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What's left for 1999?

THE confirmation that Pedro Diniz is to drive for Sauber in 1999 means that almost all of the F1 seats are now settled with the exception of the second drives at Minardi, Arrows and British American Racing. The second BAR seat is expected to go to Brazilian Ricardo Zonta - although it is not certain.

The contest for the second Minardi is likely to be a battle of checkbooks, although team boss Gabriele Rumi says money this will not be the deciding factor. Ricardo Rosset is understood to be keen on the Minardi seat and has a rumored $5m available while there appear to be various other South Americans interested, notably Norberto Fontana and Tarso Marques. We also hear that McLaren is interested in placing Nick Heidfeld as another season in Formula 3000 will do little for his career.

The Arrows drive is expected to go to Pedro de la Rosa but if money can be found Tom Walkinshaw may decide to sign up the available Jos Verstappen, who has driven for the team before.

There are likely to be a few test driver nominations in the months ahead with Williams expected to be recruiting at least one newcomer and BMW likely to sign someone for its engine development program.

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