Motor Racing: British double at Ligier

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The Independent Online
THE British drivers Mark Blundell and Martin Brundle have been confirmed as partners with the French Formula One team, Ligier-Renault, for this year. The team's new president, Cyril de Rouvre, announced the signings yesterday. He also named the Frenchman, Eric Bernard, as test driver for the coming season.

Blundell, 26, and Brundle, 33, were team-mates with a struggling Brabham two seasons ago but they anticipate better fortune this time. Ligier, re-organised under de Rouvre, are preparing a new car to go with the established performance of the Renault RS4 engine.

Renault is also partner to the world champions, Williams, who in turn are to provide Ligier with the benefit of some of their technological excellence.

Blundell, who worked last year as a test driver with McLaren- Honda, believes the signings will enhance the futures of drivers and team alike. He said on a visit to Ligier's headquarters, at Magny- Cours: 'I think Ligier are definitely one of the coming teams.

'Martin and I get on well together and seem to push each other. That can only be good for us and for Ligier. I'm looking forward to a productive year and I don't see why we shouldn't consistently be in the points and aiming for the podium.'

Brundle had his best season in Formula One last year, scoring points in 11 of the last 12 races for Benetton-Ford and finishing sixth in the world championship. He decided to accept the offer from Ligier rather than wait any longer in the hope that he might land Ayrton Senna's job at McLaren.

He said: 'I know a few eyebrows will have been raised by Ligier's decision to sign two rosbifs, but I'm sure we can do the job for them. Ligier have a good package, and an excellent, progressive attitude. Mark and I have had good experience over the past year and are, I'm sure, better drivers still for it.'

Despite the loss of the world champion, Nigel Mansell, to IndyCars, Britain now has five drivers signed up for the 1993 Formula One season. Damon Hill is at Williams, Derek Warwick is back, with Footwork-Yamaha, and Johnny Herbert again drives for Lotus-Ford.

Herbert's team-mate Mika Hakkinen has been linked with a move to McLaren should Senna defect. The Brazilian's decision is not thought to be imminent. He is due to test for McLaren later this month. The deposed champions are expected to confirm an association with Ford early next week.

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