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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 18, 2002

Panis Ready For Home Race
Frenchman Olivier Panis has touched down in Nevers buoyed for his home Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.

The 36-year-old, after failing to finish the first eight races with an unreliable BAR, is hoping to continue the Brackley teams' form turnaround which saw him and Jacques Villeneuve net five valuable points at Silverstone.

'It was a very long wait to catch the first point, but I feel it arrived at the right moment,' said Panis.

'Silverstone was home Grand prix for the team, and the result is so good for BAR and Honda. Also Bridgestone did a fantastic job at Silverstone with their intermediate tires. They were amazing tires! Together we worked so hard to prove what we can, and now we've finally done it!'

Despite struggling to even greet the chequered flag of late, the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix winner says he's working harder than ever to push towards a second Formula One win.

'That's true, and all the time I am pushing forward,' explained Panis. 'I do like my job. I really want to win before I stop Formula One, and I fight a lot for that. I work a lot.

'I really don't care about whether I finished in the first eight Grands Prix or not. I know it is not good, but I just don't spend time dwelling on it. What I want and what I feel is that I continue to improve the car, and carry on scoring points.'

Even though the changeable Silverstone conditions played into BAR and Bridgestone's hands, ultimate competitiveness is still an absent element of the Brackley team's makeup. Panis, all the while, has been doing his utmost - from the cockpit - to lift the waning spirits of the BAR crew.

'I know when I am in the car, I am pushing 100 per cent,' he said. 'I think I pulled the team up when the motivation level was a bit low. This is the job for the driver, you know. When the car is bad and the team is not fantastically motivated, it is the driver who needs to help everybody and pull everybody up.

'The team did react very well, when we started off quite badly at the start of the season. It is a good sign. So when we have a good car, we work even better and harder.'

New team boss, David Richards, arrived with a bang at the beginning of this racing season. Having shocked the world with the ousting of Craig Pollock, Richards set about the Brackley staff with an axe; along with over 30 BAR personnel - including chief designer Andy Green - under-performing technical director Malcolm Oastler was replaced by talented aerodynamicist Geoff Willis.

A move Olivier Panis wholeheartedly supports. 'I am happy to work with Geoff and all the new staff at BAR now,' said the Frenchman. 'After David Richards made a huge change in the organization, I do feel it started working well.

'On the car, bit by bit we improved. The reliability of the car has definitely improved. Then we had the new aero kits. I know it is not a huge difference but has definitely helped us.

'I think Geoff is carrying on to next step, which should be ready for Spa race. It is just great. The team has not stopped working. There was not any moment where we give up on this year's car and concentrate on next year's.

'We need to understand why the car is not good enough, so that we can make sure we have better car next year. Geoff brought lots of things to the team. He brought his experiences and lots of ideas for next year.'

This weekend at Magny-Cours, Olivier Panis carries alone the pride of a nation on his shoulders.

Arrows Dispute Not Engine-Related
The struggling Arrows Grand Prix have made the 1.1m race-by-race payment to Cosworth for this weekend's round at Magny-Cours.

According to the Leafield team, however, engines are the least of their worries as they continue to scrap with major shareholder Morgan Grenfell.

Just prior to last weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone International, Morgan Grenfell won a High Court injunction blocking Arrows from participating in any major financial transactions. With the buy-out of the team by a US-consortium including Red Bull put on the back-burner, team chief Tom Walkinshaw was unable to pay the customer engine bill to Niki Lauda.

As the F1 circus lands for this weekend's French Grand Prix, however, the Orange-clad A23s of Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Enrique Bernoldi once again arrived late and were in danger of missing FIA pre-race scrutineering.

While an Arrows statement claimed that 'All payments to Cosworth Racing are up to date', it is wholly unclear what obstacles stand in the way to the team's contesting of the weekend's racing.

'The issues we have are nothing to do with Cosworth,' the statement continued, 'They are to do with one of our shareholders.

'We are still in discussions and, as we said yesterday, we will do all in our power to compete this weekend.'

A more than $500,000 fine accompanies non-participation in a round of the Formula One World Championship, making it imperative that two Orange contenders line up on Sunday afternoon.

