Massa Close to Race Seat, Claims Manager

Dumped Sauber driver Felipe Massa is set to snub his current team's offer of a test role for next season to seal a race deal with a rival outfit for 2003.

Massa Close to Race Seat, Claims Manager

Dumped Sauber driver Felipe Massa is set to snub his current team's offer of a test role for next season to seal a race deal with a rival outfit for 2003.

The Brazilian, 21, will lose his seat to experienced German rival Heinz-Harald Frentzen next year, but Massa's manager Ricardo Tedeschi insisted he is close to securing a deal to stay on the Grand Prix grid next year.

Speaking from Brazil before flying to Monza for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix, Tedeschi said: "We are still dealing with two teams and I think we are close to finding a solution to race in Formula One for next year."

Massa has been linked with Japanese squad Toyota, who will change both their drivers in 2003, with both Scot Allan McNish and Finn Mika Salo leaving the Cologne-based team. Team boss Ove Andersson said earlier this season that they are looking for a young start to partner experienced Frenchman Olivier Panis next year.

They had hoped to lure Brazilian Champ Car star Cristiano da Matta across the Atlantic but have been blocked by extortionate salary demands, and are planning to test several drivers after this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

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