Cosworth's head of Formula One operations has claimed that the seasoned engine builder has no reason to be in awe of any of its rivals, and would be willing to increase its workload despite struggling to propel the sport's three newcomers into the points.

Mark Gallagher told Reuters that Cosworth - currently owned by US racing entrepreneurs Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe - was closing the gap on the current pacesetters and only needed to optimise its engine to make Lotus, Virgin and HRT more competitive. As a result, the company would also be prepared to pick up the slack caused by the failure of the USF1 team and supply a fifth team next season.

Cosworth re-opened its F1 points account with Williams in 2010, and Gallagher maintains that the very reasons for doing a deal with the Grove team were holding true as it strives to close the gap to the likes of Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari.

"The whole reason we jumped at the chance to work with Williams is that when you have a driver like [Rubens] Barrichello, who's proven to everybody that he's still at the top of his game, he was going to tell us exactly what we needed to do to optimise the engine's performance," he said, "When you are working with people like [Lotus technical head Mike] Gascoyne and [Williams co-owner] Patrick Head, they are able to say 'this is where you need to be at', and we are comfortable that we met or surpassed those targets.

"We have no fear of any other engine in F1. Of course, having been out of F1 for three years, we are having to do things to get the engine mapping right and the programming to optimise the way the engine delivers its power. But we are making improvements literally every race weekend and we are seeing the result of that on the track."

Gallagher admitted, however, that Cosworth may face off-track opposition from Renault if it is to land a fifth team next season, believing that the French giant is gearing up to entice whichever team is granted the 13th grid slot for 2011. Having proven its potential, not only with its own team, but also by powering Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing to the top of the championship standings, the regie is likely to be an attractive proposition to teams both entering F1 and already established there.

"The obvious solution [for Renault] is actually the 13th team that is coming into F1," Gallagher confirmed, "My gut feeling is that it is probably a Cosworth-Renault competition to supply the 13th team. It certainly wouldn't be a problem to step up to the mark again and do it for next season."

Despite the fall-out from the USF1 affair, Gallagher believes that there are serious candidates bidding for the 13th entry, and all would be better prepared for the hardships of F1 having witnessed the growing pains suffered by Lotus, Virgin and HRT this season.

"There are still teams out there that are strong enough," he said. "I think, interestingly, the people this time around have seen what has happened to the new teams, they've seen just how difficult it is. I think anyone who is coming forward now [is doing so] perhaps with their eyes even more open."

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