Williams F1 and engine manufacturer Cosworth have announced a partnership agreement for 2006, which will see the two British racing icons join forces in a bid to head the F1 grid next season.

Williams F1 and engine manufacturer Cosworth have announced a partnership agreement for 2006, which will see the two British racing icons join forces in a bid to head the F1 grid next season.

The move ends months of speculation after Williams' current engine supplier, BMW, recently purchased the Sauber team. That move also signalled a renewed shuffle by BAR Honda driver Jenson Button who, owing to Williams' poor showing in this year's championship, is currently looking for a way out of his contract after being contracted to the British team from 2006.

However, while uncertainty prevails around the team's 2006 driver line-up, the new partnership between Cosworth and Williams F1 extends beyond the simple development and provision of V8 engines for next year's championship. Cosworth will be involved with the entire design and development of the drivetrain and its components. Cosworth's development and testing of the new engine is well advanced, and the unit has consistently passed the 20 000 r/min mark during dyno testing.

Tim Routsis, chief executive of Cosworth, said: "We have been working on the development of next year's V8 since April 2004 and right from the onset, our performance targets have been set very aggressively. We are confident that our blue-chip partnership with WilliamsF1 can augment the record of winning the championship every decade since the 1960s. We have developed the 2006 Cosworth V8-CA engine with nothing but front-running success in mind for both the near and long-term."

"Cosworth is a leading global authority on V8 engine technology," Williams team principal, Frank Williams said. "Next year is a brand new start for all concerned given 16 years of V10 engines. Cosworth has excelled both historically, as well as in contemporary V8-powered international motorsport. The evidence of Cosworth's V8 progress we have seen so far validates completely the expectation we have of enjoying a class-leading package given next season's engine rule changes."