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Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 09:17 GMT
Minardi loses Telefonica backing
Minardi
Telefonica has withdrawn from MInardi and F1
The Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica has pulled out of its sponsorship of Formula One.

The news is more of a blow to the other outfits that have been chasing the huge amount of money available from the company than to Minardi, which is assured of backing after being bought by the Argentinian cable TV company PSN.

The other teams chasing Telefonica for 2001 include Prost, which had been linked to Telefonica and the Minardi driver it supports, Marc Gene, as well as Benetton and Sauber.

The move also raises doubts about Gene's future in F1 - he was promoted to the Minardi outfit thanks to its sponsorship of the team, which started in 1999.

Marc Gene
Gene's seat is now in doubt

Telefonica, one of the biggest telecommunications companies in the world, was being chased by almost every team in F1, but has given no reason for its withdrawal.

"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 said.

The company confirmed that it will be continuing its involvement in rallying and motorcycling.

Minardi was bought last month by the Argentinian cable TV network PSN, which took a majority shareholding in the company.

Its involvement could have been the reason for Telefonica's withdrawal. PSN owns the digital TV rights for F1 in South America, a region in which Telefonica also has major interests.

Minardi's other driver, Gaston Mazzacane from Argentina, is expected to keep his seat. He is supported by PSN.

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See also:

26 Sep 00 |  Motorsport
Minardi taken over by TV company
06 Oct 00 |  Motorsport
Prost happy with team's future
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