JULY 19, 1999

Changes coming at Minardi (again)

Rumors in Italy suggest that Gabriele Rumi is planning to sell his shares in the Minardi team at the end of the year and there has been talk of a Spanish consortium buying his shareholding in the team. The stories suggested that Minardi sponsor Telefonica would get together with oil company Repsol - which sponsors Pedro de la Rosa - to create a team with two Spanish drivers.

The team - in which Rumi is believed to have a 70% shareholding - involves Giancarlo Minardi, who now controls only 14.5% of the shares, and a group of Italian businessmen who together have another 15.5%. Minardi however seems to have control of the voting rights of the company because he refuses to move the team away from its base in Faenza.

Rumi joined the team hoping to lift it to a new level of competitiveness but the plan has not been a great success and the team is now struggling to find an engine for next year. While the obvious solution would be for Minardi to find the money to buy Supertec engines, we have heard of renewed attempts to convince Fiat to supply the team with old Ferrari engines - perhaps badged differently - in a similar deal to that enjoyed by Sauber. The only drawback is that such a deal would cost around $18.5m.