Minardi re-signs with Ford

MINARDI made a series of announcements at Monza, the most important of which was a continuation of the Italian team's involvement as a Ford customer team although the deal is being dressed up as "official support" from Ford. Minardi is expected to pay around $15m to Cosworth Racing, which will be owned by Ford as soon as the paperwork is sorted out. The engine-building business in Northampton is currently owned by Volkswagen's subsidiary Audi AG but a deal has been struck with Ford for the racing projects to come under the control of Ford.

Ford Europe's motorsport boss Martin Whitaker says that there will be 50 Cosworth engineers and technicians working on the Minardi engines next year. These will be developments of the VJ engine which is being used this year by StewartĘGrandĘPrix and Whitaker says that Cosworth will develop these while Stewart will have an all new Zetec-R engine, designated CK.

Minardi also announced a two-year technology deal with Gabriele Rumi's Fondmetal Technologies company. FondmetalĘTechnologies operates an impressive 50 percent rolling-road windtunnel at Casumaro. This has been used in recent years by both Benetton and Tyrrell but the Benetton deal expires at the end of this year and Rumi - who also controls Minardi - wants to use Casumaro to improve the performance of the team.

The team has also announced the recruitment of a new sporting director with the expected transfer of Cesare Fiorio from Prost to Minardi at the end of the year. The 59-year-old former Lancia, Ferrari, Ligier and Forti team boss holds a largely symbolic role at Prost and it will be interesting to see how Minardi intend to use him in the years ahead.

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