Scheckter joins Jaguar with eye on competition

Tomas Scheckter joined Formula One yesterday as Jaguar's new test and development driver, with ambitions to race within 18 months.

Tomas Scheckter joined Formula One yesterday as Jaguar's new test and development driver, with ambitions to race within 18 months.

The son of Jody Scheckter, Ferrari's last world champion, succeeds the Brazilian, Luciano Burti, who takes over race duties with the team from Johnny Herbert as partner to Eddie Irvine next season.

Scheckter Jnr, 20, is encouraged in his ambition by Burti's promotion and Jenson Button's commendable first season in the Formula One world championship, driving a Williams-BMW.

"Button has definitely led the way for young drivers and shown team managers what young drivers can do," Scheckter said. "You have to realise that even at 20 we've been racing a long time. I've raced since I was 11.

"I'm here to help the team improve the car and improve my own driving. I'm here to learn and hopefully in 2002 I'll get a race drive."

Scheckter cut his competitive teeth back home in South Africa before coming to Europe. He was the EFDA Euroseries champion last year and joined the Jaguar fold with Stewart Racing this season. He is currently second in the British Formula Three championship.

Jaguar have had a less auspicious year in Formula One, but Scheckter Snr takes the view the only way is up for the team and his son.

"The challenge is there for Tomas and if he can play his part in making the car better then it will be all the more satisfying for him," the 1979 world champion said.

Scheckter Jnr added: "I'm not at all intimidated by the prospect. For me Formula One is another race car. You have to drive it flat out if you want to improve things."

Scheckter plans to keep his racing eye in with a limited programme next season - possibly in Formula Nissan - but will give priority to his work for Jaguar.

Jaguar Racing's Neil Ressler said: "Tomas has consistently impressed us with his performances in this year's British Formula Three championship. He comes with a great pedigree."

Jaguar have already announced that Bobby Rahal is to take charge of team affairs from December and Formula One is rife with rumours that several members of the design and engineering team will be leaving, with Gary Anderson, head of the technical operation, among those who could beaffected.

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