Cosworth’s new board additions highlight company’s growing ambitions

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As Cosworth ramps up for a potential comeback to IndyCar as an engine manufacturer seeking to partner with an OEM, as MotorSportsTalk first reported on Wednesday, it’s worth noting they’ve still had an IndyCar presence.

Just not in the way most realize.

Cosworth Automotive CEO Hal Reisiger described the role Cosworth currently plays in IndyCar during my conversation with him earlier this week.

“It’s more related to electronics, and is regretfully one of the best-kept secrets and it shouldn’t be,” he said. “Through the new management team that has assembled an increased focus on the commercial side of the business, sales and marketing, hopefully those things won’t be secrets anymore.

“But we are the spec electronics on data acquisition. We provide the telemetry services and we’re talking about other extensions of that. We’re into another year of the program with the DW12, and we’re also contracted with Indy Lights.”

Indy Lights’ new car premieres in 2015, and will begin testing later this year.

Could Cosworth aero kits be part of the equation? Perhaps, but not likely; it would potentially be something an OEM partner would need to create for IndyCar down the road.

“I don’t know that the aero kit in particular is a direct core competency,” Reisiger explained. “We are certainly involved in wind tunnels and other technology that supports that development. But generally, you’ll find us more directly in powertrains and electronics.”

Cosworth, as a company, has made some key acquisitions in the personnel department to support Reisiger at the top. Recent additions to Cosworth’s board include ex-Williams chair Adam Parr, and head of motorsports marketing giant Just Marketing International, Zak Brown.

Reisiger’s two other shareholders, and Directors, are ex-Champ Car heads Kevin Kalkhoven and Jerry Forsythe, who took over the company several years ago.

Reisiger said those new additions come at a time that Cosworth is refocusing its business strategy and trying to present a new unified front.

“We’re going to focus on three core markets that I think are more aligned with our brand: that would be motorsports, automotive OEM and the aftermarket,” he explained.

“Technologies developed in any of those three could lend them being applicable to the other two. We have a synergy between the three, and you’ll see powertrain and electronic developments in all three.

“One of the changes I’ve made, the company has five operating corporations. But there was inefficient alignment with the markets. So I’ve created a global organization where there’s a global team, with focus and target in motorsport.”

Cosworth has major offices in Mooresville, N.C., Indianapolis, In. and Torrance, Calif. in the U.S., along with Cambridge and Northampton in England. Rather than looking at each as an individual market, Cosworth seeks to present itself as a global, united front.

A meeting next week will determine the next step of Cosworth’s possible IndyCar comeback trail, and whether it will continue on the path to completion, or veers off in another direction.

Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”