OCTOBER 21, 2000

Diniz confirms Prost talks are ongoing

BRAZILIAN Pedro Diniz confirmed on Friday that he is in talks with Prost - but denied strong paddock rumors that his father Abilio is to invest in the struggling French team.

Diniz, who ended Friday's free practice 16th quickest for Sauber, revealed that he is in talks with Alain Prost over the possibility of partnering Jean Alesi next year when the team will be powered by Ferrari engines.

But he said he knew nothing of a strong paddock rumor that his father will buy a majority share in the Guyancourt-based team after Prost's major sponsor Gauloises Blondes announced their withdrawal last month.

"I have had very close contact with Prost for next year," Diniz said. "It should be better there than it was there this year, as they have the Ferrari contact.

"I don't know when it will go ahead, as there are still a lot of important decisions that are floating around that need to be made. But I know nothing about my father buying the team."

Diniz spoke in an FIA press conference with his current boss Peter Sauber sat alongside him. Sauber, speaking about his driver line-up for 2001, made no reference to the Brazilian.

"We have been testing a lot in Mugello and Kimi Raikkonen has been very good," Sauber said. "We are very impressed by him. We will think about him in our future a lot."

Diniz's team-mate Mika Salo endured a nightmare practice session as he ended 19th quickest. The Finn spun in the second session and struggled to match the pace of the top drivers.