British American Racing
H. H. Frentzen
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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
November 20, 2002
Button Relishes Villeneuve Duel
Rising English sensation Jenson Button is relishing the
prospect of lining up alongside an ex-world champion next
The 22-year-old, moving from Renault to BAR for at least the
next two years, will share a Honda-powered 005 with
French-Canadian speedster Jacques Villeneuve.
'I think we can work together well, and we need to work well
together to move the team forward,' says Bicester-born Jenson.
'And I think Jacques will be up for it, I really do.'
2002 will be Button's fourth season of racing at the pinnacle
of motorsports, and Villeneuve will be his fourth feisty
And some quarters of the racing world think that little
Jacques will be out to psychologically destroy the relative
newcomer. 'I don't think it's going to be like people think,'
Button told Autosport.
Button says that the media merely uses the impending
partnership as an excuse for a story: 'I think Jacques is
quite a straightforward guy, and we can work well together,'
'I'm not worried about anything. A lot of it is talk more than
Button debuted for Williams in 2000 before moving aside for
Juan Pablo Montoya last year. He headed for Benetton-Renault,
where he endured a dismal season and a complete thrashing from
team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.
But Jenson dismisses former technical director Mike Gascoyne's
opinion that he is not world championship material.
'That's obviously my aim - to beat everyone on the grid,'
Button continued to the British publication.
'Jacques obviously wants to be quicker than me, like I want to
be quicker than him. But if we work well together we'll move
everything forward, and then when we've got opportunities to
win races, we'll kick each other's arse, I'm sure.'
Jenson is willing to admit that qualifying is still his weak
point in Formula One. This year, the Briton lost out to
team-mate Jarno Trulli on Saturday afternoon a worrying twelve
times out of seventeen.
'He's good over one lap, very good,' says Button of his
Italian team-mate. 'He always seems to get it out of the car
on the last run in qually, whereas I think I push too hard,
and I normally go slower.'
Button admits that qualifying is 'Something I need to work
He adds: 'Qualifying is important, and people always go on
about it, but it doesn't score points and get you a bottle of
champagne to spray over everyone!'
The cheerful Englishman missed out on a deserved debut podium
in Malaysia this year when his suspension broke in sight of
the chequered flag.
Murray Welcomes F1 Reform
Commentating legend Murray Walker has joined the chorus of
support for Formula One's new regulations.
At the F1 Commission meeting last month, the sport of Grand
Prix racing introduced reforms like shoot-out qualifying and
points reform in an effort to spice up the waning track
'Everywhere I go people are asking me what I think about the
new regulations,' says the 79-year-old Briton as he embarks on
a whirlwind promotional world tour for his new autobiography.
'The answer is that I think the new qualifying rules and the
revised points system make a great deal of sense and will have
a beneficial effect on the weekend's sport,' Walker told ITV.
'But they won't stop Ferrari and Michael from winning and nor
Walker stood vehemently opposed to what he called 'ludicrous'
plans to apply weight penalties or force driver swaps.
'If they had voted in the daft proposals to apply weight
penalties for success and to switch the drivers about from
team to team I'd have emigrated,' smiled Walker.
He says that the way to halt Ferrari's utter dominance is not
to force its world champion driver into a Minardi, but for
Williams and McLaren to pull their socks up.
'The others must try harder and do better - especially
Williams and McLaren who are the teams most likely to do so,'
'But they don't need me to tell them. They know already and
the very best of luck to them!'
Walker's autobiography is titled 'Unless I'm Very Much
Mistaken' and has taken the broadcasting great to Australia,
New Zealand, the States and all over Europe and Britain.
Albert Park Strengthens Resolve
Melbourne's Albert Park Grand Prix circuit has further
strengthened its dedication to safety ahead of the 2003
In the opening laps of the 2001 Australian Grand Prix, the BAR
of Jacques Villeneuve collided with Ralf Schumacher's Williams
at turn three, catapulting the Canadian against the safety
A spectator-control marshal, Graham Beveridge, was struck on
the chest by the flying wheel of Villeneuve's 003 after it
penetrated a tiny escape-hole in the street circuit fencing.
