F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
July 20, 2002
Friday Analysis: Magny-Cours
01- David Coulthard (McLaren): 'Everything is looking good.
The balance is OK, but I still have a little oversteer. The
Michelin tires have proved strong in hot weather conditions
and I hope that this will help us tomorrow.'
02- Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren): 'I think we have found a good
overall package and setup. If the hot and dry conditions
continue I think we can do well.'
03- Michael Schumacher (Ferrari): 'The Michelins seem to be
showing strongly here, but it could change for the race.'
04- Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari): 'We tried the new aero
package and I think the hot weather affected the car. We still
have work to do.'
05- Ralf Schumacher (Williams): 'Still not sure about tire
choice, but the car is not so bad but still some work ahead of
06- Eddie Irvine (Jaguar): 'I am generally pleased with where
we are. The R3 feels much better around here than it did at
07- Mika Salo (Toyota): 'Not such a good first day. I had an
incident early in the first session when a car [Sato] collided
with me, then an engine problem.'
08- Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar): 'The car feels reasonably well
balanced, especially with the good Michelins. But don't read
into the times.'
09- Jenson Button (Renault): 'We still have to find some more
speed. The car works well on new tires, but I'm struggling
with grip after that.'
10- Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams): 'I am struggling with the
balance of my car a little almost everywhere on the track. I
also spun in the afternoon.'
11- Allan McNish (Toyota): 'The car was definitely better by
the end of Friday. I think traffic will be a major concern for
12- Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan): 'Struggling a little bit
with set-up and grip, but it doesn't look too bad. We have
more Honda power tomorrow.'
13- Felipe Massa (Sauber): 'The car was consistent and I was
happy with the balance. I made a mistake, so I could have gone
14- Olivier Panis (BAR): 'We haven't achieved a balance yet,
the tires are a particular problem. A new evolution of the
Honda debuts tomorrow.'
15- Takuma Sato (Jordan): 'I found the circuit very smooth and
good fun to drive, and our tires look quite competitive. I'm
16- Nick Heidfeld (Sauber): 'I'm not at all happy with the
balance of my car. It lacked stability and felt nervous all
round the circuit.'
17- Jacques Villeneuve (BAR): 'We havn't yet found a setup so
it hasn't been the best start to the weekend. We're basically
looking for more grip.'
18- Mark Webber (Minardi): 'I did enjoy my first run in a
Formula One car around here, we did a lot of work which
improved the car usefully.'
19- Jarno Trulli (Renault): 'I'm very disappointed, as the
spin was simply my mistake. I am confident things will improve
20- Alex Yoong (Minardi): 'My car had a lot of oversteer to
begin with, which we managed to minimise, then I had a gearbox
problem. I'm not happy.'
21 and 22- Neither Arrows of Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Enrique
Bernoldi made a track appearance on Friday.
Barrichello Feels No Envy
Rubens Barrichello is throwing off any suggestion of envy as
teammate Michael Schumacher cruises to a record-equaling fifth
While the great German has amassed an incredible 40-odd
Ferrari victories since 1996, Rubens Barrichello's third
season of scarlet racing sees the Brazilian with just two wins
Despite the duo's night and day Ferrari score sheets, Rubens
is proud of a career which now sees him neck and neck with one
of the greatest Formula One racers of all time.
'Absolutely not,' he retorted to any suggestion of envy. 'I am
not an envious sort of person.
'2000 was a difficult season for me as I had a lot to learn.
Then in 2001 I made progress and have continued to do so even
more this year. I am proud of my career and proud of being so
close to Michael in performance terms when you consider he has
beaten all the records.'
'It is not easy to do that with a driver who is so quick and
so well established within the team,' he told journalists at
While the first half of this season ultimately left
Barrichello wanting in terms of championship points, the
Brazilian has arguably been the class of the Scuderia since
the Spanish Grand Prix in late April.
'It is true I had some problems which prevented me scoring
points at the beginning of the season, but I am very happy
with what I have done', Rubens continues.
'I have a very good relationship with the team who have never
put me under any pressure to perform, for example by saying I
have a certain number of races to prove myself', the
The most recent Grand Prix at Silverstone, which saw the
Brazilian out-qualify Schumacher for the fourth time this
year, played host to an inspiring fight-back by Rubens
Barrichello stranded at the rear of the grid.
