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Benetton and Honda

THERE were suggestions in Barcelona that Benetton is already beginning to make moves towards Honda for the 1998 season, because there is a strong possibility that Renault will announce in the beginning of July that it is going to pull out of F1 and go Indycar racing instead.

With the current situation Benetton boss Flavio Briatore has a great deal to offer the Japanese as he will be in a position to have works Honda engines for Benetton and either a second supply or Mugen units for his second team Ligier. This would give him the opportunity to agree to run a Honda-nominated driver in the second Ligier, thus ensuring that a local driver is involved in the program.

This may have something to do with the current moves going on at Benetton to secure a deal in World 500cc Motorcycle racing for Luca Cadalora to race a Benetton-sponsored works Honda bike in next year's Championship. A tie-up in two wheel racing would make it logical to extend the program to four wheel racing as well.

At the same time, Tom Walkinshaw is very keen to get his hands on the Honda factory V10 engines in 1998 - Honda boss Nobuhiko Kawamoto has now confirmed that development work has already started on the program. In addition one should not rule out Williams, as Honda will be aiming to arrive in F1 and beat Mercedes-Benz - as they are currently doing in Indycar racing. Mercedes is Honda's major target in marketing terms at the moment but a defeat in F1 would be a setback. To go with Walkinshaw would be a risk; going with Williams would go a long way towards guaranteeing results.

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