Ahead of next year's event at the picturesque parkland setting
just South of Melbourne, 5 metre-high safety fencing will be
erected around the entire circuit as one of the final measures
in the coroner's report.
'We've now implemented virtually everything the coroner
recommended,' Grand Prix chief executive Steven Wright said of
the more than six million dollar circuit upgrades for season
'This also includes the introduction of a safety risk
The coroner, investigating the death of the marshal,
originally noted that Beveridge's death could have been
avoided if better safety measures had been enacted before the
He said the accident was entirely foreseeable and thus
rendered the 2002 Melbourne event provisional for most of last
In 2002, several areas of the street circuit - including the
crash zone at turn three and on the approach to turn six -
boasted higher fencing and the offending driver escape-holes
were removed and replaced with sturdy 'cage-like' structures.
In addition, higher fencing was erected on the pit-straight
and above the pit gantries.
The 2003 Australian Grand Prix, at Albert Park South
Melbourne, will be staged from March 7 - 9 next year.
Michael Schumacher has won the past three events on the
temporary street circuit, and Ferrari the last four.
Russians To Test-Drive Minardi
A number of young Russian hopefuls will take to the wheel of
Formula One Minardis as part of the team's new alliance with
The Anglo-Italian team founder and former owner, Gian Carlo
Minardi, yesterday returned from a week-long trip to Moscow
during which he attended a number of meetings with senior
members of the Russian motorsport community.
Minardi was also honoured to visit the Kremlin as a private
guest to mark the Anglo-Italian team's dedication to new
sponsor, Gas Company Gazprom, and 2003 test-driver Sergey
'I had an excellent welcome in Russia, where I quickly came to
realise how popular the team is as the result of its links
with both Gazprom and Sergey Zlobin,' commented Gian Carlo
Minardi on his return to Italy.
'Media attention was high throughout the visit, and I enjoyed
meeting with members of the Russian press on several
Gian Carlo took the opportunity to announce Minardi's
intention of evaluating a number of young Russian drivers,
some of whom have already made 'initial contact' with the
Minardi added: 'We were also able to reveal that we have
spoken with some potential new sponsors, who are interested in
using Minardi as a promotional vehicle.'
The tiny team's founder also headed to Gazprom's headquarters
where a Minardi F1 car was displayed.
'I was to explain to (Gazprom) that the Minardi team is
looking forward to providing a high-profile promotional
vehicle for this impressive Russian company.'
The Russian company hit the Minardi livery in the final throes
of season 2002, with a partnership that extends into next year
including the test-driving services of 32-year-old Zlobin.
'As a result, we anticipate pursuing new marketing activities
and events that may well go beyond the immediate sphere of
Formula One,' says the Italian.
Minardi was particularly moved to have been invited to the
Kremlin as a private guest. 'It was a very special honour and
a unique experience, for which I must sincerely thank our
'We look forward to building on the strong relationships that
have been established as a result of this very enjoyable
Minardi sold his ailing team to Australian entrepreneur Paul
Stoddart at the end of season 2000.
Firman Lands Formula One Chance
Newly-crowned Formula Nippon Champion, Englishman Ralph Firman,
will test a Honda-powered BAR on 15 December.
The 27-year-old Briton, who conquered England's coveted
Formula Three championship way back in 1996, will join the
Brackley-based team in Barcelona where he will take to the
wheel of this year's 004.
'We congratulate Ralph on his success this year and are
delighted to offer him a Formula One test,' said BAR boss
He added: 'As Japan's top series, Formula Nippon is widely
recognised as one of the best proving grounds for future
talent. BAR will continue to monitor the Nippon series as part
of our ongoing evaluation of young drivers.'
When Firman's impressive F3 career failed to land him in
Formula One, the talented Briton headed for Japan where he
first won races in the Japanese GT Championship as well as
This year, the youngster's experience culminated with the
three-litre, single-seater Nippon title, racing for the team
run by former Tyrrell and Lotus F1 driver Satoru Nakajima.
Firman was born in Norwich, England but today resides in
Tokyo. He has contested the Formula Nippon series since 1997
after winning the British F3 and prestigious Macau Grand Prix
with Paul Stewart Racing.
