NOVEMBER 13, 1995
So who goes to Sauber?
THE Red Bull Sauber Ford team is expected to announce within a matter of days who is to join Heinz-Harald Frentzen in 1996.
We understand that the choice is now down to just two drivers: Mark Blundell and Johnny Herbert. We believe that Herbert is the first choice - having won two races this year for Benetton - but that he is not happy at the prospect of playing second fiddle to Frentzen, having been overshadowed this year by Michael Schumacher. Johnny is, therefore, in discussion with Tyrrell.
Ken Tyrrell would certainly like to sign up Johnny to partner Mika Salo next year, but in order to do so needs to find more money because the team's Japanese sponsors will probably leave if Ukyo Katayama does not get a 1996 drive. Engine supplier Yamaha are also very keen to keep hold of Katayama.
Herbert's only other real choice would seem to be Ligier, although the French team is also looking for money.
Our sources tell us that in the end Tyrrell will probably keep Katayama, which will force Herbert to go to Sauber or Ligier, thus forcing Mark Blundell out of F1. On Monday after Adelaide, Blundell caught a plane across the Pacific, bound for the UnitedÊStates for talks with Indycar teams.
Mercedes Motorsport boss Norbert Haug says that the German car-maker is planning to help Mark find work - even if it is not in F1.
"We will give him our support to further his career in motor racing," Haug said after the race in Adelaide on Sunday. Such support could be very attractive to an Indycar team as Blundell will probably be able to secure Mercedes-Benz Indycar engines or, at least, a good deal on engine rebuilds. Sauber, however, is not willing to wait for the drivers to decide, and we hear that the Swiss intend to make a decision within the next 10 days.
Sauber's pursuit of a new technical director continues, although rumors now say that Ferrari's Gustav Brunner is currently trying to negotiate a release from his contract.