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Minardi expanding

THE Minardi team is to take a dramatic step forward during the winter months with the aim being to have a staff of 100 before the start of the 1998 Formula 1 World Championship. This will mean a dramatic increase in numbers as the team has grown only a small amount in the last eight years. It began the decade with 60 employees and last year boasted only 70. The expansion will include more design engineers, more aerodynamicists and a complete test team to enable the team to develop cars in the course of a season, something which to date has not been easy.

The expansion at Faenza - although there are continuing rumors which suggest that the entire operation might be moved the 70 miles from its current headquarters to a new facility alongside the Fondmetal Technologies windtunnel at Casumaro, near Ferrara - is evidence of the dominant role now being played in the team by Fondmetal boss Gabriele Rumi, who is the majority shareholder in the team's holding company. This was confirmed last week when Flavio Briatore told Italian pressmen that he had sold his shareholding in the team after Rumi and Minardi rejected his plans for a deal involving Minardi and British American Tobacco.

Rumi has long harbored the ambition of owning his own successful F1 team. He has been involved in F1 as a sponsor since the early 1980s but in 1989 bought the Osella team and two years later changed its name to Fondmetal. The chassis were built in England and the team looked to be on the verge of establishing itself in the midfield when the money ran out and Rumi was forced to shut down the team at the end of 1992.

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