JUNE 15, 1998
Lamborghini goes to Volkswagen
AS predicted Volkswagen has bought the Lamborghini car company, through its Audi subsidiary. The deal is worth $111m and we would expect to see the German carmaker bringing the company back into Formula 1 with engines for the new British American Racing. This will probably involve Lamborghini taking over the Cosworth 1999 Formula 1 engine project, which is currently codenamed the CK. The Ford Motor Company did not buy the rights to this engine before the sale of Cosworth to Volkswagen.
It is worth noting that Audi also has acquired the rights to all the Cosworth Indycar engines - which are currently being supplied to a number of important CART teams, notably Newman/Haas Racing (Michael Andretti, Christian Fittipaldi) Team Rahal (Bobby Rahal/Bryan Herta), Patrick Racing (Scott Pruett, Andrian Fernandez), Della Penna Motorsports (Richie Hearn), Payton Coyne Racing (Michel Jourdain, Dennis Vitolo) and Davis Racing (Arnd Meier). These engines may be renamed and used to promote Volkswagen products in the American market.
Lamborghini has been owned since 1993 by an Indonesian group. During this time the loss-making company has been returned to profitability with new management and more efficient techniques. Lamborghini has been careful to stay out of the sport during its rebuilding phase.
Lamborghini was heavily involved in F1 until Chrysler sold the company to the Indonesians. At the time the Lamborghini Engineering F1 operation was closed down but many of the engine-building facilities remain. Soon after the sale of Lamborghini, Tom Walkinshaw tried to buy the F1 offshoot and at the end of 1994 Korean car maker Daewoo had talks with Lamborghini about an F1 project.
While the company does not have a very lengthy history in the sport it has a high-performance image thank to its rivalry with Ferrari and Maserati.
According to company legend, Enzo Ferrari so annoyed wealthy tractor manufacturer Ferruccio Lamborghini when he complained about his Ferrari road car that Lamborghini decided to set up a sportscar company in opposition. Putting Lamborghini into competition with Ferrari in F1 would, therefore, be logical and also a very good marketing move.
If all goes to plan we expect there to be an announcement about an F1 engine deal within the next month.
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