SEPTEMBER 29, 1997
Spaniards eyeing F1
RUMORS in the Luxembourg Grand Prix paddock suggested that Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa, who has recently clinched the Formula Nippon Championship in Japan, will be moving into F1 next season with backing from the Spanish oil company Repsol.
Repsol is a big player in motor sport sponsorship, backing the factory Ford rally team - and driver Carlos Sainz - and the Honda World 500cc Motorcycle team.
There are suggestions that Sainz has recently signed a deal to work with the factory Toyota rally team - which is supported by Castrol. If this is the case, the Repsol budget cannot go with him and may be made available to de la Rosa to ease his way into F1. The only current vacancies are with Tyrrell and Minardi - both of which will be using the Ford V10 engine next season.
The most likely berth for de la Rosa is the Minardi team, presumably as team-mate to Brazilian Tarso Marques, who has a two-year contract with the team. Ukyo Katayama has been offered a drive if he can bring sponsorship from Mild Seven.