Minardi looking east for sponsors

GIANCARLO MINARDI is tipped to be planning a test for Russian driver Alan Berkov, and this has led to speculation that at least some of the Minardi budget next year is to come from the old Eastern bloc.

Rumors in Germany suggested that the team has found a budget to race next year but is still looking for an engine deal. The team does not want to continue with Ford Cosworth engines as these have been hopelessly underpowered - and expensive - this year.

The problem at the moment is that there are very few sensible customer engine deals being offered, so the smaller teams are looking to new manufacturers or small engine-builders for a supply. There are no shortage of specialist engineering companies which could build an F1 engine, but the problem is always the same - money.

The lack of an engine deal has not stopped the team from beginning the design work on the M197 chassis. Last week Minardi's aerodynamicist Mariano Alperin spent five days in the Fondmetal Technologies windtunnel at Casumaro in Italy.

While F1 teams are keen to get money from wherever they can, teams are being remarkably cautious when it comes to Russia - because of the danger of becoming involved - perhaps unwittingly - with the all-powerful Russian mobs.

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