LONDON: Red Bull will not be rushed into any decision about drivers after buying the Jaguar Formula One team on Monday, says team boss Tony Purnell.
“Of course there is going to be big speculation about drivers over the coming months,” Purnell, previously principal of the team that Ford sold to the Austrian energy drinks company, said in a conference call.
“But we have made no decisions there.
“Red Bull do see the acquisition of the team as a logical conclusion to the Red Bull junior programme but we are considering experienced drivers as well as some of the Red Bull junior drivers.
“Over the coming weeks we will be testing a few fellows and I see no reason to make an early decision on our driver line-up,” added the Briton.
Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, founder of Red Bull, has been involved in Formula One for more than a decade as a sponsor of Sauber, Arrows and Jaguar.
While Australian Mark Webber left Jaguar for Williams at the end of the season, Austrian Christian Klien is hoping to stay with Red Bull after being backed by them since he was a 13-year-old racer.
A strong candidate to join him would be Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi, the winner of this year’s Formula 3000 title for the Red Bull junior team.
However, David Coulthard, the Briton who is still looking for a drive after leaving McLaren, had been negotiating with Jaguar before Ford announced in September that it was quitting the sport and selling the team.
Purnell refused to be pressed about Coulthard’s prospects.
“I really don’t want to get drawn into speculation about drivers,” he said. “We’ve got an open mind.”
“I think F1 should view this as really terrific news,” Purnell said of the takeover. “This is a company that wants to put the fizz back into F1.”
Purnell said it was business as usual at the team’s Milton Keynes factory after months of working under a shadow of uncertainty.
“The RB1 will be a good, solid car,” he said.
“The uncertainty has been a bit of a setback but we’re back on course. The steady focus on engineering will continue without much perceivable interruption.”
Purnell said Red Bull had no intention to make any staff changes and wanted to continue in Britain with the existing management inherited from Ford.
“There is no intention of 'shipping abroad’,” he added.
“Dietrich Mateschitz is a man who has had a very successful career and he does not crave publicity. I strongly suspect that you’ll see the same line-up on the pit wall as you did last year.
“Red Bull are not playing at this and they will employ professionals to run it (the team) for them.”
Purnell said Red Bull hoped to remain with tyre supplier Michelin but sponsors were bound to change from those that backed Jaguar in their five troubled years. – Reuters