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The driver market

WITH Heinz-Harald Frentzen off the F1 driver market and Johnny Herbert looking likely to join Sauber, the focus of attention in the F1 paddock is on who will get the second Ferrari seat, alongside Michael Schumacher.

There was much idle speculation at Monza, suggesting that the drive was being fought over by Rubens Barrichello, Martin Brundle and David Coulthard. In fact it is far more likely that the drive will go to either the team's test driver Nicola Larini or former Ferrari tester Gianni Morbidelli, who was dropped by Arrows earlier this year when he ran out of money.

Gerhard Berger's sudden departure to Benetton undoubtedly caught Ferrari by surprise as team boss Jean Todt thought that Berger would stay for another season. David Coulthard has told reporters that his deal for 1996 has been in place for some time - which means that the Scottish driver cannot be going to Ferrari because there was not expected to be a vacancy until a few days ago. Despite this fact, speculation linking Coulthard to Ferrari was fueled at Monza by comments from Schumacher that he would like Coulthard as his Ferrari team mate and from Coulthard's manager Tim Wright, who refuses to deny the rumors. It is an open secret in F1 that Coulthard agreed a deal with McLaren some time ago and a contract is understood to be already in place.

The only logical explanation for Schumacher's curious statements about Coulthard is that both men are managed by the International Management Group which is taking precautions just in case McLaren decide it wants to run Mika Hakkinen and Alain Prost in 1996. The only ways this could be achieved is if teams are allowed to run three cars or if Ron Dennis buys back Coulthard's contract.

There is little doubt however that Ferrari would not be a good move for Coulthard and we can expect to see him at McLaren. This means that either Hakkinen must stand down or Prost cannot make a racing comeback.

We hear that Barrichello has already been told that he has no chance of a Ferrari drive and the Brazilian is now trying to convince Eddie Jordan to keep him for another season. Schumacher has also said that he would be quite happy if Martin Brundle were his number two, but Martin told F1 FOREIGN REPORT that despite all the rumors he has had no approach from Ferrari at all.

There were new rumors in Monza resulting from the stroke suffered by F1 driver manager Mike Greasley. Greasley, who looks after the interests of Mika Salo, Eddie Irvine and Martin Brundle, is currently in a hospital in Oxford, England, recovering from the illness, and has handed over the management of Salo and Irvine to Bernie Ecclestone. Brundle is believed to be looking after himself.

As soon as this became clear, Eddie Jordan was quick to exercise his option on Irvine to stop any possible move by the Irishman to Ferrari. Salo, however, could be on Ferrari's shopping list.

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