Week of the 8th November 1998:
Ferrari's 1999 Contender
With the success of the McLaren in 1998, Ferrari have paid special
attention to the details that were so beneficial to the Woking team in
the earlier races... The F650 is an inherently 'long wheelbase' car,
with the extra length built in to the body, giving it the same 'long
nose' look McLaren had this year.
To compensate for this, much of the ballast mass has been shifted
forward to balance the centres of gravity and aerodynamic downforce -
not a problem for the fundamentally light Ferrari.
The F650 rear suspension will be remarkably similar to that used by
McLaren this year, utilising a double action. It will consist of a
metal double cylinder in two sections at the end of the rear
suspension... controlling the behaviour of the tail, responding
differently as the speed and the track situations change.
The driving position is relatively low in the cockpit, both reducing
turbulence behind the drivers helmet, and moving it further from the
air intake. This should assist the quest for maximum efficiency at
the air intake to the engine, enabling the power plant always to
operate at its best possible performance along the power curve. How
the new driving position affects Michael Schumacher (who prefers to be
relatively upright) is yet to be established.
In many respects, these changes will leave the Ferrari - superficially
at least - resembling a 1998 McLaren in Ferrari livery.
There are going to be some interesting differences, however:
The brakes are expected to be something a little bit special; the
Ferrari technicians are known to be studying changes to the mechanics of
the brakes that control the pressure of the "brake-bite". This should
legally improve the way of balancing the braking inserting into the
curve, without strictly being termed anti-lock braking. The goal is to
achieve the best braking (and acceleration) with a minimal tyre wear.
The engine is expected to be the next evolution of the already top of
the field V10 - producing around 835hp. With the continuous
development of the 3D mapping system, improved drivability will be an
important step forward here too. Another important step forward is
the much higher running temperature, allowing reduced radiator
exposure... so expect the sidepod air intakes to be smaller - allowing
better aerodynamics. They sidepods themselves cannot be significantly
smaller, or the car will fail the side impact tests.
More obvious will be the aerodynamic changes: look out for some extra
trappings on the car; there is a real possibility that Ferrari have
found a way around the banned T wing rule (McLaren 1995), enabling
devices in the form of 'flaps' to make an appearance... at least until
all the teams run them, and the FIA bans them.
It is suspected that the F650 has already made its first run...
During the final days preparing for the Japanese Grand Prix, the team
may have tested a disguised F650, calling it an F300 - in which case Ferrari's
official test driver Luca Badoer completing some 150 laps at the
Mugello circuit... who said the 1999 contender would suffer from this
What do you think of Ferrari's chances in 1999? Voice your opinion on
the F1 Forum.
Jaguar attempting to enter Formula One
Widely reported in the news is Ford's attempt to buy a top running
team, in an effort to promote the Jaguar name, and milk as much kudos
from the sport as Ferrari manages.
Exclusively, F1 Rumors can reveal the David Richards departure was
associated with the Benetton decision not to take advantage of
an offer from Ford: details of the deal remain unclear, and will
probably never surface, but it seems that Ford might well have been
supplying engines and a name to the Benetton team for 2000 or
The Benetton team has been jockying for position with BAR over
securing a works Renault deal when they return to Formula One, and
Richards saw opportunity with Ford. Benetton, it seems, disagreed,
and were sure they wanted the name unchanged, unless they sold the
whole team. Why the difference in opinion could not be worked out is
The Arrows team has been in a lot of difficulty getting their
sponsorship sorted out. Different rumours have major backers climbing
down over difficulties at home, or changes of direction; Pedro Diniz
has taken his substantial income elsewhere, and they have to fund
their own engine development.
It seems some things are finally going their way: the Yamaha/Toyota
link up might take the pressure off the engine development funding,
whilst a Nigerian business man is reported to have offered to buy 25%
of the team. Arrows have denied the sale, but something is definitely
afoot in this arena.
Bridgestone in trouble already!
Numerous teams have been up in arms over Bridgestones apparent
preferential treatment of Benneton, McLaren and Ferrari.
