F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

Week starting 19th September, 1999:


Verstappen's odds improve

Recently rumoured to be in the running for a seat at Arrows, Jos Verstappen's chances have improved significantly with the expectation that Phillips will return to sponsoring in Formula One.

The electronics giant sponsored Verstappen to 1996 before a change in policy saw them stop all motorsport sponsorships. A change of heart - largely brought about by the chances of a Netherlands Grand Prix and the company's restructuring - has enabled them to consider placing money in Formula One again, and the t-minus branding offered by Arrows is thought to offer a strong pull.

Understanding that Takagi's main sponsor has all but pulled out, this places Jos Verstappen, alongside Tom Coronel, as the premier Dutch driver, and most likely to benefit, particularly in light of his previous connection with the company.


Schumacher: The Point of no Return?

by Julie Gates

Sunday July 11th will go down in the history books as one of Ferrari's darkest days. That day saw them lose the might of Michael Schumacher as the German careered off the track from Stowe corner into the awaiting tyre barrier. Now, some two months after the accident, will he return to Formula One to play Irvine's lackey or will he sit out until he'll be in command of the team in red?

Well, you can look at it from two angles. He could want to help the team, no matter what, secure the 1999 World Championship courtesy of Eddie Irvine. On the other hand, which I add is more likely, he probably despises the thought of playing number two and will not fill the hot seat until he is able to return to normality as the team's leader.

Click here to read the whole article!


BMW Plan for the future

Although BMW are publically admitting they do not expect to win a Grand Prix in their first couple of years, there are things afoot behind the scenes which indicate they are not being complacent.

Working with Williams, the team have identified that their plans to grow the V10 unit into a front runner could be compromised by Ferrari and Honda's V12 projects - the power projections could make V10 units unsuitable at more than half the circuits.

Apparently, BMW are currently examining an idea which could revolutionise the sport: interchangable engines. In the current model, cars and engines are highly integrated, right from the design stages, in order to maximise their potential. It seems that for 2001, BMW are considering developing V10 and V12 units, with a view to running whichever is most appropriate for the circuit being raced.

Traditionally, V12 engines are longer and narrower than V10 units - and it's uncertain how BMW and Williams plan to get around this. There are no rumours of V8 units being developed at this time.


BAR start developing!

Finally, the BAR team think they have a car which is reliable enough to take some performance development.

To date, the car has been so unreliable, that introducing new parts designed to improve performance has impacted the work designed to improve the car's running, and allow it to make the end of races.

Feedback from the last test has shown that reliability, whilst not perfect, is now at a manageable level, so the team can start bringing in modifications proposed as far back as June, and incorporate performance components for the drive-train developed from working alongside Honda.

It's too late for most of the changes to appear at the European Grand Prix, but Malaysia could present the team with their best opportunity to show progress since the start of the season.


Of Fast Starts and Endings That Come Too Soon

by Emily Wheeler, USA

"Attention. Attention, please."

Both of us got out of bed to work at the track last Saturday. While I would make photocopies in the media center, he would participate in qualifying for the Monterey Grand Prix. Our paths, most likely, would never cross, although we would occupy the same plot of land in the middle of a dry lake on the outskirts of a former military reserve.

"This is John Stornetta, General Manager of Laguna Seca Raceway."

As I was waking up - too late - rushing my dog around the block, and sudsing frantically in the shower, he might have been donning his Nomex overalls, checking his ride, and wondering where he'd wind up on the grid. As I raced south on Highway One toward Laguna Seca, in my mother's green Land Rover, he began practice laps in a red-and-white, shark-nosed CART missile.

Click here to read the whole article


Ferrari push Irvine

Ferrari's test last week allowed the team to bring forward a new chassis for Irvine, whilst testing a number of steps forward.

Irvine's existing chassis was starting to lose rigidity as a product of the use it's seen. Between testing and races, the chassis has far exceeded the usage of any other this year, and the constant work has seen it start to flex. This in turn prevents the setups from working effectively, as the car's attitude is effective in constant flux around the circuit. The new chassis alone is thought to be worth four tenths, whilst the work carried out last week should carry a further half a second benefit.

Whilst this sounds like a lot of improvement - and frankly, it is - in reality it's barely enough to put the Ferrari back on par with McLaren, and really represents the ground lost from poor development work over the last three races. The benefits should bring Irvine back to having a chance at the title, but McLaren are still expected to have an edge.


Jordan push Frentzen

With Heinz-Harald just ten points off the Championship lead, the Jordan team are getting behind the German to ensure he has the best chance possible of taking the title this year. Pundits put his chances at 10% - arguably lower than it should be.

The Jordan approach has been one of parity all year, but beginning with the Italian Grand Prix last week, they are taking a new direction. The team only had one new specification qualifying engine available, and by agreement with Damon Hill, it was Frentzen who used it. This approach will be maintained through the remainder of the season - where there is a shortage of material or man-power, it will not be Frentzen who suffers, if it's avoidable.

With Hill's commitment to the team looking set to end once they are assured of third place in the Championship, it's possible he will stay to the end if he believes he can influence Frentzen's odds at taking the title. The Englishman is keen to see Jordan do well, even if he isn't the one left holding the trophy.

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