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Tyrrell turns down BAT offer

THE Tyrrell family has turned down a multi-million dollar offer to sell its Formula 1 team to the British American Tobacco company. The deal foundered because Ken Tyrrell refused to let the name of the team be changed. The BAT bid for Tyrrell was masterminded by Jacques Villeneuve's manager Craig Pollock and involves Reynard Racing Cars. BAT remains keen to get into Grand Prix racing and it now looks likely that the company will decide to go it alone and build a team from scratch - as Jackie Stewart has done. The new team - which is expected to feature drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Dario Franchitti - is expected to be launched in 1999.

Our sources in the paddock insist that Pollock and Reynard have managed to convince Mecachrome that they should be supplied with engines for testing in 1998 and one must presume that there is a deal to use the same power units in 1999 and beyond. This is interesting as Williams already has a contract for 1999 and Benetton is seeking a similar two-year commitment to cover 1998 and 1999. This means that Mecachrome will have to gear up for two and half supplies of the V10 next year with three in 1999.

Mecachrome currently supplies half the Renault F1 engines and has an experienced staff of engine builders. The first victory with a Mecachrome-built Renault engine was way back in 1985 when Ayrton Senna won the Portuguese GP in a Lotus-Renault.

"Mecachrome will hire some of the Renault Sport staff to run the engines," commented Mecachrome's Jean-Yves Houe this weekend. "For research Renault will have a group of engineers at Viry-Chatillon and if they come up with something interesting for us we will have to pay them for it."

When the Mecachrome deal was originally announced the company - which is based at Aubigny-sur-Nere, not far from Magny-Cours - said it was willing to supply only two teams but an expansion to three supplies should be possible.

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