MAY 3, 1999

Minardi loses Ford deal in 2000

The Ford Motor Company has announced that it will not be supplying engines to other teams next year, which means that Minardi is going to have to look elsewhere for an engine deal. "We are in racing to win, not just to compete," said Ford's Martin Whitaker, who also announced that Ford will be giving Cosworth more support next year to concentrate everything on Stewart Grand Prix.

The announcement is clearly designed to end speculation that Ford is discussing a deal with Benetton. It has not been successful, however, as there is still talk in F1 circles that Ford will continue with Stewart but may agree to supply another team with Jaguar engines. Although Jaguar is owned by Ford, a separate structure might be set up to develop the Cosworth V10 units as Jaguar V10s.

The announcement is bad news for Minardi which is left with only two choices of engine for 2000 : Supertec or Ferrari. Both are very expensive but would probably help the team improve its level of competitiveness. The problem is that the team cannot afford to pay the kind of money being asked and without results is struggling to find sponsors. The only obvious solution, therefore, would be to agree a deal with Supertec's Flavio Briatore in which he would gain some of the team's shares in exchange for the engines.

There have been rumors for some time that Minardi is up for sale, but the problem is that Giancarlo Minardi is unwilling to sell his shares in the team unless the buyer agrees to leave the team in Faenza. Minardi is a big employer in the town - where the family has been based for generations.