F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

Week starting 9th May, 1999:

Monaco - Qualifying

Michael Schumacher started the session in the space car - having done too much damage to his race car in the morning practice session. Not the best start for the man who headed the timesheets - but he was immediately on the pace in the spare and dominated the session. Team mate Eddie Irvine got his act together nicely to get .4 seconds off the team leader.

Gene starts the session by trashing the car in fine style (remeniscent of Wurz losing the Benetton in the tunnel last year), though it was not his fault... the rear wing fell off his Minardi... then finished it by throwing it into the Swimming Pool corner and ruining a number of quick laps as the car was cleared up!

Behind the top four, Barrichello, Frentzen and Trulli showed that Supertec is not the competitive option, and all substantially outqualified their team mates. Jacques eigth spot on the grid - only 1.28s off pole - shows how much the Canadian has improved at Monaco, and BAR will be pleased he managed to be so competitive... though specialist Salo is going to be hard pushed to score points from twelfth.

Zanardi comprehensively beat Ralf Schumacher for the first time this season, with a creditable eleventh place on his return to the Principality. Ralf Schumacher, Olivier Panis and Damon Hill all had abysmal sessions and are trailing the grid (bar the Arrows and Minardi's),

But the top team this session must be McLaren, with Mika Hakkinen finally dialling out the evil understeer in slow corners to put in a supreme lap, snatching pole, as David Coulthard gritted his teeth and stole third place on the grid, having shown nothing worthwhile to that point.

An excellent session, with the result completely unpredictable to the last minute - it looks like a promising race tomorrow!

To see session times, and hear the qualifying press conference, click here!

Reaction to Saturday Practice

With low grip at Monaco being the controlling factor, times tumbled through the sessions as the rubber went down, giving the teams more grip to play with.

Schumacher was in a class of his own, apparently able to reopen the gap to half a second (until hitting the tyres at Ste Devote) and kept his Ferrari ahead of the field over the whole session - apparently Hakkinen (with Eddie Irvine, the only realistic challanger, as David Coulthard's McLaren suspension gave up in the first session, and stopped him running much of the second) to a full half second at will.

Fischella seems to be having a good time as "the best of the rest" - Eddie Irvine initially being unable to reproduce the form from Thursday, and struggling to better the Benetton's time. Eventually, Irvine he sorts himself out, and closes on Schumacher's time - a Ferrari Front Row in not inconceivable, though unlikely.

Marc Gene struggled through the first session, and only managed a third of the second before crashing out at Rascasse; he's likely to struggle with the 107% rule...

Heinz-Harald Frentzen had a solid day for Jordan, and could hope to put his car on the second row, if he gets a good last run in qualifying... timing and traffic will be the deciding factor! Damon Hill lost all bar five minutes of the second session, after a crash in the first session, waiting for car damage to be repaired. Frentzen finishes the session less than a second off the pace (in fifth overall), whilst Hill gets a single quick run that improves his time from the first session, but leaves him seventeenth overall.

Ralf Schumacher went very well - having lost much of Thursday's session from an egine blow out. If he maintains his practice form for qualifying, he could give Williams their best session this year; and the level head he's shown so far this year races must make him a likely points scorer. Alex Zanardi is showing improved form from previous races, but can't get onto terms with his team-mate.

Rubens Barrichello has struggled to show the pace of Johnny Herbert today until the end of the session... then suddenly finds over a second... possibly running different tyres, so don't be surprised to see the Stewart man running Extra Soft tyres.

BAR drivers Villeneuve and Salo performed ingloriously for both sessions, until Jacques puts in a blinder at the end of the session to move up to fifth place, and one second off the pace. Unexpected, as the '97 World Champion usuaully goes badly here...

Summarising, for qualifying, it should be a Ferrari/McLaren shoot out, as expected; any order is possible including a Ferrari front row. Behind them, whoever gets the best run between Stewart, Jordan and the Supertec teams should fill the next ten places, whilst the Saubers and Prosts are struggling. Arrows and Minardi are stuck at the back...

To see session times, click here!

Arrows looking at Watt?

Arrows Marketting man, Prince Malik, wants Jason Watt to test for Arrows ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Dane performed creditably in qualifying for the F3000 race in San Marino, but crashed out on lap 2 of the race. Accordingly, Malik - who believes there it's about time Formula One ceased to be an "all white" sport - thinks it's time to see if Watt has what it takes in a Formula One car.

Practice Viewpoint - summary

Almost all the teams complained of understeer - a real problem at the Monaco circuit. Things seemed particulary difficult using Bridgestones Extra Soft tyres - setting the car up to gain a good balance seemingly impossible.

On trying the Soft option, most drivers experienced a significant improvement to the handling of their cars, and durability of the front tyres.

Almost certainly, there will be surprises on the Grid come Saturday - some of the teams will iron out the setup difficulties with the Extra Soft, and potentially gain a lot of time and places; but if the balance is a fraction out on Sunday, they'll need to run a two stop strategy for the race as the front tyres go off very quickly.

To see sessions live, click here!

Reaction to Thursday Practice

Two action packed sessions today show that Michael Schumachers' boast that you can bet on him this weekend is not all show!

The first session saw Schumacher touch a barrier, damaging the front left suspension which needed changing; Eddie Irvine making the most of this lapse to set the pace for much of the session. The Jordans go well (despite Damon Hill spinning at Ste Devote), setting times at the top of the timesheets, before Frentzen encounters trouble near the tunnel to finish practice early...