In recent years, British F3 has produced champions like
Antonio Pizzonia (2000), Takuma Sato (2001), and in the past
Rubens Barrichello (1991) and Mika Hakkinen (1990).
Jenson Button and Anthony Davidson are the latest young
Englishman to use British F3 as their Grand Prix
Rubens: Thumbs Up To Shoot-Out Qualifying
Ferrari ace Rubens Barrichello has added his voice to a
growing chorus of approval for Formula One's new shoot-out
From 2003, each driver will be afforded just one flying lap on
Saturday to count for the grid in an attempt to curb the
effectiveness of the qualifying process and thereby spice up
the Grand Prix action.
'The one lap for qualifying is a good idea,' said the
30-year-old Paulista as he recharges his batteries at home in
'Not just because of the enjoyment of having to put 101%
effort into the single lap, but also because we will be alone
on the track with no traffic.'
On several occasions this year, Grand Prix pilots had their
qualifying spoiled by slow-driving traffic and Rubens thinks
the new rules have tackled that problem.
He says: 'It was getting to a point in several qualifying
sessions where we often had problems running with other cars
on their warm up or slow down laps.'
But FIA President Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone's real
ambition is to see more mixed-up grids in order to spice up
the monotony of two consummate Ferraris streaking into the
Even Michael Schumacher, they say, could be stuck in a rain
shower during his designated flying lap or even make a crucial
mistake relocating him to the rear of the grid.
'It will be interesting to see how it works out, because there
is always the chance that it might rain for part of the
qualifying hour, even if that was not the case very often in
the past,' Rubens continues.
'Once in a while, I guess it will shake up what we have come
to accept as the usual grid order and that will certainly make
the race fun for the spectators.
'I think this will also mean more people will be interested in
coming to the track on Friday and Saturday.'
Most commentators agree, however, that the shoot-out format
will probably favour Formula One's experienced pilots - like
Schumacher and Barrichello - over young guns like Antonio
Pizzonia or Fernando Alonso.
But 'I think a lot of people will be waking up at 3am over
here in Europe to see how it pans out in Australia,' says Max
The Albert Park organisers, meanwhile, are raking in record
demands for pre-booked grandstand tickets for their 2003
Australian Grand Prix.
An Australian Grand Prix Corporation spokesman told us: 'The
new rules are great. We are totally in favour of that, as we
are the Friday test sessions.'
Bernie Wakes From Digital Dream
Bernie Ecclestone has, according to solid reports, abandoned
his Digital dream by ditching pay-per-view Formula One
'What we've produced is very, very good,' Bernie said of his
Digital coverage earlier this week. 'But for what people
expected to pay, I was shattered to find that they didn't, and
haven't, and wouldn't.'
The rising reports explain how the 72-year-old will not make
his failed Digital-feed available to pay-tv networks, like
Britain's Sky, next year after mere thousands signed up for
the superior Grand Prix coverage.
Bernie's Digital F1 project boasted multiple channels,
unlimited on-board car cameras, statistics, exclusive
interviews and data pages.
But viewers in Germany, Italy, France and the UK chose mainly
to stick to the continuing free-to-air feed.
Since 1997 - when Digital was launched - Ecclestone has
deprived the free-to-air public of the digital trappings like
extra on-board cameras in the hope that they would flee for
Instead, however, armies of casual viewers merely turned off
the waning television spectacle as Michael Schumacher, Rubens
Barrichello and their consummate Ferrari motor-cars dominated
Ecclestone is now willing to concede that his pay-per-view
experiment, five years down the track, has failed and will not
continue to fund it from season 2003.
'Pay per view does not work,' the F1 impresario disconsolately
mused at a press conference this week. 'And nobody knows why.'
But to spice up the television spectacle next year, Bernie and
Formula One Management will assume the role of global host
broadcasters and make available the digital equipment for the
free-to-air F1 fan.
'The fact that with all of our experience now and the
equipment we have, we can now feed that into the free-to-air
television so everyone will be getting a much, much, much
better show,' Bernie said.
'There will be a lot more to see.'
