F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
July 13, 2002
Ralf Tours New Hockenheim
German-born Ralf Schumacher has joined a growing list of
Formula One stars to give the heavily-revised Hockenheim
circuit a resounding 'thumbs-up'.
Cut from its traditional 360kmh blast through the dark forest,
the home of the German Grand Prix now stands at 4.8 kilometers
with several overtaking opportunities; particularly into the
brand-new hairpin bend.
Ralf, home-town winner of last year's Hockenheim event,
enjoyed a special treat as he was ferried around the new
circuit by its architect; Hermann Tilke.
'The new circuit layout is certainly better and provides a
greater challenge to the drivers,' the 27-year-old commented.
While the deep forest gave the old 'ring much of its
character, Ralf - for one - is happy to find the trees
replaced and overtaking opportunities in their place.
'You now don't have to drive into the woods on senseless
unending straights anymore', the Williams driver continued.
'There are definitely two places to overtake, the second
corner after the start/finish line and the new hairpin.'
This year's July 28 German Grand Prix is part-two of a frantic
Formula One double-header starting this weekend, at France's
Yoong: I'm Not Quitting
Minardi rookie Alex Yoong has hit out at Internet reports
speculating that he may be forced out of Formula One.
An interview with the 25-year-old's former manager and father,
Hanifah Yoong, revealed that Alex may need to earn a living in
touring or sports cars next year, after a constant failure to
perform including two DNQs.
According to the interview, the Malaysian said he would be
'surprised' if Alex could turn around his form and continue
driving with Paul Stoddart's team in 2003.
In a rapidly released press release, Alex urges that a barrage
of Internet sites 'Simply took my father's words completely
out of context. That has nothing to do with what I think or
what I have planned.'
'What he (Hanifah) said was just what he felt I may be
thinking. And his feeling that Minardi may not renew my
contract is just a speculation based on the results so far and
it has not come from myself or the team.
'As far as I am concerned, I am just concentrating with the
work I need to do and to do the best I can for the rest of the
season. The news report that I will quit is just rubbish.'
The struggling Malaysian added that, for now, his attention is
completely focussed on improving his on-track performance;
starting with the task of qualifying for the French Grand Prix
He quickly adds that Minardi have until November to exercise
their option on him for 2003, while urging the Malaysian media
to show a little support. 'I cannot understand some of the
reports that have been written', he adds.
'It's not as if Malaysia has a dozen F1 contenders standing by
waiting to get in this year as Brazil has. I don't see the
Brazilian press discouraging any of them from going ahead. But
some media in Malaysia are just so negative that it seems they
would be gratified to see me go.
'In order to succeed one must not be afraid of failure. I will
carry on till there is no possibility to continue.'
Paul Stoddart hinted after Yoong's Silverstone faux pas - a
qualifying time outside of 107% - that another such failure
will spell the end of Alex Yoong's flirt with Formula One.
Toyota Target Top Four
Formula One's newest team, Cologne-based Toyota F1, are
targeting fourth place in next year's Constructors' World
With an impressive first ten Grands Prix behind them -
including two top six finishes - the Japanese giant say that
Sauber and Renault will be realistic competitors when Formula
One resumes in 2003.
Gustav Brunner, chief designer of the tidy little TF102, says
'I would like to be challenging Renault for fourth next year'.
The Cologne-based designer was seen in discussion with McLaren
'third' pilot Alex Wurz at last weekend's British Grand Prix,
fuelling speculation that the Austrian could join Mika Salo
behind the wheel of the TF103.
33-year-old rookie, Allan McNish, is most likely to remember
2002 as his brief Formula One sojourn.
Another Flying Finn!
Can Formula One handle yet another Flying Finn? Silverstone
Formula 3 winner, Heikki Kovalainen, has his fingers crossed
that the paddock respond with a resounding 'yes'!
Contesting the British F3 series this year, the
Renault-powered youngster from Finland joined teammate Fabio
Carbone as guests in the Renault F1 garage last weekend at
Silverstone. Despite his undoubted speed, the young ace admits
that a few more results are needed to woo Flavio Briatore and
his first F1 test.
'That is Renault's decision, it is not up to us,' he said when
asked if a blast in the R202 was on the cards. 'I think that
we have to try to get the results first, try to win a couple
of races in F3, and try to show that we are worthy of giving a
While sister series F3000 is recognized as the 'closest thing'
to Formula One, young chargers Jenson Button and Takuma Sato
are among the latest breed of F1 pilot to jump straight from
F3 to F1 cockpits. While the precedent stands, Heikki thinks
that 2003 is a more realistic date to target the Formula One
'But if we do well and score good results then I am sure that
at some time - maybe not at the end of this year but it's a
long-term contract - so at some point, hopefully, they will
give us a chance.'
Spearheading the Renault Driver Development Program,
Kovaleinen is under long-term contract to the French
Montoya's 'Formula Ford' Tactics
Renowned Formula One commentator Martin Brundle has called
Juan Pablo Montoya's defensive Silverstone driving 'Formula
Ford tactics' which belong in the lesser formulae.
