ad

Sauber decision to be made soon

SAUBER is expected to decide within the next week who will be partnering Heinz-Harald Frentzen in the team next year. The Swiss team begins winter testing work today at Jerez in Spain, away from the glare of publicity. Frentzen is expected to do most of the work, although it is possible that if a deal is agreed, the new driver might even be seen in action.

The decision now appears to be down to either Johnny Herbert or Mark Blundell, with Johnny the favorite. Blundell is sufficiently uncertain of his future to have been to America for talks with Indycar teams and he is expected to test for Bruce╩McCaw's PacWest team shortly.

Herbert's only other option is to join Mika Salo at Tyrrell. The team would like it and Johnny would feel more comfortable in the British team. The problem appears to be a financial one. Tyrrell needs money and unless it can find a big new sponsor, it will have to rely on the backing which comes with Japanese driver Ukyo Katayama. The team's engine supplier Yamaha is also pushing strongly for Katayama to continue.

There have been some stories in Europe suggesting that Katayama is talking to Giancarlo Minardi, but this cannot be Ukyo's first priority. Minardi would like to get its hands on this year's Yamaha V10s - a deal which was being discussed by Pacific - and on the money which comes with Katayama.

Our spies at Ockham say there is not enough money to enable the team to sign Herbert and that Ukyo will be re-signed. This decision, however, does not have to be made for some time yet - and the Tyrrell marketing men are still hunting for money.

Sauber does not want to delay its decision much longer, and as it has a sensible budget and is not interested in a pay-driver, it is just a question of whether or not the team wants to wait for Herbert to see what Tyrrell does.

Follow grandprixdotcom on Twitter

Print News Story