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DATE News (chronologically)
Williams eye ’Lexus’ or Toyota power UPDATE #14 (GMM) Toyota's longer term plan for the engine collaboration with Williams is for 'Lexus' branding, according to rumors.

The latest speculation suggests that while Sir Frank Williams' Grove based team will be powered by Toyota in 2007, some chiefs of the Japanese carmaker favor utilizing the agreement to promote the luxury automobile brand.

The US weekly 'AutoWeek' said recently: "It is possible (that Williams' Toyota engines) will be branded Lexus in the future."

It is understood, however, that F1 bosses John Howett and Tsutomu Tomita do not favor the Lexus re-branding idea.

07/27/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  This story, first revealed by AutoRacing1.com in April below, months before anyone else, means that Cosworth now must find another F1 team to supply engines to, because their F1 future appears cloudy. 

07/01/06 (GMM)  Sir Frank Williams opted to keep his lip zipped over speculation that he is nearing the announcement of a semi-works engine deal with Toyota.

The English chief admitted at Indianapolis that the ideal scenario is a 'partnership with a manufacturer', but said no more.

At the moment, Williams' collaboration with independent supplier Cosworth is a multi-million dollar expense for the Grove-based team.

''I couldn't tell you,'' Williams said when asked if he was nearing a more ideal situation.

''I can't say any more.''

Meanwhile, when probed about whether he had already taken up an expiring 'option' on Mark Webber's driving contract for 2007, he added: ''If I had, I couldn't possibly tell you.''

06/19/06 (GMM) Williams' highly-anticipated deal with Toyota starting next season is not likely to see the Japanese engine re-branded, according to reports.

It was expected that the Cologne-built 2.4 liter V8 might be re-badged for Williams to promote Toyota's luxury brand 'Lexus' and therefore subsidize the cost.

But 'AutoWeek' contends that the three-year contract, which is yet to be confirmed officially, is set to mirror the current arrangement with MF1 in that the customer engine is called a 'Toyota'.

The weekly US magazine said: ''It is possible (that Williams' Toyota engines) will be branded 'Lexus' in the future.''06/11/06 (GMM) Nico Rosberg has dismissed speculation that he is a crucial element of Williams' V8 engine deal with Toyota for 2007.

According to a rumor, the German rookie is to be traded as a subsidy for the semi-works deal, and thus could appear in the place of Ralf Schumacher or Jarno Trulli in a red car.

But 20-year-old Rosberg said at Silverstone: ''I'm happy where I am and I don't want to move.''

06/09/06 (GMM)  Mark Webber has refused to confirm solid speculation that he is likely to be Toyota powered in 2007.

Although Williams have yet to take up an 'option' on the Australian driver for next year, Webber did not flatly deny that the Grove based team, currently working with Cosworth, is heading for a change of engine supplier.

''There's loads of speculation,'' said the 29-year-old at Silverstone, ''but as usual ... until it's all done, you never know.''

Webber reinforced the point, however, that undoubted talks between his employer and Toyota do not indicate that Williams is unhappy with Cosworth.

He said: ''The pace of the engine has been absolutely phenomenal for us, so if we do change, there's a big pair of shoes to fill.''

Mark also suggested that he was not really on the hunt for an alternate team, despite reacting angrily to his failure to finish the recent grand prix at Monaco.

''You always think it's greener somewhere else,'' he said, ''so of course I have to weigh it up.

''But there's a lot of potential for us to come out of this rough storm.'

06/07/06 (GMM) Both Williams and Toyota have denied media reports that their much-speculated 2007 link-up is now signed and sealed.

Citing 'sources', it was claimed on Tuesday that the three-year deal was penned at Monaco, but F1 spokespeople were not immediately playing ball.

''This issue was discussed with us in the last few weeks,'' a spokeswoman for Cologne based Toyota admitted to 'Auto Motor Und Sport' magazine in Germany, ''but an inquiry in Japan did not result in anything being signed.''

Also far from issuing the standard 'no-comment' defense, Williams' head of communications Liam Clogger said: ''I spoke about this today with (Sir) Frank Williams (and) there is absolutely nothing new to report.''

Meanwhile, Auto Motor Und Sport contended that, despite the Japanese carmaker receiving about $16 million from MF1 this year in return for 45 engines, Williams is pushing for a 'free engine supply' including 80 V8s from Toyota. 

06/06/06 According to autosport.com, talks have been ongoing between Williams and Toyota for a number of months, and have now resulted in the deal which will see Williams' current agreement with Cosworth end after just one season.

However, a source told Autosport that the decision to switch to Toyota was not down to any failings on Cosworth's part, saying: "Cosworth's performance on the budget they have is remarkable."

The contract between Williams and Toyota is believed to run for two years with Frank Williams' team having an option on a third year. An announcement is not expected to be made until the Canadian Grand Prix later in June.

Williams had always hinted that the team would be looking at new engine options, having previously said at the San Marino GP: "The engine choice is both technical and commercial.

"Who has got the best chance of winning versus what else comes with the engine"

Toyota's decision to provide Williams with engines will now mean that Midland F1 will have to look for an alternative option next season, with Cosworth among the possibilities.

