F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 2, 2003
Franchitti Slams Jacques Villeneuve
Scottish race ace Dario Franchitti has hit back at comments made by
Jacques Villeneuve that his new career in the Indy Racing League will
Villeneuve, former Champcar (CART) and Indy 500 winner, told British
media recently that: 'Franchitti will find the IRL so boring.'
After several years near the top of the timesheets in the beleaguered
CART Series, 29-year-old Franchitti moves with his Team Green and
manufacturer Honda into the oval-predominated, rival IRL.
Jacques, who now spends his days racing in Formula One's midfield with
BAR, noted of the move: 'From a career perspective he possibly has a
better chance of winning a championship.'
The 31-year-old added: 'Or possibly, CART-wise, he couldn't get
another contract to stay there, so he had no choice.'
Scottish-born Dario, from Edinburgh, fired back a response to
Villeneuve's observations after completing his first test with the
2003-spec, Dallara-Honda IRL car at Phoenix.
'The test was very good,' Franchitti said in an interview with the
Racer magazine. 'I really enjoyed it. It's a lot different to what I'm
'On ovals I'm used to low downforce, so to have so much grip was
actually a lot of fun - very different. The Honda engine seems good,
but I can't say too much about that. But I think the whole package
will be very effective.'
On Jacques Villeneuve's forthright words of advice, however, the
Scot's eyebrows lowered. 'For Jacques to say that is very strange,' he
said, noting that Villeneuve made his name with Team Green in the
'He's not talking from a position of knowledge - he's never driven one
of these cars, and he's never been to an IRL race. Basically those
comments are assumptions.
'Yes, sure I'm going to miss racing on road courses a lot, but this is
still an exciting move.'
Villeneuve often muses that the Indy Racing League, with simple
chassis', V8 engines and played out on the ovals of America, has
killed premier open-wheeler motorsport in the United States.
He says that CART, with its different styles of circuits and
high-performance challengers, is a far more testing arena that should
be protected as a trans-Atlantic alternative to F1.
But Dario, facing a new challenge in IRL, says that his very real
prospect of winning races in 2003 - and Villeneuve's lack of it -
gives him more credibility to muse about the pros and cons of American
'As a team we are coming into this new, and that is a challenge, and
there are some very strong teams to beat,' says Franchitti.
'But that is part of the fun, and winning is too, and we are working
to be in a position to do that from the start.'
He adds: 'When was the last time Jacques looked like winning a race?'
And of the boredom of turning left on bland ovals? 'I can assure you
that racing as close as it is here is not boring,' the Scot continued.
'How boring is it to be running around at the back in F1?'
French-Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, staring into his fifth successive
year of languishing at the pinnacle of motorsports with BAR, also
criticised Dario's Team Green for abandoning CART for IRL.
The outspoken Quebecois even suggested that the team, and others like
it, should be barred from returning to Champcars when - and if - it
resumes its premier status.
'It's not nice of him to criticize the team that basically put him on
the map,' says the Scot of Villeneuve's Indy 500 and CART
title-winning outfit of the mid-Nineties.
'Maybe he's just trying to keep his name in the papers.'
In related news, reports are beginning to surface that Jacques'
manager and former BAR team boss, Craig Pollock, has snapped up the
remains of Bruce McCaw's PacWest (PWR) CART team.
Dario Franchitti toyed with Formula One a couple of years ago, the
Scot crossing the Atlantic for a test with Jaguar Racing after Johnny
Herbert announced his retirement from the sport.
When he arrived from North America, however, the Scot was disappointed
to find an older-specification car shod with worn tires and high fuel
'There were obviously some people who just didn't want me in F1 and
they made life as difficult as possible,' said Franchitti.
'The entire test was a complete farce,' he added. 'It was a joke, I
might as well not have bothered.'
Albers Stumbles At Final Hurdle?
In the days leading out of Christmas and into New Year's 2003, rising
Dutch racer Christijan Albers looked to reside pole position for the
second Minardi seat.
The 23-year-old signed a conditional contract with Faenza boss Paul
Stoddart last month, dependant only on the conclusion of well-advanced
sponsorship agreements and the initial arrival of cold-hard cash.
But that agreement has now expired in the void of a Minardi
announcement; leaving the identity of Justin Wilson's 2003 Minardi
teammate, once again, unclear.
Sources hint that Minardi pilot-two is being asked by Australian
entrepreneur Stoddart to drop a $4 million financial package at the
Faenza doorstep; which Albers has reportedly managed.
It has also come to light, however, that Stoddart wants nearly half of
that in advance to plough into the final stages of the new PS03
chassis' design, development and construction phase.
'Stoddart is a ruthless businessman,' Albers' manager, Lodewijk
Varrossieau, explained of his young charge's anxious rise to the
pinnacle of motorsports.
Christijan spent last year racing in the German Touring Car (DTM)
series, and also comes highly recommended with Formula Ford and German
F3 titles, as well as experience in International F3000 and Minardi F1
Varrossieau continues to explain the final hurdle to Alber's Formula
One rise: 'Stoddart would like to see some money now to invest into
the new PS03,' the Dutchman says.
'However, our sponsors do not wish to pay such a large amount of money
in advance. They fear an early retirement from the team would cost
them too much,' he adds.
If Christijan can pull a deal out of the bag, though, he looks set to
sign a three-year deal, just like Yorkshire rookie, 24-year-old Justin
'Stoddart would like to contract Christijan for three years,' says
Alber's personal manager. 'He thinks Christijan is a star for the
future with very good commercial skills as well.'
