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Ford looking to Benetton again?

THE Ford Motor Company's situation in Formula 1 remains uncomfortable although Detroit insiders insist that the company was not taken by surprise when Volkswagen's subsidiary Audi bought Cosworth, which designs and manufactures F1 engines for Ford. We have heard stories that Audi management has shown little interest in the sporting side of Cosworth and that the most likely move will be the sale of Cosworth Racing to Ford to recoup some of the costs incurred in buying Cosworth, which Volkswagen wishes to use to manufacture engines for Rolls Royce motor cars.

This sort of a deal makes some sense although it is hard to believe that Volkswagen is not going to have some involvement in sport. Audi is keen to take on Honda and Mercedes-Benz in America and the best way to achieve that would be to enter CART racing with an Audi-badged Ford engine. Cosworth would also be very useful for Volkswagen for building up sporting programs for Lamborghini and Bugatti which VW is in the process of buying at the moment.

Ford may be using the rumors to disguise bigger plans and in Magny-Cours we heard a suggestion that the company will not buy Cosworth Racing but only the rights to the 1999 F1 engine and that this will continue to be run by Stewart next year.

In order to have more control over its projects, however, Ford is looking for its own team in the year 2000 and we hear may be trying to buy the Benetton team - although the Benetton Family continues to say that the operation is not for sale - and use the massive Enstone facility to build engines as well as chassis.

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