Who is Minardi's mystery driver?

Paul Stoddart likes to tease the press from time to time and has just let it be known that he is very close to signing one of his drivers for next season - but he's not saying who until next weekend at the earliest. Stoddart has made it very clear that this year he needs to have drivers with both talent and money but as there is no shortage of drivers on the market this is apparently not going to be as difficult as had been thought.

There are strong rumours in Holland that the driver who will be named first will be a Dutchman and the obvious conclusion would be that this will be Jos Verstappen. Verstappen was waiting to see the team conclude its engine deal with Cosworth and should be able to raise the kind of money that Stoddart has been looking for - which is believed to be around $5m for the season. The odd thing is that the Verstappen camp has been very quiet in recent days. The other man who might conceivably fit the bill is Christjian Albers, who has been closely associated with the team since he raced as Mark Webber's team mate with the European Formula 3000 team in 2000. Albers has been quietly working away with the team since then, doing both normal tests and runs with the Minardi two-seaters.

Britain's Justin Wilson is still in the hunt but does not have enough money while Anthony Davidson has made it clear that he is not going to raise the money to buy a drive and will thus have to hope that a drive will open up for him in the future. In the current financial climate this is a dangerous move as he may never get a chance without money changing hands.

Others who might be in the hunt are Giorgio Pantano and Americans Bryan Herta and Townsend Bell.

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