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Dome is coming

AS predicted in F1 FOREIGN REPORT (Issue 35), the Dome company from Japan has announced plans to enter F1 in 1997. The prototype Dome F1 car - which will be code named F105 - will be completed in March next year and tested for the remainder of 1996. A new chassis will then be built for 1997 incorporating the lessons learned from the tests.

The Dome company is from the picturesque Japanese city of Kyoto - once the Imperial capital - near Osaka. It has been involved in Japanese Formula 3000 racing since 1986 and has gradually worked its way to the fore. Last year Italian Marco Apicella won the Japanese F3000 title at the wheel of a Dome-Mugen F104. The F1 project already has the backing of Dome's current sponsors: Wacaol ladies underwear; the Try tutorial group and the VIP computer company. The new car will be designed by Akiyoshi Oku, a partner in Dome, and the team is expected to be overseen by Tadashi Sasaki, formerly team manager of Minardi. Dome will be based in Japan but will probably need to open a European base in England.

The team has yet to confirm that it will be using Mugen Honda V10 engines but there have been rumors for some time that a deal has been done.

There have also been suggestions that the Dome project is actually a full-blown Honda program in disguise. If the team does not perform well, Honda will not be associated with it; but if the results come, Honda will gradually take over. This idea is much the same as that used by Mercedes-Benz with Sauber in recent years.

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