F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
July 10, 2002
Last Chance For Yoong
Despite pardoning Alex Yoong's second failure to qualify for a
Grand Prix this year, Minardi chief Paul Stoddart says the
25-year-old is on his last chance.
The first Malaysian driver in the history of the sport, rookie
Yoong missed the 107% cut at the Silverstone circuit on
Saturday afternoon. Adding to his similar San Marino
discrepancy, Stoddart says that while he does not blame the
youngster, another failure to qualify would be a 'different
Stoddart pointed to his technical team's decision to not take
power steering to the long, fast corners of the 5.14km
'Let's be very clear on this, Alex was always going to be
marginal at Silverstone,' the 47-year-old said. 'The two
tracks I worried about all year were Imola and Silverstone. He
didn't make it at Imola and he hasn't made it here.'
'I have my own opinions on whether it (the power steering)
should or should not have run but at the end of the day I
don't blame Alex for this one. If Alex was to miss another
one, though, that's a different story.
'There's never any question. There comes a point where if I
felt that non-qualification was due to him then I would be
seriously reviewing his position.'
While Aussie ace Mark Webber, in the sister PS02, made the
grade by over two seconds, Yoong failed to get within 1.3
seconds of his nearest competitor on the final row of the
The next time Alex goes qualifying, at the French Grand Prix,
the Malaysian will at least have 26 birthday candles to blow
out if he once again fails the grade.
Yoong brings more than $10m of national sponsorship to the KL
(Kuala-Lumpur) Minardi Asiatech team.
Support For Rob Bain
British Sports Minister, Richard Caborn, has joined Sir Jackie
Stewart in defending the recently resigned Octagon UK chief
Bain, who oversaw the first $10m stage of improvements to the
Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire, called it quits
yesterday after the latest verbal assault by F1 supremo Bernie
Calling the British circuit 'chaotic', Bernie slammed the new
Dadford road, hard-parking and track signage by saying, 'I'm
not impressed and it's dreadful for the public.
'It's chaos, nobody knows where they're going or where they've
been. There are no signs, nothing.'
Despite FIA President Max Mosley's post-race praise of the
circuit, Rob Bain stepped down from his post as CEO of Octagon
UK. Caborn, instrumental in the British government's input
into the British Grand Prix, was unstinting in his support for
'Max Mosley said that the improvements that have been made now
rank Silverstone as one of the best in the world in terms of
transportation and getting in and out of the place,' he said.
'That is a major step forward and everybody involved should be
congratulated on a job well done.
'It was just unfortunate that Bernie got caught in an airfield
about 10 minutes away.'
When the 71-year-old Ecclestone's helicopter was forced to
land outside the circuit due to poor visibility, the supremo's
chauffer become lost blaming poor Silverstone signage.
'He played a tremendous role', concluded Caborn.
Sir Jackie Stewart, F1 great and President of the BRDC, added
to the chorus that the 2002-spec Silverstone circuit was a
'big step forward' over previous years.
'The master plan for Silverstone to create a centre of
excellence is on course,' the Scot told the BBC. 'Bernie
Ecclestone himself has invested with the BRDC and Octagon.'
'It's important to keep the GP in Britain and Silverstone is
Despite Bernie's scathing attack on Rob Bain, Stewart is
adamant that this negative pressure did not result in the
Briton's resignation. 'I don't think that's what tipped the
balance,' he continues.
'I think he basically made up his mind that this was something
he had been in long enough.
'I understand it's a decision he has made and I wish him well
but I thought it was a pretty good team we had.'
Pre-France Testing Update
The Formula One teams have kicked off what will be a busy week
of testing; the last such on-track opportunity before the
summer break comes into effect.
Williams, Toyota, Jaguar and British American Racing have made
the trek to the famous, high-speed Monza circuit in Italy,
where low-downforce settings will be tried for the September
A second Williams test team will be in action at the Spanish
Valencia circuit, joined by Sauber and Jordan ahead of the
twisty French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours in two weeks.
The troubled Arrows team have tentatively penciled in a date
at Valencia, but the Leafield outfit's priority is securing
its future ahead of the next Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, McLaren will turn out at Paul Ricard in France,
while Ferrari focus their usual efforts into private Fiorano
and Mugello testing. Minardi will not test.
