Ferrari looks for a number two

WITH Gerhard Berger having decided not to stay at Ferrari next year, team boss Jean Todt has been left looking for a junior partner for Michael Schumacher.

There are many names being mentioned in connection with the drive, but few drivers who have what Ferrari is now looking for. Schumacher does not want a topliner alongside him in the team, but he does want someone who will be able to help him work developing both the chassis and engines next year. The problem is that most of the experienced men in F1 - and there are many of them left - are not willing to play second fiddle to the German.

Martin Brundle is a possibility as he proved to be a steady teammate for Schumacher at Benetton in 1992. An offer from Ferrari would be very tempting for Martin, who might see it as a last chance to win races before retirement. At the same time, Brundle is being offered clear number one status at Ligier, which is fast developing into a competitive outfit.

Another possibility is Mark Blundell, who is unlikely to have a drive with McLaren next year as the team seems to have far too many drivers for the number of cars available. Blundell is well-known to Ferrari boss Todt as he drove Peugeot sportscars when Todt was in charge of the French company's activities.

Mika Salo is also tipped as a possible candidate for Ferrari. Salo, however, has a clever manager in Englishman Mike Greasley and is unlikely to put himself into a situation where he will be overshadowed by Schumacher. Eddie Irvine has also been mentioned as possible at Ferrari. He is also managed by Greasley and has a $5m buyout clause on his Jordan contract, which makes him a very unlikely candidate as Ferrari will be looking to save as much money as possible to help pay Schumacher's vast retainer.

There have been some suggestions that David Coulthard is a possible at Ferrari but all our sources insist that the Scotsman has a deal with McLaren - and has had for some months.

Probably the most sensible choice for Ferrari would be its test driver Nicola Larini, who has spent four years with the team but has done only four races - standing-in for Ivan Capelli at the end of 1992 and for an injured Jean Alesi at the start of 1994. Larini's best result was at Imola last year when he finished second to Schumacher, although his success was overshadowed by the death of Ayrton Senna that same day.

Other names which have been mentioned are those of Gianni Morbidelli - a former Ferrari tester - and Giancarlo Fisichella, an up-and-coming Italian star with strong support from Marlboro Italy, which helps to finance Ferrari.

Ferrari sources say no announcement will be made about the team's second driver until October.

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