F1 future for Townsend Bell?

The announcement that Vitantonio Liuzzi and Robert Doornbos have signed for the Arden International Formula 3000 team means that American Townsend Bell will not be staying with the team, despite having had a two-year deal.

This inevitably has led to suggestions that Bell has decided not to continue in Formula 3000 because he has a deal in the offing in Formula 1. This will probably not be announced until after the forthcoming meeting of the Formula 1 team bosses on January 16 as they are expected to discuss whether or not to continue with the rule which bans any driver with more than six F1 races in the last two years from taking part in testing on Fridays at a Grand Prix. If the ban is lifted then this would open the way for Justin Wilson to stay at Jaguar. If the ban is confirmed then it will open the way for the deal to go to Bell. There is no obvious reason why the teams will change their minds and as unanimous agreement is needed it will take only one vote against to block the change. The big teams voted through the rule because they were worried about experienced test drivers being able to give one team a big advantage for the entire race weekend. This was the result of what happened in 2003 with Allan McNish using his huge experience to give Renault a big advantage.

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