At the close of lap eighteen, Rubens was P2. 'The British GP
was a good race for me, but it was not outstanding as, this
year, everything has gone well and the car has been
fantastic', Barrichello continues.
'I hope I go even better this weekend,' he adds. 'And we have
not spoken with the team about what might happen if we are
running first and second in the race. For now, I just think
about winning as I cannot approach it any other way.'
Michael Schumacher has been vocal about his eagerness to get
the championship 'out of the way' so as to pave the way to a
true duel of the scarlet titans.
As far as Rubens is concerned, however, Michael 'winning the
title here will not make me stronger for the rest of the
season. Only I can do that'.
Rubens Barrichello ended Friday at Magny-Cours in fourth
position, directly behind his Ferrari teammate.
The Flying Finns
McLaren technical director Adrian Newey says that the
similarities between Kimi Raikkonen and double world champion
Mika Hakkinen run deeper than their ice-cool Finnish exterior.
As Mika warned on the cusp of his so-called sabbatical this
year, 'If you want to win, get the Finn.' McLaren obliged,
expensively snatching 22-year-old rookie Raikkonen from a
long-term Sauber contract.
Ten races into his debut year at Woking, Newey is liberal with
praise in review of their hot young property. 'We considered
other drivers,' the Briton told F1 Racing. 'Giancarlo
Fisichella, Jarno Trulli, Olivier Panis and Alex Wurz were
available, for example.
'And I'm sure that any one of them would have been very
satisfactory. But we judged Kimi the best long term prospect.'
Like Hakkinen - arguably the most difficult man in the modern
era to interview, Newey reports that he and Kimi 'Have a
similar way of reporting on a car's behaviour. It's economical
in terms of vocabulary - they don't waste words, let's put it
that way! - but the words they do use are very accurate.
'If Kimi makes a comment about the car, it's worth taking
notice of that comment, just as it was with Mika. A
seat-of-the-pants thing, I think.'
The similarities go further than that, says the talented
aerodynamicist who devoted his time primarily to Hakkinen's
race setup. 'Foremost, they both have extremely good car
control,' he explains.
'Like Mika, Kimi can go barreling into a corner, confident
that he'll be able to sort out any problems when he gets
there. Other drivers have to gradually build up - or down - to
a lap time.'
And the Finnish resolve, ice-cool and resistant to pressure,
is a trait common to the double world champ and his fledgling
protégé. 'They have an inner strength too, an aloofness
almost,' Newey continues.
'They just don't get flustered by the pressures involved in
driving a Formula 1 car - or rather they seem to shrug off
Mika Hakkinen waited 97 races before netting his first Formula
One win at the European Grand Prix of 1997. Two years later,
he is one of the most respected drivers of all time.
Enter Kimi, stage left...
No Arrows On Friday
In an apparent reoccurrence of their recent Silverstone
crisis, the two Orange-clad Arrows contenders failed to hit
the Magny-Cours circuit for Friday Free Practice.
While the scream of Formula One engines invaded the tranquil
Nevers region between Paris and Lyon, Heinz-Harald Frentzen
stood motionless behind the team garages.
'All I know is that negotiations are continuing,' said the
German. 'We have some obvious issues with one of the
shareholders and have been told not to run today.
'My belief is that we will qualify tomorrow and start the race
on Sunday. That's pretty sure; I'm pretty sure about that.'
As Friday Practice propelled the McLaren chums to the top of
the order, more news began to emerge as to the Arrows
situation at Magny-Cours. Unlike two weeks ago, both A23s were
scrutineered on time and wear the brains of their Cosworth
engines; the little ECU 'black boxes'.
Unlike Silverstone, then, it is clear that unpaid engine debts
to Ford and Cosworth is not the issue here. Rather, majority
shareholder Morgan Grenfell has simply ordered that Arrows
remain stationary until a satisfactory agreement over the
team's sale is reached.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen, lead driver, tells us more: 'We are
fully operational and ready to race, but until some problems
are solved we will not drive,' the 33-year-old said.
'As far as I see the problem is that there is no agreement
over to whom the team will be sold. We just have to wait until
Morgan Grenfell makes a decision. The future is not yet safe,
and we just have to wait now for news.'
