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Minardi and Briatore settle engine dispute

GIANCARLO MINARDI and Benetton's Flavio Briatore last week agreed to settle their dispute over this year's supply of Mugen Honda V10 engines. Minardi had a contract with Mugen Honda but Briatore convinced the Japanese to supply the engines to Ligier instead - in which Briatore had an interest at the time. Briatore gave the Japanese assurances that there would be no problem with the switch and undertook to pay any damages. Minardi did not receive any compensation and initiated legal actions against Briatore in both Italy and England. Briatore then responded by having the Minardi team's equipment seized at the French GP because Minardi owed one of his companies money for its Ford engine supply in 1993. Minardi had stopped paying Briatore when it became clear that Flavio would be paying damages for the Mugen deal.

Minardi had a strong legal case against Briatore and our sources suggest that Briatore agreed to forget the $645,000 owed to him by Minardi and to pay the little Italian team around $1m in damages to settle the Mugen dispute. Whether Briatore himself had to pay this bill is unclear and there have been suggestions that the money was supplied by the Japanese, who have been severely embarrassed by the whole business. Whatever the case the money will be a welcome boost to Minardi, although the agreement clearly includes some form of confidentiality clause as no-one involved was willing to talk about how the problem had been solved and how much money had actually changed hands.

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