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Verstappen signs for Simtek

As predicted in F1 Foreign Report (Week 5), Dutchman Jos Verstappen has signed to drive for the Simtek team. Jos remains under long-term contract to Benetton but is being made available to Simtek for the season, strengthening the links between the two teams.

Simtek already has a deal to use Benetton's gearbox electronics package and the Verstappen deal is believed to be part of that arrangement. Instead of paying for the electronics, Simtek will take on Verstappen instead, thus enabling Benetton boss Flavio Briatore to honor his contract with Verstappen, which included the pledge that he would have several races this year.

More cynical members of the F1 fraternity also see the deal as another Benetton concession to the FIA. Simtek was previously owned by FIA president Max Mosley and, by helping the team, Flavio Briatore seems to be trying to make peace with Mosley.

Verstappen will drive all the races for Simtek unless called upon by Benetton to substitute for Michael Schumacher or Johnny Herbert. He will be joined at Simtek by Hideki Noda and Mimmo Schiatarella, who will share the second car.

The new Simtek-Ford S195, which has been designed by Simtek owner Nick Wirth and the chief engineer of Simtek Research Paul Crooks is not expected to appear until shortly before the start of the new season, although the team is confident that it will be a big step forward from last year's cars. The team is soon expected to test the rear end of the S951 on an S941 chassis.

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