NOVEMBER 9, 1998
Piech denies F1 plans
VOLKSWAGEN boss Ferdinand Piech has denied speculation that Europe's biggest carmaker is planning to enter Grand Prix racing with its Audi brand.
But Mercedes-Benz boss Jurgen Hubbert told the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper last week that he felt that Audi's Le Mans car was "the preliminary step towards F1". This would not be surprising as in the past Mercedes and Peugeot have both used the sportscar route as a way to get ready for an entry into F1 and there is little doubt that Toyota is in the process of doing the same.
Hubbert said that in his opinion Porsche was going to have make a decision soon about F1 as well. Hubbert confirmed that Mercedes-Benz will be staying in the sport until 2002 as the firm has a contract with McLaren until then and has no intention of leaving before taking on BMW. He added, however, that Mercedes-Benz is not necessarily involved in Grand Prix racing as a "lifelong engagement" and that after 2002 anything could happen.