OCTOBER 7, 1996
Ford says no to second V10
FORD'S motorsport bosses have finally decided that the company will not be supplying a second team with its Zetec-R V10 engines in 1997 - and that is disastrous news for the Sauber team.
Sauber had an offer from Ford for the engines - which it is using this year - but with Stewart Grand Prix becoming the Ford works team next season, Sauber had to decide whether it wanted to continue as Ford's second string team - with slightly inferior engines to those used by Stewart.
Ford offered Sauber a package but the Swiss felt the price was too high and the specification of the engines not sufficiently competitive.
Given the circumstances it appears that Sauber has been caught out either hoping that Ford would offer a better deal or that Petronas would step in and fund an engine program. The only possible option in the latter case is with Brian Hart, although he says there is no sign of such a deal at the moment.
The only other obvious option is with a customer Ford ED3. This seems unlikely as it does not explain why Johnny Herbert would have happily signed a new two-year deal with the team. Herbert may know about an engine deal for 1998 and has decided to struggle through 1997 with the team. This does not really make sense as a new engine in 1998 would mean another year of development without major results. Herbert could have signed for Stewart with a works Ford engine in 1997.
Unless there is an option which we do not yet know about - and that is very unlikely - Sauber seems to be in trouble. So is Brian Hart. Commercial logic, therefore, is that a deal will happen between them.
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