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Close out? Cosworth out of F1 for 2007
Spyker's shock switch leaves British firm high and dry

It now seems probable that the Cosworth name will be absent from the Formula 1 grid for the first time in four decades, following the surprise announcement that the Spyker MF1 Team will switch to Ferrari engines in 2007

Cosworth MD Bernard Ferguson travelled to the Chinese GP with a 2007 contract, expecting to conclude a deal with the Spyker team to continue engine supply. The late change of plans by Spyker is thought to have roots in a move by the company to use Ferrari engines in its road-going vehicles.

This season, Williams has also used the Cosworth V10 engine as an interim solution before changing to Toyota power in 2007. However, the Cosworth engine is widely regarded as one of the best engines on the F1 grid, able to consistently run to 20,000rpm.

"It is very disappointing," said Ferguson. "We have a strong and reliable product and good staff, but what (Spyker) wanted was a relationship with a car manufacturer for road-engine purposes Unfortunately that's not something we can offer"

With around 100 staff committed to the F1 project, Cosworth is urgently looking at other avenues, but it seems there are no openings for its engine on the F1 grid next year.

Cosworth, created by Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth, joined F1 at the Dutch Grand Prix in 1967 with its DFV (Double Four Valve) engine. Fitted to the Lotus 49s of Jim Clark and Graham Hill, the engine was an immediate success with Clark winning the race at Zandvoort.

The DFV engine went on to score 155 grand prix victories; the marque's last F1 victory was in 1999

First of a famous breed

The ex-Niki Lauda McLaren MP4/1 raced in the Thoroughbred Grand Prix Car Championship for the first time at Donington Park in late September. The chassis in which Lauda won the 1982 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch is owned by American collector Aaron Hsu, but was entrusted to Dean Lanzante for the Donington race.

The MP4/1 was the first chassis built following the merger of McLaren and the Project 4 team of Ron Dennis. The MP4 stood for 'McLaren Project 4' and was first raced in 1981 by John Watson and Andrea de Cesaris. Lauda joined the team in 1982 and finished fifth in the championship with the updated MP4/1B.

Lanzante, the son of the car's preparer Paul, was also making his TGP debut and was immediately competitive in the Marlboro-liveried car. Despite being unfamiliar with the McLaren, Lanzante finished strongly in fifth and set the fastest race lap in the process.

Meet the drivers at Le Mans dinner

Le Mans winners Allan McNish (right) and Derek Bell are just two of the sports-car stars you can meet at a dinner on January 13 during Autosport international. Visit the NEC show, then stroll to the Metropole hotel to hear personal experiences of the race and enjoy a four-course meal. Tickets are £149 per person, including the meal, room, breakfast and show tickets. Contact 08705 201201 or www.