Dutch IT company Trust has dissolved its partnership with the Minardi team, and is tipped to be helping Jos Verstappen find a ride elsewhere for 2004.

The announcement comes in the wake of Minardi's announcement that Hungarian Zsolt Baumgartner has been handed a provisional contract for next season, joining Italy's Gianmaria Bruni in the squad and effectively ending any hopes either Verstappen or 2003 team-mate Justin Wilson had of returning to the team in 2004.

According to a statement issued by the company, 'elaborate' conversations had been held with Minardi team boss Paul Stoddart regarding the future of the team apparently led to the decision that Verstappen would not appear with the Italian team next season.

"Jos Verstappen will not be on the grid for the Minardi F1 team in the season of 2004," the statement confirmed, "After various complex discussions between Paul Stoddart, Trust and the driver's management regarding the developments within, and the future of, the Minardi F1 team, it has been decided that the partnership with the Minardi F1 team will not continue for another year.

"All possibilities for Jos within the team were discussed and examined in detail. The lack of confidence - from Trust, Jos Verstappen and his management - with regard to positive technical developments from the Minardi team was a major decisive factor. Both parties estimate chances for improvement of the achievements of the F1 car as very small.

"It is because of this that Trust, as a manufacturer of technological products, feels it inappropriate to be associated with a team that lacks in technical development and achievements. Despite these aspects, Trust is extremely positive about the achieved commercial results of sponsoring Minardi and would like to thank Paul Stoddart for the his considerable co-operation during the past season."

Minardi's decision to award Baumgartner a provisional contract means that there is now only one definite driver vacancy for the 2004 season - with the Hungarian's previous employer Jordan.

Verstappen is known to be interested in the seat, as he strives to remain on the grid for another year, but already faces competition from three British drivers - who would appeal to title sponsor Benson and Hedges - as well as several others. It has to be expected, however, that Trust - as well as the Dutchman's other sponsors - will begin talking to Eddie Jordan with a view to Verstappen possibly partnering Nick Heidfeld at the Silverstone-based team next year. The German is currently operating on a contract that requires the confirmation of a sufficient sponsorship package before he will race.

Wilson, Allan McNish and 2003 Jordan driver Ralph Firman are all rumoured to be in contention for the other seat at Jordan, which has also tested Czech youngster Jaroslav Janis in the run-up to Christmas.



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