Argentine television giant Pan-American Sport Network [PSN] has bought a major stake in the struggling Minardi team, securing its place on the Formula One grid for next season.

The shares acquired belonged to majority stakeholder Gabriele Rumi, who has decided to get out of the grand prix scene after keeping Minardi afloat through the most difficult period in its history. Despite being the most friendly, and among the best loved, teams on the grid, the Faenza minnow has constantly survived on the smallest budget, restricting its achievements to just a handful of points finishes in over 250 appearances.

''This is a really sad moment,'' Rumi said, ''but it is a matter of giving a future to the team. I have done everything for Minardi, but Formula One now requires massive investment, and the United States Grand Prix was my final race.''

PSN is rumoured to have paid $50million for Rumi's stake in the team, and its involvement is almost certain to see Gaston Mazzacane retained for a second season, courtesy of his nationality. Team-mate Marc Gene, however, is rumoured to be transferring to Prost, complete with the Telefonica sponsorship that has adorned the Minardis this season.

Despite the departure of his long-time business partner, team founder Giancarlo Minardi retains his holding in the team.


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