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2002 F1 Teams/Drivers

Enrique Bernoldi
H. H. Frentzen

British American Racing
Jacques Villeneuve
Olivier Panis

M. Schumacher
Rubens Barrichello

Eddie Irvine
Pedro de la Rosa

Takuma Sato
Giancarlo Fisichella

Kimi Raikkonen
David Coulthard

Alex Yoong
Mark Webber

H. H. Frentzen 
Luciano Burti

Jarno Trulli
Jenson Button

Nick Heidfeld
Felipe Massa

Mika Salo
Allan McNish

Ralf Schumacher
Juan Montoya

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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
July 15, 2002

'Couple Of Weeks' To Button Decision
Jenson Button is scotching claims that a £2 million Renault pay-cut is an option for 2003.

The 22-year-old, in his second year with the Enstone-based outfit, admitted recently that he would be prepared to take less money if it guaranteed him a top-drive. When speculation hinted at a £2m shortfall to remain at steadily-rising Renault, however, the Englishman recoiled by rubbishing the reports as 'Pure speculation.'

As he prepared to blast the R202 up the Goodwood hill, Jenson refuted claims that he would accept a reduced offer from team boss Flavio Briatore. 'That's not one of the options so no, I wouldn't think about it,' the talented Briton said.

'I don't see any reason to, really.'

Despite links to Toyota and Jaguar - including a 'secret' meeting with Niki Lauda at Milton Keynes - Jenson is firm that the decision on his future is his alone. 'A lot of people don't know what's going on for next year or what my options are so we've just got to wait and see,' he continues.

'I'm not yet thinking about any certain team for next season anyway, so I've just got to think over the next few weeks what I want.'

While many would view the transition to Toyota - or particularly the struggling Jaguar team - as a step down in the world of Formula One, Button is adamant that 'It's not what teams are doing now, it's what they're going to be doing next year and the year after.

'There's a lot to think about. I think I will know what my options are in the next couple of weeks and then I can choose what I want hopefully.'

While Button pontificates on his apparent plethora of choice, spare a thought for fellow Britons Allan McNish and Eddie Irvine. Should the Englishman slide into either man's seat, the duo could find themselves without a home at the pinnacle of motorsports.

Bernie: Arrows Won't Be Missed
Tom Walkinshaw's troubled Arrows Grand Prix team could well flounder before the year is out, the Leafield outfit struggling under a growing pile of unpaid bills.

Should the Orange-clad challengers succumb, however, one man who won't shed a tear is F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone. The 71-year-old, master of the Formula One domain, says that it 'Won't make any difference to the sport if Arrows went.'

'Tom is a survivor and the sort of guy we need in the sport', said Bernie. 'It's a case of him having got his finances a bit wrong.

'But when you think of all the teams that have come and gone over the years, it would not be such a disaster. These things happen.'

During Friday Free Practice at the recent British Grand Prix, the A23s of Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Enrique Bernoldi sat silent as the scream of 800bhp engines filled the Northamptonshire skies. Niki Lauda, resolute in the Jaguar garage, clutched at the ECU's which governed Arrows' customer Cosworth powerplants.

'Tom always came up with the money late,' Lauda said at the time. 'But it is now two months' overdue and I can legally not wait any longer.

'He has not got the engines yet. So what am I to do? I delivered 100 percent so I want the money.'

A High-Court injunction, sought by Arrows shareholders Morgan Grenfell, had blocked the teams' sale to a US consortium headed by energy-drink firm Red Bull. Without the funds, Arrows appeared doomed.

A last minute 'arrangement' saw Bernie Ecclestone come to the rescue; a reported loan to the Arrows chief seeing payment made to Ford and Cosworth. British Grand Prix averted, all eyes are now fixed on the impending double header at France and Germany, and whether a similar crisis will arise.

According to our sources, Tom Walkinshaw has set this Tuesday (tomorrow) as a deadline on whether to continue racing this year. A heartening sign at Valencia this week, however, has been the flying A23 of Frentzen and F3000 ace Sebastien Bourdais.

According to a chirpy Heinz-Harald, the Arrows team 'Will be racing at France and Germany.'

Bernie On Silverstone
Bernie Ecclestone has cleared himself of blame that harsh post-Silverstone words led to the resignation of Rob Bain.

