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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 17, 2002

Tire War Heats Up
The frenetic tire war is set to heat up this weekend in Nevers, both Bridgestone and Michelin unveiling new compounds to tackle the ultra-smooth, sizzling tarmac at Magny-Cours.

Japanese constructor Bridgestone, who supply the pace-setting Ferrari juggernaut, point to rear tire degradation as the key to French Grand Prix competitiveness. 'Last year the track temperature rose to a searing 51 degrees', recalls a spokesman.

'The main feature of Magny-Cours as far as Bridgestone is concerned is rear tire degradation,' said Bridgestone Technical Chief Hisao Suganuma.

'This comes as a result of high temperatures combined with the particular type of corners which demand good traction as drivers accelerate early, especially out of the slow hairpins.'

As a result of Magny-Cours' unique tarmac, Bridgestone will unveil two new dry compounds which Ferrari assisted in evaluating last week.

'Clearly, our main aim towards being competitive at Magny-Cours is to minimise rear tire degradation and to find a high level of heat durability,' Suganuma added.

'We had a good result there last year and based on that we have developed even better tires for this year's race. Our option tire is likely to be the best choice in high temperatures since it will offer better consistency and balance; the primary specification will be more appropriate if it is cooler.

For French manufacturer Michelin, contemplating their second 'home' grand prix since returning to Formula One Racing, all heads have been down to solve the competitive problems encountered last weekend at Silverstone.

'We drew two conclusions from what we saw there,' says Motorsport Director Pierre Dupasquier. 'For reasons that aren't yet clear, the bad news was that in dry conditions Juan Pablo Montoya was unable to outpace Michael Schumacher's Ferrari, despite having the same material at his disposal that had allowed him to take another brilliant pole position.

'The good?', the Frenchman quizzes. 'The wet- and intermediate-tire performance of Michelin-equipped cars proved to be very competitive against those of teams that traditionally excel in such conditions using our Japanese rival's products.'

You sure, Pierre? 'I'm obviously not including Ferrari when I say this, because its cars were two to three seconds per lap quicker than all the others - again for reasons that remain unknown to us.'

While Michelin make the short trek from Clermont-Ferrand to Nevers this weekend, Dupasquier adds that the French manufacturer will 'Take the same approach to every race and must treat Magny-Cours as a track just like any other.'

For the dry, Michelin teams will be offered two compounds of grooved rubber; one from the 'middle' range of tire-softness, and one brand new. 'A recent test session highlighted its effectiveness,' reports Michelin.

'In addition, if the weather should take a turn for the worse we have a new intermediate tire for our partners to try,' Dupasquier hastens to add.

Michael Schumacher beat his younger brother home last year at Magny-Cours, although the 27-year-old Williams driver netted pole position.

Michelin-clad Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya is targeting his fifth successive qualifying triumph this weekend, despite the fact that his best finish from the top spot is third.

Schumacher Happy To Wait
In an astonishing feat of dominance, Ferrari ace Michael Schumacher stands on the cusp of his fifth world championship this weekend; at the July 21 French Grand Prix.

While a Magny-Cours triumph would seal unprecedented triple back-to-back Ferrari titles, and equal Juan-Manuel Fangio's five championships, the German is, for once, content to postpone ultimate spoils for another couple of weeks.

Because a week later, at his home grand prix at the heavily-revised Hockenheimring, Michael Schumacher could wow his scarlet army by notching up his championship in Germany.

'We will try to take it at Magny-Cours, because I would like to win the race,' Schumacher reports. 'But that on its own might not be enough to win the championship, as it does not only depend on me, but also on what the others will do.'

Should Michael win the race, next-best points scorers Rubens Barrichello and Juan Pablo Montoya would need to either retire or finish out of the points to secure the Ferrari ace's title.

'So it does not really matter if it waits until Hockenheim,' he adds.

While 'pressure' seems a far off phenomenon for the ice-cool German, Schumacher is not expecting a walk in the park on the slippery, ultra-smooth Magny-Cours tarmac.

'This time of year it is usually very hot and that is the factor that most influences the car's behaviour', the German adds. 'The track surface can be slippery and the tires react in a different way to usual. That means it won't be an easy race.'

After a week at Fiorano and Mugello, Michael Schumacher and his superlative F2002 took another step forward. On the weekend, the German set a new lap record at the Scuderia's private testing circuit.

