DECEMBER 2, 1996

Larini for Sauber-Ferrari

THE Sauber and Ferrari teams have, as expected, finally managed to sort out the details of their engine supply deal for 1997 and 1998 and the Swiss team will thus run 1996-spec Ferrari V10 engines - although these will probably be rebadged "Sauber Petronas". Ferrari will establish "a structure" which will work with Sauber to develop the engines. This is expected to be independent of the Ferrari competition department and is expected to involve some of the engineers who have been involved in recent years on the Alfa Romeo touring car program.

As part of the deal Ferrari has insisted that its faithful test driver Nicola Larini join Sauber as Johnny Herbert's team mate for the 1997 season. Larini's experience will be very useful as the 32-year-old has spent the last five seasons doing Ferrari's F1 development work, while racing with considerable success in the Alfa Romeo factory touring car team. He won the prestigious German Touring Car title in 1993. He has raced for Ferrari on four occasions - his best result being second place at the infamous San Marino GP in 1994.

From a motor racing family - Nicola's father was a longtime club competitor in Italy and his uncle died at the wheel of a factory Alfa Romeo touring car at the Spa 24 Hours of 1973 - Nicola won the Italian F3 Championship in 1986 with the Coloni team and made his F1 debut with the team in 1987. He went on to race for the Osella, Ligier and Modena teams before deciding he was wasting his time in uncompetitive machinery and accepted Ferrari's offer of employment.

The cancellation of the International Touring Car Championship meant that Larini had no racing plans for 1997 - except as co-owner (with his Alfa Romeo team mate Sandro Nannini) of the Starspeed rally team, which runs Fiat 500s in Italy.