Motor Racing: Herbert moves

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The Independent Online
Johnny Herbert's switch to Benetton-Ford for the final two races of the Formula One world championship was confirmed yesterday, but the 30-year-old British driver's future remains with Ligier.

Herbert has been called up from the sister team to support Michael Schumacher's cause against Damon Hill in the drivers' contest and help Benetton fend off Williams-Renault for the constructors' title.

Benetton turned to the man they sacked five years ago after their second driver, Jos Verstappen, strained his neck at Jerez, a fortnight ago.

Impressive tests convinced Benetton that Herbert, whom Ligier will replace with their reserve driver, the Frenchman Franck Lagorce, could play a crucial role in the Japanese Grand Prix, next week, and in Australia, seven days later.

Herbert, driven to the brink of retirement at Lotus in mid-season, said: 'I'm delighted. It is a good opportunity for me to compete in a top car with a top team.'

However, there are no plans to keep Herbert and Schumacher together next season. Flavio Briatore, managing director of Benetton and owner of Ligier, wants one top driver in each camp and he believes Herbert will give the French outfit the leadership they require.

Schumacher yesterday reaffirmed his commitment to Benetton for next season.

The German, leading Hill by five points in the championship, said: 'In order to clarify recent rumours and speculations, I would like to confirm that I will be driving for Benetton for the 1995 season. As far as my plans are concerned, for beyond 1995, nothing has been decided.'