F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

Week starting 28th March, 1999:


Stewart - McTiger

by Julie Gates

During the disappointing 1998 season, the team started to undergo a huge revamp, aimed at turning around their fortunes for 1999. The Stewart management realised action needed to be taken, and fast, when the 1998 car proved slow and difficult to evolve. Team personnel was increased from 120 to 200, while Gary Anderson, the highly respected designer who spent ten years with Eddie Jordan, joined the team. Alan Jenkins stay at home from the Luxembourg Grand Prix onwards to work on the 1999 season car. Johnny Herbert was recruited to assist with developing the car, and bring race-winning experience his positive attitude to the team.

This might seem like a drastic reaction to 1998, but it stemmed the rumours of Ford joining Benetton in 1999 - demonstrating their commitment to the project, and receiving Fords in return.

After some impressive modifications, the car was tested for the very first time at a winter beset Silverstone on 23rd December, a full ten weeks ahead of the season-opener in Australia. Although the weather hindered progress, Barrichello exclaimed this was the best balanced Stewart he has driven. In every way, the SF03 is an improvement of the '98 model - comments echoed by Herbert.

To read the whole article, click here!


April Fools Day

There have been a number of rumour submissions to this site on this day - the first of April - and we have not been taken in! The best April Fools Day article is actually on Autosport, extracts:

Secret Ferrari two-seater unveiled

Secret plans for a two-seater Ferrari F1 car have been unearthed by AUTOSPORT.

The Italian team is hoping to outdo arch-rival McLaren, which unveiled the first two-seater Grand Prix car last year. Ferrari believes its side-by-side seating arrangement will provide a spectacle not afforded by the in-line layout of the McLaren.

...

Insiders hint that it could also be used by Schumacher as an elaborate teaching tool to allow Irvine an insight into exactly how the German consistently out-paces all his peers.

It has been built to satisfy F1 dimensions and rules so it could in theory be raced this season. That could allow Ferrari to exploit loopholes in the rules and score double points in the Constructors' Championship. The FIA was unavailable for comment.


Excellent article guys! Keep up the good work. To read the complete article, please click here.


Stewart - The Team

by Julie Gates

Even though Stewart did not unveil their first car until 10th December 1996, the origin of Stewart Grand Prix dates back to 11th June 1995. That day, returning from the Canadian Grand Prix, Ford bosses asked Jackie if he would consider going back to Formula One... as a Team President. Why did they ask Jackie? The fact he had a thirty three year partnership with Ford, lending his expertise to aspects from the cockpit to the drawing board, may have something to do with it! Few could be a better spokesman and ambassador than this highly intelligent business man, who spent the majority of his nine years in Formula One racing with Ford engines. Who would have been better to approach?

Both Paul and Jackie Stewart were interested in moving to Formula One. After successes in the lower Formulae (Formula Vauxhall, Formula Three and Formula 3000) with Paul Stewart Racing, all they needed was the support of a major motoring company and a lot of hard work.

Over the months after the approach, further talks with Ford were held and on December 6th 1995 it was decided to form Stewart Grand Prix and contest the 1997 season.

To read the whole article, click here!


Atlas-F1 Grapevine

This week's Atlas F1 Grapevine:

  • Honda Wakes Up
  • Digital TV Coverage
  • TV Coverage in New Zealand
  • Picked from the Bunch


Jackie Stewart - Man and Driver

by Julie Gates

Someone quite special was born on 11th June 1939 in Dumbarton, Scotland. Little did his friends and family know that he would become one of Formula One's all-time greats.

Formula One was not Jackie's first career. His brother, Jimmy, was a local hero racing for Ecurie Ecosse, and Jackie planned to follow suit. However, after Jimmy was involved in an accident at Le Mans and injured, their parents (wealthy Jaguar dealers) discouraged Jackie and he took up target shooting.

Jackie was a natural and before long he made a name for himself, becoming a member of The Royal Shooting Team. He marginally missed a place in the 1960 Olympics, which is when he reverted to his dream of motor racing. He tested at Oulton Park, courtesy of Barry Filter, actually beating Bruce McLaren's times in his own car. From then, he was destined for a highly successful racing career.

