F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

Week starting 6th June, 1999:

Qualifying in Canada

Overview courtesy Earl Alexander, of Formula-1.co.uk Michael Schumacher claimed his first pole position of the 1999 season in style in Montreal today. The Ferrari driver's first run of 1:19.298 was enough to hold of the challenges of team-mate Eddie Irvine and the McLaren's of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard.

Ferrari seem to have had the upper hand all weekend and despite the best efforts of Mika Hakkinen, Schumacher's impressive first run could not be beaten. Mika Hakkinen lines up alongside the Ferrari driver for the race tomorrow, well aware that for the first time this season, his McLaren has been beaten in qualifying trim.

Eddie Irvine starts in third position, while David Coulthard's advantage over Mika Hakkinen deserted him and he starts in fourth. Rubens Barrichello produced a lap out of no-where to set the fifth fastest time in his Stewart Ford. Frentzen was next up, while Damon Hill's poor season continued with 14th on the grid. The story was similar at Williams, where it looked for a majority of the session that Ralf Schumacher would not qualify. The German finally got a lap together and vaulted to 13th position - one place behind Alex Zanardi in the sister Williams.

And so to the race tomorrow - it would be a brave decision to bet against Michael Schumacher making it three Montreal wins in a row.

Click for results!

Friday Practice

However you like at it, Eddie Irvine may have a big mouth, but he's prepared to back up what he says.

The Ferrari's benefit from excellent balance, which will be an advantage until the grip improves in the circuit, and the other teams work on their balance problems.

Click for results!
(Note: Practice shown on TV tape delayed...)

Survey: The State of Formula One

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In all seriousness, this survey represents a genuine chance of making your views heard. If you have an opinion on the state of Formula One, or how to improve it, then this is for you.

To take part in the survey, click here

Stewart sold to Ford

BBC Radio 4 has announced Stewart Grand Prix being bought buy Ford Motorsport.

There has been speculation for some time - particularly with the announcement that Ford were to develop their engines for their Works team only - about how closely the companies would be working together. It appears that Ford are looking for security in their relationship with Stewart Grand Prix.

Details of the new arrangement are yet to filter through to the media, though rumour indicates that the team will continue as Stewart Grand Prix - at least this year. It is unknown if Jackie and Paul Stewart will retain their existing roles into 2000.

Watson being Inventive

Former McLaren driver, John Watson, has said: "Some of the best races in recent times have been in the wet. So let's create those conditions. Sprinklers would be turned off and the field would then run on a track that was slowly drying."

It's a very interesting viewpoint, certainly, and actually has parallels with the effects that Max Mosley has been attempting to create with grooved tyres...

The main issue with wet racing, apart from low visibility making it exceptionally dangerous, is that mechanical grip is reduced massively; the grooves in current Formula One tyres reduce contact - hense grip - and have a similar effect. More to the point, statements like this are exactly what could drive forward plans for an all-weather tyre.

However, it's only ever likely to lead to a dead end - after all, where does Formula One go from there? Start turning the sprinklers on if noone overtakes for three laps? It would become as artificial as the CART yellow flags - and arguably less excusable!

Atlas-F1 Grapevine

This week's Atlas F1 Grapevine:

  • Irvine in Control
  • Honda Gearing up for 2000
  • Digital for the UK

Irvine making himself unpopular

Just when Eddie Irvine was in real danger of making himself appear to be the perfect team player, he has given an interview which has allowed journalists the world over to portray him as "slamming" the other top drivers.

He is quoted as saying that he is a better driver than current World Champion Mika Hakkinen, and made it clear he wants to replace David Coulthard for McLaren in 2000. Having finished with McLaren, he stated that Michael Schumacher has major weaknesses, that he will not be driving for Jordan next season, and that Jean Alesi would be the worst possible choice as his replacement at Ferrari if he left.

Undoubtedly, the context has been somewhat mangled from the original - which was undoubtedly delivered in his usual laid back style, commenting on the world as he sees it. However, with a fly away Grand Prix, there's little news whilst everyone is busy travelling, so it was inevitable that the story would be hyped...

Ironically, it could make Irvine's chances of a contract with McLaren stronger, as Ron Dennis will not believe in any driver who does not believe in himself.

