F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

Week of the 17th January 1999:

Audi To Enter F1

Volkswagen are rumored to be interested in entering F1 under the name of Audi. Seeing Mercedes succeed in F1, and BMW preparing to enter in 2000, VW sees opportunity from promoting Audi in F1. Plans are sketchy, but include competing with Toyota for the chance to provide a team with their engine; a small group of Audi/VW sports division engineers working on the design, with a 1997 Japan specification Mugen engine as the model is to follow - though it's unclear how they got hold of it!

Rumors said that the engine will be light, with power equivalent to the expected 820bhp output of this years McLaren engine. Audi are expected to provide their engine to Benetton if Renault fails to return, and/or Jordan once their Mugen contract expires. With Audi planning to enter Le Mans this/next year, who knows what to expect in F1 for them?

Alesi denies Ferrari rumours

Jean Alesi has again denied rumours suggesting he will move to Ferrari next year. The Italian press reported that the Frenchman would replace Eddie Irvine for the 2000 season:

Jean Alesi said 'In Italy they write I have already signed. I haven't signed, and I have no contact with them... though if I was asked if I want to go back, I will say yes. I love Ferrari.'

But why do the rumours keep coming back? Jean himself does little to discourage them - as he readilly admits, he loved driving for Ferrari and would return... so he likes the idea to be floating around. What's more, the Italian press love him for his passion and talent - they consider him unlucky not to have done better in his years with the team. On top of that, Eddie Irvine, despite his performance last year, is certainly not their favourite. His down to earth approach and readiness to tell the press what he thinks has not made many friends there!

Will Jean return to Ferrari? It's possible. But only if he keeps performing at Sauber, and Eddie decides to leave Ferrari - his reward for playing number 2 to Michael Schumacher gives him that much!

Ferrari "650" and V10 "048" projects

by Enrico Chiara

This is a retouched photo. It has been drawn according to the details known about the project. The "650" shouldn't be very far from this photo.

At first sight it could be similar to the 1998 F300 but don't believe to this impression. While the main concept it is the same of the last season's car (a 6 times winner car...) the "650" has been projected keeping well in mind the point of strength and of weakness of the former model.

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The 1999 engine will be the V10 called 048, the latest achievement of Scuderia Ferrari-Marlboro's engine technology. A Ferrari V10 at its best, with all the technologies currently available in Maranello disposed and used at the maximum level possible. It will be a powerful and reliable engine, infact, insiders of the Maranello factory even rated the new V10 engine as: "It will be the best Ferrari engine ever built."

To read the whole article, click here

Spare a thought for Sauber

At their launch today, Sauber were fully aware that 1999 is going to be a difficult year. They have a reasonable engine deal (the Monza '98 spec Ferrari engine), built into an evolution of their excellent 1998 chassis. Drivers Jean Alesi and Pedro Dinis are both experienced, and hungry to prove themselves; and the team has been built to provide good support this year.

Sounds promising... except for a couple of minor details. Renault's input into the 1999 Mechachrome engine is expected to put the cars using it back up in the power stakes. The new team, BAR, is expected to perform with the likes of Williams and Benetton from the outset - and Jordan have shown themselves a match for these teams.

Then again, Stewart have an all new package that is really threatening to take the middle order by storm (assuming reliability doesn't kill their hopes again).

Unless Ferrari or McLaren fail to make their expected pace, Sauber is going to be fighting with Williams, Jordan, Benetton, BAR and Stewart for the last two or three points positions in this years races.

So, ironically, whilst producing what is arguably their best car ever, driven by the mercurial (and fast) Jean Alesi and the underrated Pedro Diniz, their extended budget might not be sufficient to stop them sliding down the grid.

It may be tough at the top in Formula One, but boy, it's certainly no cakewalk in the middle order either!

Jean Todt reveals the "650"

by Enrico Chiara

You can understand if Jean Todt is excited or not by his charateristic way to hold his own hands and move them together, anxiously. The 30th January will be the day. The car that hopefully will bring back after 20 years and (several vain attempts) this desired World Championship is about to be presented and make its first shakedown, the same day.

"Ah...la nuova...[the "new one"] ..you'll see it's completely new...longer, thinner, ...and lighter. But it's impossible to see how much lighter is than the F300..."

These are the first word by Jean Todt about the new car. There's nothing to keep secret now. All the teams are going to present their cars and discover their secrets and the enviroment is more relaxed now concerning the secrets to be kept. So the journalist's life is easier than before, now.

To read the whole article, click here

Honda run a secret test

News of a Honda test at Mugello over the last weekend is just in! The team ran over the weekend, getting more running than BAR managed in their 3 day session the previous week.

Full story at F1-Magazine

V12 engine: Ferrari back to the future?

by Enrico Chiara

The technical team managed by Luca Marmorini, the Ferrari technological advanced projects responsable, is working hard on studyimg the chance of a return to the legendary Ferrari V12 engines. The team developed their final V12 engine in 1995, fitted in the Ferrari 412/T2 car. As the V10 engines are said to be the best possible engine layout for the moment, a return to a V12 engine might seem strange, curious and apparently unrealistic. At Ferrari, they don't believe this could be unrealistic because with the future 048 V10 they experienced that the F650 will be at the limit of engine weight and regarding to availability of the space in the car.

At the "Gestione Sportiva" section of the Ferrari factory in Maranello, a kind of secret "Area 51" of the Scuderia, has been designing and simulating a new idea for a V12 engine on a powerful computer. The V12 engine is said to be a crossing between a new generation of very powerful engines and an advanced version of the 048 V10. A kind of virtual engine. However, in a test-cell , an experimental bi-cilindrical section of the first stage of the new V12 is extensively tested. Only a section, but it's an important starting point.

The early rumours about a possible return of a V12 engine started in August. However, we preferred to wait and provide reliable news about this project instead of publishing gossip like many other sites did. Now we can guarantee that everything is true, and what was just a "section" of engine in August, is an experimental "reduced size" engine at the moment. It still can't be used by any of the Ferrari F1 cars released until today, and can't run more than 2 or 3 laps. This summer we asked to Ross Brawn about these V12 rumours and he answered: "Fantasy, only fantasy, we deny all these stories." For a Ferrari expert, this sounds just like: "We have it, but want to keep it secret", because the first rule of a Ferrari journalist is: "When Ferrari denies something, it means it is all true."

To read the whole article, click here

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