Mark Gallagher has insisted that Cosworth has no cause to fear that any of its teams be poached by rival engine-supplier Renault in 2011, seeking to quash recent speculation that Lotus and Williams are eyeing a change of partner and assuring that whilst returning to F1 following a three-year hiatus has undeniably been 'an enormous challenge', equally it has been an 'extremely successful' one.
Rumours began circulating around the grand prix paddock last week that having become dissatisfied with the service being provided to them by Cosworth, Williams and Lotus were both evaluating the re-ignition of an old relationship – with Renault. Gallagher, however, is adamant that such talk was misconstrued right from the start, and that Cosworth's teams are all more-than-happy with the performance and reliability of the CA2010 thus far.
“We were surprised to read that story until we saw that Renault had announced they were looking for a third customer,” the iconic British engineering firm's head of operations told Crash.net Radio
. “We are happy that both Lotus and Williams have scotched those rumours. We've really only just started these relationships with the teams, and we would characterise the relationships as being very strong.
“We have long-term plans and we are working with all our teams on their 2011 programmes; one has to remember that coming into June now, 2011 is what is taking up a lot of the focus because you need that kind of lead-in time. I can understand why Renault's desire to have a third team has led to people putting two-and-two together, but I'm pleased to say it doesn't involve a Cosworth customer and nor should it because we've only just started and we believe over the next three years with all of our teams we've got many good days in front of us.
“I think probably most people should have recognised that Renault's comment was more in alignment with the fact that we are likely to have a 13th team [next year], and I think all the engine manufacturers would love to see a 13th team come in and for them to be a customer. We have no doubt that there will be a very competitive battle to supply that 13th team, and we would certainly be interested them because we were geared up to supply five teams anyway with USF1.
“We now find ourselves in a position where we have capacity in terms of track support and engineering as well as manufacturing to supply a fifth team – but I'm quite sure that Renault and possibly others will be looking to supply them. It will be a good commercial race I'm sure to try and get that contract, and we're kind of all waiting to see which team will be successful in winning the FIA's acceptance of that entry.”
For now, though, Gallagher acknowledges that all of Cosworth's attention is being paid to its existing partners, with Lotus and Williams joined by Virgin and Hispania (HRT). The last time the company competed at the highest level was with Williams and Red Bull second-string outfit Scuderia Toro Rosso back in 2006, but it was enticed back again by the promise of a new low-cost era that places the priority on what it has always done best – engineering excellence rather than big bucks.
Whilst recognising that Cosworth is still inevitably re-finding its feet in F1 following its time away from the fray, Gallagher revealed that he is pleased with progress so far, and is effusive about the performance of Lotus, Virgin and HRT, all of whom are new to the grid this year, and all of whom have had their own different mountains to climb.
“It's been an extremely successful start from the point-of-view of getting our four customers up-and-running with our newly-homologated V8 2010 engine,” the Irishman underlined. “We've had a very busy period since last summer preparing for this season, and there was a lot of fluidity about the number of teams that we would be supporting. Obviously we had the disappointment of USF1 not making it, but we had planned for three teams this year and we ended up with four, having thankfully secured Williams at the end of last year. It's been demanding, but it's been a successful start for us and we're enjoying the challenge.