F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
July 12, 2002
Mansell Averts Disaster
Nigel Mansell used quick thinking and a cool head to narrowly
avert crashing his private jet.
The 48-year-old Briton, Formula One World Champion of 1992,
coaxed his nine-seater Cessna Citation to earth from 15,000
feet after a total instruments failure tested his mettle in
Sending out an SOS call, Mansell turned the plane around
'blind', heading back to the Exeter airport he had left 35
Emergency crews and airport officials crossed their fingers as
the crippled Cessna groped its way through the wild weather to
the main runway, one observer noting Mansell's 'perfect
landing' in horrific conditions.
'Most people in that situation could have panicked', said an
Exeter official. 'It must have been pretty hairy up there.
'But I suppose Nigel's used to danger. He flew the plane back
safely in a textbook performance.'
Noted for his fiercely competitive style, Nigel Mansell is
widely lauded as one of the best Grand Prix drivers of his
generation. Steering a second-placed title challenge home no
less than three times, his determination and talent finally
netted a richly deserved championship in 1992, in the
all-conquering Williams-Renault FW14.
He retired from Formula One in the mid-nineties after a soured
trial at McLaren, last winning at the 1994 season finale at
Bourdais Makes F1 Debut
Young French ace Sebastien Bourdais made his debut in a
Formula One car yesterday, the 23-year-old steering an Arrows
Leading the International F3000 series, the youngster rounded
25 circuits of the twisty, tricky Valencia circuit in Southern
Spain, his best time just 1.7 seconds shy of Marc Gene's
As Tom Walkinshaw's Leafield outfit struggle for survival, it
is thought that a potential deal with Bourdais and the FFSA (Fédération
Française de Sport Automobile) could bring substantial backing
to the team.
In the first of a series of track appearances for
OrangeArrows, the Super Nova driver will become known as the
official test driver for Walkinshaw's team.
Bourdais took over Heinz-Harald Frentzen's car for afternoon
running at the Spanish track, running smoothly and without
incident in the Cosworth-powered Arrows machine.
Bourdais, easing his way towards netting the Formula 3000
title, has also been linked to the Swiss-based Sauber Petronas
Davidson To Test a Jag
Young BAR tester Anthony Davidson is the latest rival charger
to accept an invitation from Jaguar Racing to try an R3.
The 23-year-old Englishman, noted for his consummate style in
British Formula 3 and BAR testing duties, will take to the
wheel of the R3 when the July/August testing ban lifts in
The youngster joins Renault's Fernando Alonso and Minardi
charger Mark Webber in the Milton-Keynes pursuits to evaluate
potential candidates to replace Eddie Irvine at 'the Cat' next
Davidson will become the sixth talent to grace the struggling
R3's wheel, regular gunners Andre Lotterer and James Courtney
assisting Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa in improving Jaguar's
Renault ace Jenson Button has been strongly linked with a move
to Milton-Keynes next year.
Courtney In High-Speed Crash
Australia's James Courtney has emerged unscathed from a
frightening crash at the Ascari chicane during yesterday's
Formula One testing at Monza.
The 21-year-old, on Jaguar testing duties, was sent careering
into the barriers at nearly 280km/h when his R3 suffered a
rear suspension failure. Undertaking mechanical testing in the
older Jaguar machine, James sat motionless in the destroyed
Formula One car.
Within minutes, a safety and medical crew were attending to
the F3 charger, Courtney complaining of having whacked his
head in the impact. As a precautionary measure, the young
Aussie was sent off to hospital upon extrication from the
'James was undertaking some mechanical testing in an old R3 as
part of our development for next year's car,' a Jaguar
'On the approach to the Ascari chicane, a rear suspension
failure forced him off the track at high speed but,
thankfully, James is OK.
'He is undergoing some x-rays and routine checks and all
appears to be well. Pedro and Eddie will continue testing with
the revised R3B as planned.'
On his way to the British Formula 3 title for Carlin
Motorsports, Courtney is noted particularly for his crushing
form during qualifying. Among others, the young charger is
being linked to Eddie Irvine's 2003 berth at Jaguar.
After more than an hour of red-flag time, Monza testing
resumed at the minimum-downforce circuit in Italy.
Goodwood Kicks Off!
The much-anticipated Goodwood Festival of Speed kicks off
later today, six Formula One teams turning out to field
contenders in the British hill-climb event.
