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Yamaha, Toyota and Peugeot

THE future of Peugeot in Formula 1 appears to be close to being settled. The French car company is thought virtually certain to end its relationship with Prost Grand Prix at the end of this season. If Peugeot can sell the F1 engine program it will have an excuse to leave F1 and can use the money raised to pay for the World Rally Championship assault over the next few years.

The company which is thought most likely to buy the Peugeot technology is Toyota although the vast Japanese company does not want to be seen to be getting technology from Peugeot and so may choose to use the Yamaha name in F1. Toyota owns a small share in Yamaha and provides the company with considerable business. A deal to use Yamaha engines in F1 would enable Toyota to have a second string F1 project which can be taken over if its own F1 team flops.

This would tie in with stories we are hearing that suggest that a consortium of technology companies are about to take over Minardi and that the Italian team will use Yamaha V10 engines next year.

Ultimately we are sure that Yamaha is not planning a long term future in F1. We continue to hear that Yamaha has plans to build high performance sportscars for the US market and that Toyota is happy for Yamaha to build the brand (which has been so successful in motorcycle racing) and intends to change the name of its CART engines to Yamaha in 2002 when Toyota becomes involved in F1.

This convoluted arrangement may not be as unlikely as it sounds. In 1993, it should be remembered, Ferrari acquired a considerable amount of F1 information from Honda after the Japanese company withdrew from F1.

Yamaha sources deny any knowledge of these negotiations but we believe that the deal will happen if the purchase of Minardi goes ahead.

Prost in the meantime is still unsure what to do about an engine as he continues to struggle to convince West McLaren Mercedes that it would be a good idea for Mercedes to have two engine supplies in 2001.

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