Saturday November 3rd, 2001
By Alan Baldwin
DaimlerChrysler are to increase their stake in Formula One engine maker Ilmor to strengthen the McLaren-Mercedes partnership, board member Juergen Hubbert has said.
British-based Ilmor builds and supplies McLaren's Mercedes racing engines and is named after co-founders Mario Ilien and Paul Morgan. Managing director Morgan died in a plane crash in May this year but Hubbert said DaimlerChrysler was negotiating with his widow and U.S. shareholder and CART team owner Roger Penske.
He did not say how big a stake DaimlerChrysler might buy but said it could become a majority shareholding over time. The car giant, parent of Mercedes, also owns 40 percent of TAG McLaren Group.
"Ilmor is capable of designing and building the most competitive engine," Hubbert told reporters at the Mercedes headquarters.
"To further strengthen Ilmor's capabilities, DaimlerChrysler will take a higher stake in the company and at the same time give Mario Ilien and his team full access to the technical innovations available in Mercedes Benz," he added.
"In the future, we see Ilmor being responsible for Mercedes-Benz high performance engines in Formula One and in very specific car segments. In working closer together and organising the cooperation in an even more structured way, we will at least be as efficient as those teams that claim the pre-requisite of success is to work under one roof."
McLaren finished the 2001 season as runner-up to champions Ferrari, who clinched their third successive title and build both their chassis and engines at their Maranello headquarters. McLaren are based at Woking in southern England while Ilmor, based in the Midlands, work closely with Mercedes engine experts in Stuttgart.
Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug said the new engine was on course and he expected it to be an improvement on this year's one.
"Time is tight in Formula One but I think we should make a good step. I have every trust in everybody that we can do a good and very competitive engine. From what I have seen so far I get quite a good feeling," he said.
McLaren suffered several engine failures in 2001 and also struggled with new electronic software designed to help at starts and with traction control. Hubbert admitted that the company had perhaps underestimated the effect of a ban on beryllium, a metal banned in engine construction at the end of last year.
Published at 09:17:41 GMT