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What now for Brian Hart?

AS Tom Walkinshaw gets control of Arrows and sets about convincing an engine manufacturer to back him in the season ahead, Brian Hart's future as an engine supplier in Formula 1 hangs in the balance.

Hart needs to know within a few weeks if Arrows are going to continue with him next year because he has to start investing in the 1997 engine development program. Brian, however, has no intention of putting his company into danger waiting to see if Walkinshaw gets a deal or not.

Walkinshaw has been trying to land the Honda factory engines for 1998 with Mugen Hondas for next season - this does not seem to have been successful thus far. At the same time Tom has been talking to a variety of engine makers with a view to badging Hart's engines and ultimately the engine he is having designed himself at TWR. Whatever the case, it is hard to see how there is a long-term deal for Hart with the TWR F1 team, unless Tom wants to take over the entire operation.

Hart is not under contract with TWR for 1997 and so could be available to supply engines to Sauber or Minardi if either team were able to find the budget - or a badging deal with a manufacturer - to take over the existing V8 or revive the Hart V10 program which has been shelved in recent months because of lack of investment.

Hart recently flew to Switzerland for talks with Sauber and is also believed to be in contact with Minardi, which has recently been told by Ferrari that no V12 engines will be on offer to the little Italian team in 1997. Minardi has also had talks with Oral Engineering in Modena about the design and built of a new engine - probably a V10 - by the Modena-based company. Oral - which employs former Ferrari technical director Mauro Forghieri - currently does a great deal of contract engineering work for the car manufacturers of northern Italy. It is also involved in the rebuild program of the Ferrari V10.

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