A trying 35°C greeted Sauber, Williams and Renault on day one
at Valencia, Fernando Alonso quickest in his R202. Marc Gene
completed 94 BMW-powered laps for Williams, while the solitary
Sauber of Nick Heidfeld was a couple of tenths down the road.
The Swiss team will complete three-days of testing in Spain,
Felipe Massa scheduled to wrap things up on Thursday.
Giampaolo Dall'ara, Head of the test Team, said: 'Today our
focus was on aerodynamic set-up work and traction control
development ready for Magny-Cours and Hockenheim'.
Sauber also worked on a new braking system, set for debut in
Tuesday At Valencia:
Fernando Alonso Renault 1m13.129s 66 laps
Marc Gene Williams 1m14.553s 94 laps
Nick Heidfeld Sauber Petronas 1m.14.567s 39 laps
Meanwhile, at Monza, the FW24 Williams of Antonio Pizzonia set
the time in stinking 35 degree conditions. Toyota's Allan
McNish, still recovering from his British Grand Prix
disappointment, lost three seconds in lap-times when the heat
escalated in the afternoon.
'We had some problems this morning and did not do any running
at all,' the Scot said. 'We started to work on aero balance in
the afternoon in preparation for the Italian Grand Prix, as
Monza is different to any other circuit for this.
'We also looked closely at how the car rides the kerbs - a big
problem we had in Montreal and something we have to work on at
this kind of track, but it's early days.'
Lauda Calls For Aero Change
Niki Lauda says that changing Formula One's aerodynamic
regulations will fix the escalating problem of 'boring races'.
The plain-talking Jaguar chief, formerly a triple world
champion, admits to finding modern Formula One racing a little
dull. And, 'In the end, boring races will begin to bore
people', he says.
'I always wonder why people watch F1, to be honest. Some of
the races are so boring, but still the TV numbers are on the
up. Maybe it's the cars, the planes, the yachts, the money.
Michael Schumacher's $60 million a year is intriguing', he
While the lack of overtaking often leads to processional
Grands Prix, Lauda reveals that the boredom of Formula One is
'easily fixed'. 'First we should return to the aerodynamic
situation of the old days', he says, 'Where the wings, not the
underfloor provided the real aero action.'
That way, he adds, overtaking will be inspired because a
following car will get a better 'tow', or slipstream.
'Second', the Jaguar team principal adds, 'We should stop
changing circuits by putting stupid chicanes everywhere.
'Also, the rules should be kept stable so even the 'bad teams'
have a chance to catch up. What Max [Mosley, FIA President] is
doing for speed and safety means that the rules change all the
'We should keep the rules steady for five years, and even the
Minardis will catch up!'
Remembering his good old days of missed gearchanges and
1500bhp turbo-charged engines, Lauda thinks that 'Traction and
launch-control are shit and we should get rid of them.'
What about the Michael-factor? Isn't Formula One teetering on
boredom and predictability simply because Ferrari and
Schumacher are painting 2002 scarlet-red? Lauda disagrees,
adding that 'Michael is just amazing.'
'He's in his seventh year at Ferrari and he still goes like
crazy! But my feeling is that he will stop in 2004 after his
Monaco: Home Sweet Home
The tiny principality of Monaco, on the South-East coast of
France, is where the great majority of Formula One's
millionaire pilots call home.
Why, then, do thirty-thousand Monagasques squeeze themselves
into a mere 195 hectares of 45 banks, hundreds of designer
boutiques and glitzy casinos? Could it be the central location
(near Nice airport), or cosy riviera-esque climate?
Not really; the fiscal policy of Monaco, you see, is noted for
its absence of direct personal taxation. And, if you're
earning multiple millions of dollars, that's incentive enough
to squeeze yourself into a Monte-Carlo apartment.
In the region of Fontvieille, South-East of the Monaco Grand
Prix circuit, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Rubens Barrichello, Nick
Heidfeld, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jos Verstappen, Ricardo Zonta
(ex-BAR pilot), Alex Wurz and Jenson Button call Monaco home.