Teleglobe/Jacques Villeneuve press conference - updated

Archive of the press gathering, which was broadcast live from the Windsor in Montreal, Quebec.

During this webcast, you will see:
  • A brief introductory video,
  • An address by Charles Sirois, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Teleglobe,
  • Presentation of a good luck card to Jacques Villeneuve signed by his fans,
  • An address by Jacques Villeneuve, '97 F1 World Champion, British American Racing F1 Team driver,
  • A Q&A session.

Renault Making Tracks...

Renault are speculated to have completed evaluating the possibilities of a return to Formula One, and an announcement could be made at the French Grand Prix, if all goes to plan.

Renault top man, Louis Schweitzer, has said "We won't come back unless our engineers tell us that they possess an advance such that, with a good partner, we will be able to win the world championship."

The implication is that, should Renault announce a linkup with any team at the French Grand Prix, then they believe they have discovered a potential advantage and intend to exploit it. Should their development work relating to adiabatic (uncooled) engines have yielded fruit, then it seems likely a tie up with Benetton is on the cards: Benetton's Joan Villadelprat has told press "If all goes well there could be a Benetton Renault next year ... I believe we've persuaded the French base to whom we've stayed loyal for almost a decade that this partnership should be recreated as soon as possible."

It is thought that Supertec would continue to provide retuned Renault engines, and would be included in the development work, slashing costs for the manufacturer and providing a decent upgrade path for Supertec runners. It could, in fact, become the de facto standard engine for non works team... replacing the Ford units, and running close to the top line Renault works units.

Realistically, it's too late for Renault to jump in for 2000 with Benetton - they need more time to get together a complete package if they are to fulfill their aim of domination. If there's an announcement, expect it to be for 2001 or 2002...

Ferrari's Assualt picking up steam...

Ferrari have not let up in their pressure to perform ahead of McLaren in forthcoming Grand Prix... and the Woking team will certainly be up against it to stay in front in performance terms.

The Ferrari team are working flat out to have their "next generation" engine and chassis available for the French Grand Prix. The engine intended for Canada incorporates a number of the revised parts for the new engine, which in it's complete form is still not developing power in a smooth enough fashion.

Coupled with the revised chassis, the team are hopeful of repeating last year's 1-2 finish, and delivering a significant blow McLaren's championship aspirations.

Technically illegal...

It's standard form in Formula One to push the rules as far as possible to gain advantage, without actually breaking them. The process for testing whether rules have been bent too far is to protest a development, and see if it's banned. If it is, the team that running the feature has to remove it... and if not, the protesting team loses a substantial deposit.

At the Spanish Grand Prix, the McLaren team protested Ferrari's use of metal in the plank - a device nominally present to ensure the car is not too low to the ground, and specifically defined by the rules and regulations.

Ferrari pushed the rules by running the plank with metallic inserts - ballast moved from the shell above into the plank to make space in the cockpit, and keep the center of gravity as low as possible. Technically, it contravened the rules, and was banned. Ferrari's claims that the device was still fulfilling it's intended function, and would wear correctly, were dismissed as the plank's extra mass would make it more dangerous in the event of a collision.

It appears it was this protest which coincidentally brought attention to Stewart's plank fasteners, resulting in the team's exclusion from the results.

ITV-F1 Viewfinder

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

  • Taking on Montreal - Looking forward to the Canadian Grand Prix
  • Driver Stresses and Strains - Explained by Arrows Physiotherapist Dominique Sappia

Wide Open in Canada

All the major players are carrying new parts for Canada - Ferrari, McLaren, Stewart and Jordan are all running new engines, at least for qualifying - and all the teams have something new in their aerodnamics; some have revised suspension and brakes.

This, unusually, makes the forthcoming race more difficult to predict than usual... Ferrari's approach to qualifying could see them ahead of McLaren, but slower in the race - certainly they hope to be competitive.

Behind them, Jordan are hoping a new engine will push their qualifying punch, allowing them to mix with Ferrari, whilst Stewart have a new aerodynamic solution for the circuit, which should be good for both qualifying and the race.

So, Canada should at least have a good qualifying session, and on a track with overtaking opportunities, the race could shape up well too.

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