Free-to-air viewers were given a sample of the digital
coverage for the United States Grand Prix this year; but
Bernie says those additional camera angles and better data
coverage were just the tip of the digital iceberg.
'That was still a little bit watered-down,' he said.
Although Bernie's venture is said to have been worth some $100
million, the 72-year-old has, as ever, come out trumps. It is
claimed that most of the costs were absorbed by French TV
company Canal Plus and German broadcaster DF1.
The superior Formula One coverage will debut next March for
the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Honour For Ferrari President LDM
Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has been awarded the
'Man of the Year' honour by authoritative British weekly
The Italian, who headed the team as principal in the 70s
before taking the mantle as President, was bestowed the honour
at the annual 'Autocar Awards' ceremony at the Marquee in
For the 2002 edition, the judges were unanimous in selecting
the scarlet chief: 'It's people who build success, not
committees or processes,' came the plaudits for di
'Our Man of the Year rejoined Ferrari 10 years ago when it was
in very poor shape. He took it by the scruff of the neck,
transformed the road cars, overhauled the racing division, and
you can see the results.
'And Ferrari makes magnificent cars again - look at the new
Ferrari's Formula One Scuderia has soared to the past three
Drivers' world championships with Michael Schumacher and four
consecutive Constructors crowns (1999 - 2002).
'And if that wasn't enough,' the judges' verdict continued,
'He has revitalised Maserati's name and its cars - we're now
seeing the results of that on Britain's roads.
'Under Luca's charismatic leadership, Ferrari has exceeded the
Tifosi's wildest dreams, built the world's greatest car and,
through heavy investment in research and development
facilities, laid the foundation for a new generation of
innovative road cars.
'He understands the importance of the legend, of the romance
of Ferrari, yet at heart he is a pragmatic rationalist and
smart enough to understand that balancing these elements is
perhaps his greatest management strength'.
Ferrari responded by commenting: 'This award represents a
significant achievement for Mr. Montezemolo and all the people
working within the Ferrari Maserati Group.'
Webber Ponders Pizzonia Challenge
Australia's Mark Webber is relishing the chance to go
head-to-head with rising Brazilian superstar Antonio Pizzonia
at Jaguar Racing next year.
'I'm going to have to be on top of my game and I hope I will
come out of it a better driver,' he said.
The 26-year-old makes the progression from the backmarking
seat at countryman Paul Stoddart's Minardi team, taking up
residence as the Leaping Cat's lead-driver.
But, sitting alongside him in the sister R4 next year, will be
ex-F3 champion and BMW-Williams test driver Antonio Pizzonia.
The 22-year-old, affectionately known as Jungle Boy due to his
Amazonian heritage, comes highly recommended after matching
the track-pace of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya this
Mark adds: 'Williams don't suffer any fools. He's got a huge
amount of knowledge of what makes these Formula One cars
Webber, from Queanbeyan near the nation's capital, knows that
the Pizzonia challenge will stand in stark contrast to his
2002 team-mate, Malaysian rookie Alex Yoong.
On the fourteen qualifying occasions between Webber and Yoong
this year, Mark came out on top every time.
'There is absolutely no question about it that Antonio is
obviously a different calibre to Alex,' said the Australian.
'Alex did the best that he could this year in trying
circumstances with no testing and a very small team, but we
are in a totally different situation now.'
Antonio came through the ranks in Great Britain's
highly-competitive motorsport industry: conquering Formula
Vauxhall, Formula Renault, Formula Three and Formula 3000.
'And he has been working with Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf
Schumacher this year at Williams,' says Mark Webber.
'So there are going to be weekends where it's going to be
extremely tight between us.'
Mark, contemplating just his second season at the pinnacle of
motorsports after finishing second in the 2001 F3000 chase,
thinks that Pizzonia's speed is matched only by his
'He's a very, very quick guy - and very, very intelligent,' he
'I'm happy to have somebody like him in the other garage to
push me because at the end of the day that's why I worked so
hard to get to Formula One.
'Obviously to be the best you have to race against the best,
so I'm looking forward to the challenge.'
The youthful and inexperienced Jaguar Racing line-up replaces
outgoing pilots Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa.
