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Agip fighting for a place in F1

AGIP is in the process of deciding on its future F1 plans. The Italian oil company was forced out at Ferrari by Shell this year and announced it was pulling out of F1 because of a lack of technical challenge caused by overly restrictive regulations. As expected this was not the real reason for the withdrawal and Agip is now busy trying to do a deal to re-establish its presence in Grand Prix racing.

We hear that the major target is Benetton - which has been busily trying to promote its Italian-ness this year. Benetton currently uses Elf fuel and lubricants, an arrangement on which Renault is very keen.

Elf, however, does not want to pay both Williams and Benetton. In addition, it is supporting Tyrrell with a small amount of sponsorship to secure Emmanuel Collard as the team's test driver.

We believe that Agip is offering big bucks to Benetton, and that the team would like to be able to take the money but continue running with Renault engines in 1997. This is extremely unlikely as Renault has never run engines on other than Elf fuel.

Agip has also been talking to Minardi about supporting Giancarlo Fisichella.

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