'We are making a lot of progress and we learned some important things from the test,' the 33-year-old said. 'We are confident and happy with the package at our disposal for France.'

While the 051 engine, light-weight gearbox and superb aerodynamics have played their part in Ferrari's scarlet-painting of 2002, Michael Schumacher is willing to attribute the lion's share of praise to their Japanese partners.

'We have just done a better job,' he said, 'especially as far as the tires are concerned. Our partnership with Bridgestone is exceptional, because the tires are perfect for our car and that is a basic advantage because the tires are a vital factor.

'However, in general, our success comes from the fact we work hard and in a constructive way and this has brought its rewards both in terms of reliability and speed.'

Wurz Set For Racing Return
McLaren tester Alexander Wurz reports that his Formula One racing future rests with one of three potential employers.

Fulfilling the third-driver role at Woking since 2000, the lanky Austrian is eager to return to 'unfinished business' at the pointy end of motorsport since his Benetton ousting in 2000.

Despite a hefty, long-term offer by Ron Dennis to stay in his silver overalls, the Austrian is adamant that in 2003, he will be on the Melbourne grid.

'My future will be with one of three teams, with one of them I am very close already, but the key question now is timing,' Alex revealed.

'I will see how things develop over the next 10 days and then will quite likely make a decision before Hockenheim.'

Wurz was seen in deep and lengthy discussion with Toyota chief Ove Andersson at the recent British Grand Prix, any move to Cologne no doubt set to displace rookie Allan McNish.

While Toyota seems the likely option, Jaguar's Eddie Irvine and Jordan's Takuma Sato are similarly far from secure for next year's racing season.

'The annual F1 silly season has begun for 2003 contracts, and the market is currently in limbo though waiting for the first moves to kick off,' he explains.

'There are a few seats being targeted by a lot of drivers and others will only be filled once these prime ones are gone. It seems that it is the teams rather than the drivers who are waiting.'

Wurz debuted for Benetton in 1997, subbing for an unwell Gerhard Berger. Instantly, the Austrian outqualified teammate Jean Alesi in France, before finishing a superb third at the following Silverstone race.

Should Wurz return to the racing seat, he would vacate a McLaren berth renowned for re-staring the careers of slumped Formula One drivers. Last year, sacked Prost driver emerged from the silver testing role to take up an impressive role at BAR.

Arrows Cars Missing Again
The troubled Arrows Grand Prix team are heading for a repeat of their recent Silverstone crisis; reports having emerged that the Orange-clad cars are once again missing from the Formula One paddock.

After emergency negotiation with Ford and Cosworth bigwigs granted them power for the British Grand Prix, team chief Tom Walkinshaw is thought to have failed in eking out a long-term solution for the Leafield team during the course of the last two weeks.

The majority sale of the team, to a consortium headed by Red Bull, was blocked by shareholders Morgan Grenfell when it became unclear exactly what was changing hands. Without the outstanding $7m to pay to engine suppliers Cosworth, Arrows narrowly averted missing the Silverstone grid.

With a little help from Bernie Ecclestone, Walkinshaw brokered a short-term deal which saw Arrows avoid a $500,000 fine for missing a grand prix. In a new twist to the harrowing tale, however, early paddock pundits have noted the conspicuous absence of Arrows' car transporters at Magny-Cours.

When contacted for comment, all Arrows' spokesperson was able to divulge was that 'Discussions are still going on and there are no conclusions as yet'. With pre-race scrutineering set to take place tomorrow morning, it is widely thought that Arrows will request another extension to this deadline.

As media speculation reached melting point late last night, however, Tom Walkinshaw was able to confirm that the Cosworth-powered A23s were recently dispatched for Magny-Cours.

'We will do all in our power to compete at the weekend,' the Scot said. 'We have new investors waiting to step in and secure our future, but we still have to come to agreement with existing shareholders.'

'Negotiations are detailed and complex but we don't intend to give up. We need more time. We want to do a deal that will satisfy everyone concerned. We are still in discussions with all parties and are now moving into the time-consuming due diligence process with some of the potential investors.

'We'll keep on trying and hope that common sense and responsibility prevail. We'll keep you informed.'

The deadline for the next engine payment to Cosworth is later today (Wednesday).