Morgan Grenfell blocked the sale of Arrows to a US-backed
consortium - headed by energy-drink Red Bull - in the London
High Court two weeks ago. Until the injunction is lifted, team
boss Tom Walkinshaw cannot finance the Leafield team.
Enrique Bernoldi, leaving his orange and black racing suit in
the motorhome, confirmed the dispute over the ownership of the
team. 'There are no problems regarding engines or any
technical department, there is a problem between some
shareholders where they are not agreed in some matter,' the
'Unfortunately so far this weekend we don't know if we are
racing this weekend or not. It's sad to see the team making
progress, and I'm making progress, but we're stuck here not
able to go on track.'
A dejected Tom Walkinshaw continued the party line that
'Negotiations in London continue,' the Scot adding that 'We
were advised the best thing is to do very little today so that
the consequences of anything happening on the track wouldn't
interfere with the negotiations.
Despite the conspicuous lack of Arrows activity on the
Magny-Cours track for Friday, the Scot confirmed that 'The
cars will go out tomorrow, definitely.'
'The reasons that we are not running is because the management
have taken a conscious decision on the advice we were given by
the people who are negotiating the deal.'
Walkinshaw is eager to sell the cash-strapped operation to the
'Red Bull' consortium which is now widely thought to involve
the services of ex-BAR boss Craig Pollock. If all goes to
plan, the Leafield team will become known as Red Bull Team USA
For now, however, the team remains principally under the
jurisdiction of primary owners, Morgan Grenfell.
'I'm sure that in the end it will be OK', Walkinshaw continues
at Magny-Cours. 'It's just a rather drawn-out process and it's
a bit unfortunate it had to be done in the public glare.
'We just have to now work our way through it and get it
Jordan Win Toyota Power?
The Magny-Cours paddock is buzzing with speculation that Eddie
Jordan has successfully brokered a deal to run Toyota engines
With rumors near-fact that current engine partner Honda will
retract their supply of V10 power next year, the Irish team
boss has reportedly reached a deal with another Japanese giant
to continue their path to the top step of Formula One.
An interim year - 2003 - will see Giancarlo Fisichella and his
Jordan cohort powered around the world's circuits with CR4
Cosworth powerplants, courtesy of a customer deal with Jaguar
and Ford's Premier Performance Division.
While Eddie Jordan is vehemently denying any knowledge of the
Toyota coup, this news goes beyond mere speculation or scant
rumor mongering; respected sources world-wide agree that
Jordan-Toyotas will grace the 2004 grid.
Eddie Jordan, team boss, is less convinced: 'I have a three
year contract with Honda and we are in the middle of that
contract, I am not the sort of person to break contracts so I
can only say that we will be using Honda power,' he said.
Honda have reportedly informed Jordan of their severance
package for a premature termination of contract, which will no
doubt pay for the $20 million Cosworth engines next year.
The only real question which remains is that of driver
line-up; while Fisichella is tied long-term to Jordan,
Japanese rookie Takuma Sato has strong links with the
Eddie Jordan remained adamant: 'It's news to me and I'm
intrigued by it,' he smiled. 'And if you can give me your
source of information I'll be very pleased.'
EJ has been vocal about the fact that Sato's Jordan contract
is not, in any way, tied to Honda. Which could, of course,
mean that Toyota would be more than happy to see a Japanese
driver grace the Jordan-Toyota cockpit.
It is worth noting that Honda significantly funded Sato's rise
to the top, culminating in a lucrative personal sponsorship of
his British Formula 3 triumph last year.
With the significant press leakage of the Jordan-Toyota link,
expect an official announcement before long.
No Toyota Decision Until Spa
Fledgling Formula One team, Toyota, are delaying a decision on
next year's driver line-up until 'the end of August'.
While the Cologne-based outfit have another year to run on
Finnish charger Mika Salo's contract, rookie Allan McNish
faces a tough challenge to keep his sought-after seat.
Alexander Wurz, Jenson Button, Mark Webber and Heinz-Harald
Frentzen have all been linked to the red and white berth,
which is hotly tipped to join Formula One's regular
points-scorers club before too long.
Toyota's Ange Pasquali, bombarded with driver speculation in
the Magny-Cours paddock, says that Spa-Francorchamps is a more
realistic Grand Prix to reopen the issue of 2003 drivers.
