JANUARY 15, 1996
Katayama at Tyrrell again
UKYO KATAYAMA has re-signed for Tyrrell for what will be his fourth season with the team. The Japanese star will once again be bringing money from Japan Tobacco (either the Mild Seven or Cabin brand), plus a variety of smaller Japanese sponsors.
Katayama's trump card in the negotiations was that he was favored by Tyrrell's engine supplier, Yamaha. Ukyo is understood to have fought off attempts by Taki Inoue to get the drive. Inoue having substantially more financial backing if not the same level of talent as Katayama.
Thirty-two year old Katayama made his F1 debut in South Africa in 1992 driving for Larrousse. He moved on to Tyrrell in 1993 and has remained with the team ever since. He did well in 1994, scoring five points, but was very disappointing last year, being completely overshadowed by Tyrrell's new signing Mika Salo.
The announcement that Katayama is to stay at Tyrrell became a formality after Johnny Herbert signed for Sauber, but it does confirm the fact that Mark Blundell has no F1 future unless McLaren needs a driver to stand in for Mika Hakkinen. Although popular with the team, Mark - known as "Billy" to the McLaren boys - may not be given the chance to race for McLaren again, because the indications are that if Hakkinen is not fit enough to race, the drive will go to test driver Jan Magnussen instead.
Having produced a less than competitive car in 1995, Tyrrell is likely to do a far better job this year, and the new Yamaha V10 engine - designed and built in England by John Judd's Engine Developments company - should be a big leap forward.
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