End in sight for F1's 'silly season'

The 2001 Grand Prix grid's remaining seats all look set to be filled before the resumption of Formula 1 testing on December 1

End in sight for F1's 'silly season'

With Finnish 'wunderkind' Kimi Raikkonen's seat at Sauber set to be confirmed within the next two weeks, that leaves only five more places on the grid to be confirmed - with four of those expected to be merely renewals of existing contracts.

Brazilian Pedro Diniz will make the switch from Sauber to Prost, bringing significant Parmalat backing to the team. The French squad has recently lost title sponsor Gauloises and a works engine deal with Peugeot, and needs to find in the region of £17 million per year to finance its recently-confirmed customer deal for Ferrari V10s. However, sources say that plans for Diniz's multi-millionaire father Abilio to buy into the team remain in the air.

Arrows is set to retain Jos Verstappen and Pedro de la Rosa as it prepares to embark on a 2001 camapign with AMT V10 engines - re-badged and revised Peugeot units. With Spaniard de la Rosa key to Repsol's sponsorship, delays in confirming he and Dutchman Verstappen appear to stem from glitches in finalising the elements of their contracts.

Minardi is still without a firm engine contract for 2001, but is likely to sign a deal for Supertec V10s, as used by Arrows in 2000. South American media group PSN has taken a majority share in the Italian team, safeguarding Gaston Mazzacane's immediate future, with a soon-to-be-announced LeasePlan deal making Marc Gene a near-certainty for the second seat.

All 11 F1 teams are expected to begin testing immediately on the lifting of the post-season ban, but Minardi's participation will depend on how late its engine deal is finalised.



Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello

Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard

Ralf Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya

Jacques Villeneuve, Olivier Panis

Giancarlo Fisichella, Jenson Button

Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Jarno Trulli

Eddie Irvine, Luciano Burti

Pedro de la Rosa (*), Jos Verstappen (*)

Nick Heidfeld, Kimi Raikkonen (*)

Jean Alesi, Pedro Diniz (*)

Marc Gene (*), Gaston Mazzacane (*)

(*) to be confirmed

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