'I'm not impressed and it's dreadful for the public', the 71-year-old said after his helicopter was forced to land outside the circuit.

With the help of his chauffer, Bernie Ecclestone became lost amid 'Silverstone chaos.' 'Nobody knows where they're going or where they've been. There are no signs, nothing', he scorned.

The F1 supremo continued that Silverstone was merely a 'Country fair masquerading as an international event', despite some $15 million in access, parking and organizational improvements.

For Octagon CEO Rob Bain - the man most directly responsible for the state of Silverstone International - Bernie's comments were the last straw. In a shock announcement, Bain stepped down from his post.

In the wake of criticism that he 'pressured' Bain into surrender, Ecclestone issued a statement urging that his comments were constructive and earnest. 'My complaint was not that my helicopter could not land, because in fact, that was a blessing,' he said

'If not, I wouldn't have seen the issues I criticized. My comment to Mr. Bain was why not put up large signs as they have in shopping malls, indicating where you are, where entrance and exits are and other points spectators wish to find - such as toilets, vending machine sites, stalls and meeting points.

'I understand that he did not resign because of my comments but because of comments from his employer, Octagon, over a much longer period.'

The Englishman harked back to his early racing days, praising the progress made at Silverstone International since 1948. 'As my fist visit to the track was in 1948 I have seen the progress since then,' he continues.

'I raced in the support event for the first grand prix of the F1 championship at Silverstone in 1950 when I slept in my car the night before to ensure I would be there.

'I checked the new road access with Jackie Stewart on the Friday before this year's race and was happy with what had been achieved. My complaint is that not much had been done inside the circuit and in the public areas.

'I did not say anything about the British round of the FIA World Championship not taking place in the future because we have a 10-year contract with the promoter, Octagon. I did say that if I had to sign the contract, I would think twice about doing so.

'I have been surprised by the amount of support I have received for my observations. It seems there are a lot of other people who understand the problem. I am happy to be criticized when I am wrong but not in the defense of the paying public.'

The next, $48 million 'Stage Two' of improvements to Silverstone International will see new paddock, media and pit facilities, as well as a parabolic curve and revised track layout.

Webber Enjoys Tour de France
How does a Formula One rookie spend time away from the world's race-tracks? Ask Mark Webber, and he'll haul you to the fabled Tour de France to follow his Aussie compatriots in cycling action.

A keen cyclist, the 25-year-old earned praise aplenty in his 'Lands End to John O'Groats' marathon with F1 journalist Tom Clarkson late last year. And, after a week at Wimbledon, the lean Webber turned his attention to Australians Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady and Baden Cooke as they pounded Stage 6 between Forges-Les-Eaux and Alençon in Northern France, this week.

'I was in one of the stage cars yesterday and it was really exciting,' the Minardi ace smiled.

'I think it's pretty amazing the speeds they can get up to - and they have to go for hours.'

Unlike the majority of Formula One's 'gym-mad' field, Webber prefers the smell of fresh air as he keeps up his consummate fitness.

'It breaks up the monotonous training', he says. 'You can go out for a couple of hours and smell the flowers.'

Still under contract to French manufacturer Renault and Flavio Briatore, Webber is likely to make a leap up the Formula One grid for '03. Jaguar, Toyota and Sauber are among his options.

Bernie 'Relieves' Jackie Stewart
Sir Jackie Stewart has praised Bernie Ecclestone for recognizing the improvements made to the Silverstone International circuit in Northamptonshire.

As president of the circuit-owning British Racing Driver's Club, Stewart expressed his dismay when Ecclestone's scathing post-British GP remarks ultimately led to Rob Bain's resignation.

Setting the record straight, however, Bernie now admits that more than $10 million in parking and access renovations have improved the home of British motorsport.

'I checked the new road access with Jackie Stewart on the Friday before this year's race and was happy with what had been achieved,' Bernie reported in a press release. 'My complaint is that not much had been done inside the circuit and in the public areas.'

Despite Ecclestone's earlier comments that Silverstone was merely a 'Country fair masquerading as an International event', Stewart says he is 'Relieved and pleased' that the F1 supremo accepts the improvements to the Northamponshire track.

