APRIL 12, 1999

Ford becomes popular

THE FORD MOTOR COMPANY has suddenly become one of the most popular engine companies in Grand Prix racing, following the promising showing of the Stewart-Ford combination in Australia and Brazil. The lack of performance and poor reliability of the Supertec V10 engines and the continuing drain of staff away from Renault Sport (which develops the engine) has meant that Benetton and BAR are looking for alternative engine deals for the future. In addition Sauber needs a better engine and Jordan is currently hedging its bets and waiting to see what Honda is planning to do.

Last year Ford was quietly trying to buy Stewart Grand Prix to turn the team into a factory team. Jackie Stewart has, however, stuck to his guns and says that he has no plans to sell. Ford appears to have accepted this when it agreed an extension to the Stewart-Ford deal.

Our sources within Ford, however, insist that if the engine continues to be successful it will be rebadged as a Jaguar V10 next year as part of Ford's marketing campaign to take Jaguar head to head with BMW.

Ford sources say that they want to focus on the main effort in F1 but we hear that the possibility of earning money from supplying customer or semi-works engines may be too tempting for Ford to reject and that we may see both Jaguar and Ford engines running in F1. This will enable Ford to reduce its F1 costs as such an arrangement could raise as much as $30-35m a year if the engines are supplied to two teams.