Ferrari are closing in on their new contract, which is not to be made
public: it seems they have required (and obtained) permission to test
at multiple sites; something no other team will currently be permitted to do
The current complaint from the Sazuka test was easy enough to deflect
- it was an FIA trial, not an official car test session. But if
Ferrari manage to get this consession without the other teams gaining
the same rights, there will be claims of foul play that are a lot
harder to live down.
Working with XOOM is proving difficult, so frequently only the
mirror is up to date, even when XOOM is allowing access to
homepages. Service has been so poor over the last couple of weeks
that we are currently looking for a sponsor to support us: we wish to
get our own domain name and server to improve service. If you are
interested, or know anyone who can help, then please contact us.
brighter note, our link with F1-Forum is now in place - please feel free to
express your own opinions on the current state of F1 there!
We are introducing a mailing list. We intend to post a weekly digest
of the weeks rumors, and let you know where the site is posted
when ISP problems prevent the normal access.
1999 Title Contenders
Speculation is rife that Ferrari may have shot its bolt, adding next
years components to this years car. Counter rumours from within the
camp insist that there is plenty more to come, possibly including a V12
engine (though fuel consumption issues may keep that from making it
into a race, even if it shows for qualifying) that has been on and off
the drawing board several times this year.
Title holders McLaren will be looking to maintain their hold, with
Adrian Newey promising bigger and better things for next year. In
traditional form, they are not making extravagent claims for their
future performance - in fact, they are crediting the smaller teams
with a chance to close the gap somewhat, as they use the experience of
the last year under the regulations in designing their new
Jordans Damon Hill has been quoted stating that next year will
probably not be theirs - the team has come forward in leaps and
bounds, but has to strive for the consistancy that the major players
achieve. Ferrari, Williams and McLaren in particular always seem to
produce cars that run at the top: so whilst they will be going for it
from the start, he really sees it as the beginning of a consolidation
Another concern for Jordan will be their engine supplier after next
year: the team will be relying on continuity with Honda for 1999, but
have not been able to extend the contract into 2000 yet. It is vital
for their long term goals that they secure this sort of deal...
F1 Experts Report
A recent report from a number of Formula One experts was submitted to
the FIA: in summary, the report recommends a number of changes,
including a 50% reduction in downforce, and 10% increases to both drag
and mechanical grip.
In light of comments by representatives of the FIA, the
recommendations are not likely to be taken up - they do not want
Formula One to become another CART series, where the biggest distinction
between teams is often the colour of the paintwork!
However, the report details a number of mechanisms that may play a
significant part in improving things, without an excessive change in
the current standards. Probably the best example is the proposal to
change the shape of the undertray and diffuser. The proposed change
would shift the centre of the aerodynamic effects forward, and
simultaneosly reducing the turbulance effect of the diffuser (keeping
the air cleaner for trailing cars).
This proposal would have interesting effects: the change to the
aerodynamic centre should result in more front and less rear wing in
order to keep the car properly balanced under braking; the increased
front wing would aid cornering, and be less compromised by the car in
front (which has reduced turbulance), allowing closer running through
medium and high speed corners.
This would permit an increase in overtaking opportunity both on the
straight after a faster corner, and through a long corner, as the car
becomes less nervous following. As a side benefit, there will be
fewer accidents from cars suddenly losing downforce in corners as they
get too close to the one in front, assisting the FIA in its quest for
The downside to any change is that, naturally, the biggest teams
benefit as they get another chance to exploit their large budgets, so
the benefits on track would probably not really be visible for a year
or so after the changes took place.
More Lotus Speculation
This speculation is better quality than usual - Lotus returning to
Formula One is one of the biggest sources of rumour outside the silly
In this case, there is some speculation that Sauber may end up driving
Lotus engines, through the tenuous connection: Petronas (Malaysian
national Oil and Gas company) has expressed interest in buying a
majority shareholding in Proton cars, which in turn owns a majority of
Whilst undoubtedly interesting, it would not provide a return to F1 for the
Lotus name, and has remarkably little to do with current technology -
the Lotus of the past was a chassis builder not an engine supplier,
and this is unlikely to change: but stranger things have happened in
Formula One... and its not much more far fetched than a Toyota link
up: both these options giving Sauber a chance to get away from Ferrari.
If you think you know how Lotus may make a comeback to Formula One,
please express your opinion on the F1 Forum.