Last year, the combined ages of Jaguar's veteran driver
line-up was 68. For 2002, with 22-year-old Jungle Boy and the
relatively untested Mark Webber, it is twenty years younger at
But Webber is doubtful that youthful verve will prove enough
to break into the regular points-finishing top eight next
year. 'We would like to move forward from what has happened
here this season,' he says.
'But it's going to be very, very competitive in the mid-field
of Formula One, just inside the top 10 or around that area.
'But I do want to be racing competitively with some strong
guys, and that's the next stage of my career.'
Walker Defends Schumacher And Ferrari
Murray Walker has strongly defended the utter dominance of
Scuderia Ferrari and five times world champion Michael
Walker - the 'voice of Formula One' having commentated on
television and radio for the past 50 years - thinks that the
sport is witnessing a truly historic era that should not be
dismissed as boring.
'People who are getting fed up with Michael Schumacher ought
to realise that the man is a living genius, the like of which
has been seldom seen in the history of motor racing,' said the
'People who are watching him now ought to rejoice in the fact
that they are able to watch him.'
The German, Schumacher, soared to eleven wins this year and
the quickest-ever championship campaign in Formula One's
history. As a result, hordes of fans switched off their
television sets citing the waning track spectacle.
But Walker says that F1's doomsayers 'irritated' him and
should look for some perspective in the sporting and personal
achievements of the most successful pilot in motorsport.
He says: 'In years to come there are going to be people
talking about Schumacher with reverence, so I say make the
most of it.'
The charismatic and excitable Briton praises Ferrari for
emerging from the depths of crisis to a world-dominating
'Ferrari, having been in the abyss for years, have done
everything right, they've got the right people, the right
facilities, and spent a mint of money on getting Michael
Schumacher, who's the best driver in the world,' he said.
'And it's not going to last because that's the nature of
Formula One,' he continued to the BBC.
When Murray started covering the sport professionally in 1949
it was Alfa Romeo who dominated the sport, then Ferrari, and
then the silver Arrows of Mercedes-Benz.
Walker continues: 'More recently it was Williams, then McLaren
and now it's Ferrari.
'For one reason or another they have all gone into decline and
have been caught and that will happen to Ferrari.'
Murray stood vehemently opposed to what he calls 'ludicrous'
proposals of driver swaps and success-ballast, and is
delighted that such absurdity was voted down at last month's
meeting of the F1 Commission.
'That would make a mockery out of Formula One and turn it from
a sport into a pure spectacle - and at the moment it is both a
genuine sport and a great spectacle,' he said.
But he is saddened by the demise of privateer teams like
Prost, Arrows - and possibly close friend Paul Stoddart and
his tiny Minardi team.
'I'm naturally sorry because (Arrows boss) Tom Walkinshaw has
tried very hard to get the money that the team needs.
'One of the big problems in F1 now is that you need not just
millions of pounds but tens of millions or even hundreds of
millions of pounds or you are not going to be able to win '
Murray Walker, an unashamed Michael Schumacher fan, still
holds Argentine pilot Juan Manuel Fangio aloft as the greatest
pilot in the sport's history.
'It is a gigantically contentious subject because it's
impossible to prove that one driver is any better than
another,' he said.
But five times world champion Michael Schumacher, riding the
crest of a wave, is a very close second. 'I feel that if
Schumacher goes on in the manner he has been going then he
will be my number one.
'A lot of people won't agree with me, of course, but that's
the beauty of the sport.'
Walker retired from the commentary box at the end of last
year, and has spent 2002 promoting his Autobiography.
Jordan Accepts Blame For Turmoil
Eponymous team boss Eddie Jordan says he only has himself to
blame for the Silverstone-team's state of affairs.
Last week, the yellow clad outfit announced that 40 percent of
next year's budget had walked out the door in the form of
German backer Deutsche Post World Net.
The $30 million shortfall put into perspective some 50
redundancies - a significant 25 percent of the total
Silverstone workforce - at Jordan earlier this year.
The Irish boss admits that a string of poor
season-performances since 1999 can be traced back to a new
Jordan approach to hit the big time with front-runners
Ferrari, Williams and McLaren.
