Minardi to become Renault junior team

MINARDI's position as a devoted ally of Ferrari and Benetton on the convoluted F1 political scene will be guaranteed on a long-term basis when Renault subsidiary Mecachrome buys the team to ensure its future.

That's the hot tip from France this week after months of speculation about the future of the tiny team from Faenza. Team founder Giancarlo Minardi commented enigmatically just before Christmas; "Things are progressing favorably. The prospects are rather good and I hope the 2001 season will be more serene, quiet x and faster - that the previous one."

This will be bad news for the British contingent on the FIA F1 Commission when it comes to future in-fighting. Basically the Ferrari camp now has the slavish support of engine customers Sauber and Prost, plus traditional allies Benetton and its new satellite Minardi. This all adds up to a strongly persuasive power base from which to create and shape future technical regulations to an Italian/French agenda.

Renault - who purchased the Benetton F1 team earlier this year - is a traditional political ally of Ferrari. Back in the early 1980s both teams were at the leading edge of the controversial turbo engine technology - and were ranged against the British teams in the notorious "FOCA/FISA" wars which had at their heart who actually ran motor racing - the governing body or the Bernie Ecclestone/FOCA-aligned predominantly British teams.

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