F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
July 21, 2002
Driver Analysis: Qualifying
01- Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams): His sixth pole of the
season, and fifth on the trot. Can he finally win a race in
2002? 'Probably my best so far. The fight with Michael was
exciting. The car was brilliantly good and we made just a few
changes throughout qualifying. Michelin has made a big step
02- Michael Schumacher (Ferrari): While Michelin dominates,
the scarlet juggernaut looks set for a challenge at
Magny-Cours tomorrow. 'I enjoyed the battle for pole. I made
two mistakes and my times were disallowed, the car is not
absolutely perfect. I think it will be a very close race.'
03- Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari): After struggling with the
balance in the morning, a good effort for the Brazilian. 'The
engineers did a good job. I was a little bit disappointed with
my fourth run when I did not get it all together. I think I
could have done a 1m 12s, but not an 11.8.'
04- Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren): His best effort of the season,
but thinks he could have been second. 'I'm still a bit
disappointed although I admit to a mistake on my last run. The
tires were working well and I can't see why that should not be
the case for the race tomorrow if the conditions stay the
05- Ralf Schumacher (Williams): Never got the balance right,
which explains the four-tenth gap to pole-sitter Montoya. 'I
am angry for this as much as I am for the mistake I made in
the last corner of my last flying lap. But my grid position is
not too bad.'
06- David Coulthard (McLaren): Once again outqualified by his
teammate, and struggled with oversteer. 'We are encouraged by
the fact that the gap to the competition is less than in
previous races, but the car was still hard to really attack
the corners. The race will be hard on rear tires.'
07- Jenson Button (Renault): Outqualified Jarno Trulli, who
stays at Renault next year. 'It's fantastic, and especially in
France for Renault. I had a little understeer at the
beginning, but hope to keep the tires in good condition and
compete for points in our home race.'
08- Jarno Trulli (Renault): Struggled with balance all
weekend. 'I made the best I could of the session. The car
still isn't quite right, meaning I couldn't push to the
maximum today. Sunday morning, we will have a lot of work to
do in order to try and catch up some of the time.'
09- Eddie Irvine (Jaguar): By far the best showing of the
season for the struggling team. 'I like this track and we have
a chance for a point. We must credit Michelin, but we
definitely have a better car now. We will be looking to take
full advantage of this tomorrow.'
10- Nick Heidfeld (Sauber): Struggled with the car early on,
but remains the third fastest Bridgestone runner. 'The car was
much better than yesterday. I was a lot happier with the
balance and stability. I had some traffic on my second run,
but the last one was pretty good and I'm very happy to be in
the top ten.'
11- Olivier Panis (BAR): A reasonable showing for Panis on
home turf. 'We worked with the revised engine today. I pushed
hard on the last run and, using all my experience, I was able
to put in a good lap. The tires aren't great today, but we
know they'll be better in the race.'
12- Felipe Massa (Sauber): Chose the harder tires for
qualifying, so looking strong for the race. 'The track was a
lot hotter this afternoon, and still the car was so consistent
all through the session. I think we'll be strong for the
French Grand Prix tomorrow.'
13- Jacques Villeneuve (BAR): Saved his new-spec Honda for
qualifying, and points to strong tires for the race. 'Honda
have provided us with two of the latest engines and Olivier
and I have been working to different strategies. As usual, we
should be better off tomorrow.'
14- Takuma Sato (Jordan): The only Jordan runner on track, the
Japanese was very consistent in his laptimes. 'Each attack
netted small improvements each time. But the midfield is very
competitive and unfortunately I lost places in the last few
minutes. I'm ultimately disappointed.'
15- Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar): Suffered problems on his race
and T-car, making his first lap count. 'Given that Eddie has
qualified in a superb 9th place, I am very disappointed. Given
the improvements we have made to this car over the past couple
of weeks, it is especially disappointing.'
16- Mika Salo (Toyota): The TF102 is struggling with traction
at this low-grip track. 'Obviously I am not happy about my
position, but I think that we got the best out of the car as
it is at the moment. We have not yet been able to find a
complete solution to our problems with grip here.'
