Super-licence problems stall Sauber

Problems over Finnish hotshoe Kimi Raikkonen's Formula 1 super-licence could force Sauber to give its second 2001 race seat to test driver Enrique Bernoldi

Super-licence problems stall Sauber

Team principal Peter Sauber wants British Formula Renault champion Raikkonen to partner Nick Heidfeld after he impressed the Hinwil-based squad in two test outings last month. But sources at the FIA, motorsport's governing body, suggest his super-licence application will be thrown out when the Formula 1 Commission meets in Monaco on December 7.

Raikkonen does not meet the criteria for a super-licence based on race results, but could be granted one at the FIA's discretion. However, FIA president Max Mosley is believed to be against granting the 21-year-old veteran of just 23 car races a licence without any Formula 3 or Formula 3000 experience first.

"We very much hope Raikkonen is given a licence," said a Sauber team spokeswoman. "If not, I think it will be a real problem. We must wait and see."

If, as expected, Raikkonen's application is refused, this year's Sauber tester and Red Bull Junior Formula 3000 driver Enrique Bernoldi is hotly tipped to step in as his replacement. A straight swap could see Raikkonen gaining F3000 experience with the Red Bull team - which has links to the Sauber F1 squad - before making the jump to F1 in 2002.

Bernoldi has spent two relatively unsuccessful years with the Red Bull team and was outshone by Raikkonen when the pair tested together for Sauber, but the Brazilian has dominated both recent official F3000 tests and could yet be granted a second chance.

Pedro Diniz, who drove for Sauber this season, is still expected to move over to the Prost team, where substantial backing from the Brazilian's father could help pay for the French team's supply of customer Ferrari engines for next year.

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