F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

Week of the 22nd November 1998!:

Jaguars potential in Formula One...

The Jaguar name is set to enter F1 racing in 2001, replacing Ford after 34 years. The chance, which will be part of the re-alignment of Ford's motorsport interests, will pit Jaguar against rival prestge manufactors such as BMW and Honda who are rumored to enter F1 within three years.

Jaguar who has been owned by Ford for the past eight years, has impeccable pedigree in sportcars events dating back to as early as the 50's with its first Le Man 24 hour win.

Ford's involvment in F1 was significatly extented by its recent acquasition of Cosworth Racing, the previously independent company which has designed and manufactured all of Ford's and Indy engines since 1967.

In F1 over the past few years, Ford has been associated with second-ranked teams. Its most recent success is 1994 when Ford helped Michael Schumacher win his first world championship.

Ford's high hopes of the Stewart family's have failed to impress. Although Stewart GP has only been running for two seasons in F1, with two more still to go, it is becoming clear that Ford is despairing of achieving anything significant there.

Ford are now looking to acquire an interest in a leading F1 team. Ford management are rumored to have approached leading F1 teams such as Jordan and Benetton.

Ford motorsport boss, Martin Whitaker stressed that Ford remains 'committed to Stewart'. He said, 'It is important, however, that it be much more evident what Ford is doing in F1. We have to be successful.'

So what will happen? Will Ford continue supplying engines to Stewart GP? or will they go to a leading team? Watch this space.

Talk of V12 Engines...

It is being widely speculated that Honda have designed a V12 power plant, and might be running it when they return to Formula One in 2000.

This is certainly interesting news - if the rumours are accurate, then the engine is more compact that the Mercedes V10 this year... making it's potential power to weight vs fuel consumption figures very interesting. With Ferrari also considering a V12 option for their year 2000 car, the idea isn't even far fetched.

Bring into the fray Renault, who are looking at options with V8 and V6 (yes, it's true) engines, we could be heading back to real diversity on the grid: technology changes are making it possible to reduce the disadvantages of differing options whilst getting ever more from the benefits...

Reducing the number of cylinders would allow Renault to produce a lighter engine with more low end power (high torque), and potentially reduce the expense of cooling the engine, utilising revolutionary cooling ideas. It should also be more fuel efficient. The disadvantage is the difficulty of raising the revs, as the mass of the pistons and valves increases to accomodate the larger bore size.

Increasing the cylinder count also has potential - more power is generated and higher revs are available, but at the cost of mass and fuel consumption.

It will be interesting to see who can make the most of their new directions - Renault going for (effectively) efficiency and drivability gains, whilst Ferrari and Honda move towards brute power. Definitely something to look forward to!

Do you welcome engine diversity? Or should the cylinder count be fixed? Tell us what you think at the F1 Forum.

Sauber talking to Toyota

Those of you who read our article Thoughts on the Future... Toyota in Formula One would not be surprised to hear that Peter Sauber has been talking to the Japanese giant about a potential engine deal in the future.

It's a deal that potentially could be of massive benefit to both teams - allowing Sauber to get out of Ferrari's shadow, and putting Toyota power into a team that could all to easily become a front runner...

Of course, there are other options that Sauber could follow, including the recently announced engine from Powertech (hasn't it gone quiet on that since the news broke?), a potential Mechachrome deal when Williams move to BMW, and possibly a deal with Arrows to develop and run with their Hart plant - which could be quite exciting, as it's already respected for its drivability, so some serious funding for its development might have some surprising results.

San Marino in doubt.

It's being reported in the news (again) that the San Marino grand prix may be in doubt with the current state of the law in Italy - the FIA require a law that puts the teams at risk of prosecution in the event of a mishap dropped before they will race there again, to prevent a recurrence of the Senna trial.

With Argentina getting itself organised, the financial issues surrounding the track are dealt with, and the FIA is known to want the circuit back in the calendar if possible; bearing this in mind, there can be little doubt that they will follow through the threat to drop San Marino in favour of the South American circuit: the only real issue is where to place it in the calendar. If they make the change soon, then it should feature at the start of the season (much like last year).

The current team views are not as keen as the FIA (it's a long way to go, expensive and inconvenient, compared to Italy), but they all consider it worth the extra hassle, when placed against the disadvantages of being landed in an Italian court over a racing incident.

The much maligned Future, with Arrows

You could ask, does Arrows have a future? One way or another, despite the recent cashflow problems, the answer is yes.

The Nigerian business man (according to Autosport) appears to a long time friend of Tom Walkinshaw, one Malik Ado Ibrahim, a Nigerian prince... at this time, it has not been possible to contact him to confirm his interest in the team.

If it is the case, however, then there is light at the end of the Arrows financial tunnel: with cash to keep their own engine running another year, and a real chance at turning up a works deal in 2000, they should be able to struggle through the current cash crisis.

The Zakspeed issue remains as it did before - if they are to invest in the team, buying it (other than to rename it and run with what's there) would certainly not be the wisest course! Either way, there is enough interest in the team to ensure it continues in Formula One for at least one more year.

A whole new Tyre War

Perhaps the best thing to happen for the tyre constructors would be for someone to come up with an idea that required a completely new sheet for Formula One tyres. Like, for example, changing the rules so that all the tracks are abrasive, and cars are only allowed an all weather tyre.

