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So what is left?

WITH Rubens Barrichello being confirmed at Stewart there are only a handful of drives left open in Formula 1 for next season. As things stand there is one seat available at Jordan, one at Ligier, one at Sauber and one at Tyrrell. There are two drives available at Minardi. Of these the Ligier is likely to go to Japan's Shinji Nakano as Mugen is willing to reduce the price of its engines if Nakano is given the ride. Sauber looks likely to promote its test driver Norberto Fontana and Tyrrell will probably run Ricardo Rosset. Minardi is tipped to sign Giancarlo Fisichella and Toranosuke Takagi. The Jordan drive may disrupt all this if Jean Alesi's contract can be bought from Benetton but if the Frenchman stays with the team, Jordan will have to go for either Jos Verstappen or Martin Brundle.

If Alesi does move to Jordan his place at Benetton will probably go to Fisichella, in which case Tarso Marques will probably drive for Minardi.

Brundle and Verstappen could find themselves out of work and there seems to be little hope of a drive for this year's drivers Ukyo Katayama, Pedro Lamy, Luca Badoer, Andrea Montermini and Giovanni Lavaggi. This could mean that Grand Prix racing will be without an Italian driver in 1997.

The hustling for Formula 1 test drives is likely to continue for some months although Williams (Jean-Christophe Boullion), Ferrari (Nicola Larini) are not expected to change. Benetton is unlikely to retain Vincenzo Sospiri but will probably replace him with Jarno Trulli. McLaren is looking for a replacement for Jan Magnussen and is expected to run either Dario Franchitti or Juan Pablo Montoya. Jordan will probably retain Gianni Morbidelli while Tyrrell wants to hold on to Emmanuel Collard if it is possible. Sauber is talking to Austrian Alexander Wurz and German Jorg Muller but the new Formula 3000 champion is more likely to test for Arrows. Briton Kelvin Burt may also be seen testing for Arrows and it is possible that Australian Craig Lowndes may also help out the team.

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