Pizzonia still in Benetton frame

The situation regarding Benetton's drivers remained confused after Antonio Pizzonia claimed that he was still in the running for a testing role with the team

Pizzonia still in Benetton frame

The British Formula Three Championship leader had been scheduled to run with Benetton at Jerez last week. It was thought that he would be evaluated for a race seat either in 2001 or later this season, replacing the out of favour Alex Wurz.

However, the test was cancelled after Pizzonia refused to agree to Benetton boss Flavio Briatore's demand that he sign an exclusive contract with the team.

Now Pizzonia is quoted on the Autorace website as saying that the test is still in the pipeline.

"I will definitely be testing with Benetton, but I don't know when at the moment," he is reported as saying. "I couldn't test at Jerez because I had to test with the team (F3 outfit Manor Motorsport) at Snetterton."

Italian Giorgio Pantano drove at Jerez instead. A multiple karting champion, the 21-year old has only driven in 11 car races so far. He is a favourite for the German F3 title however after winning the season opener for the KMS team.

Benetton has confirmed that it will drop existing test driver Hidetoshi Matsusada and that Pantano is his most likely replacement.

Matsusada's testing deal came as part of a sponsorship agreement, but the Japanese driver has yet to drive the car. His Formula 3000 deal with Gabriele Rafanelli's World Racing Team is also said to be under threat. Matsusada has not qualified for any of the three rounds of the series held so far this season and reigning British F3 champion Marc Hynes is in line to replace him.

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