Tom Walkinshaw has revealed that 'two or three' major investors are ready to pump funds into the cash-strapped team; energy-drink firm Red Bull and Craig Pollock, former BAR chief, blocked by the Morgan Grenfell injunction.

The latest word from Arrows is that 'Discussions are still taking place.' When asked if Frentzen and Bernoldi would be racing at Magny-Cours, the team spokesperson replied sincerely.

'I honestly don't know.'

Schumacher's 'Unchanged Passion'
Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn has reiterated his belief that Michael Schumacher is 'a long way' from hanging up his scarlet helmet.

Speculation continues to circulate that the great German will call it quits after the record-breaking feat of five world championships is accomplished. Come the end of 2002, goes the logic, Schumacher will retire to his young family in rural Switzerland.

Damon Hill, former F1 rival, says that upon scrutiny of the 33-year-old, all signs point to imminent retirement. 'I see something changing in Michael', said the Englishman. 'I think he could very well retire at the end of this year.'

Schumacher rubbished the Hill-psychology session, wryly musing that 'Of course, Damon has always been one of my best friends...'.

One man who can claim this mantle, however, is burly Briton Ross Brawn, a close working ally for more than ten years. According to him, Michael could remain at the pinnacle of motorsports for many more years.

'I see an unchanged passion in him and as well as I know him, I would say he will still be driving for many years,' Brawn told Kicker.

'I couldn't imagine why he should retire now.'

Even if Schumacher's driving career has an ultimate use-by date, Brawn thinks that the German could take up a role at the Scuderia when he does step from the cockpit.

'Michael is of course a very important component of the team, but I don't know what he wants to do later.

'Maybe take over some job at Ferrari.'

Toyota And BAR Want Wurz
Alex Wurz has revealed that a lucrative, three-year extension to his current McLaren testing duties is on the table.

Accompanying an additional two offers for racing seats for 2003, the lanky Austrian is quick to add that a return to the Formula One grid is his 'utmost goal' after two years on the bench.

'I am negotiating with three teams, two of which have promised me a driving seat,' the 28-year-old told Austrian newspaper Kronenzeitung.

We have it on very good authority that the two seats in question belong to Toyota and British American Racing; the latter option throwing into doubt the future of 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.

The generous offer from Ron Dennis, however, gives some insight into the rising value of Alexander Wurz.

'McLaren have offered me a three-year contract as a test driver, pushing the money side of things as well,' he continues.

'But Competing in races is certainly the utmost goal.'

The Austrian says he will make a final decision on what to do for 2003 within next week.

'I need to make decisions quickly so I can concentrate on my current job and plan ahead. A decision must be made following Magny Cours at the latest.'

Wurz debuted for Benetton in 1997, his three year stint with the Enstone team stagnating when his relationship with Flavio Briatore soured.

Rubens Denies 'Gift Win' Claims
Rubens Barrichello has rubbished media claims that Michael Schumacher will gift him the French Grand Prix win.

According to the Brazilian, reports that hint the great German will postpone his championship aspirations to his home race next week are 'complete rubbish'.

'People are saying Magny-Cours should be my race because Michael wants to take the title in Germany, but I feel that is complete rubbish,' Barrichello declared.

'In Formula One you win when you can. We know from the results of testing that once again we will be competitive this weekend in France. From last year, we know that the Michelin tire used by our rivals will be very competitive there, so we need to look after ourselves over the weekend and wait and see what result we get.'

There is little doubting the logic behind Rubens' reason; since the Spanish Grand Prix, the Brazilian has arguably been the class of the Scuderia; beating home his German cohort at the Austrian and European Grands Prix while out-qualifying him on no less than four occasions.

Far from 'gifting' him a win, Michael has been struggling simply to keep up with the amiable Brazilian.

'We cannot go there thinking about the championship anyway', continues Barrichello. 'We have to concentrate on winning the race.'

While Michael Schumacher focuses on 'when' rather than 'if' he wins his fifth world championship crown, Rubens is content to simply get on with the task of driving his Ferrari home to victory.

'For me it is more important to win races,' he said. 'That pleases me more than the idea of finishing second in the championship. If you tell yourself that you want to finish second in the series, that is not really good enough, so as an individual I take it race by race and try and win as many as possible.

'If, at the end, I finish second then that is fine too.'

