JULY 5, 1999
General Motors admits F1 interest - but no plans
GENERAL MOTORS says that it has no plans to enter Formula 1 in the foreseeable future but the company's executive director of motorsports Herb Fischel admits that the company aspires to Grand Prix racing. "We would need to see a five to 10 year guarantee of stability in the regulations before we would think of committing to such a big program," Fischel said.
In all probability if GM were to come to F1 it would do so with a team and thus is looking for long-term stability in the engine regulations. This already exists as the FIA World Motor Sport Council announced as long ago as December 1996 that the 3-liter engine formula would continue until the end of the 2006 season. The engine regulations could probably be changed if everyone involved agreed - which is not very likely as they never agree on anything - although a new formula with a five or 10 year stability agreement might actually attract newcomers as everyone would be starting with a clean sheet of paper and so newcomers would be at less of a disadvantage than normal.
At the time FIA President Max Mosley said that the rule had been created to enable major manufacturers to plan ahead. A long-term arrangement also means that performance of the top engines tends to be very close as finding extra horsepower becomes more and more difficult and expensive.
Despite Fischel's comments that GM has no plans to enter F1 at the moment the company's decision to send a factory team to the Le Mans 24 Hours is an indication that GM is revamping its international image in an effort to remain the world's biggest car manufacturer. It is worth noting that last week GM broadened its customer base a little more by buying the rights to the "Hummer" name with the intention of marketing the huge machines - and possibly building smaller Hummers in an effort to attract younger car buyers.
The Hummer is the civilian version of the Humvee military vehicle which is manufactured by AM General in Mishiwaka,ÊIndiana. AM General will retain the right to market and distribute the Humvee for military applications.