Williams (Ralf Schumacher), McLaren (Alex Wurz), Ferrari (Luca
Badoer), Toyota (Allan McNish), BAR (Anthony Davidson) and
Renault (Jenson Button) will all power their latest Formula
One machinery up the hill in the ever-popular annual
convergence on Goodwood, England.
Noted for its vast array of historic contenders, former
drivers Jean Alesi and Jos Verstappen will turn out in tribute
to the late Ken Tyrrell, while the great man's protégé, Sir
Jackie Stewart, will blast his way up the Goodwood hill in his
title-winning 1971 Tyrrell 002.
With this year's 'On the Limit - A History of Heroes' theme,
Lord March has lined up an impressive list of former greats to
wow the hay-lined course.
'The cars and drivers this year each tell their own story of
heroism and competing on the limit,' he explained.
'Our Formula One line-up is exceptional this year and I think
this should be a real treat for those who appreciate the
history of the sport.'
Sir Jack Brabham, Emerson Fittipaldi, Johnny Herbert, Phil
Hill, Alan Jones, Jochen Mass, Sir Stirling Moss, Riccardo
Patrese, Danny Sullivan, Patrick Tambay - and an impressive
list of others - have all signalled their intention to blast
their way along the narrow track in former cars of glory.
Toyota chief Ove Andersson will drive a 1990 Toyota Celica GT4
in a demonstration run, while Renault's technical director
Mike Gascoyne will reportedly go for a fast time in a 1985
Renault 5 turbo Maxi.
The Formula One track action adds to a great day's motorsport
as motorcycles, rally cars, and GT sportscars lay rubber at
Alex Yoong Is 'Struggling'
Hanifah Yoong, father of Malaysia's first Formula One driver
Alex, has admitted that his son is 'struggling' at the
pinnacle of motorsports.
In the wake of his failure to qualify at the recent British
Grand Prix - his second such disgrace of the season - the
Malaysian readily admits that Yoong's Formula One career with
Minardi is unlikely to continue into 2003.
'I would say he has improved from when he started although he
is struggling', Yoong admits. 'With the latest set back, he
now has to overcome the monumental task of picking himself up
and get going again.
'This is very difficult as your motivation gets a hammering
with a set back this big.'
Having managed his son's career until earlier this year,
Hanifah is willing to concur that Alex Yoong does not belong
at the pinnacle of motorsports. 'To be absolutely honest, I
think he may find himself in CART or in IRL in the States', he
said, hypothesising on Alex's next move.
'If worse comes to worst he will do sports cars or British
Touring Cars or the European Touring Cars to earn a living.
'But I certainly would like to be surprised by him giving us
improved performances for the rest of this year to see him
getting another shot in Formula One next year.'
Despite the barrage of national sponsorship which accompanies
the Malaysian's Minardi berth, Hanifah admits that Paul
Stoddart is unlikely to renew Yoong's contract into '03.
'No, I expect they wouldn't, if we take Alex's performance up
till now. But there is no guarantee that he will not churn up
some good results sometime before the end of the season.
Anything that shows he is making good progress again will
influence Minardi to consider re-signing him, I think.'
Hanifah Yoong attends most Grands Prix as a journalist.
The much-loved, historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit is in
danger of losing its place on the Formula One calendar.
The owners of the challenging track, which first appeared in
the inaugural world championship in 1950, fear that the
Government's stance on tobacco advertising may force the
Belgian Grand Prix out of Formula One.
With China, Bahrain and Russia provisionally gearing for
inaugural 2004 events, Belgium's reluctance to exempt Formula
One from a national tobacco advertising ban could force Bernie
Ecclestone to cut the race from the calendar.
The tobacco ban, which comes into effect in August next year,
will mean that all cigarette branding on the F1 cars will be
removed; much like the British Grand Prix which is so highly
criticised by the F1 supremo.
And, with the Belgian Grand Prix currently sponsored by
Marlboro, the Belgian authorities may struggle even to fund
the annual event if the Belgian government does not react to
pressure to exempt the September Grand Prix.
Spa is widely acclaimed as the last true 'drivers' circuit on
the modern F1 calendar, its nearly 7km of challenging curves -
and infamous Eau Rouge corner - rewarding the bravest pilots.
The Formula One circus converges on Belgium on the weekend of
August 30 to September 1.
