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De La Rosa confirms himself at Arrows

SPANIARD Pedro de la Rosa confirmed on Spanish television that he will be driving for Arrows this year, as team-mate to Mika Salo. The team has yet to confirm the news but it is logical as de la Rosa has substantial backing from the Spanish oil company Repsol - which is keen to use F1 racing to support its expansion in South America.

It is also a good move for the team because Spanish interest in Grand Prix racing has received a major boost in recent weeks with the signing of Marc Gene as a Minardi driver and the arrival of Telefonica as a big new F1 sponsor. It is thought likely that other big Spanish companies might be persuaded to support de la Rosa, obvious targets being the tobacco company Tabacalera - which sells the Ducados and Fortuna brands - or one of the country's big banks.

If the news is confirmed and Shinji Nakano does not get a drive with Minardi it will mean that for the first time since Saturo Nakajima became Japan's first F1 driver in 1987 that country will have been no representative on the F1 grid. We have heard conflicting stories about Takagi's future. He is obviously a candidate to drive for the Honda F1 team in 2000 and the team may want him to do testing work this year. He may also be signed up by Benetton as a second test driver - in order to keep sponsor Mild Seven happy.

Until the news is official, however, one has to be careful as Tom Walkinshaw has a habit of employing two drivers to do the job intended for one, thus maximizing his income.

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