JANUARY 1, 1996

Will Benetton's nationalism cause problems?

BENETTON'S desire to become an Italian team may have implications which the team had not previously considered. According to Article 93 of the FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, the team is not allowed to test at a circuit where a Grand Prix is to be held - except in the country where the team holds its license. This means that, in theory, Benetton can no longer go testing at Silverstone - which is just down the road from its factory at Enstone, but will have to do all its testing at Monza instead.

This could prove to be a huge disadvantage.

Having said that, the Machiavellian Flavio Briatore will probably dream up some way of circumnavigating the regulation - although it is unlikely that he will get all the teams to agree to allow Benetton to break the rule, as his popularity among some team owners is a below zero rating.

The team may have concluded that it will learn more from constant testing at Donington Park - with occasional Monza tests - than at Silverstone. The new Benetton, incidentally, is expected to test at Donington in the third week of January, prior to its official launch in Sicily in early February.