F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

Week starting 23rd May, 1999:

Qualifying Feedback

A superb session, with Jean Alesi showing everyone else the way to go early on. The talented Frenchman finished the session in fifth place...

But the story ahead of that was fascinating. McLaren ran hard tyres, whilst Ferrari opted for the soft solution, looking to gain an advantage in qualifying for tomorrows race. The final result - Mika Hakkinen on pole, Eddie Irvine second, David Coulthard third and Michael Schumacher fourth - was something of a surprise. A top result for Eddie Irvine, who clearly outqualified his team mate, and got among the McLarens.

All told, it looks like a fascinating race is in store tomorrow, and we could see some excellent racing. Ferrari's soft option could give them an advantage early, whilst McLaren will benefit in the longer term, if their car keeps together. Behind, Jean Alesi is confounding the experts with his performance, and Jacques Villeneuve will be looking to capitalise on sixth place with BAR's first points...

To see results and timings, click here!

Friday Practice Feedback

At a windy Barcelona circuit, the times mostly increased (very unusual) across the board after the wind changed direction part way through the first session. Few drivers were able to improve their best recorded time in the second session as a result...

The high wind speeds had an impact - even causing the second session to be red flagged for five minutes as some advertising boarding was blown onto the track.

Ferrari's Eddie Irvine was fastest early in the first session, and his time was never troubled throughout the remainder of the day - though Heinz-Harald Frentzen took his Jordan to two tenths off in the second session. Both Williams improved noticably in the second session.

However, the surprise must be Ferrari and Jordan's performance at a circuit where McLaren were supposed to reign supreme.

To see session timings, click here!

Spanish GP: Still in Barcelona

Ninth in the Adventures of the BayWatch All-Girl Pit Crew

Humour by Inky Black

Before the Spanish Grand Prix, the Americans searched the junk shops and salvage yards of Barcelona. Usually the tobacco-chewing pit crew from "way down south" were looking for race car parts. This time they were looking for a drink.

After a month on the continent, the crew were low on everything. This included moonshine. The BayWatch All-Girl Pit Crew would have to make their own, so they built a "still" in Barcelona.

They had found parts for a jet-car in San Marino; accessories for a Bugatti in Monte Carlo. And more parts arrived every time a Minardi was dropped from a crane. And there's not much difference between a race car and a "distillery."

To read the whole article, click here!

Webber Optimistic for 2000

Marc Webber continues to be the source of speculation, as he sets about making his name known in Formula One circles, and will certainly do no harm by leading the Mercedes team in the Le Mans 24 hour race in June.

Following the Monaco meeting with Bernie Ecclestone, the Australian is looking to meet with him again this week, to get him involved in arranging at least a test drive. He believes his raw speed will rapidly become apparent, enabling the transition to full driver.

A highly confident individual, Webber is looking to drive for a middle ranking team like Benetton, Jordan, Stewart or Sauber. He Bernie's backing, and is hoping that the Formula One supremo can make the difference for breaking into the scene. Certainly, it can do no harm - in conjunction with half a million dollars of sponsorship.

Other speculation contests that the "middle order test drive" push is a smokescreen, and Bernie Ecclestone is acting as intermediary for the to-be-disclosed twelfth team on the grid. Should Webber gain a seat there, things could be very interesting in 2000!

Engine Noises

The current penchant for small, light engines has thrown Ferrari into something of a state. Speculation has it that the much anticipated "step forward" for the Ferrari V10 - originally due for Spain - proved to be rather a disappointment.

The new specification V10 allegedly produced as much as 2% more power than the previous version, but carried a weight penalty which upset the balance of the cars, resulting in similar lap times, and greater fuel consumption.

As a result, the revision has been withdrawn, whilst the development has been refocussed to look at reducing the engines mass, without compromising reliability. The lesson - taken from the Ford unit this year, and McLaren's last - has taken a while to sink in: producing the same power with a lighter engine allows the centre of gravity to be lowered, mass to be placed in a more useful position, and the resulting balance improvements enable the driver to gain time in cornering.

Ferrari aims to close the power gap to Mercedes - allegedly, around 15hp - after significantly trimming the mass of the engine.

Atlas-F1 Grapevine

This week's Atlas F1 Grapevine:

  • Fast Food and Faster Cars
  • Tail End Charlie's Shooting for V10's
  • Eddie Irvine in Galway
  • Picked from the Bunch

Jos Verstappen looking to 2000

With the news of Honda withdrawing their 2000 entry to Formula One, arguably the most disappointed individual must be their driver, Jos Verstappen, who was contracted for three years to the team.

There are rumours that the BAR contract stipulates that Honda have the right to decide the test driver for the team, which could leave Jos in a strong position for the role over the next couple of years, if nothing else crops up.

However, having had the opportunity to show his metal in a car developed for his driving style, Jos is seen in a favourable light in the paddock, and could be an option for most of the teams, should they wish to hire a new driver for next season.

Without doubt, though, his best hopes for the 2000 season lie with the mystery twelfth team on the grid. Should that team be based on Honda Racing Development - the team currently running the Dallara built Honda test chassis - it will have a huge headstart, if it can secure the services of the driver who has shown so well in it this year.

Zonta's Seat Threatened

There are rumours doing the rounds that Ricardo Zonta's seat could be under threat.

The Brazilian's fitness at Monaco fell short of Professor Sid Watkins expectations, leaving Mika Salo in the BAR seat for the Spanish Grand Prix. As always since leaving Arrows, the popular Finn's supporters grasp any rumour he could land a permanent seat in Formula One again.

Whilst it is certainly true that Mika has performed well at BAR, being right on the pace from day one, it is unlikely that he will land the BAR seat at this time.

Periscope Exhausts in future?

Allegedly, Williams could bring in a 'periscope' exhaust systems for the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend, and Benetton could be in line to follow suit for Canada.

Similarly, McLaren are reported to have been considering the option, though it's as widely reported that Adrian Newey remains unconvinced - if McLaren do take it up, it won't be until nearer the British Grand Prix, as they have a number of other reliability related issues to handle first.

The exhausts, which exit out of the bodywork, on the top of the car, are intended to offer aerodynamic stability (exiting under the car puts the exhaust gasses into the diffuser airflow) and reduce heating of rear wing structures, something which has contributed to rear wing failures in the past.

Ferrari has used the system successfully since mid-1998.

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