F1 round-up: Alonso key; Webber’s last chance…

The Minardi team could be saved by the unlikely source of Formula 3000 race-winner Fernando Alonso, whose contract is believed to have been bought by Benetton boss Flavio Briatore

F1 round-up: Alonso key; Webber’s last chance…

Minardi is expected to announce a full package on Friday, which will include sponsors and an engine supplier for next year. Alonso's contract may have been exchanged for certain guarantees from Briatore regarding a supply of Supertec engines in 2001.

Alonso's manager Adrian Campos refused to rule this out: "It may happen, it may not," he said. "We are going to wait and see what happens, but we want to do what is right for Minardi."

Newly-signed Benetton test driver Mark Webber has admitted that his testing deal could be a last chance to break into Grand Prix racing.

"This is my big chance - probably my last chance," said Webber. "It is pretty serious at Benetton with Renault back and Flavio Briatore and Mike Gascoyne on board. It's good to come in at the foundation of a new era."

The Australian will combine his F1 testing duties with a race seat in F3000 next year, expected to be with the Super Nova team.

Niki Lauda has resigned from his position as chairman of the executive board of Lauda Air due to criticism for the way in which the triple world champ was running his airline.

The Formula 1 legend founded the airline in 1985, the same year he retired from F1. The company ran into financial problems last year, but these were solved last month due to refinancing. However, an audit by city firm KPMG criticised certain operating systems within the company - criticism which Lauda took personally.

"I have always carried out my responsibilities to the best of my knowledge and belief and with absolute strength and commitment," said Lauda. "However, I have always maintained that I would resign my function if so much as a semblance of a reason should arise to criticise me as an individual."

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