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Stewart close to vast HK deal

THE new Stewart Grand Prix team - which will use Ford factory engines in 1997 - is rumored to be close to a vast $180m five-year sponsorship deal with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The HSBC owns a vast worldwide network of banks and is looking for ways to spice up a rather dull image.

HSBC chairman Sir William Purves may well have been convinced by some of Jackie Stewart's ideas of networking his sponsorships - ensuring that sponsors gain from their association with other team backers.

Stewart was at Silverstone with high-ranking members of HSBC but is currently refusing to comment on any deal. All that he will say is that a number of deals are being discussed.

If Stewart was able to secure such a vast budget, it would certainly improve his chances of success, although money is not everything in F1, one must have time to build a strong organization as well. It would, however, enable him to buy a much more established F1 name, rather than novices such as Jan Magnussen. There were rumors flying around at Hockenheim that Stewart might even bid for Damon Hill - and thus, most likely, start his team's F1 career with the World Champion's number one on the leading car.

Stewart, incidentally, is also being linked to a possible deal with the Texaco oil company, which sponsored Paul Stewart Racing in its early years.

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