And, contrary to popular belief, Rubens is adamant that his fighting verve against Schumacher will not change when the scarlet leader becomes world champion. 'My race tactics will not change if Michael takes the title, because I don't think you will ever see a risky fight between team-mates,' he adds.

'It has happened in the past with other teams, where the drivers have agreed that whoever leads the first lap will win the race. But usually, team-mates should have an easier time, racing fairly but without taking risks.

'You never fight your team-mate the way you fight the others.'

Panis In Talks With BAR
Olivier Panis has let slip that his management team is in the process of negotiating a new contract with British American Racing.

Despite the talented Frenchman's resolve to contest the world championship, the 36-year-old is adamant that 'If I cannot drive a winning car, I want to stay here.

'If I left now, it would be such a shame to throw away all the effort I have made. My manager is talking to other teams, trying to find the best option for me, but I want to stay with BAR.'

While confirming that neither himself nor BAR have an existing contract option for 2003, Panis added that negotiation is currently taking place with the Brackley team. 'We are discussing a new contract,' Panis continues.

'I have worked so hard so I want to see the result myself, not anyone else. Also I work very well with Jacques, and the team knows it has two experienced drivers who can bring the cars home in the points.'

While his first two years with the team have been spent floundering in the bottom third of the grid, Panis is sure that, in 2003, a rise to the top four constructors is a certainty.

'We will be fighting against Renault, definitely ahead of Sauber and Jordan,' he said confidently. 'At least that is our target.

'We have to close the gap to the top. It is not possible to fight Ferrari but we can fight with Sauber and possibly Renault.'

Contemplating the weekend ahead, Panis will contest his ninth French Grand Prix at Magny Cours on Sunday.

Alonso Will Make 2003 Return
According to Flavio Briatore, 20-year-old hotshoe Fernando Alonso will have 'no problem' finding a Formula One racing seat for next year.

The talented Spaniard, however, might have to put his ultimate Renault aspirations aside for at least another year.

Speaking at a Renault team press conference in France, the Italian team boss gave the strongest indication yet that Jenson Button will retain his seat into 2003.

'This year the relationship between the team and Jenson has been super,' said Briatore. 'He's done a super job, he deserves a top team.'

Given that the Englishman's touted 2003 alternatives are Toyota and Jaguar - hardly top teams - Briatore's comments lead to the logical conclusion that team tester Alonso might be 'loaned out' to a third-party F1 team.

And, in view of his impressive Jaguar test last month, Briatore hinted that it would be unwise to upset the impressive charge of current Renault drivers Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button.

'Fernando will have no problem,' said the Italian. 'Four or five teams are interested in him.

'He will be in Formula One next year,' he added. 'We cannot block a driver like him. If he doesn't get a place at Renault, he will definitely find a place at another team.'

Briatore loaned the teenage Alonso to European Minardi last year, Paul Stoddart branding him a 'multiple world champion' of the future.

Webber Targets 'Next Step'
Minardi ace Mark Webber is targeting a 'tougher' challenge for his second season of Formula One racing.

Debuting this season for compatriot team boss Paul Stoddart's KL Minardi Asiatech outfit, the 25-year-old from Queanbeyan in New South Wales says that an impressive rookie season is one thing; but he's ready for 'the next step'.

'I'm ready for the next step,' Webber told this month's F1 Racing.' I want that tougher teammate, that slightly tougher environment. I want more pressure. It might be Minardi or it might be elsewhere.'

On debut at the Australian Grand Prix, Webber completed a 'fairy-tale weekend' by scoring two points for Minardi. 'In Australia, an Australian driver, driving for an Australian team', remembers Webber. 'It could NOT have been better.'

While linked to Sauber and Toyota, the Australian impressed in his recent one-off test for Jaguar Racing; Niki Lauda and Paul Stoddart calling the Barcelona outing part of a 'grander theme' for both teams.

According to our sources, Webber could be loaned to the Milton-Keynes outfit in return for part-payment of Cosworth engines for Minardi.

As far as Webber is concerned, however, he is ready to take up the Formula One challenge away from the final row of the grid.

'I want to be in the position where, this time next year, people are looking at me and saying, this is our guy.