F1 Boffins Meet At Silverstone
FIA President Max Mosley has rejected the idea of spreading
Formula One qualifying over Friday and Saturday of a Grand
The suggestion was raised at a meeting of F1's manufacturers
and team bosses, the boffins sitting down to discuss the
new-for-2004 rule limiting each car/driver to a solitary
engine unit per weekend.
At the Silverstone meeting, concerns were raised that limiting
each driver to one engine may actually raise the escalating
costs of Formula One. The engine manufacturers feel that they
will be forced to design and build two V10 units; one to
survive 800 kilometres of running, and one less robust unit in
the event that a failure occurs.
Additional concerns have been raised by circuit promoters that
'engine saving' may result in less track action over the
course of Friday and Saturday Free Practice.
The suggestion that qualifying be comprised of Friday and
Saturday action, however, was rejected by the FIA boss. 'We
are very much against two qualifying sessions because the
qualifying hour has now become one of the stars of the show',
'I believe the viewing figures for qualifying are around 60%
of the total who watch the race.'
'If we want people to run on a Friday then a preferable
solution would be to make a rule that forced them to complete
a certain number of laps on Friday.'
One team insider, however, rejects the idea that F1 teams be
compelled to complete a quota of Friday laps: 'Formula One
should avoid artificiality', he said. 'The regulations should
be kept as liberal as possible. This is a sport, not a
To help cut costs for Formula One's struggling minnows, the
meeting was able to reach a general consensus that the
regulations should be freed to allow for 'parts sharing' up
and down pitlane.
In the same way as Ferrari sell their engines to Sauber, then,
the proposed regulation would allow McLaren, for example, to
sell an entire chassis to the cash-strapped Minardi outfit.
'We have an agreement in principle for teams to be able to
sell to one other team, items other than the engine and
gearbox,' said Mosley.
'It's a sensible process because at present I could go to a
team and buy a gearbox but I'd have to design my own
suspension, even though it would end up being very similar in
dimensions because it would have the same mounting points.'
There is the widely held suggestion that this kind of
parts-sharing already takes place in Formula One; albeit
clandestinely. Any formal rule, then, is simply an admission
that the current regulations are too hard to police.
Jordan-FORD For 2003?
The Ford Motor Company could make a visible return to Grand
Prix Racing next year by supplying blue-oval badged Cosworth
engines to Jordan.
While the motoring giant owns and finances the Jaguar Racing
project, whispers in the Formula One paddock suggest that a
deal with Eddie Jordan's Silverstone outfit could pave the way
to the demise of the Leaping Cat.
Since 2000, the Milton-Keynes based Jaguar team has steadily
floundered to the rear of the grid in their attempt to field a
works F1 assault. With the latest disappointment in the form
of the heavily-revised R3b package, Ford are reportedly on the
cusp of winding up the Niki Lauda-led team.
As the insider reports suggest, the 2003-spec Jordan-Ford team
may even become Jordan-Jaguar by the following year, in an
attempt to restore the credibility of the failed works
'Leaping Cat' project.
Ford purchased Sir Jackie Stewart's steadily rising
Milton-Keynes operation in late 1999, re-badging the team
Jaguar Racing. Led by Ulsterman Eddie Irvine, the green team
have settled on the rear of the grid for 2002.
Despite Ford's recent showing of wholehearted support for the
Jaguar project, the US motoring giant refused to guarantee
financial endorsement beyond 2004.
F1 Testing Update
The Spanish air dropped to a more comfortable 29 degrees for
Valencia testing yesterday, in what was the last day of
running for many outfits until the summer ban lifts in
The troubled Arrows team buoyed their spirits by netting the
fastest time on Thursday, German ace Heinz-Harald Frentzen
steering his A23 three tenths quicker than the Jordan of
Giancarlo Fisichella on low tanks.
23-year-old F3000 ace Sebastien Bourdais took to the wheel of
the solitary Arrows for his first F1-powered 25 laps, the
Frenchman thrilled with his first taste of 800+ bhp. 'That was
great', he was reported as saying. 'The power is incredible,
but the [carbon] brakes are unbelievable!'
20-year-old Fernando Alonso wound up third for Renault whilst
commencing the Enstone team's 2003 development. Technical
Director Mike Gascoyne commented: 'Overall, a very successful
day for us. The performance testing this morning allowed us to
complete our work from yesterday, whilst the afternoon was a
normal tyre test.'
