Pressure ahead for Ford F1?

FORD MOTOR COMPANY managers are about to embark on a major cost-cutting plan around the world - the intention being to slash $2.5 billion from the company's 1997 budgeted expenditure.

The plan has been formulated by the company's new president of automotive operations Jacques Nasser - who was known as "Jac the Knife" when he was head of Ford's European operations in the early 1990s. Nasser was appointed to the job in mid-October and earlier this month Ford managers were told that the company must cut its costs if it wishes to remain competitive in the short-term.

The program being proposed is expected to include cuts in non-budgeted schemes, a reduction in recruitment; fewer Ford engineers being sent abroad and big cuts in travel budgets. All these economies could have an effect on Ford's involvement in Grand Prix racing with Stewart Grand Prix and with Cosworth Engineering.

Stewart is expected to announce some more of its sponsorship deals for the coming season within days - but, in the current climate, it is unlikely to be able to rely on Ford to top up its F1 budget if money cannot be found elsewhere.

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