MARCH 11, 1996
A TWR team in 1997?
THE announcement that Tom Walkinshaw is to stop working with Ligier opens the way for the Scotsman to field his own Formula 1 team.
In parallel to running Ligier, Walkinshaw was quietly building up an F1-standard facility at the new TWR headquarters at Leafield, near Oxford in England. The original intention appears to have been to gain control of Ligier and then move it to England - unless the French sponsors continued to pour millions into the team - with a parallel plan of forming a TWR team if the Ligier deal fell through.
"We were always going to come to F1," said Walkinshaw. "We originally came in with a shareholding in Benetton. That link still exists, but I decided that in the longer term if we were to use F1 as a showplace for our technology it had to be with a team which we owned 100%. The only way to protect your reputation is to have 100% control.
"We will announce something when we are ready to do so. There is no secret about it. It was quite clear what we were trying to do and when we're ready we will announce it. We would have to have everything in place by July if we want to have a serious attempt at doing it in 1997."