OCTOBER 17, 2000

Telefonica announce Formula One pull-out

SPANISH telecommunications giant Telefonica announced on Tuesday that they will pull out their sponsorship of Formula One casting serious doubts over the future of Minardi driver Marc Gene.

Telefonica, who backed Italian minnows Minardi through Spaniard Gene, decided to pull out of the sport after claiming the offers they had received were not in the best interests of the company.

"Telefonica have decided not to renew their sponsorship agreements with Formula One as from next season after considering that the various options available do not meet the aims of the company," a statement read.

Panamercian Sports Network (PSN), who support Gene's Argentine team-mate Gaston Mazzacane, took over the majority shareholding in Minardi this year and prompted a number of teams to vie for backing from Telefonica.

Prost were courting Telefonica after losing funding from Gauloises and were linked with appointing Gene as their second driver for the 2001 season alongside Jean Alesi.