Shinji Nakano has taken a step closer to retaining his Minardi drive, thanks largely to Ferrari.

The Italian giant apparently refused to release test driver Luca Badoer to drive for its smaller neighbour, thereby removing Nakano's only real opposition for the seat. Ferrari's decision is thought to have been based on the fact that Minardi would have required some of the team's Marlboro sponsorship to take Badoer, who is known to be short of backing.

Nakano's own sponsorship position has yet to be finalised, although he is known to be better funded than Badoer, but it is expected that he will once again line-up alongside Argentine team-mate Esteban Tuero.



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