Motor Racing: Mansell rumours ebb and flow: Speculation remains in top gear over British driver's future

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The Independent Online
WHILE hope persists in Europe that Nigel Mansell will return to Formula One this year many observers on the IndyCar circuit believe the British driver will stay put for the remainder of 1994.

Some say that Mansell, who yesterday took provisional pole for tomorrow's IndyCar race here, lacks the stamina to compete in both disciplines. The travelling alone, criss-crossing the Atlantic, would be punishing. Others argue that Mansell has little to gain by driving a Williams car that appears to be off the pace in Formula One. He has a great deal to lose should his performances be disappointing. Critics would find as much fault with the driver as with the car.

Such drawbacks, however, appear to be surmontable, for Mansell, according to some sources, has agreed to drive in four grands prix, starting with the French on 3 July, for which he will be paid pounds 1m per race.

Most observers seem resigned to the idea that this is likely to be Mansell's last season here. As reigning champion he has little else to prove as an IndyCar driver. He would still like to win the Indy 500 but this year's experience left him sufficiently shaken and disillusioned that the race may have lost its allure.

Mansell may well drive a full season in Formula One next year, but his best years in Formula One are well past and there is little to prove by returning. The only thing that might draw him back is a belief that he has something more to contribute to the sport.

Finally, there is a small contingent who argue that Mansell now has other priorities, that his family, his own health and happiness, and his sense of his place in motor sport history are more important than driving racing cars.