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Minardi denies link with Briatore

GIANCARLO MINARDI has denied stories that the majority shareholding in his team has been bought by Benetton boss Flavio Briatore. Minardi did concede, however, that he is looking to restructure the shareholdings to give the team a more solid financial base.

Minardi owns only 33% of his team, although he has an agreement to remain as managing-director no matter who owns the shares in the team. He sold the remaining 67% to Italian steel magnate Beppe Lucchini at the end of 1993 when Lucchini gave up running his Scuderia Italia operation. Minardi had first option to buy the shares but says that he cannot afford to do so at the moment. Lucchini is thus looking for another buyer, having ceased having an active involvement in the team at the end of 1994.

Briatore has had talks with Minardi and Lucchini, but no deal has been organized and there is no guarantee that such a deal will happen. Minardi says that if he cannot find a deal he is seriously considering dropping out of F1 and is talking seriously about running a Ferrari F50 sportscar operation for Andy Evans's Scandia team. Evans, Bill Gates's banker, runs an IRL team in the United States. He is not believed to be interested in becoming a partner in the F1 team but was a guest of the team at Spa.

Finding a partner in the team will not be as easy as it might appear to be as the company still has large outstanding debts.

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