17- Allan McNish (Toyota): The rookie Scot is suggesting a
particularly good race-setup may improve things today. 'A
disappointing session. I honestly thought we would be a little
bit more competitive in qualifying trim, but overall that was
about the limit of where the car has been all weekend.'
18- Mark Webber (Minardi): Suffered a fuel pressure problem
after his first timed lap, giving him one run in the spare. 'A
frustrating day. We were happy with having a good 'banker'
lap, and then the problem hit in my race car. The spare wasn't
the same specification.'
19- Alex Yoong (Minardi): Two seconds slower than his
teammate, but scraped in a 107% time. 'My car was suffering
from understeer throughout qualifying, and then a fuel
delivery problem cost me time on the final two runs. There's
no doubt we could have been a lot quicker today, but I'm just
glad to qualify.'
DNQ- Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Arrows): To comply with the
regulations, both Arrows runners did one timed lap
deliberately intended to DNQ. The German could find himself
driving Giancarlo Fisichella's Jordan in today's race...
DNQ- Enrique Bernoldi (Arrows): The team have headed back to
England, where negotiations will now ensue with Morgan
Grenfell to secure the future of Arrows Grand Prix.
DNQ- Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan): Did not attempt to qualify
after a heavy accident in the morning sent him to hospital.
Says he 'feels okay.'
Renault: Alonso In, Button Out
On the eve of their home Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, Renault F1
announced that young charging Spaniard Fernando Alonso will
grace a racing cockpit next year.
Jenson Button, the 22-year-old Englishman who outqualified
Jarno Trulli yesterday, has been left 'slightly shocked' by
the news that alternative employment must be sought for 2003.
Alonso, just 20 years old, debuted for Minardi last year
before slotted into the testing berth at the Enstone team.
Always tipped for an '03 racing berth, the Spaniard tested a
Jaguar last month while Renault President Patrick Faure
contemplated the quandary of which charger to give the flick.
In the end, Alonso's stunning form at Minardi, behind the
wheel of the R202 and his established links to Renault and
team boss Flavio Briatore clinched the deal and will join
Jarno Trulli in next year's R203 contender.
'The choice between Jenson and Fernando has been a very
difficult one,' Faure said at Magny-Cours. 'Jenson has done a
great job this year, scoring points regularly whilst showing
commitment and team spirit. We have all greatly appreciated
his efforts and achievements.
'However, Renault's long-term strategy is based on investing
in drivers who can guarantee stability and continuity to the
team as it grows in competitiveness. While Jenson is
contracted to another team [Williams], Fernando is part of the
RDD (Renault Driver Development) program.
'We feel that his performance this year as our test driver has
been so promising that his great potential needs to be
exploited straight away.
'I believe that we will have a very strong driver line-up next
season, combining Jarno's experience and technical expertise
with Fernando's impressive natural talent. They will be
crucial as our 2003 car will be more competitive and capable
of achieving real results.'
Briatore emphasized how difficult it is to oust Jenson Button
after scoring the lion's share of Renault's 2002 points haul.
'This season we have been very lucky to have three of the best
current F1 drivers in the team,' the Italian said.
'Unfortunately we cannot keep all of them and a decision had
to be taken. Fernando has done an excellent job behind the
scenes, impressing the team. He is ready to drive next year. I
am sorry to see Jenson go, as he has done a superb job for us
'I have no doubt he has a brilliant future ahead of him in
Formula One. On behalf of the whole team I would like to thank
him for the commitment he has shown so far and, I am sure,
will continue to show until the end of the season.'
Jenson Button now says that a new Formula One contract is
signed and ready for announcement in 'a few days.' Seemingly
spoiled for choice, the 22-year-old's new home could be any of
BAR, Sauber, Jaguar or Toyota.
Fisichella To Miss French GP
Giancarlo Fisichella will sit out the French Grand Prix after
a massive accident during yesterday's Free Practice session at
Magny-Cours left him unconscious.