Strange though this might seem, it is actually quite a likely event: Max Mosely is reported to have announced this as 'a good thing' and he wants it. So it stands a good chance of happening... in 2001.

Developing an all-weather tyre would reduce overall costs significantly, as there would be no requirement for varying grades of wet weather tyre to be generated alongside the different grades of dry weather tyre.

This move would make other tyre manufacturers very interested: Bridgestone welcome any competition (there's little benefit from beating yourself, after all), Goodyear's withdrawal was largely cost based, and there were mixed feelings over the pull out anyway, and Michelin would enter as soon as it become more than a two horse race.

Furthermore, as it's a whole new tyre, there are side benefits: all manufacturers would be starting from a blank sheet, and the gains in technology will be more directly transferable to road tyres - a winner all round.

20 Race Calendar

With the teams agreement to an extended calendar, we can expect to see some changes. Testing and development time is currently restricted to between Grand Prix; that might change. The Saturday and Sunday sessions would remain the same, but there are strong odds that the teams will run Friday as a normal test day; possibly Thursday too at some tracks.

This could bring down the testing costs associated with Formula One, as the teams would have reduced transport fees (getting to/from test circuits), whilst helping to prevent the erosion of testing time - as the extra events can only be run at the expense of the current inter-GP testing.

Jos - time to decide!

It's a funny predicament that Jos Verstappen finds himself in. Here he is, after playing ball with Stewart for half a season, back in on the sidelines. But he is nothing if not an enterprising chap, so he courts Honda in the hopes of landing a testing role - they are, after all, going to require someone with excellent technical feedback and plenty of raw speed to get their new chassis up to scratch.

Then, just after he is scheduled for a preliminary test with the new chassis, and the paperwork for a test contract lands on his desk to be signed, he gets a phone call from Williams.

So what does he do? Go to Williams and test full time, getting the BMW engine on line so Ralf and Alex can win with it - but gain excellent Kudos as the Williams tester - or go to Honda, for about as much chance of a race drive, and certainly less chance of seeing podiums even if the drive comes his way?

Past Williams test drivers - Hill and Coulthard - went straight on to drive for the team, and are now doing very well, thank you. But while Honda just doesn't have the prestige, it gives a very real chance of a race drive...

What would you do? Tell us what you think at the F1 Forum!

Arrows Test - Getting a move on

Arrows are intending to making the most of not having to design a new car, by taking to the track and testing with the old the one. They have a number of solutions to try, but the major part of the test involves new evolutions of the Arrows-Hart engine, and getting to grips with the new Bridgestone tyres.

Arrows are keeping their cards close to the chest regarding the future direction the team will take: the rumour mill churns buyout and sponsorship claims from all over, hitting the German Zakspeed and Japanese Toyota firms most often. Who the main sponsor is will probably effect who the team signs - the most likely ir Tora Takagi, but Pedro de la Rosa is still in with a good shout.

The Barcelona test will be the first opportunity the teams have for running their cars since the Bridgestone tyre test in November: early data from the tyres will be important to both the teams involved and Bridgestone - the direction development takes initially will be strongly influenced by the data gatherers. Arrows mean to capitalise in any way they can!

Arrows with a new backer?

Reports in German newspapers, and Canadian media appear to show Arrows setting up a deal with Zapspeed: a German team wishing to make a Formula One comeback.

This is not the first time Zakspeed has been rumoured to be returning, but certainly, if it is true, it is the most likely scenario so far. It has been suggested the Germans are putting 80 million German marks into the project... though exactly what this is for remains unclear.

The rumours flying are for a complete sale of Arrows, which would retain its Hart power for next year and attempt a Mecachrome deal the year after. Interestingly, there is no confirmation available from the parties supposed to be involved at this time - other speculation has some slightly different options:

Zakspeed might be backing Arrows, maybe taking the title name (to run as Zakspeed-Arrows) or the engine name (so Arrows-Zakspeed) whilst getting in to gear for a complete change of hands.

Information from the paddock hints that an true Zakspeed team would never be in shape for the start of next year - even taking on the Arrows plans and running with them, there is just too much to be done to make a complete team for March. If this is their intended approach, then expect a poor showing until the circus reaches Europe.

All in all, the most intellegent approach for Zakspeed is to move in as title sponsors to Arrows - providing funds for team and engine next year. If a complete return is to happen, it should be arranged for the year 2000.

Despite the Mecachrome in 2000 rumour, is not impossible that Zakspeed is acting as a front for Toyota: it would certainly explain a lot of things; Toyota are known to be interested in Formula One, but only as a winning team. Zakspeed want to be in Formula One, but lacked the backing required. A deal like this allows both sides to be happy - Zakspeed enters now, Toyota claim responsibility for the engine in 2000 or 2001 (if it becomes a success), and maybe buys Zakspeed out in the 2002 to 2005 timeframe, if Arrows is ahead of Honda on the grid.

However you look at it, things are certainly hotting up - it's all change in Formula One, and yet another famous name is in danger for the millenium.

What do you think of losing the Arrows name? Is Zakspeed fronting Toyota? Or is this just wishful thinking from the German press? Let everyone know what you think on the F1 Forum.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]