OCTOBER 14, 2002
Asiatech, the mysterious company which took over the Peugeot Sport engine operation at the end of 2000, has announced that it is giving up its plans to enter Formula 1 with its own team. The news is not a big surprise as there has always been a lot of scepticism about the project which seemed to have no visible means of support. Very little was known about the funding of the company except that one of the investors was Hideo Morita, one of the family that built up the Sony empire, and that the financial side of Asiatech was run out of Geneva. It was speculated that the project was based on the interest from a fund created in Switzerland to avoid Japan's death duties following the death of Morita's father. If the money involved was enough it would have generated sufficient interest to fund an F1 program. The collapse of the world's economy has hit such investments very hard and this might explain why the Asiatech money has dried up.
The company said that "problems with previously firmly-guaranteed funding have prevented Asiatech from moving on to this second phase of the program", which was the construction of a Formula 1 car and the establishment of a new F1 team. Asiatech has had a research and development facility in the old Williams Touring Car Engineering factory in Didcot operating for the last year and at Monza the company gave details of the preparation work that has been done.
The announcement is bad news for the staff at Velizy-Villacoublay who will now be looking for work although with much demand for good engine men at the moment the major players are expected to be snapped up quickly.