Motor racing: Benetton in tyre switch to Bridgestone

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The Independent Online
Benetton unveiled their new car yesterday and announced they were switching to Bridgestone tyres for the forthcoming season.

The team's defection from Goodyear follows the example set by McLaren last year, and Benetton's chief executive, David Richards, welcomed the move.

"I sincerely hope that we can reward Bridgestone's commitment to our team with their first grand prix win," he said. Goodyear is pulling out of Formula One at the end of the 1998 season.

Benetton's B198 car, which will be driven by Alexander Wurz and Giancarlo Fisichella, has already been tested at Jerez and will continue its preparation at the circuit from today.

Benetton's technical director, Pat Symonds, said: "I am confident that we have everything in place to return to the top. We have a pair of excellent young drivers, a car designed by Nick Wirth, a new and exciting philosophy behind it and the rekindled enthusiasm and commitment of a terrific team."

Cadbury Schweppes have agreed a sponsorship deal with McLaren-Mercedes, which will begin this season.

A group of Belgian F1 fans is seeking European Union help to force the sport's governing body, FIA, to drop a threat to cancel the Belgian Grand Prix. Jean-Louis Dupont, a lawyer, said FIA's threat to cancel the race unless Belgium revises a new law banning tobacco advertising infringed EU rules on business monopolies.

Dupont has already used the EU to challenge Uefa, when representing the Belgian footballer Jean-Marc Bosman. Dupont secured a ruling from the EU in 1995 that forced football's European governing body to scrap transfer fees within Europe for players from EU countries.