(GMM) Williams' long-anticipated switch from Cosworth to Toyota power for 2007 is now signed and sealed, according to reports on Tuesday.

The website of British magazine Autosport revealed that a solid two-year deal, to subsequently leave MF1 on the hunt for a new engine supplier after months of speculation, is done.

Rumors after the Monaco grand prix suggested that the terms were agreed in the Principality last week, but an announcement may not be made until F1 is in Canada.

The first resultant rumor from the unconfirmed news, meanwhile, is that - to subsidize the semi-works arrangement - Nico Rosberg could find his way into a Toyota cockpit. 

06/03/06 The word from Japan is that Williams will soon sign a three-year deal to use Toyota engines in Formula 1. The stories suggest that the team will be paying a nominal fee for the Cologne-built V8s.

For Toyota there is little to lose from the deal as winning with Williams or winning with its own team is much the same thing, if one looks at F1 from a big picture perspective. It will also help to motivate Panasonic Toyota Racing to do a better job. Our spies in Japan say that the deal will see the engines badged as Lexus V8s, a move that makes a great deal of sense from a marketing point of view. More at Grandprix.com

It is expected that a deal between Williams and Toyota will be signed within the next few days. This will mean that MF1 Racing will have to look for a new engine supplier next year. The most likely outcome is a deal with Cosworth for V8s in 2007.

Our spies tell us that the thinking at the moment is that Scuderia Toro Rosso will use chassis based on the current RB2 with Ferrari V8 engines for 2007, while Red Bull Racing will move on to use Cosworth V8 engines in a completely new Adrian Newey chassis. Given the performance of Williams this year and the FIA's desire to freeze engine specs as soon as possible, the Cosworth may well be a good engine as it is very powerful and reliability will eventually come. It is better to have a strong engine that blows up than an engine without enough power. Grandprix.com

05/23/06 (GMM) Toyota may be backing away from talks to supply Williams with engines next year, according to rumors.

The motorline.cc publication claims that Sir Frank Williams, keen to find a more cost-effective solution than the deal with Cosworth, may be about to ask Honda if it would be prepared to supply a third team in 2007.

Apparently, at a recent board meeting, Toyota bigwigs opted against the 'semi-works' Williams plan - which could have seen the engine re-badged 'Lexus' - for two reasons.

Firstly, it would inevitably shift resources away from the Cologne-based team, but there was also a chance that Toyota-powered Williamses would consistently beat the works cars.

Moreover, Williams is not prepared to enter a purely 'customer' arrangement because this would probably entail the provision of less competitive equipment.

Williams was Honda-powered between 1984 and 1987. 

05/17/06 Speaking to autosport.com, Cosworth's commercial director Bernard Ferguson said his company would be delighted to continue with Williams for another season, and he admitted they would welcome a deal with another top team too.

"Before we can get another team we've got to secure our future with our current team. We'd be delighted to stay where we are, and we'd be delighted to have another competitive team alongside us," said Ferguson.

"Because we have to pass our costs onto the teams, and the more teams we've got, the less the cost is to each team.

"Are we looking to secure more business? Absolutely. I would love to do that to compliment the Williams relationship rather than replace it."

"We've got to be successful in the rest of this season and get through 2007 to get there [2008] though."

[Editor's Note: Ferguson is saying that Cosworth still has hopes of keeping Williams in their camp, but our sources insist Williams will switch to Toyota or Lexus power in 2007. We shall see.....but ultimately Cosworth needs a major car manufacturer to badge their engine because all the top F1 teams want to be associated with a car manufacturer as that brings considerable sums of money into their team.]

05/09/06 We are upgrading this rumor to 'strong' as our sources in Europe are telling us that Williams, looking to be associated with a major manufacturer, looks set for Toyota (or Lexus) power in 2007.

04/23/06 "From our point of view we’re already under pressure from the engineers to get the decision, in which they are totally involved, sooner rather than later, because you need to build your car earlier and earlier these days, or start developing it earlier. It’s a rolling situation, it won’t be beyond half-year, no question. Correction – we are not totally in control of our own destiny, so it could go beyond that. The engine choice is both technical and commercial. We’ll make the best choice for Williams." -- Frank Williams

04/23/06 (GMM) It is still not clear what brand of engine will reside the rear of Williams' F1 car next year.

While the Grove based team's one-year customer arrangement with Cosworth this season has so far netted impressive pace, Sir Frank Williams is believed to have penciled-in a semi-works deal for Toyota V8 engines in '07 and beyond.

According to Speed TV, the wheelchair-bound team chief is still waiting for the Japanese carmaker's final call.

The deal would apparently involve Toyota pulling out of its arrangement with Midland, and subsidizing Williams' supply in return for the engine being officially called a 'Lexus'.

Refusing to confirm or deny the speculation, Williams did admit that his engineers would like to know what power plant they need to accommodate for the FW29.

''We are not totally in control of our own destiny,'' the Englishman admitted, ''so (the decision) could go beyond (June).''

If Toyota say yes, it's likely to be a tricky choice for Williams. Cosworth's first V8 is perhaps the finest on the grid, but a question mark remains about their ability to keep up with the development spend of rivals.

A 'Lexus' deal, too, would cost less as Toyota plug its luxury label.

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