Reportedly hitting a high kerb the lap before, the Italian's
front wing broke away and was sent crumbling underneath the
Jordan EJ12 as he rounded the high-speed Estoril corner at
turn two. Similar to Luciano Burti's impact at Spa last year,
the Formula One car went spearing into the tire barriers at
almost unabated speed.
Initially motionless at the wheel, the 29-year-old climbed
from the wreck with the assistance of marshals, clutching his
right arm. He hopped into the silver Medical Car bound for a
waiting helicopter which ferried him to the nearby Nevers
hospital for checks.
Before the afternoon qualifying hour got underway, DHL Jordan
Honda announced that their star driver would not attempt to
drive his car for the remainder of the day.
FIA medical delegate Professor Sid Watkins had ordered
Fisichella to undergo an MRI scan for concussion and
brain-bruising, while the team were happy to report no
apparent physical injuries.
'Scan results showed no damage and Fisichella is expected to
return to the circuit at approximately 1300hrs,' a statement
from the team read.
'However, on the advice of Professor Watkins, he will not
participate in today's qualifying session.'
Jordan's director of race engineering, Gary Anderson, admitted
that Fisichella's front wing had been checked by the team
after a series of off-track excursions.
The man himself, still visibly below par as a result of the
massive deceleration forces, reported that 'The doctors told
me it's not possible to race.
'I am going to rest in preparation for Hockenheim,' the
29-year-old Fisichella continued.
'I don't remember what happened. I know I lost the front wing
but I don't know why. I feel alright, I just have a slight
headache and some neck pain.'
Arrows runner Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who was instructed to
deliberately fail to qualify his A23, may make a return to the
Jordan seat in today's French Grand Prix (see separate story).
Frentzen Subs For Fisichella
Heinz-Harald Frentzen will make a brief return to Jordan in
today's French Grand Prix, pending agreement from all the
Formula One teams.
In the wake of Giancarlo Fisichella's heavy Saturday crash,
trip to hospital and advice to sit the remainder of the
weekend, Eddie Jordan made an approach to the former employee
who had deliberately failed to qualify his Arrows mount.
While the Arrows team head back to Leafield in order to sort
out a dispute with Morgan Grenfell, the FIA were busy
evaluating a proposal for a last minute 'force majeure'
The stewards of the meeting forwarded no objection to the move
in view of Fisichella's advice by Professor Sid Watkins to
rest ahead of next weekend's German Grand Prix. The organizers
of the Magny-Cours race were additionally eager to see more
than the apparent 19 racers line up on the grid.
According to our sources, most Formula One teams have
tentatively agreed but need to submit acceptance in writing by
nine o'clock this morning (Sunday). Tom Walkinshaw, Arrows
boss, has green-lighted the move while he ponders bigger
In an ironic twist - and one which may ultimately foil the
plan - Frentzen will imminently mount a legal pursuit of his
'wrongful firing' by Eddie Jordan before last year's German
Grand Prix. This, and possible problems with contractual and
sponsorship clashes, is the only obstacle to the German's
return to the yellow cockpit.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen won his second-ever Grand Prix at this
race in 1999, driving a Jordan.
Alonso: A Great Opportunity
Fernando Alonso, one of the brightest young stars in modern
Formula One memory, will grace the cockpit of a Renault racer
The 20-year-old Spaniard, after a year on the bench armed with
only testing duties, is suitably delighted with the
announcement at Magny-Cours that Jenson Button is out, and he
is Jarno Trulli's next teammate.
'I am very happy, of course', said a beaming Alonso. 'This is
a great opportunity for me. I have worked hard as a test
driver all through this year, 2002, to prove myself within the
team. I feel next year will really be the start of my career.
'It will be my first experience of racing for such a big team
and it will be really good. I am very excited at the
Alonso made his Formula One debut last year, for Paul
Stoddart's European Minardi operation. After trying his hand
at the Jaguar R3 last month, it was clear that Renault bigwigs
were unclear as to whether to oust the on-form Jenson Button
Fernando, consummately getting on with the job of developing
the R202, was quietly confident that his racing future was
never in doubt. 'I was feeling confident in myself all year. I
was working as professionally as possible to achieve my aim,
which has been to be a race driver for the team.'