David Coulthard, McLaren driver, co-owns perhaps the glitziest
hotel in the Fontvieille region; the Columbus. 'I live in the
area', he says, 'So I can keep my eye on my investment.'
Nearer the harbor, just North of the famous Swimming Pool,
Mika Hakkinen and his young family enjoy a plush apartment. Up
the hill, in a region called Moneghetti, Jacques Villeneuve,
Jarno Trulli, Luciano Burti and Juan Pablo Montoya all have
One famous ex-resident, Michael Schumacher, moved his young
family to the open spaces of Switzerland. Younger brother
Ralf, also an ex-Monagasque, called Monte-Carlo 'Too boring';
he now calls an Austrian mansion home.
Olivier Panis, BAR-driving Frenchman, chooses to stay in
Grenoble where more than 50% of his annual income is seized.
French nationals, you see, are subject to French taxes in
Brawn Lauds Ferrari Effort
Talented Ferrari technical director, Ross Brawn, says that
even his wildest dreams could not have put Michael
Schumacher's championship lead at 54 points by mid-July.
As the great German stands on the cusp of a record-equaling
fifth title, however, Brawn is taking the time to reflect on
the magnificent achievements of the 21st Century Italian
'I couldn't have envisaged having a fifty-four point gap in
mid-July and that was really what Austria [the imposition of
team orders] was all about,' he admits.
With Schumacher seeing the chequered flag - and podium - at
every 2002 Grand Prix, Brawn marvels at the incredible
reliability of the latest scarlet concoction; F2002. 'To be
frank it would have been difficult to imagine such
reliability', he said.
'Formula One cars are such complex things, and you always
imagine or expect something is going to go wrong.
'For Michael to have had the run of reliability is fantastic
and a tribute to the team, and I could never say I expected we
could finish fourteen or fifteen races. It's inconceivable.
'I don't want to tempt fate but number of podiums we have had
in a row is around forty-five or forty-six. It is
inconceivable to me. It's a very, very good car [and] two
While the close Bridgestone/Ferrari relationship 'deserves
credit' for the Scuderia's success, the tech boss is quick to
add that the Japanese tire in qualifying is perhaps the only
weakness of the 2002 package.
'It is not such a good tire for qualifying, but rock solid for
the race', he adds. 'If the Silverstone race had developed
properly you would have seen us get quicker and quicker with
every lap. At best, the Michelins hold their times.'
A ninth Michael Schumacher win at the Magny-Cours circuit in a
fortnight will almost guarantee the German's third successive
Octagon To Take Their Time
As Octagon Motorsport recover from the shock resignation of
CEO Rob Bain, the Silverstone promoters say they are in 'no
rush' to replace their former boss.
After an emergency board meeting to consider Bain's
replacement, Octagon decided to take their time to plot the
'best way forward' for the company. 'There is no decision on a
replacement yet', a spokesperson said.
'We have a committee of people who are working on finding the
best model to take the company forward. We have time to work
After FIA President Max Mosley's unqualified praise, Bernie
Ecclestone unleashed a scathing attack on the $10 million
upgrade to access roads, parking and signage at the
The F1 supremo said that Silverstone remained 'a country fair
masquerading as a global event', prompting Bain to call an
impromptu press conference in the Silverstone media centre.
The next day, Bain received a letter banning him from next
year's British Grand Prix paddock. Representatives of
commercial bodies, said the letter from the FIA to Bain, are
prohibited from the Formula One media centers.
Upon reading the harshly-worded reprimand, Bain announced his
immediate resignation as CEO of Octagon UK.
VW Say No To Formula One
Volkswagen have re-stated their resolve to stay away from
Formula One racing, citing the expensive gamble of 'image
loss' as too great a risk.
Head of the German manufacturer, Bernd Pischetsrieder, is an
unabashed supporter of Grand Prix racing, and has been
numerously linked to fielding an entry - possibly as Audi - in
the pinnacle of motorsports.
Having surveyed the immense costs, and risks of failure,
Pischetsrieder has however categorically ruled out any short
or long-term plans to try his hand at Formula One.