'At the moment we haven't taken any decision and I think we
will do this around the end of August,' he said yesterday in
France. 'At the moment, we are concentrating on our priority,
which is to improving the car and the team.
'We will consider our drivers for next year in conjunction
with Japan as well,' he adds.
'None of the names you've heard have been negotiating or even
in contact with us so there is no truth in those rumors. But
rumors are part of Formula One, aren't they?'
Whilst delaying an announcement on drivers until the tail-end
of this year's championship, Team Manager Pasquali let slip
that 33-year-old McNish is doing only 'a reasonable job' as
one of Toyota's Formula One drivers.
'It's his first year in Formula One, and for sure it's not
easy and he's also been unlucky,' he said. 'If you look at
Silverstone, to be stranded on the grid at his home Grand Prix
was not very nice and we are very sorry for that.
'Allan is doing a reasonable job with us and he has good
technical feedback during tests, so at the moment there is no
The Scot is hotly tipped to resume the testing role at Toyota
from next year.
Villeneuve To Remain At BAR
Jacques Villeneuve is part of British American Racing's 'long
term strategy', the Brackley team boss revealed yesterday at
While speculation has tipped the French-Canadian to abandon -
or be abandoned by - the struggling team, David Richards has
let slip that the 1997 world champion remains a valuable asset
'I would like to keep him on the long term,' said Richards,
team boss at BAR since the beginning of the season. 'Jacques
and I have had discussions about this and I think he's also
quite keen to stay on the long term as well.'
Although JV's lucrative salary remains a moot point in
Richards' negotiations with the 31-year-old, Villeneuve is
thought adamant to at least see out his current contract -
penned by mentor and close friend Craig Pollock - which runs
until into next season.
David Richards, however, has not yet given up the chase to
recover some of the hefty figure which robs BAR of its
'Clearly that will be an ongoing discussion between the two of
us,' the Briton revealed.
Villeneuve, son of Ferrari great Gilles, is widely
acknowledged as Formula One's second-highest earner; at
somewhere in the region of $25 million per annum.
No Presidency For Todt
Jean Todt had attempted to defuse growing media speculation
that he is lining up for Luca Montezemolo's Ferrari
Montezemolo, head of the scarlet empire since the early
nineties, hinted recently that he would imminently re-consider
his Ferrari post. Adding that the cycle he began is now
complete, the Italian continued that now was the time to 'step
back' a bit.
Jean Todt, as Sporting Director of the Scuderia, is first in
line for Montezemolo's post. Although a Frenchman, Todt is
hugely popular in Italy and widely respected throughout the
For now, at least, Todt is staking no claim on the fabled role
of Ferrari President. 'If we are in the position we are, it is
because we have a good team, very strong,' Todt said on home
turf at Magny-Cours.
'I don't like to say dream-team, but it almost is if we can
speak about dreams in our business. All together, we are
blowing in the same direction, which is probably our strength.
We all aim in the same direction, which gives us great
momentum and we don't want to change what we are. That's all,'
Montezemolo was reported furious after Fiat's 34% sale of
Scuderia Ferrari to an Italian bank; as President of the
company, he was informed of the sale in a local newspaper.
Despite his undoubted anger, Todt denies that Luca Montezemolo
is even considering an abandonment of his Presidency. 'He did
not say that,' Todt continues.
'He said very clearly that one part of the story is now over
after ten years', referring to Ferrari's return to the
pinnacle of Formula One.
'But life is made of different stories and hopefully we are
going to start another story altogether.'
Jean Todt stepped into the role of Ferrari Sporting Director
nine years ago, at this very Grand Prix of France at
BAR: Button In, Panis Out?
The Magny-Cours paddock is violently whispering that British
American Racing have signed English star Jenson Button for
Button, the 22-year-old Brit, sees out a two-year Renault
contract this year and is strongly tipped to leave the Enstone
team to make way for Spaniard Fernando Alonso.
While he remains under contract to Sir Frank Williams, the
youngster has been spotted at the Jaguar and Sauber factories
while also linked to the Cologne-based Toyota team. In the
latest round of Formula One whispers, however, reports are
beginning to emerge that BAR will announce the signing of
Jenson Button tomorrow (Sunday).
