Pischetsreider named as Piech replacement

ALTHOUGH the announcement was completely overshadowed by the events in New York, Volkswagen AG nominated Bernd Pischetsrieder as the man who will replace Ferdinand Piech when he retires early next year. The announcement was made at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany.

It is however a hugely significant appointment for Formula 1 as it means that in all probability Volkswagen is going to come off the fence and enter Grand Prix racing in the years ahead, probably with its Audi brand.

Pischetsrieder is a great believer in racing as a means of promoting sales of cars. He was with BMW during the successful F1 campaigns of the 1980s and in 1993 took over as chairman of the company from Eberhart Von Kuenheim.

Pischetsrieder worked hard to convince the Munich company to get back into F1 and finally succeeded in getting the board to agree to a new F1 program in 1997 where he announced a deal to supply engines to Williams for five years, starting in 2000. In 1999 Pischetsrieder and his head of sales and marketing Wolfgang Reitzle went head to head over the company's involvement in the Rover Group. The result of the clash was that both men were dropped by BMW. Reitzle joined Ford and is now running Jaguar - and overseeing the Jaguar F1 program. Pischetsrieder went to Volkswagen.

His desire to take the company into F1 is well-known and it is no secret that his ambition is not only to sell more cars but also to embarrass his former BMW rival by trouncing Ford's F1 team in action. This may not be difficult, even if Jaguar has a head-start.

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