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banner Friday, 29 June, 2001, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Benetton looking at end to crisis
Giancarlo
Benetton have a new engine for this weekend
Benetton are expecting this weekend's French Grand Prix to signal the beginning of the end of the crisis in which they have been immersed this season.

The Renault-owned team have been mired at the back of the grid, often battling with the tiny Minardi outfit in the last two rows, because of problems with their car and engine.

But an upgrade on their Renault engine and some aerodynamic changes to the car should help them move up the grid in Magny-Cours, their home race.

The biggest problem has been the engine, a radical 111-degree unit which Renault hopes will eventually create a new orthodoxy in F1 engine design.


We believe we are making progress
  Mike Gascoyne
Benetton technical director

However, the engine is in its infancy, and their have been innumerable problems with it - most importantly that it is dramatically under-powered.

Benetton technical director Mike Gascoyne said: "We are planning an update to the engine for this race and will use a new specification both in qualifying and the race.

"This is a step forward compared with the engines we have been using to date.

"We have also got some aerodynamic updates on the car, which again should help towards the advancement of the entire package."

Benetton should also be helped by their Michelin tyres, which are expected to be more competitive in France than the Bridgestones used by most other teams.

"We believe we are making progress and this is a good start to the second half of the season for us," Gascoyne said.

No quantum leap

"It has been a difficult start to the season but we always knew that this was going to be the case."

However, Benetton's drivers are not expecting a quantum leap forward.

Briton Jenson Button, whose future at the team is in doubt after a string of poor performances, said: "We are not going to be in the top 10, although hopefully we will be 14th and 15th.

"But you never know what the changes are going to do.

Jenson Button
Button has been in Fisichella's shadow this season

"It is going to be quite a big change. It should be easier, but it is not going to be easy.

"We are moving forwards and by the end of the season we should be much stronger."

Button has been lagging well behind team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella this season and there are rumours that team boss Flavio Briatore will drop him for 2002.

He has been linked with Jaguar, Jordan and Prost, although Jaguar have ruled him out for 2002 because they already have Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa under contract.

Jaguar are, though, understood to have enquired about his availability for 2003.

Button's contract is owned by Williams until the end of 2004, but if his performances remain at their current level he is not expected to regain his place at the end of 2002 at the expense of Juan Pablo Montoya.

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