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Lamy replaces Martini

MINARDI Scuderia Italia has dropped its longtime number one driver Pierluigi Martini and replaced him with Portuguese pay-driver Pedro Lamy. The 23-year-old, who has taken part in eight GPs for Lotus in the past, is believed to be bringing a sizable amount of sponsorship with him.

Lamy has tried to get drives with a variety of teams this season. He has tested for Sauber, Tyrrell and Arrows and talked with Pacific and Forti, but no-one has yet been moved to run him fulltime.

The runner-up to Olivier Panis in the 1993 European F3000 Championship, Lamy raced for Lotus at the end of that year, replacing Alessandro Zanardi after his enormous accident at Spa. Last year Lamy did the first four races before crashing heavily in testing at Silverstone. His car suffered rear wing failure, took off and went through debris fencing. The front was ripped off the car and Lamy suffered bad leg injuries. He has not raced since.

It is not the first time that Martini has been dropped by Minardi - the team with which he started his F1 career in 1985 and for which he has driven 102 GPs. When the team needed money in 1993, Martini stood down to let Fabrizio Barbazza and Jean-Marc Gounon drive, but he was back in action the following year.

Pierluigi has been responsible for all the high points in Minardi history: he scored the team's first World Championship point at Detroit in 1988; he led the Portuguese GP in 1989 for one lap; qualified second to Gerhard Berger's McLaren at Phoenix in 1990; and his two fourth places at San Marino and Estoril in 1991 remain the team's best finishes.

It remains to be seen whether the 34-year-old will be signed to drive for Minardi again next year, but such is the relationship that, if the team can find the money, "Piero" will be the driver.

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