APRIL 27, 1998

Sauber bidding for Mecachrome

THE Sauber Petronas team is bidding for the second supply of Mecachrome V10 engines in 1999 because it does not want to go on working with Ferrari because the engines supplied will never be able to beat the factory Ferrari units and they are very expensive. A switch to Mecachrome would give the team an engine which could have the potential to win races. The engines would be badged as Sauber Petronas V10s to continue the Malaysian presence in F1. The long-term aim is for SauberÊPetronas to build its own engines but the recent economic crisis in Asia and the astounding costs of engine-building in F1 have delayed plans for the company to have its own engines by the year 2000.

Williams is expected to continue with Mecachrome next year as BMW is simply not ready to enter F1 until 2000. Benetton is expected to give up its Mecachrome supply (badged as Playlife V10s) next year to begin a new relationship with Ford which has realized that if it wants to win races in the short term then it must do it with a team other than Stewart. This supply could go to Sauber but British American racing also wants the engines.

It is thought unlikely that Mecachrome would expand to three supplies because Williams has an agreement with Renault that this will not happen. It should, however, be remembered that Williams had an exclusive deal for Renault engines in 1995 but that the management at Renault Sport went back on that deal and supplied Benetton as well.

Williams was pacified by Renault with the lucrative deal to run Renault products in the British Touring Car Championship.