'I'm glad that he's perceptive enough to recognize what else must be done in the future,' said the Scot.

With the 10-year contract to host the British Grand Prix intact, Stewart says that, with Octagon, the BRDC need to 'continue upgrading facilities for the benefit of racegoers.

'We must ensure we have a venue in which the nation can be proud.'

Brundle: Bernie 'Unreasonable'
Martin Brundle remains adamant that Bernie Ecclestone's damning post-British Grand Prix criticism of Silverstone International was 'unreasonable'.

Despite the F1 supremo's recent about-face in which he praises circuit improvements, the British Racing Driver's Club Chairman says that Bernie's comments were simply the 'final straw' for Octagon CEO Rob Bain.

'The British Grand Prix survived before him [Bain] and it will survive after him although we must thank him for his efforts while he was in charge of Octagon Motorsport', said the ITV commentator.

As more than $10 million in circuit access and parking was put to the test by 60,000 race-going fans, Brundle openly expressed his dismay that Bernie branded Silverstone a 'country fair masquerading as an international event.'

'I spoke to Bernie after the race at the weekend because I was pretty disappointed with his comments,' Martin Brundle told ITV. 'I thought they were unreasonable.

'It would be nice to have little pat on the back from time to time instead of having our legs cut from underneath us at every opportunity at Silverstone.'

While Bernie now concedes improvements to parking and traffic organization, Brundle is willing to take on-board Bernie's criticism of circuit signage and Grand Prix organization. 'Bernie was actually right about some aspects where not enough lateral thinking had taken place.'

The 71-year-old's snide remark that Silverstone promoters Octagon charge exorbitantly high ticket prices, however, did not slip the cunning Brundle's attention. 'I thought it was raw of Bernie to say what a bad job Octagon did considering the money they charge,' the former driver adds.

'His [Bernie's] organization charges huge amounts of money for the rights to run a Grand Prix because in the world of supply and demand he has countries lined up to take slots and pay more.

'He also retains the bulk of the hospitality rights and all of the TV rights. Octagon have no choice but to charge a lot of money but this doesn't excuse them sorting out the basics which, at the end of the day, is the point Bernie was trying to make.

'Unfortunately the whole British Grand Prix and Silverstone is such a sensitive issue that anything Bernie says is going to make significant news.'

Martin Brundle, now BRDC Chairman and instrumental in the total revamp of Silverstone's paddock area, contested 158 grands prix between 1984 and 1996.

Jordan Hope For Points
In 1999, Heinz-Harald Frentzen stormed home to a popular French Grand Prix victory for Eddie Jordan's modest privateer outfit.

Three years on, the Silverstone-based team are just hoping to turn seventh place at Silverstone into a measly point at the Magny-Cours circuit.

While Giancarlo Fisichella has the yellow-clad hopes riding on his shoulders, rookie teammate Takuma Sato is merely hopeful that his Honda V10 makes the distance at his French racing debut.

'I have never raced at Magny-Cours, although I have driven there when I visited during the winter with my engineer to have a look at the circuit,' said the 25-year-old Japanese.

'We had the track to ourselves with a little formula school car, admittedly in much cooler conditions than I am expecting at the weekend. The EJ12 is looking good and we are hoping to have further improvements from Honda, so I feel positive.'

Fisichella, off the back of a string of fifth places starting at the Monte-Carlo race in May, is hoping for a return to points-scoring form after the disappointment of their home race at Silverstone last weekend.

'After our strong seventh place finish at Silverstone, the team has made great efforts to make the car even more competitive,' said the Italian after a week of hot, humid testing at Valencia.

'I am confident about the performance of the car and the [Bridgestone] tyres at this race.'

TWR Continue With Russian GP
Although Arrows might not be the strongest venture in pitlane, Tom Walkinshaw remains adamant that his TWR group will continue with plans for the Russian Grand Prix.

Originally scheduled for an inaugural 2003 race-date, Nagatino Island's absence from next year's provisional F1 calendar suggests that 2004 is a more realistic target for Formula One's first trek to Moscow.

While Arrows threaten to flounder, Tom Walkinshaw's racing empire [Tom Walkinshaw Racing] retain the contract to build the Montreal-esque circuit. 'We were doing some manufacturing in Moscow and came across the possibility of the race,' explains the Arrows chief.