'I like to compare myself with the best so I gain satisfaction out of qualifying 1.1 seconds off David Coulthard in Montreal or passing Olivier Panis at the exit of the tunnel at Monaco.

'I can only hope that other people notice it.'

Sunday Rain For Magny-Cours?
The chance of another wet Formula One race is steadily rising, the latest reports for the Nevers region in France predicting patchy Sunday rain.

A stunning, albeit cloudy, 24 beats down on Magny-Cours today, with the weekend forecast looking for a rise to 27 come Saturday qualifying for the French Grand Prix.

Sunday, however, remains the questionable day. While a top of 27C is again expected, respected weather sources suggest that intermittent showers could threaten sunny skies at the close of the French Grand Prix.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen drove to victory in the last wet blast at Magny-Cours in '99, while another slippery showing should hold Bridgestone runners in good stead after trouncing the Michelin opposition at Silverstone.

Pierre Dupasquier, Motorsport Director at Michelin, rides into cloudy French skies more optimistic than last weekend. 'We have an intermediate tire that should be more competitive than at the British Grand Prix', he said.

'Although our wet and intermediate tires were still competitive at Silverstone, we are confident that this tire represents a step forward for our partners.'

McNish Ignores Speculation
Toyota rookie Allan McNish is attempting to fend off speculation that his days at the pinnacle of motorsports are numbered.

Despite driving smoothly in the Cologne-based team's fledgling season of racing, the 33-year-old has averaged a lowly seventeenth in qualifying; significantly down on his more experienced teammate Mika Salo.

While Jenson Button, Mark Webber, Alex Wurz and others eye his cosy berth with the Japanese giant, the Scot is doing his best to ignore speculation which leaves him unemployed next year.

Denying any annoyance at the media claims, McNish told Autosport that the constant rumors are 'as distracting as you let them be.

'If you let it affect you, then yes, it is distracting. There are always rumors at this time of year, but that's a fact of life.'

As the Formula One test teams enjoy July and August off, the Scot admits that any restriction on track time is 'always a bit of a handicap when we're not able to gain any more experience.'

'However having said that I actually think it might be a good thing to have a bit of time to restock and work our exactly where we are and how we can improve from where we are.

'It's like the testing ban at the end of last year - in some respects it was a positive thing for us.'

McNish is a late F1 bloomer, debuting at the ripe age of 33. After testing for Benetton and McLaren more than a decade ago, the Scot earned a living in sportscars; his latest accolade being the 2000 American Le Mans Series.

Panis Refuses To Blame Honda
Despite Honda's clear performance deficit in 2002, BAR driver Olivier Panis refuses to hit out at the Japanese engine partner.

In their third season of racing since returning to Formula One, Honda have failed to deliver the promise expected of the giant's might. Teaming up with both Jordan and BAR for 2001, Honda guaranteed a performance step for season 2002.

Ten races into the current season, the V10 unit is as under-powered and fragile as it ever has been. Olivier Panis, contemplating his home Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, refuses to deprive Honda of the respect they deserve.

'I was disappointed, but when Honda explained to me about the target and the problem they had faced during the winter, I mean, it is not easy, and I felt they deserved respect,' he said.

'When things are tough there are two ways to react. You either cry and stop or continue to move forward. I did the second one. We work together. We have the same challenge.

'It is true I was let down but if I speak to you now, I want to say they have done a great job so far.'

While Honda immerse themselves in the task of 'restructuring' themselves for 2003, speculation is beginning to harden that BAR will become exclusive recipients of the Japanese power from next year.

Olivier Panis, the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix winner with Mugen-Honda power, knows very well Honda's resolve to win.

'They were also very disappointed too, you know,' the Frenchman continues. 'They were also angry with themselves. It was not only the driver who was let down.

'I've known Honda for a long time. I know they want to win.'

F1 News In Brief
- Frenchman Olivier Panis has revealed that David Richards is employing rally-like weather-detection in his new role as BAR team boss. Speaking ahead of his ninth home Grand Prix, Panis said that Richards' Silverstone strategy consisted of posting staff around the 5km circuit, while his own helicopter hovered overhead. 'It was amazing!' said Panis. 'That definitely came from his rallying experience. We had plenty of information where the bad weather was coming from. This did help us a lot.' BAR scored their first points of the season at the British Grand Prix.