'We tried too hard,' the Irishman concedes. 'In the last three
years we thought we belonged in the top three and needed to
have the resources of McLaren and Ferrari.'
Heinz-Harald Frentzen won two Grands Prix for Jordan in 1999,
propelling the Northamptonshire-outfit to a strong third in
the Constructors' chase.
As a result, Jordan invested in infrastructure and personnel
rivaled only by the sport's big hitters. 'But we're not a
corporation,' says the Irishman of his mistakes since the late
'Jordan is one of the old independents,' he told ITV. 'And I
worry for the future of the independents, the privateers. I
worry for the colour and the future of the sport.'
Earlier this week, FIA President Max Mosley warned that two
more Formula One outfits may be about to succumb to financial
'We are just keeping our fingers crossed that they will all be
there in March,' said the Briton.
Conventional wisdom pointed the finger at perennial stragglers
Minardi and Jordan; whose 2003 budget is $30 million lighter
after brands like DHL and Damovo depart the Silverstone
'It is not necessarily because of the Arrows situation, but
because there are another team or two that are not 100 hundred
per cent in good shape,' added Mosley.
Jenson Keyed-Up For BAR Debut
Jenson Button is keyed up for his impending rise to the
Brackley-based British American Racing team.
The young Englishman - still 22 despite staring down the
barrel of his fourth year at the pinnacle of motorsports -
says that an eventual championship charge is his new goal at
'I'm very excited,' he told British magazine Autosport. 'I
don't know them very well, but I'm really looking forward to
working with them, and the whole team seems to be excited
about next year.'
Button was wooed to the Honda-powered, Brackley-based outfit
when Renault opted against retaining his solid services. 'I
think everyone believes in Dave Richards - I do - and they're
getting some very good people on board,' he says.
The Briton also thinks that Japanese manufacturer Honda -
focusing their exclusive services onto BAR from next year -
are 'Going to do a very good job.'
But above all, young Jenson has faith in new team boss David
Richards. 'He's a very straightforward guy, which is a good
thing,' says Button. 'He also downplays it all.'
Richards' company, Prodrive, runs the successful Subaru team
in World Rally while he acts as the Bernie-equivalent in
premier rallying as a kind of 'supremo'.
Button says of Richards: 'He's not one of these guys who goes
there and says, 'We're going to be the World Champions,' and
then you don't do it. He's more likely to say, 'We'll be in
the top three,' and then win the championship.
The youngster adds: 'He's good like that, he doesn't get
overexcited about things.'
Button has signed for two years at BAR, with options for two
more. The Englishman will also be re-united with former
Williams man, Geoff Willis, who is the brains behind the new
'He's a good guy, and I like him a lot,' says Jenson of
Willis. The 22-year-old Englishman debuted for the Williams
team in 2000.
'That's why I think it's such a good team,' he adds. 'There's
no one bullshitting like there can be in other teams. No one's
getting overexcited, everyone knows what the deal is and what
it can be.
'It's the same as Williams.'
Jenson Button remains under long-term contract to Sir Frank
McNish Admits Future In The States
Allan McNish has all but confirmed that his immediate future
does not lie at the pinnacle of motorsports.
The 32-year-old Scot made his Formula One debut this year for
fledgling Cologne-based team Toyota. With Mika Salo, the
Dumfries-born charger embarked on a comprehensive testing
campaign in '01 before debuting at Melbourne in March.
But, despite a solid first year in Grand Prix racing after
more than a decade's experience in premier motorsport, McNish
will not be retained by Toyota for season 2003.
The little Scot, who was forced to miss the season-ending
Japanese Grand Prix after a heavy qualifying shunt, is forced
to contemplate next year either in American-based IRL or
He said: 'I'm not at the point of making any announcements at
the moment. But there's two things really.'
The Scot recently tested a Toyota-powered Penske IRL car at
the California Speedway and has revealed offers from the world
'The IRL looks like a strong option in terms of racing but on
the other side CART seems to building up again as a series,'
he told British sports network ITV.
'So I've got to make sure I make the right decision.'
