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Who will be Michael's race engineer?

THE most important man for a top Formula 1 driver is his race engineer. Since the start of 1993, Michael Schumacher has enjoyed a very successful relationship with Benetton's Pat Symonds, during which the duo have collected 18 wins. But Symonds is not leaving Benetton and so Schumacher must now build a relationship with a new engineer.

Last week in Estoril, Michael was working with 33-year-old Italian Luigi Mazzola. He worked as a race engineer for Ferrari in the early 1990s - notably with Alain Prost - but then moved to Sauber where he worked with JJ Lehto until July 1993, when he quit the team. Mazzola returned to Ferrari and worked as Gerhard Berger's race engineer in 1994 before becoming the team's chief testing engineer this year. He engineered Jean Alesi at Imola in April when Jean's regular engineer Ignazio Lunetta had to miss the race because his wife was giving birth.

Mazzola, however, is not expected to be Schumacher's race engineer next year. The race engineering team is led by Giorgio Ascanelli and he is trying to hire McLaren man, Pat Fry - who worked with him at Benetton and later at McLaren. Fry is under contract for another season, but McLaren does not appear to need him as the team has hired Williams's David Brown to work alongside Steve Hallam.

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