OCTOBER 2, 1995

Tyrrell drive up for grabs

UKYO KATAYAMA missed the European Grand Prix last weekend, his doctors suggesting it would be best for him to rest after his Portuguese crash rather than rush back before he is better. His place at the Nurburgring was taken by Tyrrell's test and reserve driver Gabriele Tarquini.

Katayama's future at Tyrrell was much in discussion in the paddock at the Nurburgring. It has been assumed for some time that Katayama will be staying at Tyrrell alongside Mika Salo, but we hear that the Japanese driver may not be at the top of Tyrrell's list. To date Katayama has supplied Tyrrell with strong Japanese connections and money, but if other sponsorship deals being discussed come to fruition the team might be able to choose a driver on the basis of talent rather than money.

If this is the case, we expect that Tyrrell will be making a strong bid for Johnny Herbert, who visited the Tyrrell headquarters at Ockham, England, recently. There are also talks going on with Italian Gianni Morbidelli and Dutchman Jos Verstappen. In addition, there is no shortage of drivers around with at least a little money who might like to buy the drive.

If it comes to bidding for the drive, Katayama will probably stay because he brings money from Mild Seven, Apan and several other smaller Japanese sponsors. There are, however, some impressive budgets - or at least the promise of them - being hawked around. Taki Inoue is rumored to have $11 million available for the 1996 season. F3000 Champion VincenzoƊSospiri is said to have $4m and Brazilian F3000 driver Ricardo Rosset $3m. Aguri Suzuki is also believed to have a Japanese sponsor worth at least $4m.

Herbert is by no means certain to join Tyrrell as he has opportunities with Sauber, Ligier and with the Ganassi Indycar team. Verstappen is also talking to Sauber and Ligier in addition to Arrows.