Minardi to run Friday F1 pay-drivers

The first commercialisation of the new-for-2003 F1 Friday testing has been initiated by the Anglo-Italian Minardi team, which will run a third chassis for Matteo Bobbi and his sponsors on the opening day (18 April) of the San Marino GP meeting at Imola. Bobbi's contract as a Minardi test driver included four outings in the Friday morning sessions, in a deal reported to be worth $1m

Minardi to run Friday F1 pay-drivers

"Obviously the package is not just the drive," team boss Paul Stoddart told the Reuters news agency. "He'll have names on the car, passes, and all the usual things that a million dollar sponsor would have."

Minardi is hoping that other drivers will be able to raise sponsorship deals to take part in the Friday tests, and is already talking with an Austrian and a Canadian. "We'll be trying hard to put an American in a car at Indianapolis," added Stoddart. "It comes down to money. We won't run someone with less than a $250,000 on a Friday because it just doesn't become economical for us."

Hitherto only Renault has operated three cars in the two-hour morning sessions, and the extra chassis has been driven by its regular test and reserve driver.

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