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Ligier and Mugen

LIGIER and Mugen Honda have confirmed that they are to stay together in 1997. The French team - owned by Benetton boss Flavio Briatore - had to make a decision by the end of July because its option on the engines ran out then and there were several other teams in the paddock, keen to land the deal.

The major drawback with Mugen is that the Japanese V10s are customer engines - and extremely expensive in F1 terms. Rumors in the paddock suggest that Ligier will have to pay $8m unless they are willing to take a Japanese driver in the second car, in which case the price will come down.

According to Briatore there is an option to continue again in 1998, although if Ligier was a serious contender for the Honda factory engines - expected to be seen in F1 in 1998 - the deal might have been rather more long-term.

We believe that Honda is only interested in two teams: TWR and Benetton. The Mugen Honda deal with Ligier was first announced in December 1994 and the cars ran throughout 1995. Olivier Panis gave the combination its first victory at Monaco in May. The major advantage of the Mugen deal for Ligier is that the team will not have to design a totally new car and can continue to develop the existing car - which it should be remembered was closely related to the 1994 Benetton.

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