Webber 'guaranteed' Minardi drive

Rising Formula 1 ace Mark Webber has been guaranteed a drive with Minardi next year - although team boss Paul Stoddart says there will be no hard feelings if he finds a better drive elsewhere

Webber 'guaranteed' Minardi drive

Webber is strongly tipped to join Jaguar Racing in 2003 in place of Eddie Irvine. But the deal has yet to be finalised and the former Renault test driver told Autosport.com last weekend that his future should become clear in a few weeks.

Stoddart told Reuters: "As it stands today I cannot tell you who either of my drivers are going to be next year. I would hope that it would be a combination of Webber and [Dutchman Jos] Verstappen. But it could be a combination of anyone. We did a list the other day of 20 drivers. Rest assured there will be two good drivers.

"I've released Mark from his contract so he's a free agent. If he gets a better drive then good luck to him and I do genuinely mean that and I wish him well. If he doesn't, then there is a guaranteed seat for him next season.

"He's in a perfect position. He's under no pressure. Mark would be my number one choice of driver for next year if he does not get something better."

Remaining at Minardi would, of course, rely on the team's continued participation in F1. Stoddart has threatened to pull his team out because of an arbitration case brought by rival teams which could cost the outfit vital revenue.

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