Minardi to announce engine deal shortly

THE European Minardi team is believed to have decided on its engine for next year and so we expect to hear shortly what Paul Stoddart's choice will be. Stoddart has been talking to Ferrari, Ford and Asiatech but each deal has its drawbacks. He has also been looking at continuing to develop his own European V10 engines.

The Ferrari deal would be perfect but the price tag is something in the region of $25m with all the rebuilds included. This is beyond Minardi's means at the moment. The Ford deal is believed to be slightly cheaper but there are question marks over whether Cosworth can cope with three supplies. Whatever the case such a route would mean a great deal of politicking which Stoddart is not really interested in.

That means that the most likely choice is Asiatech. The engines are free and may be free for two seasons. Asiatech is promising to have much more powerful and reliable units. If a deal is done Minardi will no doubt have guarantees written into the contract to make sure that all goes according to plan. It remains to be seen whether the engines will remain unbadged or whether Minardi's Malaysian contacts will result in a deal to call the engines "Proton V10s" or something along those lines.

The only other possibility - and it is a very slim one - is that Stoddart will go ahead with his own engines but these will be badged as Proton V10s.

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