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GP Week : Issue 153
There are subtle signs that F1 engine supplier Cosworth may be about to pull the plug. One of the big controversies surrounding the FIA’s choice of new entries for the 2010 Formula One season was based on the rumour that a key selection criterion was that incoming teams had to use a Cosworth engine. Much was made of the celebrated engine supplier’s return to Formula One – Cosworth first became involved in F1 back in 1963, and the brand has been associated with 176 race victories. No one expected to see a Cosworth-powered car take the chequered flag in 2010, as it takes time to build a race-winning team. But no one expected Cosworth to disappear from the paddock with a whimper either, which is what appears to be going on at the moment. In 2010, Cosworth had four customers in the F1 paddock: Lotus Racing (now Caterham), Virgin, HRT, and Williams. By 2011, that number was down to three, with Lotus making the switch to Renault power. With Williams also making the move to a Renault engine for the 2012 season, Cosworth’s presence in the paddock has halved in three years, and only tail-enders Marussia and HRT now use their engines. Speaking last year about the 2014 engine spec change, Mark Gallagher – who was still employed by Cosworth at the time – admitted that his company was worried about the incoming regulations. “There’s a big concern on our side because the new rules have no cost restrictions applied,” Gallagher said. “So the manufacturers can spend a huge amount of money and we would have a space race around the new engine formula, which was never the idea. Everyone agreed that wasn’t the idea, but unfortunately that’s what happened. ... I think all the teams, not just our customers, don’t need to be spending more money on engine technology.” Suspicions that Cosworth are planning to pull out of Formula One in 2014 gained added traction this weekend when GPWEEK established that the engine manufacturer no longer had a dedicated F1 PR, a highly unusual move for a supplier with an established paddock presence. Recent months have seen regular reports of a Young Driver Test at Silverstone this summer, and coverage of the mid-season test has treated the event as official. But according to Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery, speaking to the media in Barcelona over the weekend, nothing has yet been set in stone. "To be honest, officially, we’ve only had indications from the teams testing in Abu Dhabi," Hembery said. "Formally, we haven’t had any indication about Silverstone yet, although verbally we did have a conversation, so we would be keen to know if Silverstone is going to happen or not." The concept of splitting the YDT into two sessions has caused something of a minor controversy in the paddock, with senior team officials divided on the wisdom of running in the middle of the summer. For front-runners with sizeable budgets, a year-end test in Abu Dhabi makes the most sense. But for those teams less financially fortunate, the decision to run in Silverstone is, if not a no-brainer, then the best decision from a logistical point of view. "The better compromise in terms of cost would be to test at Silverstone for plenty of reasons: for logistics and costs,” said Sauber’s Pirre Wache. “It would be better to test at Silverstone." However, for those who can afford to be flexible, there is little sense in using up engines in the middle of the season. "Our plan at McLaren at the moment is to test in Abu Dhabi," said McLaren sporting director Sam Michael. "Engines is a significant factor. “If you want to test at the end of the year, you have so many part-mileage engines with the race team that all have a little bit of mileage on them so you can effectively do it for free, in terms of your race engines. If you try and do that in the middle of the year, you can’t use your race engines so you have to prepare a special test engine." While Toro Rosso lack the budget of a team like McLaren, they have also made their YDT test based on engines. "We have budgeted our resources to support 15 days of testing and we were counting on the fact that eventually the young driver test would occur at the end of the year," Giorgio Ascanelli said. "We could sustain it with the engine mileage which was left over from the races, so a second test in the middle of the season which wasn’t planned, for us, is half a million? We don’t have it." COSWORTH TO PULL OUT OF F1? YOUNG DRIVER TESTS CAUSING CONTROVERSY BRIEFLY » Adrian Sutil surprised the paddock by turning up in Barcelona. The ex-F1 driver spent much of Friday in the familiar haunt of the Force India motorhome, while on Saturday he was seen spending time with a number of teams. The German driver lost his Force India seat at the end of 2011 after what was probably his best season in the sport, and is now on the hunt for a new race seat. That seat is likely to be very hard to come by, as Sutil is in the unfortunate position of being without his Medion millions. That sponsorship deal came about thanks to family contacts in the company, which was bought by Lenovo last year. As part of their restructuring, Lenovo scrapped the financing for Sutil’s F1 dreams. But all hope is not lost – Ferrari have this weekend expressed their disappointment with Felipe Massa, and a ride with a well- funded team is Sutil’s best chance of a seat not assisted by personal sponsors. » GPWEEK’s image gurus Sutton Images, the world’s largest independent motorsport photographic agency, are once again celebrating another milestone with 800,000 images now available at www.sutton-images. com. The Sutton Images Picture Desk archive was introduced in 1997 at the dawn of the digital photographic era offering a handful of downloadable images following each Grand Prix. Now, sutton-images.com offers the most extensive on-line motorsport content currently available. An integral part of www.sutton-images. com is the work of the late David Phipps, with many images unseen before debuting online, and all charting a period that shaped the world of motorsport as we see it today. Covering the careers of such greats as Clark and Stewart, Rindt and Peterson, Lauda and Hunt and countless other great heroes of the day, these iconic images of that dramatic period will live on as a testament to the skill and passion of the David Phipps. 6 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS