SPANIARD Fernando Alonso will drive for the Minardi Formula One team this season as part of a loan deal with the Renault-owned Benetton team.
``We knew this three months ago but we had to wait until after today's Renault presentation,'' Alonso's agent, Adrian Campos, said.
Campos said Minardi, bought last week by Australian Paul Stoddart, would make an official announcement about the deal today.
Earlier yesterday, Alonso appeared at the launch of the Benetton B201 in Venice wearing the blue Benetton team overalls and said he had a contract at present only with that team and not Minardi.
But the 19-year-old Alonso did suggest a deal with Minardi was in the offing.
He said he expected an announcement shortly but added that ``nothing is decided yet''.
Benetton team principal Flavio Briatore, who helped Alonso to work towards a super licence late last year with a testing session in Spain, also hinted that a deal would be done with the perennial tailenders.
``Maybe we will lend him to Minardi this year if Minardi race,'' Briatore said.
Stoddart said the team was ready to race with its new car.
The season starts in Melbourne on March 4 but Minardi has yet to confirm its drivers.