April 25, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Now the Argentinean driver, with just 21 career F-1 starts, has to be asking himself 'What’s next?'" With the season just four races in, his options are slim and yet he remains optimistic.
"We agreed to a separation with Prost," Mazzacane said. "Now, we’ll start evaluating some offers we had not taken care of before, due to our commitments with Prost Grand Prix. I don’t want to talk more about it now".
Formula One teams rarely shift their lineup midseason, but early reports have linked Mazzacane to Minardi, whom he drove for in 2000. He would replace a struggling Tarso Marques, but team principal Giancarlo Minardi has dismissed the reports, saying Mazzacane had his chance with the team last year.
"Mazzacane made a choice at the end of 2000, leaving my team," said Minardi. "I’m very sorry about what has happened to him but if he had taken another decision he could be driving a F-1 car. Now our team has other plans, and I don’t think there is any chance that Gastón might replace Marques."
As insistent as Minardi is, there is no denying that Mazzacane carries a sponsorship of South American-based PSN in his back pocket, and the Minardi team is yet unsponsored.
Mazzacane’s manager said they are in talks with two teams, the other believed to be Arrows.
Arrows Not Predicting Change with Traction Control
Arrows' Technical Director Mike Coughlan believes the return of traction control in Spain this weekend will make little difference to lap times. Like everyone else, Arrows has had its test team busy since the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola as it prepared its traction control software.
Test driver Jonny Kane and Jos Verstappen were dispatched to Vairano in Italy for a private test where the team ran both the A22 and A21 prototype for a series of aerodynamic and software tests.
Coughlan has had much on his mind leading up to this week's race and he spelled out exactly what he thinks of the return of traction control.
"Traction control is going to make very little difference to lap times," he said. "It is during the race where it will come into its own as the cars will be easier to drive, the tires will last longer and the drivers will make less mistakes. This will impact on overtaking, making it harder as it is usually when the driver in front makes a mistake that you get past."
In fact, Coughlan said the biggest benefit traction control offers is a level playing field of competition.
"There are no question marks over who has these systems and who doesn't," Coughlan said. "Launch control is a little trickier to master and could throw up a few surprises. We have yet to match a classic Verstappen start with a computer so there is a fine balance to be achieved there. It will be an interesting weekend."
Lionel de Castro of Arrows engine provider Asiatech is content with the progress made with the engine this season.
"The improving reliability of the Asiatech engine helped Enrique (Bernoldi) to a fine tenth place (in Imola)," he said. "It shows that all the team's hard work is now paying off. With numerous modifications to come, we are all looking forward to the coming races."
Badoer Performs Shakedown at Fiorano
Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer was the sole runner at Fiorano Monday as the team furthered their preparations for the Grand Prix of Spain.
The Italian performed shakedown duties on two of the F2001 chassis that will be used this weekend, completing nine practice starts as well as four pit stops. The four-hour session finished at 7.00 p.m., by which time Badoer had logged a best time of 1:01.130.
Looking ahead, Rubens Barrichello has been considering the threat from Michelin, who with their win in Imola look like they will be a real problem for Bridgestone this year. Nevertheless, the Brazilian is confident the Japanese tire company will do whatever it takes to beat their French rivals.
"Bridgestone is working at a very fast pace and at the moment I think there is no clear advantage for either tire company,” Barrichello said. “For sure, it is in Bridgestone's best interests to keep up with Michelin and they do have the resources to do the job and I am fully confident in their work."
Ferrari also found out in Imola that the Williams challenge is a real one and Barrichello rates their BMW engine highly.
"Their engine is definitely one of their major strengths,” he said. “I think that on the chassis side, we might be better and we have a more balanced car. But their engine allows them to have better top speed on the straights. Of course they had a very good tire in Imola."