'The six or seven manufacturers now involved in F1 each spend
about 250 million Euros a year,' he told Autocar. 'This pays
off only when you're winning.
'There is no such thing as a lucky loser, because the image
loss for sustained failure is serious. I think one or two now
involved will be gone within five years.'
Successful in sportscar racing with the Audi and Bentley
brands, the company's most recent success was a dominant
one-two victory in the 2002 Le Mans 24 Hours event.
With Audi's unbridled Le Mans success, Pischetsrieder confirms
that Volkswagen gets just as much out of sportscar racing as
it would out of Formula One. 'If the cars only raced at Le
Mans, it might be questionable,' he said.
'But they race the whole American Le Mans Series as well, a
very popular series in the US, where Le Mans is bigger than
any F1 race.'
Something 'Very Wrong' With New Jag
Eddie Irvine has disconsolately confirmed that Jaguar Racing's
heavily-revised R3b package is inherently flawed.
Raced for the first time at Silverstone on the weekend, Irvine
and Pedro de la Rosa qualified the new Leaping Cat in 19th and
21st places; the Ulsterman ending his tenth British Grand Prix
in the boonies after a spin.
'There is a problem on our car', he revealed. 'There is
something that is not correct and this is the clue we need to
understand. There is something very wrong about the car, we
are sure it is not right. We have to understand why'.
As expectations grew before the R3b's first test at Barcelona,
the 37-year-old Ulsterman warned that if the new contender
'did not fly', he would happily hang up his racing helmet.
Far from flying, R3b has failed to deliver any of the promise
expected from wind-tunnel figures. 'It looked pretty good in
the wind tunnel', Eddie admitted.
'It is an improvement but I am just intrigued to understand
why it has not given the lap time it should have done. The
amount of downforce we found should give an enormous amount of
lap time. It did not give us much.'
When the original R3 was launched earlier this year, wind
tunnel aero-figures failed to match up with initial track
data. In the panic, technical director Steve Nichols was
As the brand-new wind tunnel and aerodynamics team unveil
their four months of labor, exactly the same problem has
resurfaced. 'The changes should have had a big effect with the
front wing, but it did not have the effect we had thought',
'Finding answers is the key. As I said, we measured the
downforce. There is hell of a lot more downforce, it is not a
Williams or Ferrari, but it has a lot more than before.'
While he chips away at the rear of the grid, the Irishman
reveals that 2002 at the Leaping Cat is the worst experience
of his life. 'I have never experienced a year this bad in my
life, but this new package has been the most dramatic
improvement - although it has not shown in lap times.
'We thought it got rid of the problem, but it did not. We will
Chinese Grand Prix For 2004?
Shanghai and Formula One have reportedly sealed the deal to
stage the first ever Chinese Grand Prix in 2004.
While an official statement has not been made, a leading
figure at the contracted construction company revealed that
'We have reached an agreement with Formula One Administration
(Bernie Ecclestone's company) to stage the race in the city
from 2004 to 2010.'
With construction set to commence immediately, all eyes have
turned to which current Grand Prix will be slashed from the
Formula One calendar. Imola, Nurburgring and Budapest are
among those tipped for the cut.
China courted with Formula One ambitions in the late nineties,
the new Zhuhai circuit failing to meet FIA standards.
Russia and Bahrain are among a throng of countries vying for a
slot on the Formula One calendar.
F1 News In Brief
- Attending his first CART race since losing his legs in
Germany last year, ex-F1 driver Alex Zanardi was the honorary
flag-bearer at Toronto on the weekend. Standing on new
prosthetic legs, the Italian surveyed the pack as they
approached the start-line, deciding to wave them off as
Cristiano da Matta and Paul Tracy jostled for position. Next
time around, Zanardi frantically waved the green, signaling
the race start. 'It was also great to wave the chequer', he
said. 'That was my favourite bit!'
- Formula One's tire regulations will remain unchanged for
2003, the FIA, Bridgestone and Michelin failing to agree on
proposed alterations. Continuing their pursuit to reduce lap
times, the FIA requested the tire companies to a) accept a new
rule mandating the use of harder rubber and b) to supply just
one compound for a weekend's racing. The tire companies
rejected both proposals, arguing that pitstops were crucial to
Grand Prix racing, and that restricting themselves to one
compound reduces the technical challenge of Formula One.