In view of BAR chief David Richards' assertion yesterday that
Jacques Villeneuve was very much a part of the Brackley team's
'long term' plans, all eyes have turned to talented Frenchman
Olivier Panis for a shock ousting. Panis' two-year contract
expires in October, making way for the arrival of Jenson
At Magny-Cours yesterday, Richards refused to be drawn on
speculation linking the Englishman to BAR. 'Jenson has been a
pal of my son's since they were 12 years old and kart racing
together, so I see Jenson quite regularly,' he revealed.
'But my immediate priority is to maintain the relationship
with Jacques and get his situation resolved fully for the long
Asked where Olivier Panis fitted into BAR's 2003 plans,
Richards neatly avoided committing Panis to the Brackley team.
'Olivier clearly has done a great job for the team and I'm
sure he'll do a great job this weekend at his home race,' said
Richards in a masterly evasion of the question.
But will Panis be driving a BAR next year? 'Well that's part
of the whole discussion we're having, with Jacques and how we
move forward in the long term', he said quite awkwardly. 'I
wouldn't want to commit myself now to anything definitive.'
Renault and BAR are hotly tipped to coincide the 2003
announcements of Fernando Alonso (Renault) and Jenson Button
(BAR) tomorrow at Magny-Cours.
Brief News From Magny-Cours
- Tomas Enge has snared top spot for today's Formula 3000 race
at Magny-Cours. Pushed hard by series leader and home-town
hero Sebastien Bourdais, the Czech Republic driver pipped
Bourdais by just over a tenth of a second in his Arden Team
Russia car. Giorgio Pantano and Mario Haberfeld comprise the
second row, while Ryan Briscoe's Nordic Racing replacement,
Swedish-born Thed Bjork, was over a second down on his
teammate's pace in second-last position. The race kicks off
directly after Formula One qualifying this afternoon.
- Keen Spanish motorsport enthusiasts are up in arms about a
clash in next year's racing calendar. As the provisional
MotoGP schedule was released just days ago, it was immediately
apparent that a clash in the Spanish Grand Prix (F1) and the
Spanish Grand Prix (MotoGP) will occur on April 5. Organizers
of the Circuit de Catalunya event are miffed that their
Formula One crowd will clearly be compromised by the
more-popular Jerez motorcycle weekend. The FIA and Formula One
Management are not considering a change in their calendar...
- According to our reliable sources, Arrows have come to a
tentative agreement with majority shareholders Morgan
Grenfell. While the details of the agreement are unknown, the
sale of the Leafield team to the Red Bull consortium should go
ahead in the week following tomorrow's French Grand Prix. Stay
tuned for more as it comes to hand.
- McLaren have confirmed that an official announcement on
their 2003 driver line-up will be made next weekend at
Hockenheim. In a television interview, managing director
Martin Whitmarsh hinted that David Coulthard and Kimi
Raikkonen would again grace the silver cockpit next year,
although Mika Hakkinen could shock the world with a return to
- While the driver silly-season hits top gear at Magny-Cours,
Peter Sauber told reporters that their option on German Nick
Heidfeld would be exercised for 2003. The future of Felipe
Massa, in the sister C21, is less clear. 'I'm hoping to stay',
said the rookie Brazilian. 'I have a one year contract and
they have an option for two more years. I don't know yet but I
hope to stay where I am.'
- McLaren Mercedes have made an official complaint to the
organizers of the French Grand Prix regarding the state of
their pit-box. In an attempt to clear the already immaculate
pitlane of black tire marks, Magny-Cours officials used a
harsh chemical which ultimately also removed the top surface
of asphalt. 'It couldn't be in a worse place for us as the
damage is right on the line of our designated pit box', said
the team manager. 'It will affect the cars as they come in
under braking and as they accelerate away. But they are going
to do something about it,' he concluded.
- Michael Schumacher has been forced to concede Michelin's
performance advantage this weekend at Magny-Cours. The McLaren
duo of David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen outpaced the
Bridgestone-shod Ferrari amid track temperatures of beyond
44-degrees. 'They seem to be showing strongly here,' said the
German. 'I think it will be close between us and our main
competitors tomorrow, but I do believe we are in with a chance
of fighting for pole position.'
