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Dernie to leave Ligier?

LIGIER technical director Frank Dernie has yet to decide if he intends to stay with Ligier for another season. The 45-year-old English engineer has so far failed to agree to terms with Ligier bosses Tom Walkinshaw and Flavio Briatore and, although he is still working at TWR headquarters in Leafield in England, he does not have a contract for the coming F1 season.

Dernie has worked in F1 since joining Hesketh in 1977. He moved to Williams when Hesketh closed down, and played an important role in helping the team to a string of World Championships before he was poached by Lotus in 1989. That job lasted just over a year before Frank took up a similar position at Ligier. Two years later he quit Ligier to join Benetton. When Ligier was taken over by Benetton boss Briatore, Dernie was sent back to France - somewhat against his will. The 1995 Ligier allowed very little scope for engineering as it was based on the Benetton B195 design and there was little budget available for development. This was so bad, in fact, that in March last year Dernie came close to quitting the team.

At the time the team needed Frank as they were in the process of renegotiating new deals with the French government sponsors - who knew Dernie from his earlier Ligier involvement.

This year the team is not quite as desperate to re-sign Frank, and he is none too pleased as budgets have again been slashed and the team has hired former Sauber technical director Andre de Cortanze to be chief race engineer - which is believed to have put Dernie's nose out of joint.

Frank wants to work in England as his family is based there - as it has been since his days at Williams.

The new Ligier-Mugen Honda JS43 is a reworking of this year's car but without many major changes. It will be driven by Olivier Panis and Pedro Diniz.

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