Minardi future not in jeopardy, says team boss

Team boss Giancarlo Minardi denied his squad's Formula 1 future is in doubt after losing major sponsor Telefonica

Minardi future not in jeopardy, says team boss

Speaking as he prepared for the final race of the season in Malaysia he said Minardi's future had been secured by the shares buyout by Pan American Sports Network announced almost three weeks ago.

And he said the decision by the Spanish telecommunications giant to withdraw their multi-million pound backing did not mean Marc Gene would automatically lose his drive next year.

US-based Pan American Sports Network bought out Gabriele Rumi's shareholding in the team in a deal said to be worth around US$30 million.

"With their investment we are safe for next season, but we will still be looking for other sponsors to make our team better," said Minardi. "It is clear that the sudden departure of Telefonica will have some effect on us.

"Of course, I am disappointed but I am still positive for next year. I don't think it will affect us financially too much. Pan American Sports Network, who joined us 20 days ago, and Minardi will work together on this.

"The news was not a surprise to me," he added. "I have spent enough years in Formula 1 to know that things like this happen. After this race we will go back to Europe and back to the drawing board."

Minardi refused to be drawn on Spaniard Gene's future for 2001.

"Telefonica were linked to a programme concerning Marc Gene but his future is not yet known," he said. "For our part we have only respect and trust for him. Telefonica leaving does not mean that Marc is out. He was bound to Minardi before Telefonica came along. We will have to see. For sure, he must be disappointed because he acted as their promoter"

Minardi and Prost are the only teams yet to score a point in this year's world championship and the tiny Italian team has been rumoured to be announcing an engine tie-up this weekend with either Supertec or
Mugen-Honda to replace their current outdated Ford V10s.

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