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Interview with Mark Gallagher (Cosworth)

Cosworth is making its return to F1 as an engine supplier at this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, after a three year sabbatical, when it will supply powerplants to one-third of the grid.

AT&T Williams will be leading the Cosworth challenge, while newcomers HRT F1, Lotus Racing and Virgin Racing will be out to make a positive first impression. Cosworth had also intended to supply the troubled USF1 team.

Here Mark Gallagher, general manager of Cosworth's F1 Business Unit, talks about the company's grand prix return and the season ahead...

Mark, just how much has Cosworth changed since 2006 when it last supplied engines in F1?

Mark Gallagher:
“It has changed significantly. In 2005 and 2006 the company had just entered private hands following its sale by Ford at the end of 2004, and much of Cosworth remained focussed on motorsport and particularly Formula One. In the last three years the company has changed dramatically, refocusing on its core competency as a specialist engineering business working in sectors as apparently diverse as Aerospace and Defence, Marine, Electronics, Automotive and the Performance Aftermarket.”

Are there any similarities across these industries where the technology is concerned?

Mark Gallagher:
“Each of these industries has one thing in common; the need for high performance technologies. So whether it is designing a small diesel engine for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or re-engineering the engines for a naval frigate, Cosworth is a rather different business today from the one which might be familiar to the Formula One fraternity.”

What are Cosworth's objectives in returning to Formula One as an engine supplier?

Mark Gallagher:
“Cosworth is a successful engineering business and the opportunity to return to Formula One was pursued purely because we believe this can be a successful, which means profitable, activity. Our objective is therefore to develop the Formula One business by supplying competitive, reliable engines to our customers and providing as a level of service such that we will be viewed as the engine supplier of choice by a wide range of teams in the years ahead.”

How much of a role did Cosworth's F1 heritage play in the decision to return?

Mark Gallagher:
“Of course, Formula One also appeals to us because Formula One is in our DNA, although we are no longer blinded by it. We want to play an integral role in the F1 paddock by working with our customers and the FIA to ensure that we continue to contribute to cost reductions in Formula One so that teams can develop a profitable, sustainable business plan.”

How does Formula One fit within the new Cosworth structure?

Mark Gallagher:
“Cosworth went through a number of major changes following its sale by Ford in 2004 and the ending of its involvement in Formula One in 2006. The company has been restructured so that each area of the business operates as a separate unit, so the return to Formula One has seen the creation a dedicated Formula One Business Unit which takes overall responsibility for the delivery of this project.”

Has Cosworth found it a challenge to recruit staff for the revived F1 activities?

Mark Gallagher:
“We are very fortunate to have a great many highly skilled engineers and technicians within Cosworth's existing businesses, and of course we recruited experienced staff from across the industry, many of whom were returning to Cosworth after some years away. Design and development of the Cosworth CA2010 F1 engine came under Engineering, Bruce Wood's team having the challenge of delivering the performance and reliability targets, while across my Business Unit we have around 60 full time staff providing the necessary build and test, engineering and track support roles required.”

What challenges have the team faced in preparing for 2010?

Mark Gallagher:

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