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Panis now favorite for BAR

EXPECT Olivier Panis to commit to British American Racing as number two to Jacques Villeneuve for the 2001 season with a formal announcement coming within a month.

Although Pedro Diniz is touting his reputed 9 million dollar sponsorship from Parmalat Brazil as a persuasive calling card, Craig Pollock is likely to put financial expediency firmly into second place by the burning desire to have his new team taken seriously.

Panis will continue testing for the moment with McLaren, having turned down the chance of "filling in" with Benetton until the end of the season unless they offered him a full deal for 2001. With Button and Fisichella already on the books, there was no way Briatore could oblige. As a result, Alexander Wurz seems set to retain his drive to the end of the year.

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