McNish adds: 'I'm trying to look at which is the best way to
go as any decision I make is going to be at least for two
But the Dumfries-born charger thinks that he was fortunate to
be given the chance of gracing Formula One with Toyota Racing.
'Ove (Andersson) and his team are an excellent group of people
and I enjoyed working with them,' the 32-year-old said.
'As for my first year in F1, I think I've done a solid job
with strong performances, closely mirroring the efforts of my
team mate, Mika Salo, who has been driving in F1 for a few
more years than me.'
McNish's most recent motorsport triumph was the American Le
Mans win on the streets of Adelaide, in 2000.
Jordan Deny Claims Of Collapse
Northamptonshire-based Jordan have scotched claims that they
are on the brink of collapse.
Yesterday, FIA President Max Mosley mused that more privateer
teams might be about to follow Prost and Arrows into demise.
The Briton stated that 'One or two are not 100 hundred per
cent in good shape. We are just keeping our fingers crossed
that they will all be there in March.'
While Paul Stoddart's struggling Minardi team are openly
hesitant about their future, Jordan's torrid state of affairs
was fully revealed last week when Deutsche Post World Net and
$30 million of backing walked out the door.
But a Jordan spokesperson has now confirmed that the team has
paid its $300,000 entry fee and are confident of finding new
sponsors to fully fund their 2003 Formula One season.
'There is absolutely no question that Jordan will not be
racing next year,' said the Jordan spokeswoman.
'I'm not very happy about where this story has come from,' she
added, referring to Mosley's ambiguous statement about
struggling independent teams.
She adds: 'I don't know what teams Max Mosley is talking
about, but people have obviously jumped to conclusions after
our announcement last week about Deutsche Post World Net.
'But we knew for while that was going to happen and we've been
in discussions with other companies and are in negotiations
with new sponsors.'
British tobacco giant Benson & Hedges become Jordan's biggest
backer with the departure of DHL, Deutsche Post and Damovo,
but the team are hoping to further step up that involvement.
'We are concluding a deal with Benson & Hedges and we are
negotiating several other deals to get the budget we need,'
B&H are thought to be requesting the services of a 'prominent
British driver' before pumping up their involvement, with
Jaguar refugee Eddie Irvine the obvious choice.
Italian ace Giancarlo Fisichella will stay strapped to the
sister, Ford-powered EJ13.
Arrows Future 99 Percent Secure?
Oliver Behring has put Arrows' chances of taking to the
Australian Grand Prix grid next March at more than 99 percent.
Behring, the man behind potential Arrows buyer German Grand
Prix Racing GmbH, added that more than 50 million Euros had
been pumped into the company by United Arab Emirates investors
for a 60 percent stake.
Tom Walkinshaw's ailing British team disappeared from the
circuit after this year's German Grand Prix of Hockenheim
citing force majeure but clearly in financial turmoil.
Behring revealed that Arab investor Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed al
Maktoum, the chairman of the Emirates airline in Dubai, is the
major investor in the German Grand Prix deal.
'In my opinion,' said Behring, 'Arrows will take the start in
the first race. Chances are 99.95 percent.'
Last week, Arrows announced that it had 'Agreed and signed
Contracts with German-based investors for the introduction of
substantial new equity into the Team.'
But it warned that in view of complications with present
equity owners Morgan Grenfell, Arrows had 'Sought the
protection of the Court in order to provide the time it needs
to achieve Completion on the deal.'
Arrows applied for Administration in the London High Court,
but had the application delayed by Morgan Grenfell after it
claimed that securities over the team's assets had been
With just over three months until Formula One reconvenes at
Australia's Albert Park for season 2003, Arrows has no engine
supplier, chief sponsor or drivers.
It has, however, submitted its $300,000 deposit and entry for
the 2003 Championship but is not guaranteed a berth in pitlane.
Our sources hint that 'at least five' teams are questioning
the validity of Arrows Grand Prix's right to race under the
The Leafield-based operation contravened the
unanimously-signed document by missing six races last year.
Barrichello In Great Shape For '03
According to the Brazilian F1 ace, 30-year-old Rubens
Barrichello has seldom been in better physical shape.
'I have actually lost more weight now than I did during the
season,' the Paulista reports from his native Brazil.
