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Agip on the way to Ligier?

ITALIAN oil company Agip, which has been pushed out of Ferrari by the wallet-wielding Shell, has been busily putting out stories that it is unhappy with the way F1 is developing, clearing the way for an eventual withdrawal from F1 without being seen to have been bounced in favor of Shell. Shell appears to have delayed its announcement about Ferrari to give Agip the chance to slip away.

An Agip spokesman last week warned that F1 was "going crazy in terms of investment" and that the F1 fuel regulations are now "so rigid that they don't allow experimentation any more".

But if Agip is beating a retreat, we hear that several other F1 teams are busy trying to keep the Italians in the sport. Tyrrell - which has some backing from Agip - is struggling to make a case as its 1995 results have been unimpressive. Minardi is hoping that the Italian link will be sufficient to keep Agip involved, while Ligier is bidding for a deal on its potential for the future.

Ligier has always been an Elf-supported team, but with Elf expected to slice its payments to Ligier next year - to concentrate its investment in Williams and Benetton - Ligier team boss Tom Walkinshaw appears to be looking elsewhere for his money.

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