Toyota, Honda Deny Williams Contact

Japanese engine manufacturers Toyota and Honda have both refused to rule out a supply deal with Williams for next season if BMW decide to ditch the British team and side with Sauber

Toyota, Honda Deny Williams Contact

Williams have a long-term deal with BMW but rumours keep circulating that their partnership could end if Peter Sauber offers BMW the chance to buy his team out.

It seems likely that BMW will continue to supply Williams beyond the end of the year but the front-running team, who scored a double podium at the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend, would be forced to chase a secondary supply deal if BMW leave.

Rumours at the Nurburgring, which were uttered with limited source, suggested that Toyota, who already supply Jordan with engines this year, could jump in and supply Williams under their Lexus brand.

But Toyota president John Howett told Autosport-Atlas: "We have had no approach at all from Williams. At the moment we are discussing with Jordan for next year and we have received their request of what they would like.

"We have submitted an initial proposal and we are currently discussing that, but if they decide no, they have another offer, and someone else approached us then I don't think we would be negative."

Honda vice president Otmar Szafnauer, too, said the company have had "no serious discussions with Williams yet" but said they would welcome any approach and are happy to provide a supply of second engines.

"In the past we have always said we wanted to focus all our efforts on one team but if someone comes up and says they want to talk to us about engine supply then we would welcome the conversation," Szafnauer told Autosport-Atlas.

"For the good of Formula One we said that if there are other teams that need engines we would be willing to have the discussion and see if we could come to an agreement.

"We are not against it, but we don't want to do it for our own benefit because it would not benefit us. Regardless of who approaches us we will have the discussion, but no serious discussions with Williams yet, just the rumours."

Both Honda and Toyota are unlikely to be keen to supply Williams, who would be seen as direct rivals, but nor would BMW if they bought Sauber and re-branded the team in their own name.

So far the engine manufacturers who run their own teams and supply second engines - Ferrari with Sauber and Toyota with Jordan - have only sold engines to teams lower than them on the grid.

But Howett insisted that Williams' competitiveness would not be a problem and added: "I don't think it really matters. In a way, our commitment is to supply a second team with engines, whatever the team."

Any company could get around the competitive comparison by offering Williams a supply of this year's V10 engines, which would be run to comply with the regulations, and run a new V8 engine themselves.

But Howett admitted that Jordan, or Midland as they will be known in 2006, are favourites for the engine supply, and added: "We have quite a good relationship with Jordan at the moment and if they are happy then fine.

"The financial company behind it is Midland although the team name this year is Jordan Grand Prix. But it is one in the same entity and so far we have enjoyed a good relationship with them.

"We are not going to supply engines free of charge, we will charge an affordable price for the engines. But it is up to them what they want and I think everyone needs to decide quickly because of designs for next year."

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