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AUGUST 6, 2002

Wilson misses Minardi chance

Formula 3000 Champion Justin Wilson was lining up to drive for Minardi in place of Mark Webber - we hear that a deal had been struck, pending a seat fitting, but when the lanky Englishman went down to Faenza to see if he could get into the car there was heartbreak as there was no way that Wilson would fit.

"If they do change drivers," Wilson told the Reuters newsagency, "it is not going to be me."

The other men likely to be under consideration now are American Bryan Herta and Formula 3000 racer Giorgio Pantano both of whom will appear in this weekend's Thunder in the Park event at Donington Park.

Herta wants to get the drive but probably wants it for the rest of the season, or at least until after the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis. In order for that to happen the team will have to ditch Alex Yoong completely, which is not the plan. Herta would need to raise money to fund the drive but the idea of an American at the US Grand Prix should make that possible.

Pantano is an option that should not be overlooked. He is currently third in the Formula 3000 series but trails the leader Sebastien Bourdais by 12 points. However in the last two races Pantano has scored 14 points and Bourdais six so the title is not out of the question. Things are complicated by the fact that Tomas Enge is between the two drivers: five points behind Bourdais but seven ahead of Pantano.