F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

Fortnight starting 22nd August, 1999:

Archive Information  Updates over this fortnight were sparce, as one of the site authors was unavoidably abroad for this period.

The Return of Estoril

Organisers of the Portuguese Grand Prix are rumored the be in talking with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone about returning to the Formula One calander as soon as 2000.

The venue was cut from the calander in 1996 after the track was said to be unsafe. Since then track modifications have been extensive, including changes to the run-off areas, paddock, grandstands, press rooms and parking facilities, and will be totally finished by the end of September.

Backing up this rumor is a quotation of a member of the government, saying "the government is aware of these negotiations, keeping up with them, and willing to do everything to guarantee the return of F1 to Estoril".

A possibility to be considered, is the return of the winter testings by the teams, since they have always liked the portuguese track for testing, and might persuade the FIA to allow testing as soon as the end of this year.

If the track gets the go-ahead, Estoril might replace the Belgium Grand Prix which, according to Ecclestone is not on the calander in 2000.

Williams Deny Sellout

Sir Frank Williams has said that he won't be selling part of his team to engine partner BMW, despite rumors.

The Williams Team owner had previously commented that major car manufacturers were almost a necessary requirement for any team with ambitions to succeed in F1 in the next millennium.

"You need a partner who gives you engines and technology", quoted Williams. "But its too early to comment on whether well selling out. In any case, that seems unlikely".

Williams will start their partnership with BMW next season and are undergoing development at the present moment.

Petronas Evaluate Sauber Situation

Sauber's major backer, Petronas has been said to split with the team. With the string of poor results and Jean Alesi's decision to quit the team due to various problems with the C18, Petronas are said to be disappointed and want out of the team.

The contract doesn't end until 2002, along with Saubers other backer Red Bull. However, due to the performace of the team in recent years, the Malaysian oil giant could leave before serving full term.

If Petronas decide to pull the plug on Sauber, this could leave Sauber with some problems. Petronas have provided Sauber with one of the largest budgets in the F1 midfield, meaning Sauber have had no reason to look for other sponsorship deals.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad commented on the situation on Tuesday by saying: "That is a decision that must be made by Petronas. They will evaluate it - if they want to go ahead with Sauber, that is their decision. If they want to terminate and go with another team, that will also be their decision".

It is unclear whether Petronas want out of the entire sponsorship, or just want to retract its commitment to contributing to the payments of the Ferrari engine.

Verstappen-Ferrari Rumors

The Offical Jos Verstappen website has sparked rumors that Jos Verstappen may be in line for a Ferrari drive next season. On the Silly Season page of the site, Verstappen's name was next to Ferrari with a question mark.

It seems likely that Eddie Irvine will go to Jaguar Grand Prix next year and Rubens Barrichello has been rumored to take his seat at Ferrari. Though, if Barrichello decides he doesn't want to play second fiddle to Schumacher, the Jaguar line-up will consist of Barrichello and Irvine.

If Barrichello stays put, and with Mika Salo confirmed at Sauber, it doesn't leave Ferrari with many other experienced drivers to choose from and Jos Verstappen may be a very likely candidate.

Credit: The Jos Verstappen Website

Coronel Linked to Arrows

Current Formula Nippon Championship leader, Tom Coronel has been linked to a test seat for the Arrows team for the 2000 season. His manager, Willi Weber admitted having a meeting between himself and Tom Walkinshaw after qualifying on Saturday.

"We are happy with the results of Tommy in Japan. We have a meeting this afternoon with Tom Walkinshaw to talk about the possibilities of a test with Arrows. I hope I can put both Toms together", said Weber.

Tom Coronel later confirmed the meeting after saying, "I will indeed have a meeting with Tom Walkinshaw this afternoon for a test. I really like to drive a car that revs up to 18.000 rpm and I hope that I will get that chance. We'll see then what happens next".

Speculation is that if the test proves a success, he will be offered a test drive with Arrows for 2000, allowing him to continue with his third season in Formula Nippon.

Ready, Eddie, Go!

An Irish Champion?

by Peter Mooney

Being Irish, Eddie Irvine will appreciate the following comment, which comes from Davey Fitzgerald, the goalkeeper of the Clare hurling team. In the last minute of a recent championship game, he made a brilliant save, and then moments later scored a penalty goal up the other end of the field, earning a replay for his team: "Sure, that's hurling. This weekend I'm the hero, but next weekend I could be the bollix." The comment is very apt for Irvine, who, after races in Austria and Germany where he displayed a metaphorical two fingers to his detractors and showed just how good he can be, now has a glorious chance to take the 1999 F1 drivers' championship.

The circumstances Irvine found himself in at Austria and Germany would have made many a man give up and run for cover. However, he showed himself equal to the savage combination pressure of his team and the press, and also pressure he put on himself by his comments after Michael Schumacher's crash at Silverstone. He lives by his own comments, but never accepts the opinions of the press, the majority of whom he considers "morons who don't know what they're talking about." He could do without the negative pressure from within Ferrari after Schumacher's demise, personified in the shape of Jean Todt the team manager.

Click here to read the rest of this article

Salo to Sauber

Ferrari stand-in, Mika Salo has been rumored to be a strong candidate for replacing Jean Alesi at Sauber for 2000. Jean Alesi announced his departure from the Sauber team at the Hungarian GP. Alesi is said to be signing a deal with Prost for next season.

Salo is set to drive alongside Brazilian, Pedro Diniz who is said to have already signed an agreement with the Swiss based outfit.

Salo is also linked to a drive with the Jaguar team, though rumors indicate that Johnny Herbert has no intension of buying out of his contract with the team.

Williams Talk With Montoya

Rumors have arisen that Sir Frank Williams visited the new Chicago Motor Speedway on the eve of the CART Target Grand Prix, for a meeting with Juan Pablo Montoya.

There have been reports that Montoya has already signed for 2000 at Ganassi. Both Williams and technical director, Patrick Head has stated that they intend to keep their line up of Ralf Schumacher and Alex Zanardi for next season.

As Zanardi has clearly had an unhappy season in Formula 1 this season, rumors suggest that Montoya and Zanardi are going to swap seats.

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