AUGUST 19, 1996
Minardi and Briatore talking
THERE have been rumors in recent days that Flavio Briatore is to buy shares in the Minardi team. The stories have suggested
that Briatore will acquire the 50% shareholding previously owned by steel magnate Beppe Lucchini.
In exchange for the shares, so the stories go, Briatore will pay a large sum of money and organize an engine deal between Minardi and Mugen Honda. The deal is said to be for the use of the 1996 versions of the V10 engines.
All this seems to be very unlikely as Giancarlo Minardi will not have forgotten what happened to him in 1994 when he had negotiated his own deal with Mugen Honda, only to have Briatore arrive on the scene and convince the Japanese that it would be better to supply Ligier. Briatore told Mugen Honda that he would sort out any claims for damages but did nothing about it. This resulted in legal action from Minardi and bad publicity for Mugen Honda, which was only stopped when Briatore hit Minardi with an injunction at the French GP, forcing Minardi to drop legal actions against him and against Mugen Honda.
The idea that Minardi will happily fall into bed with Briatore is, therefore, rather hard to accept. There is no doubt that Minardi and Briatore have been talking a lot at recent races, but this is probably more due to the fact that Briatore is trying to find a way to release Giancarlo Fisichella from a long-term contract with Minardi.
There were rumors as long ago as the German GP that Minardi has found the money he needs to compete next year but he is still looking for an engine deal. Selling shares to Briatore would seem a little like opening your door to a wolf selling apples.
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