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Alonso, Ferrari and Prost

OUR spies at Ferrari tell us that the Italian team has offered 19-year-old Spaniard Fernando Alonso a five-year deal to join the team, initially as a test driver. We hear that Alonso's manager Adrian Campos - himself a former Grand Prix driver - is opposed to the idea but that Alonso wants to push ahead. At the same time, we hear that Alain Prost is trying to convince Alonso and Ferrari that they can all work together and that Alonso should be able to test for Ferrari but could race for Prost. This would give Alain access to Alonso's big sponsorship deal from Leaseplan, which would help him increase his budget. He may also be trying to reduce his payments to Ferrari by helping the Italians to convince Alonso to sign for Ferrari.

At the same time it is becoming increasingly clear that Marc Gene will not be staying with Minardi next season and we have heard that Gene flew to England over the weekend to meet with Sir Frank Williams and has now signed to be the Williams test driver for next season. Williams has been looking for an experienced driver to do the testing work for the team but missed out on Ricardo Zonta and Alexander Wurz.

There is still no definite word on what is going to happen with Minardi but there is much pessimism at the moment in Faenza.

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