Felipe Massa resumed testing for Sauber, the Brazilian rookie
netting an impressive tally of over 100 laps of the twisty
track. 'It feels as if we have tried every conceivable
configuration on the car,' he stated.
'Certainly the work we have done at this test has enabled to
improve it for the French Grand Prix.' Giampaolo Dall'ara,
Head of the test team, added: 'Today has been highly
productive and we achieved a very high mileage which was our
'Since this is the last test for a while we had a great deal
to get through in preparation for the remaining Grand Prix of
Thursday At Valencia:
Heinz-Harald Frentzen Arrows 1m.12.505s 41
Giancarlo Fisichella Jordan Honda 1m.12.795s 92
Fernando Alonso Renault 1m.13.260s 75
Felipe Massa Sauber Petronas 1m.13.715s 104
Marc Gene Williams 1m.14.065s 106
Stephane Bourdais Arrows 1m.15.719 25
Meanwhile, the hot and sticky Italian sun continued to pound
down on high-speed contenders at Monza. Williams ace Antonio
Pizzonia was fastest in his FW24, albeit hampered by technical
faults and a spin.
The red flags stayed out for more than an hour after Aussie
James Courtney's massive Ascari incident, marshals taking
their time to rebuild the shattered tyre wall while the Jaguar
driver was sent to hospital for x-rays.
Fellow Jaguar runner Pedro de la Rosa continued work on the
heavily-revised R3b, the Spaniard's progress slowed by an
engine failure. Toyota's Mika Salo took over from teammate
Allan McNish, the Finn continuing work on the TF102 over the
circuit's high kerbs. 'We did some work on cooling systems,
both related to the engine and the brakes', he said.
'I continued Allan's programme from yesterday, studying how
the car handles over the kerbs and working on mechanical
set-up in this area, as well as general set-up work for the
Monza Grand Prix,' he added.
Another Australian, youngster Ryan Briscoe, turned out in a
sister TF102 in his new role as a devoted Toyota tester. 'My
car was not set up for any performance running today, instead
I concentrated on gaining data and testing data acquisition
Ferrari continued to run with Luca Badoer and Luciano Burti at
Mugello and Fiorano respectively, championship-runaway Michael
Schumacher to take over from Burti later today.
Bernie: Silverstone Is Safe
Bernie Ecclestone has attempted to cool speculation that the
British Grand Prix could be banished from the Formula One
After the F1 supremo slammed more than $10 million in circuit
improvements after the weekend's race at Silverstone
International, tongues began to wag that the 71-year-old was
merely paving the way for a shock announcement that the
British Grand Prix would get the chop.
With China, Russia and Bahrain gearing for inaugural Grands
Prix in 2004, Ecclestone is on the lookout to chop 'three or
four' circuits from the current 17-strong calendar.
In the wake of circuit promoter Rob Bain's shock resignation,
speculation has reached fever pitch that Formula One is losing
patience with the sub-standard facilities and full
tobacco-branding ban at the home of British motor-racing.
Despite calling Silverstone a 'country fair masquerading as an
international event', Ecclestone told BBC Radio Five Live that
the British Grand Prix hold 'A contract for the next 10 years.
There's no threat.'
Although Silverstone's race is safe, Bernie remains vocal that
things must improve at the 5.14km Northamptonshire track. 'I
was lucky to have a helicopter ride because it meant when
there was a problem I told my driver to go all the way around
the circuit and I could see for myself.
'There were people standing in the road. They had hot-dog
stands along the roads blocking vehicles and pedestrians. It
was totally disorganised - and organisation costs nothing.'
Referring to Rob Bain's recent resignation, Bernie lambasted
the former Octagon chief for poor management of the British
GP. 'Octagon has paid more than is commercially viable,' he
Octagon pay around $30 million to Formula One Management and
the British Racing Driver's Club in order to stage the annual
A $48 million 'stage two' project at Silverstone
International, to imminently commence, will see a new
parabolic curve, pit and media complex for the British Grand
'Thumbs-Up' To New Hockenheim
Former F1 veteran, Jean Alesi, has given an unequivocal
thumbs-up to the brand-new circuit layout at Germany's
Having severed the traditional blast through the dark forest
to a modern-spec, chicane and hairpin laden layout, the
Frenchman says that the 4.6 kilometre sprint around the new
Hockenheim will inspire an exciting German Grand Prix later
'This is a masterpiece of a racetrack, which I am sure both
drivers and spectators will enjoy,' said Alesi after trying
the circuit in his Mercedes-Benz AMG Sportscar.
