APRIL 27, 1998

Verstappen to Stewart?

THERE was considerable rumoring in the Imola paddock that the beleaguered Stewart team will shortly drop Danish driver Jan Magnussen and replace him with the more experienced Dutchman Jos Verstappen, who has been out of work since he was dropped by Tyrrell at the end of last year. Magnussen has struggled to come to terms with F1 and has not been helped by the fact that last year Stewart management had little time to help him as they were too busy building up the company and the deficiencies of this year's Stewart package.

Negotiations with Verstappen have been going on for a week and we understand that Jos is demanding rather more money than Stewart wishes to pay and a solid deal for 1999 as well. It is not, however, a very strong negotiating position as there are not many drivers who want to drive for the team although there may be F3000 drivers with money available for the drive. The Stewart team is not lacking in experience as Rubens Barrichello has been in F1 for the last six seasons so it is likely that Verstappen's manager Huub Rothengatter will have to lower his financial demands if he wants to get Jos back into F1.

We also hear that Stewart is planning to replace technical director Alan Jenkins and that Tyrrell's Mike Gascoyne has been in contact with the Milton Keynes team.