F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

Week starting 18th July, 1999:


Austrian GP: Welcome to Vienna, Minnesota

or; "It's a nice place to visit, but Mozart would have moved."

humour by Inky Black

Looking down towards Austria from outer space, you will see that it is nowhere near Minnesota. People, however, often confuse Vienna, Austria with Vienna, Minnesota. Especially people working in a brewery.

Recall that the brewers who sponsor the BayWatch All-Girl Pit Crew can be "out of touch." Yes, we're talking the brewery at Hopbottom. You remember Hopbottom, the old Indian name which means pretty much the same thing in English. Well, they did it again... Welcome to the small town of Vienna, Minnesota. Vienna is home to a 500-mile race on the dirt track called "Mozart's Eighth." The name describes the length of each lap on the 1/8th mile oval.

Click here to read the whole article...


The Sunday Times was behind the times...

The rumours concerning drugs in Formula One which the Sunday Times splashed across its front page on July 11th (in time for the start of the British GP at Silverstone) are years and years out of date.

The story had its origins back in the late eighties. Few now remember the Leyton House team, which suddenly appeared on the grid with pots and pots of lovely dosh ready to set the world of Formula One alight. Unlike the antics of Beatrice Lola, who actually wanted to go racing but couldn't, Leyton House was a Japanese backed team, apparently set up to a) launder drug money and b) move the drugs cross-continent in the transporters. Backed by the Japanese version of the Mafia, The Yakuza, Leyton House never seemed to have a clue what they were doing. Accordingly, when Bernie found out from his impeccable sources, he sent them on their way sharpish. Loss of face and honour is a big concept even to Japanese gangsters - arguably more so than for other Japanese people - so they skiddadled when Bernie threatened to expose them via numerous circuitous routes.

The Sunday Times doesn't seem to be what it was of old, when they really did know what was going on - getting to the bottom of Thalidomide to name but one issue. Every few years the drug stories resurface, and this was nothing more than someone regurgitating the Leyton House story.


Death of a Dream

What To Do When Your Golden Ticket Falls Down the Gutter

by David Bell

May I start by proclaiming that eternal optimism is but a cruel myth designed by witless jesters to extract goodness from the human soul? Good. Thank you. The harsh twist of fate that saw Michael Scumacher's aspirations for this year's World crown quashed has also embittered my perception of faith and justice. At least that was my stance on the merit of dreaming after the first lap of the British Grand Prix two weeks ago saw my great expectations lost.

I wanted to give this work some kind of apt pun for its title, "Screeching Skid and Silverstoned" or "Scotty Triumphs with Tireless Crewmate Support," perhaps. But I thought much better of it. If the following piece appears somewhat laboured and unimaginative then please do not bear me entirely responsible for I am, as the great sage Eddie Irvine envisaged, "one sick puppy." ...

Click here to read the entire article


Sauber's Silly Season

With Jean Alesi tipped to leave Sauber at the end of the year, unless they can arrange a Works engine deal for 2001 or ensure that the gap to Ferrari is less than it has been this year.

Disillusioned with the car's performance, the mercurial Frenchman is likely to turn up at Prost, a team many are tipping to be worth watching in 2000: their new mini-engine from Peugeot, and coinciding with the introduction of a revolutionary new suspension system, could be Alesi's ticket to the top. Rumours of his return to Ferrari are fanciful, but not entirely beyond the bounds of possibility; and there's always the he could be in a Stewart too...

Pedro Diniz has been approached by a number of teams, in light of his excellent work at Sauber, where he's performed alongside his highly rated partner most of the year. It's thought that the Brazilian will remain for 2000, though he has been connected with Ferrari once or twice already this year.


Irvine - Genius or Fool?

Counterpoint to 'Tribute to a Cliche'

by Colm Doherty

David Bell's "Tribute to a cliche" piece is timely, but merits further comment. In 18 years of following F1, I never recall a driver who has stirred such conflicting emotions in me. Senna, at times, had a similar effect, but Irvine really is starting to look like a "one-off". I admire his speed, caution-to-the-wind track style and his mental strength as much as I loath his degrading comments about fellow drivers. This year in particular, Irvine has given cause for both cheers and squirms of embarrassment, sometimes almost simultaneously!

But his behaviour merits a closer analysis than either offered to date by the "Best of British" or "Irish loudmouth" schools of thought. I believe that Irvine has beefed up his naturally irreverent attitude to build a persona that's capable of surviving and thriving in the Machiavellian world of late 1990's Formula One and, especially, in the psychological cauldron that is "Scuderia Schumacher". I believe he is clever man who has figured out that to remain on stage in a leading role beyond the opening night, he's now better off playing "Dick Dastardly" than the loyal lapdog role, which has also drawn jeers from the critics in equal measure!

Click here to read the entire article


Atlas-F1 Grapevine

This week's Atlas F1 Grapevine:

  • Eddie's Dream, or Nightmare?
  • FIA Move on Gravel Traps
  • Benetton Disillusioned
  • Silly Season Update
  • Picked from the Bunch


Franchitti back in the Rumour Mill

Following a good win in the CART series last weekend, it's of little surprise to discover the Scots name cropping up again in Formula One circles.

Speculation has both Stewart and Jordan talking to the Scot over the chances he'll be crossing the pond to trial Formula One for 2000. It's thought that Ferrari are also interested in his services.

Whilst Franchitti has expressed a desire to race in Formula One, few believe he'll make the transition next year, but will elect to remain in CART awhile longer.


Statistics favour Irvine?

At the start of the season, much was made of the statistic that nine of the last ten World Championships have been won by the winner of the season opener.

When Irvine took the flag in Australia, general consensus was that Schumacher's number one status was never in doubt - no matter what rumours were going around. Accordingly, he was expected to take the lead in the Championship from the Irishman, and the Drivers crown at the end of the year.

The McLaren team have pulled the car together from a very shaky start - reliability causing many problems initially - to take the lead from Ferrari for the drivers title, and close the Constructors right up; and even with Schumacher's removal from the scene, they are working as hard as ever.

For all that, should the season finish with Irvine taking the title, it would be a bitter blow for Schumacher's dreams of bringing it to Ferrari first, and a major coup for statistics!


Ferrari working on options

Scuderia Ferrari is rumoured to be preparing a special Formula One car for Michael Schumacher.

They are supposed to be exploring the use of a hand throttle, amongst other things, in their attempts to get Michael Schumacher on track as soon as possible - should he return whilst the Championship is still within his reach, Ferrari want their huge investment into taking the title to pay off.

Whilst it makes sense to explore all the possibilities, it's unlikely that Ferrari would risk the Double World Champion by bringing him back before he's fully fit.

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