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Tyrrell - will it be Salo or Lamy?

It's nearly a month since Tyrrell and Lotus went to the FIA Contract Recognition Board to argue over which of them had the right to sign Finnish driver Mika Salo. Tyrrell won the dispute but the team has still not confirmed that Salo will be Ukyo Katayama's partner.

The team is not keen on discussing what is going on but if the Contract Recognition Board was convinced that there was a binding contract between the Finn and the team, the only possible explanation for the delay in announcing a deal is that Salo's contract includes the delivery of large sums of sponsorship money to Tyrrell - and that has not yet happened.

Tyrrell does not have a major sponsor this year but Salo's recruitment was believed to be worth about $3.5m. This money was to have come from Japan and that may be important as several drivers, notably Simtek's Hideki Noda have had problems getting money as a result of the recent Kobe earthquake and its effects on the Japanese financial markets.

Talks continue with Salo but the team heads to Estoril this week with two cars - and just one driver. There have been talks with several other drivers, but the decision seems to be entirely dependent on money. Erik Comas, who might have been a good choice, said that the only drives available to him involved paying money he could not raise.

If Salo's money does not arrive, the most likely candidate for the Tyrrell drive is Portugal's Pedro Lamy, who is also believed to have around $3.5m of sponsorship available.

Lamy was expected to sign for Pacific but seems to be hedging his bets as there is little doubt that the Tyrrell package will probably be the more competitive.

If Lamy does sign up with Tyrrell, Pacific could still end up with JJ Lehto, despite the fact that JJ has signed to drive a Joest Opel Calibra in German Touring Car Championship.

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