'From that moment on Bernie has been involved.' Which, in short, ensures that the marriage of Formula One and the former Soviet Union will go ahead no matter what future awaits Arrows, Walkinshaw or TWR.

'As the crow flies its seven miles from the Kremlin', Walkinshaw adds, referring to the Nagatino Island construction site. According to our sources, construction is well advanced on a 16-turn Formula One circuit.

Tom Walkinshaw continues: 'The race will have a similar feel to the one in Montreal [on the Il Notre Dame], but this has better access. There's an underground stop and a three-lane dual carriageway onto the island.'

Despite TWR's undoubted financial strife, which saw Arrows struggle to make a $7 million payment to Cosworth at Silverstone, Walkinshaw reveals that the 'very rich' nature of Moscow will fundamentally finance the operation.

'We are talking a very substantial sum of money for this project', Walkinshaw adds. 'Moscow, though, is a very rich city because it produces 45% of the country's government budget.'

Ecclestone, the man responsible for negotiating commercial contracts with potential grand prix hosts, is confident that Russia will appear 'somewhere on the calendar' before too long.

'As soon as the circuit is ready', says the 71-year-old, 'we will be here.'

Ferrari Chief For Government?
According to emerging news reports, Ferrari boss Luca Montezemolo could find his way onto the front bench of the Italian government.

In view of Silvio Berlusconi's victory in the Italian elections mid-last year, the Ferrari chief has reportedly been offered the role of either Minister for Sport or Minister for Foreign Trade.

The reports are strengthened by comments made by the Italian recently that the cycle he began at the Scuderia is now over, giving him time 'To reflect a bit.'

The scarlet president further revealed that he learned of Fiat's recent sale of 34% of Ferrari in the newspaper. 'I was not informed', said an infuriated Montezemolo.'

Luca is revered in his home country, Ferrari's recent world championship successes and his fabled organization of the 1990 Italia World Cup earning him a special place in Italian hearts.

He has been Ferrari President since 1991.

Ralf: World Champ Of 2004?
According to Ralf Schumacher, the charging young German could be world champion by 2004.

Despite a somewhat disappointing tally of just one Malaysian Grand Prix victory this year, the 27-year-old reveals that all is going according to plan for ultimate motorsport spoils.

'Everything has gone very well,' says the BMW.Williams driver. 'I'm in a top team and I'm still in Formula 1 after six years and not many people have achieved that.

'I've won a grand prix, even if for me I don't think that's a big deal.'

The younger Schumacher's first F1 triumph came at the Grand Prix of San Marino last year, before similar feisty drives at the Canadian and German races.

While he has failed to match 2002 teammate Juan Pablo Montoya's impressive five pole positions this year, Ralf is confident that the world championship is still an attainable goal.

'A world championship is something I would like to achieve in the next two years,' he adds.

Should Ralf join the exclusive club of Formula One heroes, he would complete the impressive record of the first world champion brothers. Elder sibling Michael, six years Ralf's senior, is well on his way to five F1 world championships.

While he has always been supportive of Michael's successes, however, little brother Ralf is eager to postpone the Ferrari teams' world title celebrations beyond this weekend's French Grand Prix.

'To be honest, I don't feel like congratulating my brother on his World Championship victory in France', he says with a smile. 'I would prefer to delay this as much as possible!'

'The new aero package and our hard work testing tires and traction control have pushed us forward and have made us more competitive', Ralf continues, pondering his FW24 package for the French Grand Prix.

'We are improving step by step and the same should be true at Magny-Cours as well.'

Ralf drove to a steady second place at Magny-Cours, near Nevers, last year.

Jacques Praises BAR Effort
Jacques Villeneuve is spurring his British American Racing cohorts to ride the wave of buoyed optimism into this weekend's French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.

A steadily improving, heavily-revised 004 contender drove the French-Canadian and Brackley-teammate Olivier Panis to their first points-scoring finish of the year at Silverstone.

Whether on the slippery tarmac or round the 160mph Bridge corner, Jacques Villeneuve felt at ease with his Formula One mount. 'This was the first race in the season where we felt we didn't need a slice of luck to be in the points,' he reports, pondering the impending trip to Nevers.

