MAY 24, 1999
What now for Supertec?
There have been rumors in recent weeks linking Sauber to a Supertec deal. The Swiss team's current arrangement with Ferrari is expensive and not very successful but there is no guarantee that a Supertec deal will be any more competitive next year and the additional disruption caused by an engine switch is probably best avoided. Sauber says it is looking for a partnership with an engine manufacturer in the future but most people in the paddock agree that the team is simply holding on in the hope that Toyota will buy into the operation.
Minardi is likely to become a Supertec user next year but it remains to be seen how the little Italian team will pay for the French V10s. The current rumor is that Minardi bosses Gabriele Rumi and Giancarlo Minardi will agree to give shares in the team to Supertec boss Flavio Briatore - who previously controlled the team. Rumi may not be very interested in such an arrangement and has shown in the past - when he shut down his Fondmetal F1 team - that although he likes F1 he is not willing to throw money away unless there are results.
Arrows needs a new engine but again has money problems as there is no sign that Prince Malik has any big sponsors lined up for next year.
Honda Racing Developments will also need engines if a new owner can be found. The problem is that unless the price of the Supertec V10s comes down dramatically it is going to be hard for HRD to find anyone to keep the operation going.