AUGUST 30, 1999
On holiday in Belgium
HERB FISHEL, the head of motorsport at General Motors, was a visitor to the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa last weekend. The American was a guest of Williams driver Alessandro Zanardi. Fishel insisted that he was "on holiday" and that he had always wanted to visit the Spa racing circuit. While this is probably true it is interesting that Fishel should pop up at a Grand╩Prix just a few months after rumors began suggesting that GM was interested in getting involved in Formula 1 racing at some point in the future.
In March Fishel was quoted as saying that "we want to compete head on with BMW and Mercedes - both on and off the track". At the time he was talking about racing at Le Mans with Cadillac but since the future of both German companies in sportscar racing has come into question and it may be that Le Mans is not the place for GM to gun for its rivals. From the start of next year both BMW and Mercedes will be active in F1 and there is speculation that GM will follow within two or three years as Cadillac tries to alter its dull image and attract new buyers by reinventing the brand.
Fishel is not the only representative of car companies to turn up recently. We hear that a leading member of the Proton board was in Spa. Proton and Sauber sponsor Petronas have recently concluded a deal which will see the oil company owning a shareholding in the car company and there has been some speculation that the Malaysians might want to follow the trend and buy into a racing team. The obvious choice is Sauber.
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