AUGUST 16, 2002
Minardi to test Russian driver
The Minardi team is to test Russian driver Sergey Zlubin as part of the deal between the team and the Russian gas company Gazprom. The company hopes to assist Zlubin to become the first Russian driver in the World Championship and the program will begin this autumn with Zlubin completing 700km of testing for the team.
The deal with Gazprom is for three years and Gazprom hopes to use the program not only to built up the company's international image but also to help Russia develop international racing drivers.
It is anticipated that the deal will end up with the Russians buying a percentage of the Minardi team although Paul Stoddart is expected to remain in charge. Ironically, it was Giancarlo Minardi who worked to find the Gazprom deal, despite the fact that the team that bears his name is now 100%-owned by Stoddart (at least for the moment).
There is a certain irony in the fact that Stoddart had landed a big Russian deal while his F1 rival Tom Walkinshaw is struggling to keep the idea of a Russian GP alive.
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