The Disappearing Diamond: How Jaguar’s F1 Team Lost a Diamond worth almost half a Million Dollars

Formula One has previously been thought of as one of the world’s highest-stakes roulette tables. Monte Carlo, fittingly, is a venue that is synonymous with the sport’s history. It was a weekend in this principality in 2004 where Jaguar F1 gambled, and ultimately paid a price. This is the story of how they were responsible for the misplacement of a diamond worth $430,000 in one of the more bizarre F1 stories you will read. 

F1 cars are remarkable machines. They are the pinnacle of automotive engineering and as a consequence, extremely expensive. To someone who doesn’t follow the sport, producing such a vehicle that costs so much to manufacture and exposing it to the streets of Monte Carlo alongside a grid full of race cars driving in excess of 200MPH would appear incredibly foolish. And perhaps they are right. The risk of an accident and the subsequent parts that would have to be replaced will accumulate a staggering sum of money. It is for this reason that this story quite frankly unbelievable.

To set the scene, this event took place in the early years of the new millennium in 2004. A time when there were no ethical reasons preventing Billionaires from flaunting their wealth in the most outrageous ways they could fathom. Money was in no short supply for many of the rich and powerful and there was very little in the way of regulatory bodies to prevent heavy spending. In this economic climate, it was important to not only be rich but show everyone else just how rich you were.

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Naturally, then, the Monaco Grand Prix weekend was a highlight in the calendar of the big players. this also translated to Formula 1 teams where for even the smaller outfits such as Jaguar, the event presented an opportunity to make a financial statement and reap the rewards of international audience exposure. the team did just that, choosing a bold, brave and ultimately costly marketing activity to promote their partnership with sponsors – the sequel to the hit film Ocean’s Eleven. Jaguar elected to run their two cars, driven by Mark Webber and Christian Klien with a diamond embedded into their front wings.

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On a circuit renowned for being one of the greatest challenges a driver can face in motorsport due to the car’s speed combined with the proximity of the trackside barriers, this decision seemed incredible. It wasn’t as if Jaguar ran with this in place on race day only, the diamonds were displayed all weekend long which included Thursday’s practice session. In a country famous for high-stakes casinos, Jaguar had taken an enormous gamble in return for enhanced media exposure. 

All but inevitably, one of the cars would last as little as a lap in the Grand Prix with Christian Klien. He misjudged his breaking point heading into the Lowes Hairpin, skating into the barrier with the front wing, typically, taking the majority of the force in the accident. Despite the impact, the diamond remained intact and unmanaged. At this point in the story, you may be thinking, where is this going? Well, the disappearing act that would follow is a complete mystery.

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The jewel, produced by Steinmetz, has not been recovered to this day. As the race continued for nearly two hours following the incident, it is impossible that Jaguar team officials could have collected it as they would not have been allowed track access. Perhaps a gambling Marshall discovered it whilst clearing up the wreckage? It seems remarkable that there is absolutely no record of it being located following the crash. 

In reality, Jaguar probably regrets its decision to give the go-ahead to this advertising stunt. However, albeit for the wrong reasons, it did provide a great deal of media exposure for the team that would soon after become the now-dominant Red Bull Racing. In the end, it did achieve the main goal of an advertisement for both Ocean’s Eleven and Jaguar which is to have people talking about you’re brand!

That being said, it does leave you as the reader shrouded in mystery regarding the outcome of this rare and expensive diamond. If any residents of Monte Carlo happen to discover it in passing during a morning walk to the shop, think back to this story, as you could be holding $430,000 dollars in the palm of you’re hand!

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