What now for Webber?

AUSTRALIAN Mark Webber appears unlikely to find a Formula 1 berth for 2002 after a year combining his role in Formula 3000 with that of Benetton's test driver.

In Webber's favor is his contract with Flavio Briatore, joining the Italian's stable of young drivers such as Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso, and his solid job for Benetton this year.

Neither that or his runner-up finish in the F3000 championship has yet offered him much in the way of practical assistance however, as Takuma Sato prepares to be the latest young gun to leapfrog Webber and the rest of the F3000 brigade from Formula 3.

There might be the chance for Webber to join European Minardi if Briatore elects to move Fernando Alonso from the Anglo-Italian team, but time and options for 2002 are running out for the much-admired talent and a third season of F3000 appears to be the most realistic option.

Concluding his final test of the year for Benetton, Webber said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Benetton, Renault and Michelin this year and I'd like to believe my efforts have helped the team during the season. For sure, the three parties have taught me a lot about Formula One."

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