Briatore in Cosworth link

Renault boss Flavio Briatore has been linked with a possible buy-out of Cosworth Racing in a move that could end immediate concerns of an engine crisis in Formula 1, autosport.com can reveal

Briatore in Cosworth link

High level sources claim that Briatore is considering joining forces with French engine specialists Mecachrome in a bid to purchase Cosworth Racing from Ford, after the Blue Oval put the company up for sale along with Jaguar Racing earlier this month. There has been plenty of interest from buyers about Jaguar but so far it is understood that Mecachrome is the only party looking at Cosworth.

Although the deal is nowhere near complete yet, sources indicate that negotiations are quite advanced and that the plan is ultimately for the Mecachrome-Cosworth partnership to become a one-stop source for customer engines in Formula 1 - especially when F1 switches to 2.4-litre V8s in 2006.

Briatore is understood to have flown back to Europe immediately after the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend to continue discussions, although there are no suggestions that any long term future plans he has will compromise his work on helping Renault win the world championship in 2005.

Mecachrome is no stranger to performing such a customer supply service in the top category, having previously developed the Supertec-badged former Renault engine for Williams, Benetton, BAR and Arrows between 1998 and 2000.

A successful purchase of Cosworth would be very welcome in F1, amid fears that if Cosworth was shut down then Minardi and Jordan - as well as whatever becomes of the Jaguar Racing team - could be left without engines less than six months before the new season is due to begin.

The virtual guarantee of deals with those three teams for 2005 means there is already a solid business base for a company like Mecachrome to be interested. Plus, with possibly Arden and a new team that has commissioned Dallara to build a car both expected to join the field in 2006, then it would not be inconceivable for Mecachrome-Cosworth to supply almost half the teams on the grid.

Such a supply of engines would prove attractive for independent teams because they would be fairly competitive and cheap, plus they could be rebadged with the name of team sponsors. In 1999, Benetton rebadged its customer Supertecs as 'Playlife.'

Briatore himself has openly admitted recently that he will not renew his contract with Renault, which runs out at the end of next year, but he insists that he has no firm idea of what he wants to do after his tenure at the French car manufacturer ends.

When he previously left team management in the sport at the end of 1997, he ran the Supertec engine company for two years before returning to Benetton in 2000 when it was bought by Renault.

There are even suggestions that Renault itself may not stay in F1 beyond the end of 2005. A report in this week's Autosport magazine suggests that the French manufacturer is conducting a full evaluation of its motorsport activities and that incoming chairman Carlos Ghosn may question the value of F1 for a team that is not regularly winning.

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