F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

Week of the 25th of October:

Something a little bit special for Mika...

Contrary to expectations, McLarens hopes for the Japanese Grand Prix - and world Drivers Championship - may not come down solely to the latest Bridgestones and improved reliability: their latest engine boasts some 814hp - more than even the powerful Ferrari unit.

Rumours have this as the engine of choice for the weekend, though realistically, the team is most likely only to use it for qualifying - as Mika Hakkinen failing to finish will almost certainly hand Michael Shumacher the title...

This explains some of the staggering times David Coultard managed in testing for McLaren, bettering his team mate significantly in some sessions. Undoubtedly this was down to testing the new power plant.


Headache for Eddie Jordan

Just as we thought it was all over, it appears Ralf Shumacher might be sueing his former employer over another matter: money.

The rumor has it that Eddie is in arrears in paying Ralf for driving and testing services this year, and consequently is being sued for quarter of a million pounds.

Whilst Eddie is known for not splashing his money around, should this rumour prove true, it would be something of a departure for the Irishman: he is known for frugality, not for not witholding!


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Another Grand Prix bid from the USA

After the Las Vegas deal fell through, Tommy Baker is up against it trying to get a deal together for a race in Orange County, California.

This is not as crazy as it seems - the sport carries some popularity in the area, and there local authorities are definitely receptive to the idea. The biggest sticking point will undoubtedly prove to be getting the whole deal together before the November deadline. It's tight!

Whichever way it goes, a Grand Prix in the USA is now almost certain for the year 2000.


Nissan's backtracking in F1

Despite the recent interest in Formula One by the major Japanese care manufacturers, Nissan are not going to be making an entry any time soon.

It was well known as little as two years ago Nissan were considering an Engine deal to get into F1, but with the recent decline in the global economy, they no longer think it provides a value for money approach.

The official line is "We are not looking at [Formula One] at all. We're concentrating on rallying, touring cars and Le Mans."

The real question is, once they've achieved their goals in the other motor sports, will Nissan look for some involvement in Formula One? The odds are strong that the old plans will be reopened, once they've seen the benefits for Honda and Toyota.


Tuero's trouble getting seated at Minardi

It appears the Mindardi may have little choice but to lose their Argentine driver, Esteban Tuero. Since the Argentinean Grand Prix was dropped from the F1 1999 calendar, Tuero and his sponsors have been put into a difficult position for raising the 2.5 million dollars that Minardi require to secure his seat.

The Minardi team runs on such a tight budget that it simply cannot afford to compete in the championship without the drivers bringing in capital. In this case, with the Argentinean president, Carlo Menem, doing everything within his power to get the race back on the calendar - he even met with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone - there is a realistic chance that things could change and we'll see Tuero driving at the back of the grid again next year.


Tough on Teams in Formula One

With the news of three Lotus Formula directors being banned from directorship, it seems that the hopes and dreams of another formula one team have taken a sorry turn for the worse. Recent news in from the Britsh High Court found the directors responsible for the bad state the company was in. There had been rumours that the companies attempts to pick up sponsorship had taken a turn for the better, with potential interest from a middle eastern team that wanted to get into Formula One.

Sadly, with the downturn in the global economy, the restriction to 12 teams in Formula One, and now the banning the the directors, it seems that Lotus are back at square one. It will be a while before they are seen in on the grid again.

On a slightly different note, the current financial difficulties Arrows face could be a blessing in disguise... if they make it through the next year, particularly if they can find a tobacco sponsor and keep the engine program running, then there is a strong possibility that Toyota will enter in the year 2000 as engine supplier - and by taking advantage of the two years Arrows have already put into their Engine program, can hope for some sort of performance and reliability from the outset... the Arrows engine is known for its excellent drivability, but is low on top end power; the reliability has improved with the season, and should be acceptable next year.


Anderson moves on...

Finally, Gary Anderson seems to be settled to go to Stewart, after the tussle between Stewart and Arrows comes to an end. He was known to be unhappy about going to Arrows, once it became apparent that the team would not need a new car until the 2000 season, and even then he would not have complete control of the new design, and a tight budget.

