MAY 17, 1999
Whiting and Benetton
This is not likely to please the team's operations director Joan Villadelprat, who has been running the team for the BenettonÊFamily for the last few years under managing-directors Flavio Briatore, David Richards and Rocco Benetton.
The major problem for the team in the longer-term remains financing, as the lack of results recently has made it difficult to attract new sponsors and there is a danger that Japan Tobacco may decide to invest elsewhere in F1. Officially the team has another two years to run on the Mild Seven deal but our spies tell us that there are performance clauses which might enable JT to move elsewhere if an opportunity presented itself.
It is worth remembering that there was some talk about JT being linked with the Honda Racing Developments operation.