In the late sixties and throughout the seventies, Cosworth engines powered more race winners than any other engine. They have soldiered on since then, producing F1 power plants for independent teams, but now it seems the end has come.
The FIA’s decision to allow Ferrari to supply two teams with engines has effectively taken away Cosworth’s last potential customer. There has to be some irony in the fact that, while proclaiming their wish to support the independent manufacturer in F1, the FIA has made it impossible for the only independent engine supplier to continue.
With Ferrari about to sign contracts with Spyker-MF1 and Toro Rosso, Red Bull taking Renault engines, and Williams going to Toyota, there is nowhere for Cosworth to run except the unlikely possibility of engines for Prodrive when they enter the game in 2008. Meanwhile, Prodrive are saying that they want a complete engine/chassis deal with a manufacturer, something that is prevented by the rules on customer cars anyway. It is a sorry story for the little guy in F1.
I suppose that, if the FIA stick by their customer car rule, Prodrive might have to produce their own chassis – in which case, Cosworth could return. But, as Bernard Ferguson points out, in the intervening year, Cosworth will lose most of its staff. Which cannot bode well for their ability to suddenly ramp up to F1 if required.
So why has the FIA decided to make an exception to their own rules for Ferrari? I don’t know but am very tempted to answer: because Ferrari asked them to…