MAY 16, 2006
Has anyone noticed Volkswagen's sponsorships?
Red Bull Racing is due to use Ferrari V8 engines in 2007 and Scuderia Toro Rosso will presumably switch over to Cosworth V8s, the two Red Bull teams will not go on leading separate lives forever, particularly when the rules for 2008 will allow them to share chassis and engines. The big question that everyone is asking is which engines the team will use when that happens. There are some who believe that Red Bull will buy Cosworth Racing but it is also worth noting the developing relationship between Red Bull and the Volkswagen group. Red Bull is backing the VW Tuaregs in Rally Raids, Skoda in the World Rally Championship, Seat in the World Touring Car Championship and Audi in DTM. There is clearly a policy for the two companies to work together and ultimately it may be that Audi will come to F1 with Red Bull when the company restructuring is further along its path. The company is cutting 20,000 jobs over the next three years as well as trimming production capacity and reorganizing its component supplies but strong unions mean that further reduction is going to be tough and so the best way to improve the figures is sell more high-margin luxury cars. The company is currently making money with Audi and with its Czech brand Skoda (which has lower labour costs) but is losing money with the VW and Seat brands.
At the moment Audi is busy trying to win the Le Mans 24 Hours with a diesel engine. The engine division at Audi Sport is headed by engineer Ulrich Baretzky, a BMW-trained engineer who worked for BMW Motorsport between 1982 and 1986, ending up as the Project Leader in F1. He has been head of race engine design at Audi since 1993. His team of engineers have been very successful in all the formulae that they have entered and are quite capable of producing F1 engines if the budget is available.
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