Eddie Irvine finishes the session on top for Ferrari, Damon Hill looks good in the Jordan, Rubens Barrichello is flying in the Stewart and Michael Schumacher is getting back into the swing with his repaired car as the session closes. Neither McLaren figures (they may be working on heavy fuel loads). Ralf Schumacher suffered an engine blowout...

The second session went badly for Frentze4, who ended it prematurely by crashing out at Rascasse. Hill continues to set top times (ahead of the suddenly much quicker McLarens) until pitting, and starting to develop heavy fuel load settings.

The Benettons started to show some useful form, before Wurz makes a mistake at Leows and damages the front wing and suspension. Ralf Schumacher's Williams blown engine is replaced, leaving him with 25 minutes of the session... he only gets seven laps in, and is suffering massive understeer.

At the end of the session, Michael Schumacher takes a massive bite out of the lead time, and Hakkinen's response did not quite beat it. Panis put in a superb run to take third for Prost in the session.

All in all, an entertaining session, with ten drivers in the top second towards the end of the session, solid work by Alesi (consistently in the top six whilst running), and Zanardi going very well. If qualifying follows the same course, it will be a top session!

To see session times, click here!

Monaco - Timetable & Live Timing

Unusually, Monaco has it's opening practice on Thursday, rather than the normal Friday session. Accordingly, F1 Rumors has taken the opportunity to start a new section: the Live Timing page.

On this page, you will find the timetable for the current Grand Prix, along with links to live session information (and RTL television during Qualifying and the Race).

Monaco GP: Fast Laps and Fast Girls

The Eighth Adventure of the BayWatch All-Girl Pit Crew

by Inky

Monaco is a very different Grand Prix. It is celebrity, royalty, and party. Here, the race is slow and the crowd is fast. So the BayWatch All-Girl Pit Crew looked for a car that could win some publicity, not the race. They found a '34 Bugatti... and it became the secret weapon.

They started with a gloss-white 1934 Bugatti T51. Not Bad. Then the paint job. It was a panorama featuring scenes of the splendor of Monte Carlo-- with enough Hollywood Stars and European Royalty pictured in bathing suits to keep the interest of the casual observer. Okay, pretty good... but what's the big secret?

The secret was two identical Bugatti's, both carrying number 23. Both with a roomy bench seat and the same sexy paint job. And both with a Cosworth V-8 and gas tank full of fuel additives. With the extra car, they might just win big at Monaco; a country so small you get your passport stamped after a spin out.

To read the whole article, click here!

Back Markers - Back Pain?

by Julie Gates

Given the controversy at the San Marino Grand Prix, what exactly should be done about backmarkers during a race? Should they be allowed to run as mobile road blocks as they please, or should extra measures be taken to ensure that the Imola episode is a one-off?

David Coulthard claims that the backmarkers cost him the victory at Imola. "There is no way he (Michael Schumacher) would have beaten us had I not got stuck behind backmarkers who should have moved over when they saw the blue flags."

Blue flags my behind! In this day and age of Formula One, when the technological aspect is at its peak, why should we require the use of flags at trackside waved by Marshalls who might be interested in their own agendas when policing the race? The flags are waved when the Marshall sees fit, and considering those at Imola were mostly Italian, you might wonder if the flags waving Schumacher through might have been slower to come up for David Coulthardů

To read the whole article, click here!

Atlas-F1 Grapevine

This week's Atlas F1 Grapevine:

  • Arrows Talk to Lambo
  • Prost Talk to Peugeot
  • Toyota Talk to Minardi
  • Villeneuve Eyes $10M Prize
  • Picked from the Bunch

Monaco Aspirations at Arrows

Arrows are looking forward to the Monaco Grand Prix, which saw their best result in 1998 thanks to excellent drives by both Mika Salo (fourth) and Pedro Diniz (sixth).

Although the team has not tested specifically for the event this year, they are familiar with the chassis - which is much the same as last years - and consider the talented Pedro de la Rosa could be a dark horse for the event.

Monaco is one of the few places where the under powered engine is not going to be a problem, and a good chassis combined with driver talent gives a real chance to do well. You might say they are being optimistic, but who'd have said two Arrows would finish in the points this time last year?

ITV-F1 Viewfinder

On the ITV-F1 Viewfinder column, provided by F1 Rumors, you can find:

  • Humour: Looking for San Marino - humour by Inky Black, and cartoon by Gurmit...
  • Checking out Monte Carlo - a preview of the Monaco Grand Prix.
  • Reaction to San Marino - reaction to the events of the Imola Grand Prix

Toyota's F1 Return progresses

With news that Toyota have been talking to Minardi about the possibilites of a combined future, there seems to be a real chance the Japanese motor giant could be in Formula One as early as next year.

The details are currently being hammered out, but there appears to be an agreement in principle for Toyota providing financial assistance to buy a Supertec engine for next year (with BAR and Williams both dropping the supplier, there's capacity), then providing their own unit for the 2001 season.

There are rumours that a complete buy out of the Fondmetal Minardi team could be in the works; these are unconfirmed at this time, but potentially, could prove to be true... though it's unlikely, as Giancarlo Minardi is one of Formula One's keenest players.

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