To read the whole article, click here!


Lies, damn lies, and Statistics

It's amazing what statistics can show you. If you look at the opening Grand Prix this decade, for example, you will see that the winner went on to take the championship on 8 of 9 occasions (the exception being 1997, David Coulthard won the opener and Jacques Villeneuve took the championship). So, statistically, Eddie Irvine is in a strong position.

What this statistic usually underlines, however, is the team and driver that is best prepared for the coming season - with a car that achieves the goal of being both quick and reliable. Having done their homework, they usually do well in the season openers whilst the other teams get into gear for an assualt on their leading position - and for most of this decade, the task has just been too great!

What is different this year is a new statistic. In the past, the winner of the opening round has not been a 'second driver' for their team; so this year, the title is actually likely to go to the winner in Brazil. Why? Well, the reasoning goes as follows...

Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen are all pointless. If any of them takes the flag in Brazil, it will probably be just the start of their campaign: with McLaren looking dominant, either of their drivers gaining a win will have only his team mate to fight off for the title. The extra confidence from winning - for Mika, building on last year, and for David, beating Mika at a track the Fin favours - will probably give that driver an edge through the remainder of the season.

If Michael wins, then it shows Ferrari have made substantial progress, and there are very few people would bet that McLaren could do anything about it.

Should Eddie Irvine win, on the other hand, things will become more complicated. It's speculated there's a clause in his contract which stipulates the team orders are reversed if he gains 30 points by the end of round four. Interestingly, a second win would leave him needing second and third places in the next two rounds, but the boost to his confidence might just take him all the way. What it would mean for McLaren and Michael is the complicated part - would the McLarens be showing themselves too fragile to take the championship? Was Michael baulked by a Spa like incident that is not a real indicator of form? It would be one of the most interesting outcomes!

Should a Stewart or Jordan win, then it would show they have put on an exceptional display in development, getting their cars to a position where they can claim race wins - essentially backing up the solid Melbourne performances. The winner could hope for a stab at the title, if they capitalise on their chances and avoid the inevitable Ferrari/McLaren resurgence!

Of course, should anyone else win, then all bets are off again... and Mr Ecclestone can be inordinately pleased with the fashion of the season opening!


Ferrari's Tyre War

Michael Schumacher is quoted in Welt am Sonntag as saying "The tires are really slowing down the cars." The way it reads, it seems that Michael is actually blaming the tyres for Ferrari's speed deficit - despite having their own special advisor, and control in the direction development takes.

Of course, there is no comment to compare teams like Williams and Jordan - who do not have these advantages - to explain why they have done so much better at the start of the season: Williams in particular are down on power, yet all three teams managed podium places in Australia.

It is possible that the article is quoting Michael out of context, and all he was really trying to say is that the tyres are - as planned - slowing all the cars down equally, rather than penalising Ferrari. Feedback from the team seems to agree with the original statement, however.


Sympathy for Max Mosley's viewpoint

Bearing in mind the huge discrepancy between digital and terrestrial coverage of Formula One, it seems that Max Mosley might have been wrongly maligned for his comments concerning both the overtaking and action in Formula One, and it's suitability for enthusiasts. He is, after all, in the privileged position of seeing the race 'properly,' in the digital channel or live, and not subject to having the exciting moments judiciously carved out.

From his perspective, we can be quite sure there is enough overtaking in Formula One - he certainly had the chance to see plenty in Melbourne that was missed by the terrestrial coverage! Further, the typical Formula One enthusiast has been used to supporting the sport via the popular medium (terrestrial television) for so long that being forced to move to the new digital channel for a return to decent coverage is considered offensive.

So, next time Mr Mosley says that there's plenty of overtaking in Formula One, perhaps it's not his judgement you should be questioning - rather, perhaps you should be asking why we are not seeing the action that Max has plainly enjoyed surfeit of.

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