Minardi to use Asiatech V10s

AS we predicted a few days ago the European Minardi team will use Asiatech V10 engines next year. It is not yet clear what these will be badged and there is a distinct possibility that the Malaysian government's involvement with the small Anglo-Italian team could result in the engines running as Proton V10s. Proton is the Malaysian national car company and is trying to improve its image by moving up into the luxury sector of the market having started out as a basic assembler of Japanese-made cars. As part of the process Proton bought Lotus Cars, although not the right to use the Lotus name in racing.

The decision to switch to Asiatech was based on plans which were put forward by the Asiatech management, showing a marked improvement in the performance of the engines, which this year were basic rebadged Peugeot V10s. Ever since the Asiatech takeover of Peugeot Sport there have been plans for modifications and Asiatech's technical director Enrique Scalabroni has done enough to convince Minardi boss Paul Stoddart that it is a good idea to use the engines. It helps that the engines will come free of charge for at least one year - and probably two.

The news, which will probably be announced in Belgium at the weekend, means that Prost will almost certainly keep its Ferrari engines - if it can raise the money needed. Our sources say that the Diniz Family is happy to fund the engine if Alain Prost agrees to give them some more shares. Prost is currently trying to avoid that happening.

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