AUGUST 9, 1999
Minardi gets Supertec
THE Fondmetal Minardi team will use Supertec V10 engines next year - if an agreement it has made with the French engine company is concluded.
Minardi will join Arrows and Benetton using the old Renault V10 engines, while British American Racing will switch to Honda engines and Williams will begin its new partnership with BMW.
Supertec says that there will be a revised engine next year called the FB02 but the teams are under no illusion that these will be any better than those being used this season. Having said that, both Benetton and Williams have scored podium finishes this year with the Supertec engines so Minardi should be more competitive, particularly if Gustav Brunner's design team can come up with a good chassis.
The major problem for Minardi is paying for the engines but the fact that a deal has been struck would suggest that the team has managed to put together the necessary money for next year, probably from the Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica, which is trying to use F1 as a means of promoting its activities around the world, notably in South America. While Marc Gene is expected to stay on with the team it is quite likely that the second driver in 2000 will be from either Brazil or Argentina. The obvious candidate is the team's test driver Gaston Mazzacane from Argentina.
It remains to be seen whether or not the team's major shareholder Gabriele Rumi stays on. In recent weeks he has been trying to sell his 70% shareholding in the team for an estimated $50m. There have not been many takers as GiancarloÊMinardi controls the voting rights and insists that the team must remain in Faenza, Italy.
If money has been found to pay for the engines, it would be logical for Rumi to stay for a few more months and then try to sell the team again when there have been some better results.