JUNE 8, 1998
Lamborghini and BAR
IN Canada there were whispers in the paddock that British American Racing may be in the process of concluding a deal to run Reynard-Lamborghinis in the 1999 Formula 1 World Championship. On the face of it this is a ridiculous story but several good sources came up with the same scenario.
Lamborghini has been out of Grand Prix racing since the end of 1993 when the company was left in the lurch when McLaren decided to run Peugeot V10 engines. Lamborghini's parent company Chrysler decided to sell the Italian supercar maker to an Indonesian group which included businessman Setiawan Djody and Tommy Suharto, the son of former Indonesian President Raden Suharto.
In November 1995 Tommy Suharto became majority shareholder in Lamborghini SpA but the recent economic downturn in Asia and the political instability in Indonesia make it a good moment for Suharto to sell. Rumors have suggested that Volkswagen is the company most interested in buying Lamborghini to exploit a niche market in supercars and to give the group a more sporty image.
The Volkswagen purchase of Cosworth could mean that F1 engines produced at Cosworth would be badged as Lamborghini V10s, providing a quick way for Volkswagen to get into F1. It would be particularly easy for British American Racing as the new team is planning to test with a modified version of the Tyrrell chassis fitted with the 1999 engine. If the engine was a rebadged Cosworth testing could begin quite quickly.
This is all very convoluted and one might argue that it would be much wiser for BAR to become a customer Mecachrome team. Whatever the case may be the engine deal is expected to be announced when the team unveils its new factory at Brackley in the first week of July.
It is probably not a coincidence that BAR's Craig Pollock was spotted in Canada having discreet talks with Sauber Petronas Engineering's technical director Osamo Goto.
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