As the rain began to fall, even Bridgestone's dry tire
immediately proved superior to Williams' French-treaded
Michelins. A charging Michael Schumacher made his first vain
attempt to pass the Colombian at Vale.
'Montoya is paying too much attention to his mirrors and not
enough attention to the braking zone,' said Brundle on ITV as
Montoya ran wide. 'He was forced to go super-defensive on the
exit, leaving Schumacher just enough room into Club.'
Into the long right-hander at Club, Juan Pablo squeezed
Schumacher to the outside before closing the door. 'And he
then has to go defensive again up at Abbey because Michael has
As the duel wound to a close, Michael Schumacher decided to
call his agenda to overtake the Williams ace a day. 'I didn't
want to collide with him', said Schumacher afterwards,
'Because that was the way we were heading.'
'Montoya seems very happy with those kind of Formula Ford
tactics', continued Martin Brundle, 'Which is something we see
in the lesser formulae. But he really wants to defend.'
Martin Brundle was disappointed at the end of 1996 to lose his
Jordan seat to young gunners Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf
Schumacher. Contesting a mammoth 158 Grands Prix, he finished
in every points-scoring position except first.
F1 Testing Update
Formula One testing for the impending double-header at France
and Germany continued on Friday; Valencia, Monza, Mugello and
Fiorano hosting the majority of outfits.
Young Renault ace Fernando Alonso set the pace at the Southern
Spanish circuit of Valencia, the 20-year-old completing 47
laps for the Enstone team.
1.5 seconds adrift was Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais, the F3000
charger completing 71 laps on his second day of testing for
Arrows. Marc Gene continued Williams' relentless testing
program, the BMW-powered Spaniard third after a mammoth 108
laps of the twisty layout.
Meanwhile, at the minimum-downforce circuit at Monza, Toyota
rookie Allan McNish notched up the fastest time in Italy.
Despite an engine failure after just 21 laps, the Scot pipped
Williams' runner Antonio Pizzonia in the FW24.
Eddie Irvine resumed work behind the wheel of the troubled R3b
package, while BAR continued their two-car Monza assault with
Olivier Panis and Anthony Davidson.
Nearby at Ferrari's private Fiorano circuit, Michael
Schumacher leapt back into action in the F2002. Completing 164
laps with scarlet tester Luca Badoer, the German's fastest
time was a rapid 57.476 on a tire, aerodynamic and engine
Friday At Valencia
Fernando Alonso Renault 1:11.872 (47)
Sebastien Bourdais Arrows 1:13.217 (71)
Marc Gene Williams 1:13.352 (108)
Friday At Monza
Allan McNish Toyota 1:23.012 (21)
Antonio Pizzonia WilliamsF1 1:23.121 (77)
Eddie Irvine Jaguar 1:23.580 (65)
Mika Salo Toyota 1m.23.720s (65)
Olivier Panis BAR 1:24.035 (62)
Anthony Davidson BAR 1:24.624 (76)
McLaren chose to see out the final week of testing before
September alone, at the French Paul Ricard circuit.
Kimi Raikkonen, David Coulthard and Alex Wurz turned out with
two MP4-17 chassis', testing what has been described as some
'Reasonably big development items'.
'We were quite surprised at the amount of damage which was
sustained over what seemed a rather innocuous kerb,' said
McLaren Managing Director Martin Whitmarsh after an off-track
excursion by Raikkonen.
'We have a busy week testing what I might describe as some
reasonably big development items.'
Brawn Eyes Top Ferrari Job?
Ferrari's highly-rated technical director, Ross Brawn, could
step into the top role at Scuderia Ferrari when Jean Todt
calls it a day.
The large Englishman, widely regarded as a major player in the
Italian marque's rise to the upper echelons of Formula One,
says that although his current contract expires in 2004, he
cannot see himself stopping.
Should Brawn stick around after the 'dream-team' of Michael
Schumacher, Rory Byrne and Todt presumably walk away, the
talented strategist could well find himself steering the
scarlet ship as Sporting Director from 2005.
'I am very happy at Ferrari,' said Brawn. 'My current contract
runs until the end of 2004, but I don't see why that should
prevent me from continuing beyond that date.
'I can honestly say that I am the happiest I have been in my
Nigel Stepney, Race Technical Manager, would be favorite to
fulfill the technical director role.
Ralf Looks For French Win
The BMW.Williams team are expecting a return to form at this
weekend's French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.
After a gripless, wet defeat at the Silverstone circuit, a
developmental step from tire partners Michelin represents a
glimmer of hope that the Grove team can return to the
After 27-year-old charger Ralf Schumacher's consummate drive
from pole position to second-place last year at Nevers, the
German is targeting more of the same for 2002.
'The new aero package and our hard work testing tires and
traction control have pushed us forward and have made us more
competitive,' he said. 'We are improving step by step and the
same should be true at Magny-Cours as well.'
While big brother Michael can wrap up his fifth title crown
with a dominant win this weekend, Ralf Schumacher is
restraining brotherly-love as he goes for glory.