Ferrari Engines - Powerful, unruly beasts
From a normally reliable source we hear Ferrari have
tested an engine which peaks 938hp - truly putting the cat amongst the
pigeons in the F1 arena. Whilst the figures are probably exaggerated,
it is entirely feasable that Ferrari have dropped something like this into
one of their cars: Schumacher recently tested an engine that allegedly
took three seconds off the Fiorano lap time, which is impressive.
The report on that trial spoke of both reliability and drivability
problems - the engine was exceptionally powerful, but even the
masterly Schumacher could not control it... current mapping technology
is excellent, but insufficient to the task of smoothing the power
curve of this monster without becoming exceptionally expensive on fuel.
It also seems that the tolerances may be too fine - the prototype
lasted under 50 laps on the track before breaking. But that is
more than enough for a qualifying session...
For me, the big question is 'how many cylinders'? The power
jump (and fuel consumption) imply a 12 cylinder engine... so we could
be looking at the return of the Ferrari V12!
Progress Report, class of 1999
Most teams appear to be on target to produce their usual January
release for next years contender - though some, notably Ferrari, will
have thir cars running out of livery some time beforehand. Those
looking to get their first cars out in December include Ferrari, BAR
and Honda. The last, should their Dallara based chassis surprise
everyone and be quick, might prompt a 1999 entry for the Japanese
McLaren have twice delayed the launch of their car whilst putting
extra time in at the wind tunnel, and twice stormed
the championship; this time, there should not be the same delay as
Adrian Newey has had the chance to get on top of the design from day
one: but the rumblings from Woking sound omminously like there is
something special on its way regardless.
There has been little news of when Prost is expecting their AP02 -
advanced designs in the year have been put back by changes of staff
and some rethinking based on the results of testing their hybrid
AP01B. Again, there is some expectation of improvements, but
realistically they are still expecting to start the season mixing with
One of this seasons bigger winners, in a manner of speaking, is Minardi:
being placed 10th in the championship means their travelling expenses
for next year will be met by the FIA, effectively increasing their
budget by something like a quarter: the extra money in development,
and the improved Ford deal, should give them the chance they need to
get into the points a couple of times next year. There are rumours that
the team has a few new things to try for the 1999 car, so perhaps
there is a mini surprise waiting to happen amongst the back
markers? Maybe 9th or 8th overall next year is not far fetched?
Jordan will probably be the first to launch their car - which may
benefit from the long time in testing as they (like the other ex
Goodyear teams) have to get to grips with setting up for Bridgestone
Roll on 1999...
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The Bridgestone Effect
Well, the results are in. Most of the teams that moved from Goodyear
to Bridgestone are finding it harder to adjustto their new rubber than
those that were on Bridgestone last year...
Jean Alesi in his Sauber had a particularly torid time - being three
seconds off the pace in the test. In this case, although he was flat
out, the harder tyres may well be working against him, because if
there is anything that will slow him down, it is understeer. And that
is precisely what the new tyres will have generated: harder compounds
with less rubber on the track providing less mechanical grip, and
plenty of understeer. Compensating with extra wing slows the car down,
either with extra drag, or poor balance into the braking zones
- so Sauber will have to bear in mind Jean's abhorance of understeer
in the design of next years car, making it their primary concern that
it can be dialled out without sacrificing too much speed. This detail
more than any other will affect the Frenchmans performance for the
year in 1999.
Damon Hill with Jordan is on record saying that they can work with the
new tyres - and although both the Jordan and Williams teams were
behind Benetton in the tests, insiders attribute the differene mostly
to setup, and Benettons extra year of working with Bridgestone, rather
than other differences between the cars.
Significantly, Bridgestone themselves expect next years lap times to
be approximately what they were in 1996. It remains to be seen for
sure what there plans are for tyre development through the year, but
with Ferrari already making waves (they wish to be allowed to test at
two tracks simultaneously), the future is very much in flux: a lot of
time and effort will be wasted fire fighting instead of developing, at
least until Ferrari stops throwing it's toys out of the pram.
In any event, development next year cannot be seen to be for the
benefit of a single team, or there will be all sorts of cries of foul
play, as there is no other tyre company to fight for a title against