Week of the 31st January 1999:
No Changes for Ferrari
Ferrari has denied it will make any changes to the team staff if they
fail to win the Championship. The last time Ferrari won the title was
in 1979, with Jody Schecker behind the wheel. The pressure from the
Italian press to win is again huge. Jean Todt reject claims that the
team must win the championship this year.
'What is 'must'?' he said. 'Do we take out a gun and shoot
ourselves if we don't do it? If you can explain why you lose, it's
okay. If you can't explain or improve the problem, then you have to
ask questions. But we know exactly where we are and why we are
there. Ferrari did not win the championship for 20 years because it
made too many changes. Stability is a good thing.' Both Todt and
Schumacher have denied suggestions that the Frenchman's job may be on
the line if the crown does not go to Maranello this year.
BayWatch All-Girl Pit Crew meets the Queen of England
by Jeff RoseTo read the whole article, click here
We're back and boy is the Queen of England happy about that. She didn't mind
the Le Mans start with the Rolls Royce; or that our gift bottle didn't have a
label; but the BayWatch All-Girl Pit Crew confused tea-time with wet T-shirt
time. This was too much and the crew was tossed out of the palace. It was
Jackie Stewart who saved their "buckets."
The crew landed at Heathrow and were through Customs with no problem. Well,
almost no problem. Please recall that these girls speak Good Down-South
American English. Down-South would be pronounced "Day-ow-won Say-outh" by any
self-respecting Southerner; although they would take about a minute longer to
say it than you just did.
Renault say no to works team
Rumours that a full works Renault team is being put together has been hotly
denied by the French car manufacturer. A feasibility study was reportedly
undertaken to assess the viability of returning to Formula One:
"Categorically we would never imagine coming back to Renault this way," a
spokesperson for the company said. "We have talked about it in the past but
we made a choice never to return with our own team."
Renault ran its own team between 1977 and 1978, being one of the first to
use turbo engines. Jean Paul Jabouille, René Arnoux, Patrick Tambay, Derek
Warwick, Alain Prost and Eddie Cheever all drove for the équipe. It had
limited success but came close to a world title for Prost in 1983, who
finished second with four of his until then, nine race wins, scored with
the Renault Elf team.
1990 saw their re-emergence as an engine supplier to the Williams team
bowing out finally in 1997. Their power plant was responsible for 6
consecutive constructors titles and 5 drivers crowns. Although evolutions
of their engine still power Williams and Benetton, via engine tuners
Mecachrome, the French company pulled out of Formula One at the end of 1997.
The rumours were sparked off by news of a fully revised engine that has
been on the test bed for some months. The spokesperson told the press that
the engine would be current for two years before it became commercially
available... or the team decided to make a return to Formula One.
It's been rumoured for a while that Ferrari and Honda are looking to get a V12 engine back into Formula One; sources indicate that Ferrari are reaching the end of development for the V10, and are starting the process for making the V12 a reality - they intend to build one for testing later this year, and hope to be able to get a 12 cylinder power plant into the 2000 car.
Even if Ferrari fail, there is some chance that Honda will manage the trick - currently their development is borderline for the 2000 season, but unless things go quite wrong, they expect to have the V12 plant for their F1 return.
Renault are looking at a V8 option for 2000 - the latest rumours are that their revolutionary V6 was a non starter from the point exotic materials (eg Berryllium) were banned. Nevertheless, by 2001, we should be looking at a proliferation of engine types again, including V8, V10 and V12's all on the same grid.
The Argentine Alternative
It seems that the FIA has been contacted regarding an alternative to the Argentine Grand prix by... another Argentine track! It seems organisers at the Oscar Cabalen track have put together a proposal that meets the FIAs financial requirements, and they are doing everything in their power to get an Argentine Grand Prix reinstated to the calendar.
The inside track from the FIA is that it is not entirely without merit. Based on the idea that there was to be an Argentine Grand Prix anyway, this circuit has a proposal that would deal with the sticking point from Buenos Aires.
However, the track has not been inspected at this time, nor have any teams tested there, so with other tracks pushing to be recognised in the calendar (Kyalami, for example), the odds are against it appearing this year. Next year is another issue altogether!
More on drivers for Arrows and Minardi
With the announcement that Marc Gene will be driving for
Minardi next year, the biggest competition for the second seat is for
Gonzalo Rodriguez to find enough funds - Shinji Nakano is not thought
likely to retain his place.
The Argentine Mazzacane has been signed in a test role; and has been
linked to Minardi before; he has three competitive years in F3000
under his belt. He appears to be a talented driver - though we'll find
out when he attends next weeks test if he has the talent for Formula
At Arrows, Mika Salo is almost certain to keep his seat, and rumour
favours the last spot going to Pedro de la Rosa over Tora
Takagi. Pedro comes across as better prepared to work with the team;
he speaks English (something Tora did without at Tyrrell last year),
and seems to get on well with the crew. Moreover, he has been fastest
at the recent tests...