Moving to Stewart makes more sense, as he gets to play a significant role in next years car (which is already in progress under the direction of Alan Jenkins), a larger budget, and the whole design of the 2000 season car.

Being known for his ability to produce cars with exceptional mechanical performance on a tight budget, it will be interesting to see how the 2000 season Stewart stacks up against the 2000 season Jordan: the expected change to the rules for that season should increase reliance on mechanical performance against the currently overwelming requirement for aerodynamic efficiency. Jordans new designer is known for his work in this field, but is not so strong in the mechanical arena.

F1 Rumors would like to wish Gary Anderson all the best for his time with Stewart - and expect him to help put another team amongst the front runners, making the races more exciting for all!


All change in the F1 Calendar

In line with the growth plans of the FIA, all the current teams have signed an agreement allowing the race calendar to be extended to 20 races by the year 2000.

Next years calendar is already at 17 races... and Argentina trying to get back in on the act. The Argentine circuit has a contract that would have included it in next years calendar, until the officianados at the FIA became concerned about the world economic crisis engulfing the country. A recent change of direction at the circuit, thanks to some serious investors taking charge, has guarenteed the financial capacity to take on the event, but the calendar was already full.

Whilst it is unlikely for Argentina to be back on the scene next year, they are providing the official coverage against any circuit falling through, and now stand a high chance of making it back on the calendar for the year 2000.

That said, there are strong bids from Lebanon, South Africa, South Korea and the USA to host Grand Prix, and the FIA is known to be interested in lucrative new markets - especially where tobacco advertising is not banned - so there may be some surprise ommissions in the offing for the year 2000 calendar.


Power Struggle in 1999

The year ahead promises to be very exciting for the engine manufacturers.

In preperation for their own return to Formula One, Honda have major designs on next years power plant, intending their next generation engine (due for trials in winter testing) to start next season with nearly 840hp. Additionally, it seems they are making excellent ground on the efficiency of the engine, which will allow Jordan - and Honda if they get their car together - to run with as much as 10% less fuel next year - all with a 4kg weight reduction. A truely staggering achievement, if they can pull it off.

Hondas commitment to Formula One is to include running their own chassis, starting next year if the prototypes fly, but most likely for the year 2000. Independantly, the engine is being geared up with current front running team Jordan, to give Honda a realistic benchmark for the performance of their chassis.

The rumour mill has not given precise figures for the expected fuel consumption or power of next years Mercedes and Ferrari engines, but analysis on existing progress shows that it is going to be tight at the top (projecting 835hp for the Ferrari, and 830hp for the Mercedes plants). If Hondas plans to make the complete power, efficiency and weight saving come together, then should they keep the drivability it will be the engine of choice at the start of the year.

So, maybe Eddie Jordans boast that Damon Hill could be World Champion next year depends mostly on the car they build him - because the engine will certainly be a monster.

Further, should the Honda prototypes run well, we can hope the Honda entry to be in 1999, making it a season with McLaren, Ferrari, Williams, Benneton, BAR, Jordan and Honda all potentially competitive throughout. While teething problems for BAR and Honda may keep their points hopes down, the jump from four to seven major players is something of a prospect!


Ferrari Quicker off the Mark

According to rumors, Ferrari has found their answer to McLaren's clutch. This year, both Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard have made very good starts which is now thought to be thanks to a innovative clutch.

Ferrari is said to have developed a similar clutch system which should help Schumacher and Irvine get away cleanly from the grid in Japan. Eddie Irvine practiced starts last Thursday at Fiorano, but there's not official word from Ferrari on any new system.

Interestingly, Eddie made a blinding start at the last Grand Prix. At the time, there were rumours of a new clutch on his Ferrari, but it was denied. Michael Schumachers start was unremarkable - he has been struggling for a decent start all season - and the Ferrari team will want to change that for this last race of the season.

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