Egypt Eye 2004 Grand Prix
Egypt, the land of the pyramids, are predicting a 'late 2004' date for their inaugural round of the Formula One World Championship.

'We are determined to have a circuit in the 6th October District, which is within viewing distance of the great Pyramids,' said Ashraf Mahmoud of Egyptian Motorsport.

Joining fellow Middle-Eastern nations Dubai and Bahrain in Grand Prix aspirations, construction will imminently commence on an International-standard circuit hinted at costing more than $100 million.

'Realistically, we will be ready to host a round of the FIA Formula One World Championships in late 2004.'

If Bernie Ecclestone's plans come to fruition, Egypt will join Russia, Bahrain, China and Turkey on an ever-expanding 2004/5 Formula One calendar.

The F1 supremo has already warned that 'three or four' existing European races will lose their grand prix to make way for the new additions.

F1 Fun With Alex Wurz
Alex, what's your favourite film? 'The Usual Suspects, I like that.'

Favourite football team? 'The F1 driver all-star team.'

The most ridiculous rumour you've heard about yourself? 'None at all.'

What was your career low point? 'Qualifying down in 18th at the British Grand Prix in 1999. That was not much fun, I remember it well.'

Who do you most dislike? 'Some people are annoying, but there's no-one I would say I actually hate.'

Where is the best F1 nightlife? 'Argentina (Buenos Aires). It's a shame we don't go there any more.'

What is the worst road car you've ever driven? 'One with no petrol in it!'

How much is a pint of milk? 'In Austria, its a little over $1'

Your favourite pop group? 'It varies from classical to noise, but I like modern music.'

Any pets? 'I have two cats who are as old as my motor racing career - 14 years.'

Jaguar and Minardi To Join Forces?
Minardi ace Mark Webber has let slip that his recent Jaguar test could forge the way to a 'Win for everybody.'

Referring to himself, cash-strapped Minardi chief Paul Stoddart and boss of Jaguar Niki Lauda, the 25-year-old Australian continued that 'Paul and Niki were very keen for me to have a run in the car.'

Reports emerged at the time of his single day of Barcelona testing that a customer supply of Cosworth V10s could somehow find their way into the Minardi for 2003. While Stoddart would be unable to field the $20 million price-tag, Webber comments that 'There is a way in which Niki and Jaguar can benefit from this as well.

'It is difficult to give you any more than that', the Australian rookie smiles, 'But there's no doubt a few things at Jaguar that might help Minardi in the future.'

Asiatech, who currently supply Minardi with free V10 engines, are accelerating plans for a full assault on Formula One and are not expected to continue their relationship with the Faenza team next year.

'There are a few reasons Paul and Niki wanted me to test the Jaguar,' Webber continues. 'I might win out of the situation, Paul might win out of it, and Niki and Jaguar too.'

None the wiser? Watch this space...

Does Fisichella Lack 'Energy'?
Martin Brundle thinks that Jordan ace Giancarlo Fisichella does not put 'Enough energy and passion' into his Formula One career.

The former McLaren and Jordan driver, now a British race commentator for ITV, says that despite the Italian's undoubted talent behind the wheel, a lack of dedication will always relocate him to the middle of the Formula One grid.

'He is one of the very best drivers in Formula One', said Brundle - Chairman of the British Racing Driver's Club - at Silverstone last weekend.

'He just doesn't seem to put enough energy into it, in my view.'

Fisichella, after a four year stint at Benetton (now Renault), was forced out of the team this year by Flavio Briatore's young protégé Jarno Trulli. Accepting a three-year offer for Eddie Jordan's Silverstone operation, the 29-year-old has voiced his disbelief that McLaren opted for Kimi Raikkonen over him this year.

'I think they just don't like Italian drivers', said the Roman, continuing that his skill and experience far outweigh the benefits of the young Finn. Martin Brundle, referring to Fisichella's untapped potential, has another theory.

'I think Fisichella could have achieved so much more with the talent he possesses. But you just don't see the passion and energy that there needs to be from a top line driver.

'I feel quite strongly about that', the 43-year-old Englishman quips.

Fisichella debuted at Minardi in 1996, forced out of the seat in the second half of the year with a lack of finance. In 1997, he burst back onto the scene alongside a rookie Ralf Schumacher, at Jordan.

Despite netting a maiden pole in 1998, the Italian's score-card remains conspicuously void of a Grand Prix triumph.

F1 News In Brief
- Italian ace Jarno Trulli says that beating McLaren duo David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen is a realistic target for the weekend's racing at Magny-Cours. Driving for the steadily improving Renault team, the 29-year-old is confident that the R202's good front end, stable braking and superb traction means that points are a real possibility for the teams' home Grand Prix. 'We had a very competitive qualifying performance at Silverstone,', he adds, 'So I hope we are getting closer to McLaren,' he said. 'We should be very close by the end of the season.'

- We extend the very best of wishes to BAR's chief mechanic, Alastair Gibson and his wife Carolyn on the birth of their first child, William Alastair. At the recent British Grand Prix, Alastair refused to join his wife in hospital as Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis soared to BAR's first points of 2002; but little William held off until Dad had recovered from the reported 'wild' celebrations on Sunday night. Now that's what I call devotion to Formula One...

- The organizers of Australia's Indy 300 have invited Alex Zanardi to be 'Grand Marshal' at this year's race. Held on Queenland's Gold Coast in October, the former CART and F1 driver won his last ever motor-race at the event in 1998. Heading towards a brilliant return win, the Italian nearly lost his life at the inaugural Lausitz race in Germany last year, the impact leading to the amputation of both legs above the knee. Attending his first event since the crash, Zanardi waved the checkered flag last weekend at Toronto.

- BAR tester Anthony Davidson will test a Team Green Lola ChampCar later today at Elkhart Lake. The young Briton is among contenders for a berth with Barry Green's CART operation for 2003, and has the support of BAR's financiers British American Tobacco who sponsor the team through their KOOL brand.

- Michael Schumacher sent a clear message to his rivals that the all-conquering scarlet juggernaut will continue to roll in 2002. Testing at Ferrari's private Fiorano facility, the German set a new lap record of 57.476 seconds; the time nearly a second quicker than his previous best. 

- If you see Takuma Sato's EJ12 whiz by in the traffic with a few parcels on board, it might not be your eyes deceiving you. In support of their Jordan Honda title sponsorship, DHL recently commissioned delivery vans in the UK, USA, Hungary, Austria and Belgium to be emblazoned with side views of the team's EJ12 Formula One cars. These vans will be in operation throughout the current Formula One season.

- The issue of Repetitive Strain Injury has risen again, Professor Sid Watkins allaying his belief that 'The great majority of the [F1] field is suffering' with the ailment. Accompanying painful hand joints and a tingling sensation in their fingertips, many F1 drivers incur the injury because of vibrations transmitted by the steering wheel and constant button-pushing. The FIA doc, however, has told the elite pilots not to worry: 'This is only the muscular equivalent of blisters - no serious long-term damage.'

- As the F1 world converges on Magny-Cours for the French Grand Prix, some reports in the French media are hinting that Paul Ricard could make a return to Formula One racing. Toyota currently lease the track for private testing, while FIA President Max Mosley is thought keen to see the mountain-circuit return to the Grand Prix calendar. Paul Ricard hosted the F1 circus 14 times between 1971 and 1990.

- 21-year-old Swede Thed Bjork has abandoned his sportscar berth to take up Ryan Briscoe's F3000 seat at Nordic Racing. Briscoe, official test driver for the Cologne-based F1 squad, was pulled from the seat so as to concentrate on his F1 duties. 'It felt good to be back in a single-seater,' said Bjork. Briscoe, a 20-year-old Aussie, finished 11th and 15th in his debut German F3 races at Lausitz last weekend.

On This F1 Day...
On this solemn day in Formula One history, we pause to remember the brilliance of Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio.

The outstanding Grand Prix driver of the 1950's and one of the best of all time, his five championships look to be equaled in the coming weeks by a modern great; Michael Schumacher.

Winning 24 grands prix between 1950 and 1958, he won the championship in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957. In his final year of F1 competition in 1958, Fangio competed in only two races before retiring after the French race at Reims, for Maserati.

He died in 1995, aged 84, on this seventeenth day of July.

On this day in 1977, American tire giant Goodyear notched up their one hundredth grand prix win.

Shod with Goodyears, the late and flamboyant James Hunt steered his McLaren-Ford to the famous accolade, after starting from pole..

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