- Ferrari unveiled a heavily-revised aerodynamics package
yesterday at Magny-Cours, comprising new front and rear wings,
sidepods and barge-boards. 'We are happy with it and it did
everything we expected from it,' technical director Ross Brawn
said. 'We are reasonably pleased with the day's work, although
the slippery conditions make it difficult to assess the effect
the changes on the car, but we have to find ways of improving
- David Coulthard has said that a victory in Sunday's French
Grand Prix will elevate him to the status of 'The next
Messiah.' Despite heading the pack in Friday Free Practice,
the McLaren ace still expects to end up behind Ferrari and
Williams in qualifying and the race at Magny-Cours. 'I don't
think we are going to be in a position to make it difficult
for Michael,' admitted the Scot. 'Bizarrely, Williams never
look that strong in practice but get it right for qualifying.'
- Williams spent time on a new cooling system during Free
Practice at Magny-Cours yesterday, Chief Operations Engineer
Sam Michael confirming that the new aero-kit on FW24 has led
to a few overheating dramas. 'As usual for a Friday we did
quite a lot of set-up changes on the car,' the Australian
continued. 'We know we have quite a lot of work ahead of us in
order to get ready for tomorrow's qualifying session.'
- According to our paddock insider, Jarno Trulli copped an
earful from Renault boss Flavio Briatore for dropping his R202
in the gravel at the start of yesterday's second Free Practice
session. Director of Engineering, Pat Symonds, was similarly
unimpressed. 'It hurt us to lose Jarno's input after his
spin,' he said. Denis Chevrier, Head of Race Engineering,
added that the team were 'Disappointed that Jarno managed to
complete so few laps, and even more so because the second
session is when track conditions allow us to collect the most
useful data. The fact that we lack half our usual amount of
information penalizes us in terms of the overall program.'
- Niki Lauda has confirmed that Cosworth's latest V10
concoction will grace the heavily-revised R3b Jaguar in
today's qualifying sessions and the Sunday French Grand Prix.
'We are running the Cosworth CR-3 engine today [Friday] and
for qualifying and the race, we will use the latest CR-4,' the
- While Alex Yoong squeezed his Minardi just two tenths inside
the 107% mark yesterday, the Malaysian is under pressure - on
his 26th birthday - to qualify for the French Grand Prix
today. 'If Alex does not qualify again,' said team chief Paul
Stoddart yesterday, 'We would have to seriously look at
things.' Yoong failed to qualify at Imola and the most recent
blast at Silverstone International. 'Of course, I'm not
happy,' Yoong said at Magny-Cours, 'And we'll be working to
improve things tomorrow.'
On This F1 Day...
A trio of Formula One figures celebrate birthdays on this
twentieth day of July, Malaysia's first-ever Grand Prix
driver, Alex Yoong, 26 today as he contemplates qualifying for
the French race at Magny-Cours.
German-born Bernd Schneider, a participant in the Zakspeed
project in the late eighties, turns 38 today.
Chris Amon, probably the best driver never to win a
championship grand prix, had an uncanny knack of being with
the right team in the wrong season.
Appearing between 1963 and 1976, the New Zealander contested
96 races, notched up five pole positions, and finished a
highest of fourth in the championship. He is 59 today.
On this day in 1957, Formula One constructor Vanwall scored
their first pole position at the Aintree Grand Prix of
Britain. Driven by Stirling Moss, the race was won in just
over three hours.
Six years later, the great Jim Clark notched up his tenth
qualifying triumph. Driving the Lotus, he steered the
Climax-powered machine to victory at Silverstone
At the Northamptonshire event of 1969, Jackie Stewart scored
his ten career win for Matra-Ford. The Scot, now knighted,
went on to win seventeen more victories and three world
At that same British Grand Prix, Swedish driver Jo Bonnier
started his one hundredth grand prix. His greatest achievement
in a long grand prix career was to score BRM's first
An influential member of the Grand Prix Driver's Association,
he arguably continued in Formula One for too long. His sports
car wins included Sebring, the Targa Florio, and the
Nurburgring 1000 Kilometers. He was killed at Le Mans in 1972.
On this day in 1969, Ford scored their 20th pole position,
while March entered their 250th Grand prix - in 1974.
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