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Tyrrell prospecting for oil money

THE Nokia Tyrrell Yamaha F1 team is hard at work trying to raise more money for the 1996 season and we hear that the team is close to landing a very big new deal with a Middle Eastern oil company.

Tyrrell has already nominated Mika Salo as one of its drivers next year and is talking to Benetton reject Johnny Herbert. Japanese racer Ukyo Katayama hopes to retain his drive with backing from Mild Seven and Apan but the team is only planning to keep Ukyo if money cannot be found from elsewhere, the Japanese driver having been very disappointing this season.

Tyrrell and Minardi are the only established F1 teams which do not currently have a major fuel backer - both having lost their Agip backing in recent weeks. Agip's withdrawal from F1 comes as a result of the restructuring of its parent company - Italy's second biggest enterprise ENI - under chief executive Franco Bernabe. ENI is being prepared for privatization and budgets are being slashed, subsidiaries sold and the old management being reduced dramatically. In the circumstances Agip was unable to match Shell's bid to supply Ferrari and has chosen to quit F1 completely.

With Benetton, Williams and Ligier tied to Elf; McLaren to Mobil; Ferrari to Shell; Jordan to Total; Sauber to Petronas and Arrows to Sasol, Tyrrell is in the fortunate situation of being able to approach oil companies without fear of competition for the money and we hear that the major target is Saudi Arabian national petrol company Petromin.

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