Who'll take the Eddie's place?
by Enrico ChiaraTo read the whole article, click here
This January, only few people noticed a two days journey for the Prost-Peugeot Italian driver Jarno Trulli, to Stuttgart, Germany. No official explanations were given, just a mask of disappointment when he discovered a few Italian journalists were waiting for him in the Rome airport, returning from the German city.
Stuttgart is the home city of Mercedes. "Non posso parlare, non so" I can't speak, I don't know Jarno answered to the journalists questions. These journalists understood that there was something interesting behind this visit. The discovery arrived soon: Mercedes won't renew the contract of David Coulthard next year, but has offered a seat to Jarno Trulli. And he has probably accepted. This means two things: Jarno Trulli will drive a silver car for the year 2000, and David Coulthard will be without a seat...
Driver lineup coming together
At Arrows, there is at least one seat open - potentially two.
Pedro de la Rosa has outperformed Toranosuke Takagi so far in tests,
putting himself in a prime position to take the seat. Potentially,
both drivers may be given a ride, after outperforming the highly rated
Mika Salo (though his program was not the same, so comparison is not
fair); whether he takes a back seat this year in a Honda test role is
to be decided, but it's most likely he will continue as an Arrows
driver for another year.
Both de la Rosa and Takagi will be putting the Arrows through its
at Silverstone this week, before the final announcements made.
Minardi are in the unfortunate position of having to replace
their only confirmed driver when Tuero quit - allegedly, as a result
of the accident with Takagi in the Japanese Grand Prix last year.
In the running there, Marc Gene and Gonzalo Rodriguez will probably take the open seats, if they can come up with the required sponsorhip. Should they falter, Shinji Nakano may get to keep his drive another season.
Whilst Luca Badoer is contracted to Ferrari as test driver, it is
possible he may run for the Minardi team this season; sticking points
are his commitments to Ferrari - who allegedly will not relinquish him
from his contract, so Minardi duties would be additional and secondary
to existing work - and sponsorship, as Minardi really need the income
provided by their pay drivers.
It is thought that Minardi could be in a position to move
off the back of the grid, if the car lives up to expectations, and
they get drivers with the talent to make something happen!
Reaction to Jordan launch
The Buzzing Hornets are spoiling to challenge Ferrari and McLaren this
year. Whilst facing up the realistic prospect that both the title
contenders will benefit more from the winter break, and their closer
alliance with Bridgestone, the Jordan team is high on the results of
The team is confident that the car will perform well - at least on a
similar level to Williams, Benetton and BAR - straight out of the box;
and after the tremendous development effort last year which dragged
them from also rans to race winners, they are unfazed by the prospects
of being caught out again.
Whilst the car is mostly an evolution of last years Jordan 198, there
are a number of changes under the bonnet that the team are not talking
about. The new Mugen-Honda engine is smaller, lighter and more
powerful than the excellent unit in last years car; further, changes
to the wheelbase and (apparently) the fuel tank, have enabled weight
distribution to be improved.
Despite the lack of mechanical grip apprent in the last sector at
Suzuka last year, the mechanics seem to believe a simple evolution to
last years suspension solutions will handle the issue, and their
attention has been focused on the aerodynamics. Results from the wind
tunnel have been impressive!
As the car is, at heart, an evolution of last years model, expect
testing times to be quicker that those for the 198 straight out of the
box - unlike the Williams FW21, which started testing with worse times
than last years FW20 until new setup solutions could be tried.
South Africa test looks lively
Sources indicate that McLaren, Benetton, Jordan and Sauber will be joining BAR and Williams at Kyalami on the 15th.
Ostensibly, they are attempting to find conditions as close as
possible to those expected for the season opener in Melbourne; but the
sudden sign up coinsides with the financial issues in Argentina
causing that Grand Prix to be cancelled, and rumours of deadline
problems for the Malaysian Grand Prix...
Is it possible the teams are expecting to be racing at Kyalami, and
are checking the scene? Even if they are not, the fact that all the
big players (except Ferrari) have tested there means that should they
return with favourable reports, it must be considered a real
possibility to host the Formula One circus this year!
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Reaction to Ferrari Launch
It must be said, whether or not Ferrari win the Championship this year, they have a car that really looks the business!
The new contender has a very refined appearance - sleek and fast.
It's been released without some of the aerodynamic trimmings that will
make an appearance for Melbourne (and some of the private test
sessions)... there are still some secrets to come!
If you have not seen the Ferrari in top down view, take a look in the Pictures section - there is a real impression of speed that is impossible to deny!
The attitude from the team is very positive. Behind the scenes,
everyone is still remarkably busy - the team has to build more chassis
for testing and to have race spares, not to mention preparation for
the testing sessions ahead; there are still a number of solutions to
be tried in practice (wind tunnels are excellent indicators, but
without trying it for real, there's just no knowing); and the team
will really have to work at getting everything sorted.
Despite the hussle, and tight schedules, the positive feedback through the whole Ferrari camp is infectious, and the team really believes that Michael Schumachers time is coming again...
Is this the year of the horse?