- We have reason to believe that sought-after aerodynamicist
Adrian Newey was approached by Ferrari on the weekend.
Currently technical director at McLaren, the Briton was
courted by Jaguar last year in a saga now known as 'Neweygate'.
Damon Hill has previously revealed the value of Newey in
designing a Formula One car. 'If you want to be competitive,
there are two ways', he said. 'Michael Schumacher or Adrian
Newey.' While Newey could certainly up his salary with a berth
at the Scuderia, he is not thought to be considering a move.
- Ferrari are thought to have made another approach in the
Silverstone paddock; this time to Italian ace Jarno Trulli.
Although most talented pilots will admit to talks with the
Scuderia, this latest approach could be Ferrari's first move
in planning for its post-Schumacher years. Come 2005, the
Italian marque will be on the search for two new chargers. 'I
am Italian', Trulli once said, 'So it would be nice to drive
for a winning Ferrari team, but it is not an obsession of
mine. I just want to drive for a very good team and that could
be any of them'.
- Paul Stoddart's Minardi team is up for sale; and the
47-year-old Aussie will gladly hand you the reins for nothing
so long as you take over the Faenza team's $28m dollars of
debt. Engine supplier Asiatech and Prince Khaled Al Waleed are
thought favorites to inherit the struggling backmarkers.
- How do you explode a Formula One nose and front-wing
assembly? Leave it wrapped in silver foil in the back of a
hire car in France... After testing privately with Michelin
and Olivier Beretta at the Miramas circuit last month, a hire
car company discovered the abandoned device and quickly called
the police. Not quite knowing what they were looking at, a
controlled explosion bode farewell to the FW24's experimental
prototype wing. 'The ultimate crash test', said a bemused
- Ross Brawn has launched an investigation into Rubens
Barrichello's start-line failure in the British Grand Prix.
'The car tried to select first gear without opening the clutch
for reasons we have got to look into,' he explained. 'We are
going to try and understand what happened'. On the bright
side, spectators were treated to the sight of the Brazilian's
feisty fight from last on the grid to complete the Ferrari
- Rookie Takuma Sato was beaming ear to ear when he enthused
about his overtaking move on Eddie Irvine in the British Grand
Prix. 'We were side-by-side and wheel-to-wheel all down the
straight, and into Copse Corner we were still side-by-side.
And into Maggotts we were still side-by-side!', the Jordan
driver smiled. 'At Becketts I finally got him. It reminded me
of 1999 in the National Class of British Formula 3 with Martin
O'Connell! I had those memories at the time and thought, 'Ah,
I've seen this before and now I'm doing it in Formula 1.'' The
Japanese driver's Honda eventually failed.
- According to The Sun, Jenson Button has been offered the
measly sum of £1m to remain at Renault next year. According to
the report, Flavio Briatore is hoping the Englishman will have
the same reaction as Giancarlo Fisichella last year; the
Italian having turned his nose up at the 'disrespectful offer'
leaving room for Jarno Trulli. This time, however, Fernando
Alonso is the young charger waiting in the wings.
On This F1 Day...
Argentine F1 driver Alessandro de Tomaso celebrates his 74th
birthday today, the twice a Grand Prix starter more famous for
his days as a Formula One constructor.
Settling in Italy, de Tomaso constructed cars for both the 1
1/2 and 3-litre formulas and supercars for the road.
In an unenviable record, de Tomaso's cars failed to finish all
ten contested Grands Prix in 1960, 1961 and 1970.
Also born on this day was Jean-Pierre Jarier, 56 today. A
veteran of 134 Grands Prix between 1971 and '83, the Frenchman
netted three pole positions but failed to ever win a race.
In the 1988 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the late and
very great Ayrton Senna scored his tenth Grand Prix win on 10
Partnered with Alain Prost, the unstoppable McLaren juggernaut
went on to win 15 of the 16 1988 Grands Prix, while Ayrton
Senna netted his first world championship.
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