Austrian drinks company Red Bull has confirmed that it is the new owner of the Jaguar Racing team, pre-empting a press conference called for this morning [Monday] in London.

Company boss Dietrich Mateschitz announced the conclusion of a deal to purchase the team from former owners Ford while speaking to the Austrian press at the weekend, having spent much of the previous week in long-distance negotiations with the auto giant.

"Everything is agreed, and we bought Jaguar Racing at the weekend," the 60-year old Mateschitz confirmed, "This deal is the high point of our ten-year involvement in Formula One, and adds the logical top step to our junior programme. It gives me great personal joy to have concluded this agreement, as we now have the chance to accompany, look after and promote young talents through their entire careers - from first steps in karting to the highest discipline of all."

That support underpinned Mateschitz vision plans for what he called a 'long-term' future. Red Bull has acquired the entire Jaguar F1 operation, including its Milton Keynes HQ and windtunnel facilities in both Bicester and Bedford.

"Later this month, we will begin to test drivers, and we will make out choice purely from a sporting perspective - although it would make sense for us to keep Christian [Klien] for a second season after he learned about Formula One this year."

Red Bull has, of course, propagated the idea of returning American drivers to the forefront of Formula One, and Mateschitz admitted that he still intended to follow that aim, even if his first line-up as a team owner would not necessarily include a trans-Atlantic driver. Current Red Bull scholarship driver, and new FRenault Eurocup champion, Scott Speed is likely to be the man in the frame, initially as a test driver, with the second race seat possible going to Red Bull-backed Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Mateschitz also confirmed that Cosworth would continue to provide motive power for the team next season, although he would not be opposed to switching manufacturers in twelve months' time.

"There is no sense in changing for next year but, for 2006, I can make a change," he reasoned, aware that the impending two-weekend rule for engines may persuade the likes of BMW to expand its operation to include a customer arrangement.

The conclusion of Mateschitz's talks with Ford and Jaguar apparently reached their conclusion when the only possible rival, the new Midland F1 team, withdrew from its own negotiations to concentrate on preparing its own Dallara-built chassis for 2006 - the year originally slated for its debut.

While he could not guarantee the security of all 350 jobs at Jaguar's Milton Keynes base, Mateschitz did hint that he would be happy for current team bosses Tony Purnell and David Pitchforth to remain at the head of the new operation.

"I am very pleased with our first season with Jaguar," he said, having backed the team through his Hangar-7 brand following Klien's graduation from the F3 Euroseries, "The team proved its class and consistency, with both motivation and professionalism."

Red Bull Racing is expected to begin its winter testing programme with an interim car - based the R6 that was already under construction at Jaguar - and a provisional livery is expected to be unveiled in the build-up to that debut. The team is also in negotiation with addition sponsors for the two-car operation ahead of an official launch - including the first Red Bull-Cosworth car, its race drivers and full sponsorship line-up - early next year.

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