As an inexperienced youngster, however, a year
behind-the-scenes with a big, works operation such as Renault
has been 'really important' for the Spaniard. The 20-year-old
has attended every Grand Prix this year as Renault 'reserve'.
'Renault is obviously very different from Minardi, where I
raced last year. It is really important for me to have had a
year to get to know the team, the car, the engineers and the
mechanics and the way that a big team, with a corporation
behind it, works.
'I have learned how the race weekend is tackled, in detail,
and that been a big help. Renault has a very strong individual
concept of how to work and I have learned this now. So, next
year will be easier for me thanks to this experience.'
For 2003, Fernando is targeting his ultimate dream of stepping
onto the Formula One podium dressed in the blue and yellow
colors of Renault. 'I will try to score as many points as
possible and hope also to realize my dream of gaining a podium
finish,' he adds.
As Jenson Button bids farewell to Renault in the last seven
races of 2002, Fernando Alonso 'feels sorry' that the decision
ultimately came down to a choice between the talented pair.
'We are friends and we know each other well,' he says.
'We went together to a lot training camps this year and our
relationship is good, but these things happen in this
'Everyone knows Jenson has the potential to become a great
driver. I look forward to racing hard against him next year!'
Button: Slightly Shocked
Talented Briton Jenson Button admits to 'slight shock' with
the news that he will not be a Renault driver next year.
While Fernando Alonso's 2003 graduation to a fully-fledged
Enstone racer was one of the worst-kept secrets in the sport,
the Englishman remains 'surprised' that his consummate race
form, including strong consistent points finishes, was not
enough to convince Renault bigwigs to keep him on the books.
While the Formula One world was told yesterday afternoon,
Button says he was informed of the corporate decision the 'day
after the British Grand Prix' at Silverstone.
'That was when I realized I wasn't going to be here next
season,' the 22-year-old said.
'I was slightly surprised because this season has been good
and the team has done a terrific job. I think Jarno [Trulli]
and I have worked well as team-mates. So, yes, I did have a
feeling of slight shock at the news.'
While the news comes as a blow to him, Jenson Button faced a
plethora of choice when pondering his immediate future in
Formula One. Visits to the Jaguar and Sauber factories
accompanied rumors of a switch to BAR, Toyota - even a return
to Sir Frank Williams' shores.
'I cannot say exactly what is planned, but I think I am in
good shape for next year', he added. 'I am looking forward to
the opportunity. Obviously, at this time, I am not able to say
any more, certainly not for a few days. But I know what I am
doing and where I am going.'
Despite enduring 'the most difficult year' of his entire
career last year with Renault (nee Benetton), Button will part
company with the Enstone team with only fond memories.
'I have had a good time even though last year was the most
difficult of my whole career', he said.
'But, at the same time, it was very difficult also for a lot
of the people in the team. We have made a lot of progress and
we seem to be the fourth best team on the grid at the moment.
That is a very positive step forward from last season.
'Last year was very tough, but I learned a lot and I would not
change anything for the world. I learned so much last season,
both technically and mentally. I developed as a person and as
a driver. It has been a good career step for me.'
While Button counts down his final seven Grands Prix with
Renault, Jenson is adamant that the remainder of 2002 will be
approached 'absolutely the same as normal'.
'I am going to try and get as many points as I can for the
team and, of course, for myself.
'The team has been very supportive of me in the last year and
a half, and I will always remember the great time I have had
Trulli: Not Deeply Concerned
While Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button target new challenges,
Italian ace Jarno Trulli says he is 'not deeply concerned'
about the switch in Renault ace drivers.
For the 29-year-old, the Enstone team's eyes must remain fixed
on the target of closing the gap to Ferrari, Williams and
'We made a big step at the end of last season and we
definitely made a much better car this year, but miracles
don't happen in Formula One so it would be unrealistic to
expect much more than we have achieved so far,' Trulli said.
