MAY 28, 2003

Gazprom for McLaren?

We hear whispers from the F1 paddock that McLaren is about to announce a sponsorship deal with Russian gas company Gazprom. The company had agreed to a deal with Minardi but that relationship broke down this year, apparently because the money did not arrive. Minardi has now replaced the Gazprom decals on the cars. If a deal has been struck by McLaren, it will not go down well with Paul Stoddart, the boss of Minardi.

Stoddart and Dennis were at loggerheads over the winter over remarks made by the McLaren boss but it appeared that there was a settlement in Melbourne where the two men met to discuss the various issues involved. Stoddart came away from that meeting with the impression that the big teams would help him to survive this year but there has been no sign of any financial assistance and if McLaren has now picked up one of Minardi's sponsors, the Australian is likely to be fairly voluble on Thursday afternoon.