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What is Ford doing?

ONE or two curious facts have emerged in the wake of the announcement that Volkswagen is to buy Cosworth which would seem to indicate that the Ford Motor Company was not perhaps quite as prepared as it would like to appear to be. We hear that several Cosworth engine designers were approached by Ford at the Canadian Grand Prix with offers of employment. If Ford had been planning its own venture for some time, as the company would have the world believe, such approaches would have come earlier, particularly as Cosworth has been plundered in recent months by engine companies keen to get hold of engineers with F1 experience. There is a big demand for such people because of the BMW, TWR and Sauber-Petronas engine programs.

On the other hand we have also heard that last year Ford offered Renault Sport's Jean-Jacques His a vast sum of money and any facilities he wished to have if he would mastermind an engine program for them. His appears to have turned down the offer and is now in a highly important job in the main Renault company, as head of production car research and development.

As Ford does not obviously have an engine program up and running and is unlikely to have one in time for the 1999 season, it is logical to assume that it will either try to do a deal with Volkswagen to use the engines next year or will take all its knowledge and data to an existing engine company in Britain with F1 experience - John Judd is the obvious choice - and form an alliance which will buy the company time to put together its own program.

While Ford's management say that they will support the F1 program completely, it remains to be seen whether or not there will be agreement over the kind of money an F1 project demands.

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