F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

Week of the 18th of October:

Ecclestone wants money

It is rumored Bernie Ecclestone wants 8.5 million dollar before he wants to host a Grand Prix in Argentina, this was said by a local newspaper in Argentina. A lot of businessmen from Argentina are currently working on a new plan to get a Formula One Grand Prix in Argentina next season.

The FIA announced the provisional calendar last week, the Grand Prix of Argentina was not scheduled for next season. There's still a chance there will be a Grand Prix in the South American country if Malaysia, Hungary, San Marino or China is unable to host a Grand Prix. Even the president of Argentina, Carlos Menem, is trying to confince Ecclestone to host a Grand Prix in his country.


Irvine to be replaced?

Rumours of a possible replacement of Eddie Irvine for the last Grand Prix of the season are again going around. The Irish driver is suffering a back-ache almost since the start of the season. The tailor-made seat of the Lear company did help, but the 32-year-old has been suffering badly lately from his back-ache.

Possible replacement drivers include Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer but also Sauber driver Jean Alesi has been connected with this possible replacement. Ferrari did not want to comment is still counting on Irvine to drive. It will be important for Ferrari to have a competitive driver in the second car, as his performance might be crucial in the race as was demonstrated last year.


Engine stakes hot up as Ferrari pass 800bhp

It is widely believed that Ferrari have broken the 800hp barrier - which is good news for Sauber next year too! It is thought that the Ferrari power plant is now distinctly the most powerful on the circuit, followed closely by the Mercedes and Honda units.

That isn't the whole story, however, as McLaren still benefit from the excellent drivability of the Mercedes power plant - some think the new Honda might be more drivable, judging by reports from the last Barcelona test where Damon Hill was getting incredible traction out of corners - but it still appears to have the best combination of power and drivability in the field.


Drivers on the move...

Rumour has it that Jordan and Williams have come to an agreement over their drivers futures: both Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Ralf Shumacher can expect to be released early from their contracts, allowing them to test for their new teams at the Bridgestone tyre test after the Suzuka Grand Prix.

This represents a particularly unexpected turn of events from Williams, after the way they held Damon Hill to his contract on moving to Arrows, preventing him from testing until the new year... With the news that some teams will not be at the test (Ferrari in particular), there can be less enthusiasm for comparison between teams that were on different rubber, so this is a welcome change of policy... allowing each driver to test his mettle in the others race-car from the last race of the season.

Then we'll see if Eddie Jordan got the deal he expects with HH in Ralf's car!


Prost to run new car in Japan

The Prost team looks likely to run its AP01B in Suzuka after its success in recent tests. The evolution of the team's troublesome AP01 has a new gearbox, suspension an a new Peugeot V10 and is said to be as much as one second a lap faster in race trim.

It is rumored that Jarno Trulli will run the single AP01B that will be taken to Japan though the decision is yet to be finalised.


Will the Ferrari 98 challenge make 1999 a difficult year?

Ferrari's 1999 car might be compromised by the introduction of next years parts...

It could be that Ferrari does not show the same jump in performance that most of the other teams are expecting for next year after introducing a number of parts intended for next years car onto this years car. Whilst the reliability for those parts should be improved next year from the extra running, the fantastic reliability Ferrari have shown this year could suffer in the last race from utilising parts that are not fully tested.

In addition, the normal development cycle is compromised as attempts to continue this years linear development could be at the expense of the normal annual evolution... though if any team has the resources to attempt this, it is Ferrari.

With the resounding change of pace in the second half of the season, Eddie Jordan has been proclaiming the strength of his team, stating his belief in a realistic challenge for the title next year. With rumors of serious power coming from Honda, and Ferrari putting so much effort into this years car, it is might not be impossible to see Jordan running ahead of Ferrari at the start of next year...

...and wouldn't that be something to see!


Zanardi's the Right man for the job!

During the Surface CART race last weekend, the commentators mentioned that one of the reasons Zanardi wasn't as quick as Montoya in the recent Williams test was that he could not get used to using his left foot for braking. It seems he has asked for a right foot system to be built in to next years car for him.

This is not without precedant, as Williams have had to run seperate systems for their drivers in the past - Damon Hill only started using left foot braking when he started with Jordan this year.


Richards to Arrows?

The ailing Arrows team, led by Walkinshaw, might make a bid for the services of Richards in light of his recent departure from Benneton. Richards experience and expertise in motorsport are almost without parallel, and the obvious benefits to the Arrows team - who are still smarting from the loss of Barnard and lacking a top name design leader - far outway the problems of having two heavyweight team leaders at the top.

It's got the potential to move Arrows into the top of the grid - watch out Benetton, your nemesis may be Arrows!


Argentina to be re-instated?

The Argentina race looks set to return for 2000 if not 1999 - a new consortium have taken it over with a view to placing it back on the calendar. The FIA might still sanction the race if they can find a place it. No teams have yet spoken out against a race at the circuit that produced the first exciting race last year, and was memorable for being called the 'Mickey Mouse' Kart track, and for Michael Shumacher taking out David Coultard, whilst Alex Wurz made a name for passing in excellent fashion.


Argentine GP in reserve

Argentina is reserve (not on calendar) due to the international financial crisis that is just starting to hit South America: new organizers are attempting to get the race reinstated and will also be attempting to secure a GP for 2000.


Improved Stewart for Japan?

Team Stewart might have found something a bit special with the drive train in their car - some testing times last week were remarkably good. Look to see a revived performance in Japan, where they and Prost will be looking for signs of improvement on the seasons form.

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