'To be honest, I don't feel like congratulating my brother on
his World Championship victory in France', he smiled. 'I would
prefer to delay this as much as possible!'
BMW Motorsport Director Gerhard Berger is willing to put
aspirations of glory aside in place of strong consolidation of
second place in the Constructors' World Championship. 'Beating
McLaren is the main thing', said the Austrian.
'The new aerodynamic package we used for the first time in
Silverstone should help us as well as the tests which are
focused on the tire development in order to perform more
consistently in the race.'
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams' second driver, retired from
second place in last year's French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.
F1 News In Brief
- BMW Motorsport Director Gerhard Berger has revealed that the
2003 V10 unit, the successor to this year's powerful P82, is
progressing ahead of schedule. 'We began to develop the engine
for the 2003 season at the beginning of this year, and we will
certainly be able to use it this season,' the Austrian said.
- Former F1 driver, Carlos Reutemann, has stepped down from
contention for the Argentine Presidential elections. 'I've
always said I'm not a candidate,' said the 60 year old. 'I'm
not a candidate for anything. It's a question of consistency,
which I have always shown.' After partnering champion Alan
Jones at Williams in 1980, Reutemann is now the highly-popular
governor of the Santa Fe province in the troubled nation.
- McLaren will reportedly announce their 2003 drivers at the
German Grand Prix. While Mika Hakkinen retains an option to
return to the driving seat, Ron Dennis is now thought adamant
that David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen represent the way
forward for Woking. While Alex Wurz is targeting a Toyota
berth, however, Dennis has reportedly offered the Austrian a
3-year contract with a massive pay-rise to remain principal
- Young F3000 ace, Sebastien Bourdais, has chalked up a career
milestone this week; his first test in a Formula One car. At
the Valencia circuit, the Frenchman completed two days behind
the wheel of the Arrows A23, whilst admitting that Flavio
Briatore has offered him a run in the Renault when the testing
ban lifts in September. The youngster currently leads the
International F3000 title ahead of Czech charger Tomas Enge.
- The sale of BAR has hit the rumor mill once again, majority
owners British American Tobacco reportedly calling in
investment firm Goldman Sachs to review their stake in the
Brackley team. BAT's stake is thought to be around the $400m
mark, while former boss Craig Pollock is also on the lookout
for a buyer of his 25% share. When asked about this, Pollock
responded with: 'It's no secret what my stance is on this. If
an interesting offer was made, it would be given the attention
it warrants.' Japanese engine partner, Honda, is favorite to
take the majority stake in BAR.
- The Cologne-based Toyota team have reportedly made an
approach to Sauber technical director, Willy Rampf. According
to Autosport, the Japanese giant have offered him a 'big
money' offer that Sauber simply cannot match. Toyota's chief
designer, Gustav Brunner, was similarly headhunted from the
Minardi team last year. According to our own sources, Rampf is
'seriously considering' the offer of double his Hinwil
- The proposed 'breakaway' series, GPWC, are making inquiries
into whether Formula One's current teams can sever their links
with the Concorde Agreement before 2007. The move seems to
suggest the series' intention to launch an assault on Formula
One before the current agreement expires. According to our
sources, there is 'No way out of Concorde. That is the most
fundamental aspect of the agreement; that it is binding and
promotes stability until 2008.'
On This F1 Day...
On the thirteenth of July, we celebrate the birthday of the
late and very great Alberto Ascari.
The Italian, who would have turned 84 today, spearheaded
Scuderia Ferrari's first assault on the modern World
Championship in 1950, eventually netting double titles in 1952
One of the greatest drivers of all time, Ascari's career
included a record nine straight wins in grand prix racing. His
last seasons were ruined by Lancia's unpreparedness, although
he did win the Mille Miglia in 1954.
After surviving a crash into the harbour at Monte Carlo, he
was killed in a testing accident at Monza in 1955.
Today, the Italian is immortalised at Monza's final twisting
chicane, the turn forever to bear his famous name.
Sharing Ascari's birthday is modern Italian hero, Jarno Trulli.
Turning 29 today, Trulli burst onto the scene with Minardi in
1997 after multiple World Karting titles.
A two-year stint with Prost eventually led to a Jordan seat,
where bad luck and unreliability was outshone by his
fascinating ability in the hour-long qualifying session.
Currently at Renault, Trulli's best Formula One finish is a
second-place scored in 1999.
Former star Thierry Boutson turns 45 today. Born in Belgium,
the 162 grand prix veteran drove for several teams between
1983 and 1993, his best finish coming in 1988 in the
Benetton-Ford, finishing fourth overall.
Boutson won three grands prix and one pole position.
On this day in Formula One history, Emerson Fittipaldi netted
his one hundredth grand prix start in the 1980 British race.
Nelson Piquet scored his 20th pole at the 1986 Silverstone
Grand Prix, while Alain Prost celebrated his century of starts
at the same race.
At the 1997 Grand Prix of Britain, at the Northamptonshire
circuit known as Silverstone International, Sir Frank
Williams' famous Grand Prix team scored their 100th Formula
Jacques Villeneuve, who took home that year's championship,
was at the wheel.
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