AUGUST 11, 1997
Tom's engine supply
THE amazing performance of the Arrows-Yamaha team at the Hungarian Grand Prix has confused still further the situation regarding the team's motors for next season - but it may help Tom Walkinshaw convince Damon Hill stay at Arrows next season. There continue to be all manner of smokescreen rumors linking TWR with Mecachromes and Fords but it seems more likely that either Tom will build his own V10 engines - using money either from Yamaha or from his own personal fortune to pay for the project. There are also suggestions that Brian Hart may be involved in the project, using the new V10 engine which Brian has been designing in recent months. Hart missed the Hungarian GP, preferring to stay at home and concentrate on getting the new V10 project up to speed.
Walkinshaw is certainly not short of good engine men at TWR. He has Cosworth's longtime F1 engine designer Geoff Goddard and the talented young French engineer Vincent Gaillardot from Renault Sport. The fact remains that building engines is a costly and lengthy project and thus a deal involving Brian Hart would be much more logical to cut corners. If Tom can find someone to pay for the project - and Yamaha would be the obvious choice - it could be a very good idea. The major advantage of an in-house engine is that it would enable Arrows technical director John Barnard to lay down what he wants from an engine. Most F1 designers agree that an engine should be totally integrated with the chassis design but this is not always possible as engine manufacturers are sometimes not willing to compromise. The theory of integrating the chassis-engine package worked very well for Barnard in the early 1980s when he was responsible for the McLaren-TAG combination which enjoyed enormous success.
If there is to be an in-house TWR engine - perhaps badged as a Yamaha - the team will need to be placing orders with sub-contractors shortly if the prototype engines are to be running early in the New Year. This is obviously the aim as all the teams want to be able to do as much track-testing as possible before the start of the new season in March.
If Walkinshaw and Hart do get together, the Minardi team is going to be looking for a new engine supplier for next year and the only logical supplier would be Cosworth. There continue to be rumors suggesting that Minardi will, in fact, be taken over by the new British American Tobacco-sponsored superteam.
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