JUNE 12, 1995
Ligier drops Suzuki
THE Ligier team has announced that Martin Brundle will drive alongside Olivier Panis in the French and British Grands Prix in July. Aguri Suzuki was contracted to drive in France but we hear that this was dependent on Suzuki finding $1 million of sponsorship by last week. Having missed the payment deadline he was therefore in breach of his agreement with Ligier, which enabled team boss Tom Walkinshaw to ignore the contract and keep his favorite driver in the team.
The Suzuki announcement further underlines the fact that Walkinshaw is now in complete control of the Ligier team, despite the fact that Flavio Briatore is still mentioned as the team owner. This is believed to be part of a campaign by the pair of them to make sure that Gitanes Blondes and Elf re-sign with the team for next year. In fact, it seems now that Gitanes Blondes has little choice but to stay with Ligier, as the Prost F1 project and the DAMS F1 team do not look likely to happen. Briatore would love Elf to increase its backing of Benetton - and help find the money to keep Schumacher in 1996 - but the French oil company has four young drivers it has promoted and needs to find drives for all of them.
Rumors that Jordan was pitching for the Gitanes Blondes money have been discounted by the Silverstone-based team.
"If the Gitanes bloke walked in to our pit with a check for $20 million we wouldn't know who he was," said a Jordan insider. "That's how close we are to him."
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