'The car worked well on the high-speed corners and on Friday and Saturday it was quick in both the dry and the wet,' he told Motorsport News.

While the entire team should be pleased and motivated by their British Grand Prix triumph, Jacques is quick to warn BAR now to rest on their laurels.

'Everybody in the team needed this result as we've had tough months since the start of the season,' Jacques continued. 'This will make people happy and usually happy people work better.

'Frustration is never a good thing - it makes you take wrong decisions and not work with good energy.'

Jacques and Olivier's five point-haul at the British Grand Prix catapulted the Brackley team above Minardi, Toyota and Jaguar in the Constructors' chase.

F1 News In Brief

- The FIA have released details of the official press conferences scheduled for Magny-Cours. This Thursday at 3pm, Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar), Felipe Massa (Sauber), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and Mika Salo will join French-Canadian Jacques Villeneuve (BAR) and home-town hero Olivier Panis (BAR) in the unilateral media centre. On Friday, team chiefs David Richards (BAR) and Tom Walkinshaw (Arrows) will sit alongside Toyota's Ange Pasquali, while Frenchman Pierre Dupasquier (Michelin) and Jean Todt (Ferrari) join the media-grilling.

- Former McLaren ace John Watson says that an FIA-governed sprinkler system would spice up the Formula One action. Rejoicing in the exciting, changeable Silverstone conditions, the Irishman said with tongue-in-cheek: 'If sprinklers were used to really wet the track at the start of some races, you could have the sort of upsets and tremendous overtaking we saw at Silverstone!'

- According to reports, the tiny Middle-Eastern Island of Bahrain will soon be announced as the latest grand prix host. Construction of a Herman Tilke headed, 5.5km circuit kicked off in January, while news agencies report that progress is 'on time' and heading for a mid-2003 completion date.

- The home of the Austrian Grand Prix, the A1-Ring in Zeltweg, could be set for a change of ownership. Reports link energy-drink Red Bull Chief, Dieter Mateschitz, with the full purchase of the circuit, which would perfectly compliment any buy-out plan of the Arrows team and the Red Bull-backed search for an American F1 driver. A buy-out would no doubt change the name of the circuit, as it is currently owned by Austrian telecommunications firm, A1. Note our disdain at the logical 'Red Bull-Ring'.

- Korean vehicle manufacturer, Hyundai, is being strongly linked to an assault on Formula One. Plans for an F1 entry were shelved a few years ago when the Asian economy crashed, but reports are now beginning to emerge that the project has jumped back into life with the design resumption of a prototype test car.

- Scottish Rally ace Colin McRae has thrown down the gauntlet to his Formula One counterpart, Michael Schumacher. After taking a record 25th victory in the Kenyan Safari Rally on Sunday, the undisputed king of the rally-road offered to settle the long-standing motoring dispute; whether Rally drivers are better than Formula One pilots. Calling for a F1 race followed by a Rally challenge, McRae said 'The offer is there. Over to Michael Schumacher'...

On This F1 Day...
Ian Stewart celebrates his 73rd birthday today, the British driver contesting just a single Formula One Grand Prix in 1953.

Driving a Connaught, his race lasted just 25 laps before an engine failure stalled his Silverstone charge.

Sharing July 15 as a birthday is Thai driver Prince Bira, who would have turned 88 today.

A Siamese prince who raced on a British license, Bira was a highly successful private owner both pre- and post-war. He contested 19 Grands Prix, mostly in a Maserati, between 1950 and 1954, netting a best finish of fourth in the French Grand Prix of '54.

Prince Bira died in 1985.

On this day in 1961, legendary Formula One constructor Lotus celebrated their 100th Grand Prix. At the British Grand Prix held at Aintree, a remarkable eleven Lotus-Climax entrants netted a best finish of tenth.

In total, Lotus contested 491 Grands Prix, winning 79 times for seven Constructors' World Championships. The team folded in 1994 with Mika Salo and Alex Zanardi at the wheel.

Exactly six years later, British constructor BRM contested their 250th race at the British Grand Prix, while Goodyear netted their 100th start and Firestone their 20th pole position.

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