JANUARY 29, 1996
Only two F1 seats available
ALTHOUGH Arrows is yet to confirm that it has signed Jos Verstappen and Ricardo Rosset, it seems there is little doubt that these will be the team's drivers and that means that - with six weeks to go before the start of the new F1 season - there are only two drives still up for grabs. This is a most unusual situation in a sport which normally has driver changes being made right up until the final deadline for driver nominations on the Thursday before the first race.
Both the available seats - one at Minardi and one at Forti - need the driver to bring money. The Minardi seat is currently being fought over by Taki Inoue, Tarso Marques, Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella. The team says it would prefer one Italian and one non-Italian driver, and with Portugal's Pedro Lamy already signed, the likelihood is that either Badoer or Fisichella will be chosen - although Inoue's money may sway the team's opinion.
The Forti drive - which is being linked to Japan's Hideki Noda - is not a very tempting position, as the Italian team is not expected to have a new car finished until the start of the European season at the end of April. This will mean that for the first three races the drivers will have to use the hopeless 1995 cars - and are unlikely to qualify because of the new 107% qualifying rules.
The only other change which may take place is the nomination of a replacement for Mika Hakkinen if the Finn is not thought to be fit enough to race for McLaren this year. If that happens, the drive will almost certainly go to Jan Magnussen.
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