AUGUST 17, 1998
The Williams drivers
THE hot rumor in Hungary was that Ralf Schumacher has signed some kind of an agreement with Williams╩Grand╩Prix╩Engineering, where he will partner Alex Zanardi next season. There are suggestions, however, that Ralf first needs to extract himself from his Jordan contract before he is able to switch to Williams.
There were several different rumors circulating in Hungary suggesting that Zanardi is not definite with the team and that Heinz-Harald Frentzen has been given an ultimatum to improve his showing in the next two races if he wishes to hold on to the drive next year. Neither story has much credibility.
The stories about Zanardi moving to Formula 1 seem to have upset Target Chip Ganassi Racing in CART - Zanardi's current employer - and Zanardi is worried that the team will switch its attention to Jimmy Vasser in the title race. Confusion over the Williams deal will help his cause in CART for the next few weeks.
The Frentzen ultimatum story is also not very credible as there is no reason for the team to keep a driver who can up his game after two years not producing the goods. This seems to be a smokescreen to confuse the German press while the deal with Ralf Schumacher is completed. It was interesting that neither Ralf's manager Willi Weber nor his dealmaker from the International Management Group was present in Hungary, thus keeping speculation about Ralf's future to a minimum.
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