OCTOBER 16, 1995
Ligier - going its own way
HAVING closely followed - but not, according to the FIA copied, the Benetton B195 with its JS41 design - Ligier now seems to be planning to do its own thing in 1996.
Ligier recently opened a research & development office at the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham in Wiltshire, England, where a four-post rig is being installed. The team is already doing all its aerodynamic work in England - at the Defense Research Agency wind tunnel at Farnborough.
The design of the JS42 seems to have been largely in the hands of Frenchman Loic Bigois in recent months, although the team is expected to announce shortly that it has hired Andre de Cortanze to be its new technical director.
We have also heard rumors suggesting that Arrows's Alan Jenkins may be joining Ligier in the longer term. This is only likely to happen if Jenkins can work in England. He currently lives close to the Arrows factory at Milton Keynes, but a switch to Ligier might be possible when the team opens up its planned facilities at Leafield, near Witney.
On the driving front, the team wants to sign up Johnny Herbert - despite team boss Tom Walkinshaw having recently demolished the English driver in print - and is also very keen on getting hold of Jos Verstappen - who, incidentally, is very highly-regarded by Jenkins. However, in order to keep Elf and Gauloises happy, Ligier will probably have to take a Frenchman - or find a new sponsor!
As usual, Ligier's problems stem from the uncertainty over ownership with Tom Walkinshaw and his men clearly in control of technical and racing matters, but Flavio Briatore's sidekick - French accountant Bruno Michel - is still involved in the financial side of the business.