'The new part of the track offers everything a Formula 1 car
needs for passing manoeuvres. First they approach the corner
with more than 300kph, then they have to slow down to about
'The corner is wide enough to allow different lines. I expect
an exciting German Grand Prix,' he added.
A new grandstand, which will host an additional 6,500
red-capped Germans, boosts the total circuit capacity to
One man especially looking forward to this year's German Grand
Prix is home-town hero Michael Schumacher; on course to wrap
up his fifth world title in the motherland. 'I hope to do it
in Germany', he said.
The feisty Frenchman, Jean Alesi, retired from a twelve-year
Formula One career last year, the 37-year-old seeing out his
days in a Jordan-Honda.
F1 News In Brief
- Despite Danny Sullivan's assertion that Michael Schumacher
could walk unrecognised down Fifth Avenue, American cable
network ESPN have awarded the Ferrari star this year's Driver
of the Year award. Beating home national tin-top heroes Jeff
Gordon and Kevin Harvick, Schumacher becomes the first
open-wheeler driver to net the award since CART ace Jimmy
Vasser took home spoils in 1997. Schumacher is the first F1
driver to receive the US-based award, despite Nigel Mansell's
triumphs in 1993 and '94 for his IndyCar exploits.
- Speculation is mounting that McLaren tester Alex Wurz is
preparing to burst back onto the F1 scene. Since losing his
Benetton drive in 2000, the Austrian has happily filled the
'third' driver role at Woking in the hope of kick-starting his
failed racing career. In the latest round of rumours, a 2003
Toyota seat - in Allan McNish's place - looks more than
likely. Fuelling the rumours have been reports of a lucrative,
three-year offer to extend his McLaren berth, no doubt
boosting his value on the F1 market.
- Since their embarrassing showing at the British Grand Prix,
French tyre supplier Michelin have been working hard on a
competitive Intermediate tyre. In changeable Silverstone
conditions, Bridgestone-shod competitors trounced the
opposition when Michelin runners found themselves stuck with
either a slippery slick, or deep-treaded wet compound. Despite
Pierre Dupasquier's assertion that Michelin were 'doing a
decent job compared to the other Bridgestone runners', a
radically new Inter waits in the wings for the next sprinkle
of Grand Prix rain.
- How does Eddie Irvine while away the hours between miserable
Formula One weekends with Jaguar? With his young daughter, Zoe,
on his luxury boat (The Anaconda). Although separated from her
mother Maria, Irv maintains contact with the delightful Zoe
and the pair can presently be found floating 'Somewhere in the
Mediterranean. At the end of the week, I'm heading off to
Monza for another test session with the revised car', said
Irvine. 'I'm not expecting miracles, but if we can just carry
on learning some lessons from it, that will stand us in good
stead for the future.'
On This F1 Day...
On this day in Formula One history, seventy-two years ago, the
successful Formula One constructor Guy Ligier was born in
A former rugby star, Ligier entered Formula One as a privateer
but went on to build his own Grand Prix cars from 1979.
Starting 12 grands prix, Ligier's best finish was a solitary
point in the 1967 German Grand Prix, driving for Brabham.
Ligier, as a constructor, contested 324 grands prix and
quickly earned the nickname 'les blues' in deference to their
French national livery. Winning nine Grands Prix and nine pole
positions, Guy sold out to Alain Prost in 1997.
Five years later, Prost (nee Ligier) were liquidated under
mountains of debt.
Also on this day, in 1987, Nigel Mansell netted a famous tenth
career victory in his 100th Grand Prix; at his home Grand Prix
Driving for the Honda-powered Williams team, Mansell missed
out on the '87 title crown by twelve points, to teammate
The Jordan team, founded by Irishman Eddie Jordan in 1991,
enjoyed their fiftieth race at the Silverstone event of 1992.
Drivers Stefano Modena and Mauricio Gugelmin both retired with
blown Yamaha engines.
Dutchman Jos Verstappen - affectionately known as Jos 'the
boss', notched up his own fiftieth GP milestone at the British
Grand Prix of 1998.
He was driving a Stewart-Ford, in place of the underperforming
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