Salo disqualified in Australia

SAUBER PETRONAS driver Mika Salo finished sixth at the Australian Grand Prix but was then excluded from the results when the scrutineers found that the car infringed the F1 technical regulations. During the measurement checks after the race it was found that the rear edge of the car's front wing extended backwards into an area in which no bodywork is allowed. The overlap was around 20mm. Sauber team did not bother to challenge the findings.

The exclusion will come as an embarrassment to Sauber as the Swiss team battles to retain its sponsorship from the Malaysian oil company Petronas. Team boss Peter Sauber stopped off in Kuala Lumpur on his way to Australia for meetings with the top management of Petronas. No new agreement has yet been reached but we understand that Sauber is pitching for another five year deal. A decision is expected from Petronas at the end of March. Petronas is involved in Sauber Petronas Engineering AG, a joint venture with the team to design and develop engines for Formula 1 and road cars. This organization is headed by Japanese engineer Osamu Goto and while the roadgoing engines have been quite a success the F1 engine plan has been shelved.

In recent days Petronas has bought control of the Malaysian car company Proton. This company owns the Lotus Group in Norfolk and in recent days we have heard storied suggesting that Lotus has been very quietly sounding out a number of F1 engine designers about a possible F1 project.

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