'Physically, I'm in great shape, for whenever I have to get
back in a Formula One car, although I am not sure when that
The Ferrari man, who won several times this year despite
sharing the consummate scarlet F2002 with world champion
Michael Schumacher, is training for a triathlon race to keep
busy during the long winter break.
'I am competing in a triathlon race; running, swimming and
cycling,' revealed the Brazilian. 'Running is probably my
strongest discipline out of the three and swimming the
'I had 20 lessons and pretty much stopped swimming when I was
six! But I'm looking forward to it.'
Before he dived into the pool at home in Brazil, however,
Barrichello was in Misano (Italy) for the Ferrari Days event
where he, team-mate Michael and test-drivers Luca Badoer and
Luciano Burti showed off the F2002s for ardent Tifosi.
'Misano was a great way to end the racing year in front of all
our fans and the atmosphere was fantastic,' said the Scuderia
Ferrari driver. 'Since then, I have been home in Brazil,
having an enjoyable, but very busy time.'
Rubens immediately headed home to see family and friends but
spent the first week of his break dedicated to the Paulista's
first love - karting.
The Brazilian, for the fourth time, mounted a successful
campaign for the country's most famous 500 mile endurance race
at the Granja Viana karting facility in Sao Paulo.
The 30-year-old's winning team featured countrymen Tony
Kanaan, of CART fame, and Formula One rookie, Felipe Massa.
Rubens says: 'It sounds like an easy sort of competition, but
every champion from every category of racing in Brazil gets
together the best equipment and drivers to try and win.
'Just like with Ferrari, part of the secret of our success was
our good preparation which meant that throughout the 500 miles
race we never broke a single part.'
He adds, however, that he did have a collision with another
kart 'Which dropped me to eighth of the 64 runners.'
Barrichello will again line-up alongside Michael Schumacher as
an official Ferrari pilot for the next two years.
F1 News In Brief
Former F1 and CART star, Alex Zanardi, will compete in the
'Champions Kart Race' next month at the Bologna Motor Show.
His opponents will include, amongst others, Stefano Modena and
motorcycle ace Troy Corser. The occasion will mark the first
racing experience for Zanardi since he nearly lost his life
last year in an horrific CART accident. The 34-year-old
Italian had both legs amputated above the knee, but his
progress on prosthetics is encouraging.
Charismatic Italian marque Maserati, owned by Formula One
champions Ferrari, will make its official racing return by
competing in the 2004 FIA GP Championship. The marque last
competed in F1 in 1957, winning the drivers title with Juan
Fangio. 'This is an important day,' said Ferrari President
Luca di Montezemolo.
Formula One's pilots will, for the first time, vote for who
they think cut the mustard in 2002 with the inaugural Drivers'
Driver of the Year award. The plaudits will be handed to the
winner at next year's Grand Prix Party in January, with each
2002 Grand Prix pilot getting one vote. Other new awards up
for grabs at Birmingham's NEC will be Best Circuit and the
Special Safety Award. The annual awards, known as the Bernies,
are made of gold and depict the little F1 impresario himself.
Speculation of Jacques Villeneuve's return to CART racing can
now be put to bed as Team Player's Forsythe Racing has
confirmed Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier as drivers. 'I've
driven for some great teams since I've been in the CART
series,' said Tracy, 'But as a Canadian driver I'm extremely
proud to be joining a Canadian team.' Fellow Canadian Patrick
Carpentier, a two time winner in 2002, lines up for his sixth
season of Forsythe racing. Villeneuve was reportedly offered
some $50 million to make the switch from F1.
Alan Brown, a Briton, contested eight Grands Prix in the early
Fifties and turns 83 today. His best finish was secured on
debut, at the Swiss Grand Prix where he placed fifth. Stefan
Bellof, of Germany, raced twenty times in the Eighties but was
killed in a sports car race at Spa in 1985. His 45th birthday
would have been celebrated today.
On this very day in 1960, British favourite Sir Stirling Moss
pounded home Lotus' first-ever win at the pinnacle of
motorsports. To mark the occasion, Innes Ireland came home
second in the sister Lotus-Climax at America's Riverside
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