Tom and Yamaha

WITH Benetton having finally admitted that it has a deal to run Mecachrome V10 engines in 1998, Tom Walkinshaw is almost certain to put the finishing touches to another deal with Yamaha - despite a string of engine problems this season. There will, however, be big changes in the relationship with the current V10 engine being dumped and the 1998 Yamaha engine being a badged version of Brian Hart's V10 design.

Brian has missed three of the last four Grands Prix and is believed to be working flat out to ensure that the engine will be ready to begin testing as soon as possible. He is understood to be working closely with TWR engine wizard Geoff Goddard - the two enjoying a good relationship having been colleagues at Cosworth for many years. Goddard is expected to look after the development of the engines with finance and technical assistance from Yamaha.

The deal - if it is signed - will mean the end of the Yamaha collaboration between John Judd's Engine Developments company in Rugby and Yamaha. If everything goes to plan the deal will be announced at the Japanese GP in Suzuka.

It is logical to suggest that Hart's deal with TWR and Yamaha will be a long-term arrangement. Brian is a sprightly 61 and seems to want to go on building F1 engines for as long as he can but it is logical to suggest that Walkinshaw may be offering him a deal in which the Hart company is eventually absorbed into the TWR automotive empire.

Tom Walkinshaw makes no secret of the fact that he would one day like to build his own F1 engines and taking over Hart when Brian retires would be a good way to achieve that aim.

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