NOVEMBER 26, 2004

Sauber and Ferrari

For the last seven years Sauber has used Sauber Petronas-badged Ferrari V10 engines. It has been an agreeable deal for both sides with Ferrari only too keen to soak up the large sums of money supplied for the engines by Petronas and Sauber happy to play a quiet role and build up the team in expectation that one day the team might be able to land a manufacturer without having to pay for it.

But the word in Italy is that Ferrari may have decided to terminate the arrangement at the end of the current contract. Whether this is related to the fact that Peter Sauber recently made a political stand against Ferrari's refusal to cut back on testing is a question which leaps immediately to mind. If that is the case anyone else considering a potential Ferrari engine deals need to understand fully that they will have no political voice in F1 if they choose to use the Italian V10 engines. There is always the possibility that Sauber has decided to go its own way on engines but if it is no willing to keep paying Ferrari one must asks what the options are. With the current move towards new low-cost customer engines this might be a sensible move because Ferrari certainly extracts huge sums from Sauber.

There has been talk in recent days of the supposed Midland F1 team talking about using Ferrari engines in 2006 but there are many in F1 who have yet to be convinced that the Russian-funded programme is actually serious and have yet to be convinced as to whether there is really enough money behind the plan.

Midland has been in the spotlight in recent days following the news that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is pulling out of a deal to acquire a minority stake in the Armenian electricity-distribution network because of concerns about Midland.

Midland bought the company in August for $37m, although the network had been valued two years earlier at being worth more than $150m.

Midland has since indicated that it intends to sell the business and concentrate more on its metals business.