F1 Rumors - news ahead of the headlines

Week starting 20th December, 1999


by Michael Wynne

The break gives us time to reflect on this years' trials & tribulations, and what might have been. Notable were: special driving from Frentzen, having settled well with the Jordan team, Schumacher junior excelling with an inferior car, and the 'Master' himself, Michael Schumacher, who has the ability to make any car go faster than should be possible, who spent the Malayian Grand Prix trying to go slowly and still came second. But even his talent didn't stop Hakkinen driving exceptionally under pressure to put together the perfect final race, winning the Championship. And remember, of course, all the pit lane mistakes and racing incidents that made 1999 an interesting year!

As we prepare for Christmas and look forward to the New Year/Millenium, and what it has to offer, all the team changes makes it possible for an even closer Championship this year, were we can hope Maclaren will not have to try to 'give' the title away, and the competition are alongside them on merit alone.

Last, but not by any means least, we remember the families of those drivers, from all Motor Sport, who lost their lives this year, whilst striving to be 'The Best'.

Darren Manning

Headed for the top by Julie Gates

Darren Manning has been aspiring to driving in Formula One for the last decade. Now, courtesy of BAR, he has his foot in the illustrious door and is getting set to take the F1 world by storm.

The British star, born on April 20 1975 in North Yorkshire, began novice karting at the age of ten. Already he was showing promise and competed in British, European and World Karting Championships between 1986-1991. Set for a successful career, the only way was up and this led him to his first real motor racing experience in single seater racing.

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Toyota's plans coming online

Toyota's plans to enter for the 2001 season depend on a couple of fairly significant issues: whether they can put together a competitive engine-chassis package, and whether they can find high-calibre drivers who are prepared to take a risk on a BAR like entry to the sport.

Over the course of 2000, Toyota are planning to design and build a test chassis, complete with a team to run it. The plans are similar to the Honda '99 plans, though apparently starting later; also, there is no decision yet on trying to run alongside other teams through the year - that is being put off until the first test results are in.

Toyota's concerns are that although they can put together a decent engine, it's unlikely to be a front running in the first couple of years at least; furthermore, they have not got enought F1 experience to build a first class chassis to the current rules, though they are confident that their first attempt will not be poor. The problems don't stop there, though: even a first class chassis would need to be set up according to the characteristics of the track it's running on, and they have little practicle data at this time.

A side issue, it's thought that if Toyota do not make the 2001 entry, Michelin could pull out of their entry for a year, which could put Williams into a tricky situation, as they have publically committed to using the French tyres then.

Concern over Michelin

Back-markers are seeing Michelin's entry in 2001 in a very worrying light. When Bridgestone and Goodyear were battling for the title in '98, teams using Bridgestone tyres appeared to suffer as the tyre company focussed on McLaren. Goodyear runners did not suffer as much, but still believed the Ferrari team had the best of it, working to develop the tyres.

When Goodyear withdrew, Bridgestone were unhappy to ramp up their manufacturing processes to provide the tyres required for all eleven teams. Common belief, at this time, is that they would move to working alongside McLaren and Ferrari alone, should Michelin prove effective with the Williams and Toyota teams...

That's not quite the end of the story; despite Michelin announcing their entry with only two teams in 2001, it's believed the FIA may insist the tyre manufacturer offers tyres to at least three teams... accordingly, there is a lot of speculation concerning team that will be, and most of the back-markers appear to be courting Michelin in the hope of being in the right place, at the right time, if it happens...

Bio of Martin Brundle

The making of a commentator

by Michael Bass

British ex-racing driver Martin Brundle started racing saloon cars at the age of 18, soon making a name for himself during the British Formula Ford 2000 Championship. From there he moved to Formula 3 in 1982, finishing third overall in the year British driver Tommy Byrne became champion.

He signed up for a drive in Formula 3000 in 1983,and despite giving Ayrton Senna a run for the title, was disappointed with his results: Martin raced effectively against the legend Senna, taking the championship to the wire in his Eddie Jordan Racing Ralt.

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