- While Luciano Burti is often forced to remain away from the world's Grands Prix, the Brazilian has confirmed that, this weekend, he is 'going to Magny-Cours to cheer for Michael. I hope he wins the championship title this weekend and hope that the whole team has a successful result.'

- Outspoken Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine has slammed safety standards at the high-speed Monza circuit after colleague James Courtney's massive testing accident last week. Losing it at the Ascari chicane, the Australian slammed into the barriers at an unabated 200mph. Despite complaining of blurred vision and a stiff neck, Courtney will not miss any cockpit action in the coming days. 'Many criticize the first corner, but it is in fact the only safe one', Irvine said. 'The other corners are dangerous and you risk having a nasty accident if you have any problems there.' A Monza spokesman denied the claim: 'The barriers stood up well to the big impact,' he said.

- Frenchman Jean Todt feels more than a patriotic verve when he returns to Magny-Cours for his home Grand Prix. As the Ferrari Sporting Director reveals, 'The place holds a special significance for me. Both as my home race and also because this is where, back in 1993, I began my career as head of Scuderia Ferrari.'

- Takuma Sato has been using his spare time to good effect in the last fortnight, the rookie Japanese traveling to the Hockenheim and Hungaroring circuits to gain an insight into the two unfamiliar venues. Despite torrential rain in Hungary, the 25-year-old did 20-laps in a road-car, saying: 'It's a bit like a go-kart track, good fun to drive but not the most difficult F1 track.' His next stop, at the heavily-revised Hockenheim circuit in Germany, Taku reported that 'The new Hockenheim track is big, wide and quick!'

- Sir Frank Williams has praised the installation of tarmac run-off areas at a number of Formula One circuits. According to the BMW.WilliamsF1 team chief, tarmac areas 'mean that if you go beyond the limit, you just lose a few seconds and start again,' thereby promoting overtaking. The Briton continued: 'The first corner at Indianapolis is like that, and it's no coincidence that you see spectacular duels there. And the new Hockenheim circuit has been built with this philosophy.'

- Organizers of the German 500, scheduled for September 21 at the Lausitzring, has been cancelled. The European CART venue, which filed for insolvency last month, staged their inaugural race just days after the September 11 attacks last year, and was the horrific scene of Alex Zanardi's life-threatening accident. 'We will shift our European focus to other markets,' CART President Chris Pook said.

- The lucky Silverstone marshal who was handed a pair of scarlet racing gloves by Michael Schumacher last weekend has confirmed that he will not be selling the priceless piece of F1 memorabilia. 'No way!' he was quoted as saying. 'I will treasure these for ever. Michael was extremely kind and very friendly.'

- Lisa Dennis, wife of McLaren chief Ron, has released a children's picture book based on the fictional world of Formula One racing. Called 'The Adventures of Mac And Lauren' (get it?), the stories include the tales of a silver racer called Mac, his English friend Wills, and the passionate Italians Franco. Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli and other F1 drivers helped to launch the book last weekend at Silverstone, amid a swarm of starry-eyed youngsters.

- McLaren-driver Kimi Raikkonen's niggling back injury has reportedly flared up again as he lands for this weekend's French Grand Prix. Having slipped a disc while testing late last year, the Finn aggravated the injury at this year's Spanish Grand Prix on April 28. Despite some pain, he is not expected to miss any action at Magny-Cours.

On This F1 Day...
On this day in 1920, 5-times a Grand Prix starter Eric Brandon was born in England.

Contesting a handful of races for Cooper in 1952, Brandon made a brief comeback in 1954 at Silverstone, his race and career ending after two laps.

On this day in 1959, Australian great Jack Brabham netted his first Formula One pole position. At the British Grand Prix of Aintree, Brabham brought home both his and Cooper's first qualifying triumph, before winning the race in style.

Later, the triple world champion would make history as the first driver to win the championship in a rear-engined car, and as the first person to win a race in a car he designed.

In that same race, teammate New Zealander Bruce McLaren netted his first fastest lap. The successful driver founded the team which still competes at the pointy end of Formula One.

On this day in 1976, Ford powered to their 2000th race entry at the British Grand Prix, while six years later Keke Rosberg notched up his first pole position at Brands Hatch.

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