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Five drivers bidding for Minardi

LUCA BADOER, Pedro Lamy, Giancarlo Fisichella, Tarso Marques and Ricardo Rosset are all trying to secure drives with Minardi for the coming season. The team says that its ideal combination would be one Italian and one non-Italian.

Badoer is understood to have a sensible amount of backing from Italian companies, but Marlboro Italy is not one of them. The cigarette company wants Minardi to sign up Giancarlo Fisichella, although the youngster does not have any other backing for the drive.

Pedro Lamy has his usual collection of Portuguese backers, while both Marques and Rosset bring considerable money from Brazil. Marques has less money but is managed by Frederic Dhainaut who recently took over as Minardi team manager!

The team is due to test at Ferrari's Fiorano test track between January 23-25, when the team is expected to run another Italian youngster Thomas Biagi.

The new M196 chassis - based on this year's M195 - will be unveiled at the big Estoril test which begins on February 10, and will continue until the cars are packed up and sent off to Australia at the end of the month.

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