'We have done what we aimed to do by building up the group
project and pushing it as hard as we can, improving step by
step through the season on both the chassis side and on the
engine side. So, I am really happy with the job done by the
While Alonso's presence in the Renault motorhome is nothing
new to Jarno Trulli, the Italian shows signs of concern that
'another very young' ace will be his driving cohort in 2003.
'I have had a very good relationship with Jenson on both the
drivers' side and the personal side', he adds. 'So, on the one
hand, it is a shame for me that he is leaving because we get
on very well together.
'But, on the other hand, I will have a new team-mate who,
again, is very young, but I have seen that these young drivers
are really well prepared and they come into Formula One with a
lot of mileage and good experience. So, for me, at the end of
the day, it is not that they are young that matters.
'It is their performance and I know from personal experience
that these drivers are both very quick.'
While admitting that he knew 'something was going on' behind
closed Renault doors, Trulli was never concerned about the
prospect of having another young ace by his side in '03. 'I
have always had a good relationship with all my team-mates,'
'So, in a way, I knew I would be happy whatever happened. I
heard that Jenson was leaving and that Fernando was coming in
only this week. Obviously, it doesn't change much for me
really as a driver, as, from my point of view, the most
important thing is to keep stability inside the team with the
engineers, the mechanics and everyone else. We need to keep
'I am confident we are moving in the right direction.' 2003
will be Jarno Trulli's second year of competition with Renault
Arrows Deliberately DNQ
The cash-strapped Arrows Grand Prix team instructed runners
Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Enrique Bernoldi to deliberately
fail to qualify their A23 runners yesterday.
While competition in all Grands Prix is required to meet the
requirements of the Concorde Agreement - and avoid a fine of
up to half a million dollars - a dispute with major
shareholders Morgan Grenfell has meant that the weekend's
racing at Magny-Cours has merely been a distraction in sealing
the future of the Leafield-based team.
Completing just one timed lap each, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and
Enrique Bernoldi posted first and second sector times at the
French circuit which would have easily qualified them to
contest today's Grand Prix.
Deliberately slow third and final sectors, however, gave
Arrows the ability to pack up early, return to their Leafield
base in rural England, and prepare fully for the rest of the
The fact that they attempted to qualify, however, means that -
technically - the team contested round eleven of the 2002
Formula One World Championship. For the record, both Arrows'
posted one flying lap each in the entire weekend's racing.
'Negotiations concerning the team's future will continue next
week along with preparations for the German Grand Prix,' said
a team spokesperson.
Tom Walkinshaw, Team Principal, outlined Arrows' priority to
'Get this team back on its feet and in a position where we can
build a positive future.
'It's sad but we'll go home and prepare for Hockenheim.'
While Enrique Bernoldi has left the Nevers region bound for
England, lead Arrows driver has been invited by former boss
Eddie Jordan to substitute for injured Jordan ace Giancarlo
The 33-year-old German won the French Grand Prix of 1999,
staged at the Magny-Cours circuit, for Jordan.
His participation requires the unanimous consent of all
Formula One team principals; including Tom Walkinshaw.
Race-Day News From France
- A beautiful race-day beckons for the 2002 French Grand Prix,
although a few clouds remain perched in the blue Nevers skies.
While we should hit a top of 26°C, a respected source in the
Magny-Cours pitlane says 'There is certainly a chance of a
spot or two of rain.' Once again - as at our last outing at
Silverstone - 3 o'clock is being tipped for a light shower.
- Michael Schumacher was seen fiddling with a knob in the
Ferrari cockpit yesterday, every time he blasted out of the
tight Adelaide hairpin. When approached with this observation,
the German recoiled by saying 'It just heats up the coffee!'.
More likely, we think, that he was adjusting traction-control
- Juan Pablo Montoya netted his fifth consecutive pole
position at Magny-Cours yesterday. Even more special was that,
at home in Colombia, his country were celebrating Independence
Day. 'Yes, its good', said the 26-year-old. 'When Michael was
doing his time and they were disallowing his times, I was
talking to my engineers and I was saying 'there's no real
chance we're going to get the pole here, they're too quick.'
But we did enough, we just kept doing it and the time just
kept coming down.' The Williams ace is yet to grace the top
step of the podium in 2002.
