Time Running Out for Williams Honda Option

Williams must hurry up and make a swift decision if they want Honda engines for next year, the Japanese car maker warned on Friday, stating that time is running out on its ability to supply a second team in 2006

Time Running Out for Williams Honda Option

BMW's decision to buy the Sauber team has left the Williams team faced with the decision on whether to stick with their current partner or switch to another manufacturer - and an approach to Honda has already been made.

And although it is widely believed that Honda is favourite to link up with the team it last powered in 1987, the company's F1 vice-president Otmar Szafnauer has said that talks must progress quickly if a deal is going to come off.

"Teams have asked this year, for next year," he told Autosport-Atlas. "We had lengthy discussions with Red Bull and then they went and signed a deal with Ferrari. Williams, a couple of months ago, had an initial discussion asking if we were willing to supply a second team. And we said, yeah, we'll entertain the discussion.

"At the beginning of the year, when we had discussions we put the capacity in, but there will come a time when that will pass us by for next year. And I don't quite know when that is or whether we have passed it already.

"But you structure your programme and your tooling and your manufacturing capability to what your wants and needs are for the season. If they change quickly you may not be able to go back and reschedule all your manufacturing capability and rework them. So the more time goes on, the less likely it becomes."

Although Szafnauer has admitted that a team like Williams would be attractive to Honda, he said that the chances of a deal coming off for next year are 'possible, but maybe not probable.'

His view is based on the fact that talks appeared to have stalled with Williams - suggesting that the Grove-based team will either stick with BMW engines for another year or link-up with Toyota or Cosworth.

"We will entertain any requests from anybody and if we can get to an agreement, that'll be great," he added. "But there are no active discussions now and nothing really happening."

Speculation that a second customer team for Honda could lead to the engines being rebadged 'Acura' has not been totally ruled out, although Szafnauer said that it had not been actively talked about.

"That's all speculation, all detail. None of that's been discussed, so it's all just conjecture."

Szafnauer has made it clear that Honda is considering the possibility of a customer supply purely as a way of helping out F1, rather than as a means of recouping its financial investment in the sport.

"After supplying two teams, which was BAR and Jordan, we decided along with Jordan to separate from that relationship and to focus on one team," he said.

"And then, for no other reason than to help F1 as a whole - we thought it looked like engines were hard to come by for independent teams, which is not good for anyone - we said we would supply if someone comes and asks. But we're not in the business of trying to make money selling F1 engines."

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