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The future of Minardi

IN recent days there have been worries about the future of Minardi and while this is not surprising given the fact that it is now early November and the team has yet to announce which engines it will be using in the World Championship next season. For several months the engineers at Faenza under technical director Gustav Brunner have been designing a car without knowing which engine it will be using. This will obviously involve some compromise but it is not as big a problem as other teams might think. The two possible engines - the Supertec V10 and the Mugen Honda V10 - are about the same size and they are both lower, lighter and narrower than the Fondmetal V10s which the team has been using this year. This means that the Minardi chassis (which was pretty good this year) can be more or less retained as it is and gains can be made from lowering the center of gravity and reducing the weight of the car. There are some very good engineers at Minardi and even if the Casumaro windtunnel is not as good a facility as the team would like, there is potential for the 2001 package to be quite competitive.

The delay over engines is not simply down to money. The team was bought recently by the PanAmerican Sports Network and it is inconceivable that this organization, which owns the satellite television rights for South America, is not going to fund the team. It is owned by the huge American venture capitalist company Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst and the firm has very clear objectives to use Formula 1 as a way of promoting its South American electronic communications activities prior to floating the company.

The delay in announcing an engine deal is believed to be because Minardi is not very keen on running Supertec engines (which are readily available) and would prefer to get its hands on a supply of Mugen Honda engines. The Mugen company wants to continue to be involved in Formula 1, but Honda says that it is not interested in supplying the units as it is going to be concentrating all its efforts on supplying factory V10s to British American Racing and Jordan. The only possible compromise, and one which Mugen appears to be working towards, is for the old Honda engines to be handed over completely to Mugen and badged differently so that if they do beat the Honda engines on occasion it will not be obvious to the public at large.

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