- Gerhard Berger has applauded Juan Pablo Montoya for another
brilliant qualifying performance at Magny-Cours. 'It is great
fun watching Juan Pablo. How he can exploit the maximum
potential of the car. Compared to the past races we are in a
better position here. We have both the cars in the top five,
which is a good way to start a race.'
- Niki Lauda is appraising Jaguar's impressive qualifying form
at Magny-Cours with caution. While Eddie Irvine's ninth
position is a 'clear sign of improvement,' the Austrian
continues that 'We mustn't get too carried away. The Michelin
tires have the upper hand here and combined with the somewhat
odd nature of this circuit, we must acknowledge that our
performance is down to a combination of all these things.'
- Several constraints are becoming apparent in Heinz-Harald
Frentzen's pursuit to sub for Giancarlo Fisichella later
today. Firstly, the German's lawyers are not thought keen for
him to do the deal in light of his legal action against the
Silverstone team for wrongful dismissal. Secondly, Tom
Walkinshaw is less than happy about the ensuing comparison
that will occur between the Jordan and Arrows mounts. Lastly,
several contractual and sponsorship clashes will no doubt
occur. The Magny-Cours organizers and the FIA, however, are
eager to boost the grid to at least 20 starters. Frentzen's
personal feelings on the matter, are clear: 'I just want to
race', the hard-charger told German radio.
- The media fought it out in a French Grand Prix soccer
tournament on Thursday evening, the German team of journalists
emerging as self-crowned World Champions. In a clash of the
British, French, Italians, Germans and a world team knows as
'Fast Food', safety car driver Bernd Maylander, McLaren tester
Alex Wurz - and even Michael Schumacher - could not resist
putting their soccer boots on. The German, holding the trophy
aloft at the end of the tournament, scored two goals en route
to victory. Will he be doing a similar thing at around four
o'clock this afternoon...?
- British F3 leader James Courtney has been forced to watch
the Rockingham action from the sidelines this weekend after
injuries sustained while testing the Jaguar at Monza. The
21-year-old Aussie was knocked unconscious and suffered brain
bruising when a suspension failure threw him into the barriers
at the Ascari chicane. 'Whilst missing this round will make it
harder to win the championship, James' well-being obviously
comes first,' said Trevor Carlin, team boss. 'He will be back
in the car for the next race at Oulton and we will pick it up
from there.' Derek Hayes stepped into Courtney's Carlin shoes
- Heinz-Harald Frentzen will reportedly try his hand at Rally
racing after German TV channel RTL suggested a blast for the
German GP coverage next weekend. While he attempts to race for
Jordan this weekend at Magny-Cours, the German reported that
'There was talk about doing something before Hockenheim but
I'd quite like to have a proper go. I've spoken to Martin
Whitaker at Ford and they have some proper facilities in
Wales, so I'm hopeful that we can do something, although I'm
not sure when.'
On This F1 Day...
On this day in 1962, British constructor BRM contested their
one hundredth Grand Prix.
Scene of the British Grand Prix at Aintree, Graham Hill and
Richie Ginther steered their machines to fourth and thirteenth
At the 1968 British race, staged this time at Brands Hatch,
famous privateer constructor Rob Walker netted his first Grand
Prix victory. Jo Siffert, driving the Lotus-Ford entrant,
qualified fourth before scoring an historic win.
That Cosworth DFV-powered triumph was the tenth such win for
Ford, with Siffert cruising to his first fastest lap in the
Meanwhile, at the British Grand Prix of 1985, Ferrari were in
a buoyant mood as they celebrated their 1000th race entry on
Although Michele Alboreto could only qualify sixth, the
Italian drove to a solid second position while teammate Stefan
Johansson retired after a first lap clash.
On that same 21st of July, the Brabham team started their
800th race while Tyrrell notched up their 450th.
Incidentally, Alain Prost won his eighteenth Grand Prix at
that race, for McLaren TAG.
The quadruple world champion Frenchman held the record of the
most grand prix wins (51) until Michael Schumacher surpassed
it late last year.
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