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Benetton picks up HRD talent

BENETTON is to strengthen its engineering staff with the recruitment in recent days of most of the top design engineers from the defunct Honda Racing Developments team in Bracknell. We hear that the group includes chief designer Tim Densham, chassis expert Chris Radage, aerodynamicist Ben Agethangelou and electronics expert Chris Hills - who were all key players at Tyrrell before joining Harvey Postlethwaite's team at HRD.

Also on the move is the HRD team principal Rupert Manwaring who is also tipped to be on his way to Benetton to a new role as deputy to team boss Rocco Benetton. The Italian youngster is expected to take a less active role in the running of the team in the months ahead. Manwaring is enormously experienced in F1 and will be a useful recruit although his arrival is unlikely to please the team's current operations director Joan Villadelprat. The Spaniard has been running Benetton for several years now although in recent months his name has been linked to a job with the Minardi team - but only if the Spanish telephone company Telefonica takes a more active role in the operation.

Despite approaches from other teams it now seems certain that Mild Seven will remain as the team's major sponsor next year - until the current contract expires. The Mild Seven top management was in London recently meeting with Benetton marketing people and with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. The company was planning to switch to HRD next year and so the arrival at Benetton of so many HRD staff will help to bolster the relationship.

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