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SEPTEMBER 22, 1997

Fisichella and Wurz at Benetton

THE Benetton team has announced that it will be running Giancarlo Fisichella and Alexander Wurz next year, following a decision of the High Court in London last week that Fisichella was bound by a Benetton contract. Fisichella had been in the middle of a legal battle between Benetton and Jordan. He originally signed for Benetton but was released to race for Jordan this year. Benetton had the option to take him back in 1998 if the team paid Jordan $2.4m.

This option in the agreement was not included in the contract which was registered with the FIA Contract Recognition Board and Justice John Jacob ruled that, as the regulations insist that all options are listed, the contract between Benetton and Jordan had been broken and was, as a result, no longer valid and that Fisichella was thus a Benetton driver because of his original deal. Justice Jacob ruled, however, that Benetton should pay the $2.4m to Jordan as compensation, suggesting that it was not entirely Jordan's fault that the option was not included in the contract lodged with the FIA.

Benetton then announced that Fisichella would be partnered by Austrian youngster Alexander Wurz, who has been the team's test and reserve driver this year and stood in for Gerhard Berger when he was out of action with sinus problems.

Signing up Fisichella and Wurz is a very cheap solution for the team which has not enjoyed as big a budget as it would have liked in recent years because of a lack of good results since Michael Schumacher left the team at the end of 1995.