klien tested for the first time with the Jaguar R4 in late November 2003. The team was impressed by his test results. Probably the Red Bull dollars he took with him helped as well to contract him. Or was Red Bull already in late 2003 in negotiations to purchase the Jaguar team from Ford?  

The 2nd of December 2003 the news came that Jaguar Racing contracted Christian Klien as their second driver in 2004. This meant that Jos Verstappen would not race for Jaguar. He told that he was not amused by the decision that was made. As he did not have to proof his talent.
Eventually the focus shifted to Jordan Grand Prix, we all know how that went! As well, negotiations were on going with Minardi for 2004.