AUGUST 3, 1998
TOM WALKINSHAW is still working hard to put together a deal to enable him to run Supertec V10 engines in 1999, although he may prefer to have these badged as Arrows V10s. The major problem for Tom is that he does not have the budget at the moment to afford the $23m being asked for the French engines. In an effort to raise money, however, Tom has come up with some novel ideas. In recent weeks we understand that he has offered his current Brian Hart-designed engines to BMW so that the Munich company will get some idea of what it takes to make a competitive F1 engine in the 1990s. There have been rumors for some weeks that the BMW engine department is struggling to get its prototype V10s up to speed and to buy Walkinshaw's engine project would be a quick way to get to a start in the business and a base on which to build. Such a deal would enable Tom to raise as much as half the Supertec budget.
We also hear that he is the process of trying to sell a supply of the Arrows engines to Gabriele Rumi of the Minardi team, who cannot afford the Mecachrome deal and does not want to continue as a Ford customer because of the large numbers of engine failures the team has suffered in recent months. A switch to an Arrows V10 would give Rumi a better engine than he currently has for less money. This could raise another $10-15m for Tom to put towards his Supertec budget. We have also heard of attempts being made by Tom to find someone to buy Mika Salo's contract with the team. This is believed to have a $5m buyout clause which would be more useful cash. It would also help Tom to get test driver Emmanuel Collard into the team, which would mean that the Elf petrol company would be willing to contribute to the engine budget.
While Walkinshaw would probably prefer to continue with his engine development program, the costs involved - and budget problems on the chassis side - have meant that he needs to find a big sponsor to help pay for the engine program. Thus it makes sense to take a step back to go forward.
Tom will also be saving money next year because he will no longer have to pay for the services of technical director JohnĘBarnard.
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