Rising stars Nick Heidfeld and Ricardo Zonta could find themselves driving for Minardi in F1 next season - thanks to McLaren.

The Woking team has both drivers under contract following their successes in F3 and F3000 last year, but could be forced to release them in 1999 if they don't find F1 drives. Naturally, the team is reluctant to lose two such talents, and is trying hard to find them suitable employment for next season. It is thought, therefore, that team boss Ron Dennis has been in touch with the Minardi outfit, with a view to placing one or both drivers with the Italian team.

Minardi has had reasonable season in 1998 with pay drivers Esteban Tuero and Shinji Nakano, and has already been linked with Ricardo Rosset for next year. With Tuero already thought likely to stay with the team, there may not be a vacancy for either of McLaren's proteges, although financial incentives may yet swing the situation.

Heidfeld and Zonta are thought to have other options, however, with Jordan taking an interest in both drivers. Zonta has also been mentioned in connection with the vacant seat at BAR.



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