APRIL 8, 1996
Dome in action
THE Japanese Dome F1 prototype chassis tested for the first time last Friday at the Suzuka circuit in Japan, with Italian driver Marco Apicella completing laps on both the full length track and the much shorter "Eastern" circuit.
The Mugen Honda-engined team is planning to do a string of Japanese tests in the next couple of weeks before flying the equipment over to Europe to take part in a couple of European tests - notably the pre-British GP test at Silverstone in the first week of July. The team will base itself at Mugen's British headquarters in the old Honda F1 factory at Langley, where there is currently plenty of room available. The Langley factory is expected to house the Honda F1 engine program when the company returns to F1 in 1998 although it is significant that many of the old faces of Honda's F1 engineers from the 1980s are already beginning to reappear at Mugen.
The Dome testing was done using old Goodyear tires, although the American tire company is not being very forthcoming with tires, as there are worries in Akron that their tires will inevitably be used by some teams - maybe even contracted Goodyear teams - to give any new tire companies an idea of how competitive Goodyear's tires currently are.
The tire war seems to be beginning already, and last week there were some very carefully planted stories appearing in motor racing magazines suggesting that Bridgestone had approached Benetton, Ligier and McLaren. Both McLaren and Benetton are under contract to Goodyear until the end of this year. The stories appear to be an attempt to hurry Michelin into a decision as to whether it is planning to enter F1 next year as is rumored.