MARCH 27, 2000
Two teams per engine manufacturer?
THERE have been rumors circulating for some time that Formula 1 bosses want to introduce a new regulation which forces Formula 1 engine manufacturers to supply two teams if they are called upon to do so.
One of the reasons that a rule may now get through is that a new tire war is about to begin as Michelin takes on Bridgestone. Car manufacturers want to cover the possibility that one tire company will have much better products than its rival and so the logical thing to do is to have one team with one tire company and a second with the other.
Several of the car manufacturers involved in F1 are already supplying two teams although the names of the engines involved are different. Ferrari provides its old V10s to Sauber, Ford supplies Jaguar Racing and has sold its old V10 engines to Minardi as Fondmetal V10s; Honda supplies BAR and Jordan (although the Jordan engines carry Mugen badging). In addition Renault is involved in the Supertec and Playlife programs.
This means that in reality there are only three manufacturers involved in F1 which do not supply two teams: BMW, Mercedes and Peugeot. They will be joined in 2002 by Toyota.
It is widely expected that Peugeot will withdraw from the sport at the end of the year and Prost is expected to get a secondary supply of Mercedes-Benz engines. This will help McLaren to fight off the challenge from Ferrari while also giving the team information about Michelin tires which Prost is virtually certain to use.
"It's no good if the manufacturers come in and then three or four teams get left behind," said F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone recently. "We've got to urge the manufacturers to help a little bit in supplying engines."
"My concern is that if the teams slip behind with their technology or engines and suddenly three or four are not competitive."