MAY 3, 1999
Sauber and Supertec
A year ago Sauber came close to doing an engine deal with Supertec, with the intention of running the French engines badged as Sauber Petronas V10s. In the end the deal was not signed as Supertec agreed deals with Williams, Benetton and British American Racing. The engines have been somewhat disappointing this year with many of the members of RenaultĘSport - which is paid to develop the engines - having been lured away to better jobs and Renault management much more interested in making the new deal with Nissan a success than in investing large sums in Grand Prix racing.
Next year Williams begins a new relationship with BMW and BAR is tipped to work with Honda which means that there will be Supertec V10 engines for other teams.
Sauber has been using rebadged Ferrari V10 engines in recent seasons but these are very expensive and it is very clear that Ferrari is not keen on having opposition from its customer team. The deal has, however, enabled the Swiss team to get some good finishes and this has helped establish the team as a solid F1 operation. In order to take the next step, however, Sauber needs a different engine deal if only to get the team to the end of 2001 when it is widely believed the operation will be taken over by Toyota.
The team's commercial director Fritz Kaiser says that the team is very happy with its current relationship with Ferrari and that there is an option for that deal to continue next year but he admits that there are other engines on the market which might provide Sauber with a better package.
Kaiser also admits that the team is recruiting more design staff, following the departure in recent weeks of a number of important engineers who have moved to the Toyota F1 project based in Cologne.
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