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Sauber aiming for Wirth

THE Sauber team appears to be moving towards a deal with young British designer Nick Wirth. Wirth's Simtek team recently closed down with losses of $6 million, but the 29-year-old designer has not turned his back on F1 and is now aiming to design a winning car for another team.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis dismissed Wirth as a possible McLaren designer, but talks between Nick and Sauber are advancing, and Wirth's negotiations with Ferrari have now broken down. The problem, it seems, was that Ferrari was unable to find a way of fitting Nick into the existing structure of engineers at Ferrari.

It is, therefore, increasingly likely that Wirth will end up at Sauber, taking engineer Paul Crooks with him to work on the design of the 1996 Sauber with the new Ford V10 engine. Ford is understood to have been very impressed by Wirth's efforts with the underfunded Simtek team and want to give him the chance to design a car in a stable financial situation.

The assets of Simtek Grand Prix and its sister company Simtek Research went under the hammer last week in Banbury, England, with around $250,000 being raised in the auction. The Simtek research windtunnel and the design rights to the 1995 car were not auctioned, although they may be sold within the next few weeks.

Among the buyers of Simtek spares and equipment was Cosworth Engineering, which snapped up machinery to go with the Simtek chassis is acquired last year as part-payment for its Ford engine supply. The Simtek chassis joins a 1991 Jordan in the Cosworth collection!

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