NORTHAMPTON, England - Neil Ressler's appointment as chairman of Cosworth Racing serves notice of Ford Motor Co.'s determination to regain past glories in top-flight international motorsport.
As he heads up Cosworth Racing, which Ford bought from Audi AG in August for £50 million, or about $83.5 million at current exchange rates, Ressler will play an increasingly crucial role in the development of the Stewart-Ford Grand Prix team.
The team's performance was disappointing in this year's Formula One world championship series.
Ressler also is a nonexecutive director of Stewart Grand Prix and has been instrumental in intensifying technical integration among the automaker, the team and technology partners such as Visteon Automotive Systems, Ford's components arm.
Cosworth, which produces the V-10 Zetec-R Grand Prix engine, also is responsible for the V-8 turbo U.S. CART Champcar power unit and the British touring-car championship Mondeo V-6.
Ressler's new, wider brief within Ford, as vice president for advanced vehicle technology and chief technical officer, will forge closer links between motorsport and mainstream projects.
It also will take in scientific research and safety engineering, including the fuel-cell development alliance with Daimler-Benz AG and Ford's P2000 sedan project.
Ford, which is investing at least $33.6 million a year over five years in the Stewart-Ford Formula One program, has not won a Grand Prix since Michael Schumacher gained the 1994 world drivers' title in a Benetton Ford. But the company remains the most successful Formula One engine supplier, with 174 Grand Prix victories since 1967.
Cosworth's engines also have powered 12 Indianapolis 500 winners, and Ford is launching an assault on the World Rally Championship with the new Focus next year.