Albers has secured the backing of Dutch Internet company Lost Boys;
but 30-year-old countryman and veteran Jos Verstappen still jostles
for the vacant seat having snared the support of Holland Media Group.
Our sources at the little Anglo-Italian team insist that the
veteran/rookie line-up of Verstappen and Wilson is, with the right
sponsorship backing, the preferred option.
The racer from Montford, with seven years of experience in Formula One
including stints at Benetton, Tyrrell and Arrows, said he would know
his future in the next two or three weeks.
'I am still very positive, and it looks very likely that I will
return,' Jos 'The Boss' Verstappen said. 'I am hoping to announce some
good news mid-January.'
Meanwhile, the sister seat at Jordan, alongside Italian superstar
Giancarlo Fisichella, is also quietly being touted a distant
possibility for both Verstappen and Albers - if the price is right.
But favourite for the spare Jordan drive is now ousted Sauber rookie
Felipe Massa, having snared the nearly $5 million support of Ford
Our sources indicate that, if Eddie Jordan says no to the hopeful
Paulista, he will jump to the head of the queue for the Minardi role.
Time will tell as money speaks loudest for the final seats on Grand
Prix grid 2003.
Fisichella Welcomes Sato Departure
Giancarlo Fisichella is, respectfully, welcoming the news that 2002
Jordan teammate Takuma Sato has been ousted ahead of a new racing
Takuma, 26, dived into the EJ12 cockpit full of praise; the Japanese
had recently wrapped up a dominant British Formula 3 championship and
had the steady support of engine partner Honda.
But with Honda's exclusive withdrawal to BAR and Sato's string of
rookie errors and accidents, Giancarlo Fisichella faces the imminent
arrival of a new Jordan teammate for 2003.
And the highly-rated Roman star says that, for the sake of his
Silverstone-based team's future progress, the departure of Takuma Sato
is probably a good thing.
Fisichella thinks that Sato's Formula One inexperience and epidemic of
racing accidents slowed the development of the Honda-powered, EJ12
package last year.
'I think Takuma is a nice guy, very quick, and he did well, especially
in the second part of the season,' said 29-year-old Fisichella.
'But, unfortunately, he had a few accidents, and because of that it
was quite difficult for the development. Maybe with a more experienced
driver, it would have been better.'
Sato, from Tokyo, accompanies Honda back to the British American
Racing reserve and development role, in view of a racing return in
First in line to snare the sister yellow racing seat, however, is
another young rookie who found himself recently ousted due to a lack
of experience and on-track errors - from Sauber.
Felipe Massa, just twenty-one years old and even less experienced than
Taku Sato, has gained the $4 million support of Ford Brazil and may
just take that sponsorship purse to Eddie Jordan in 2003.
This year, the experienced, 35-year-old German Heinz-Harald Frentzen
reunites himself with a Sauber racer after six years elsewhere in
'He was a lot like Kimi [Raikkonen],' says former team boss Peter
Sauber of Felipe. 'But because of that behavior he sometimes drove
over his limit and made mistakes,' the Swiss continues.
'I am not saying he wasn't a good enough driver, he was simply too
young and immature and that's why we didn't renew his contract.'
Next favorite for the Jordan drive is an experienced ace; the oldest
on the grid, in fact, having spent long stints at Ferrari and Jaguar
and debuting in a 1993-spec Jordan ten years ago.
Eddie Irvine's continued stay on the Grand Prix grid, though, depends
on British tobacco-company Benson & Hedges pumping up title
sponsorship and getting first say on the second Jordan pilot.
Then again, Jordan and Benson & Hedges are chatting enthusiastically
about a young, hard-charging Irish teammate for Giancarlo Fisichella.
Ralph Firman, 27-years old, won the British Formula 3 title way back
in 1996 but drove his talent home with the Formula Nippon title last
year and a recent BAR test drive in Spain.
Belfast-lad Richard Lyons, on the other hand, is just 23 but also
spent his year impressing in Formula Nippon and the Japanese GT
'We are looking at both Ralph Firman and Richard Lyons, and there is
also Anthony Davidson to include in that list,' Jordan's head of
marketing Mark Gallagher recently insisted.
Katayama: Dakar Rally Tougher Than F1
Former Grand Prix ace Ukyo Katayama kicked off his sandy challenge of
the 25th Paris-Dakar Rally yesterday.
The popular 39-year-old, having graced the Grand Prix grid for six
years in the Nineties including a final stint at Minardi, got going in
the Toyota for his second such off-road event.
And the Japanese thinks that Dakar - including crossing the tough,
sandy deserts of Libya and Egypt, and onto Spain - is the toughest
challenge of any racing driver's career.
'I achieved one of my life's dreams two months ago when I climbed
Everest,' the keen hobby mountain-climber admitted.
'But the Dakar is much tougher than Le Mans and Formula One. For me,
it's the toughest race in the world.'
The challenging Rally got into action on New Year's Day with a night
prologue from Marseille to Narbonne, and the more than 300 competitors
will eventually cover nearly 9000 kilometers.
'This will be a difficult Dakar and not to be under-estimated,' said
2001 winner Jutta Kleinschmidt, the first woman to take the title.
'It will also be a sandy one. The landscape of the three countries
we'll be crossing is characterized by sand dunes.'
Favorites for this year's title are former Grand Prix ace Jean-Louis
Schlesser, of France, and Hiroshi Masuoka who finished in the top ten
after the first 1km sprint in France.
But it was fellow Japanese, Kenjiro Shinozuka, who led the field with
a fastest time of one minute and 43 seconds in the Marseille park.
The overall Paris-Dakar winner, who incidentally won't go anywhere
near either Paris or Dakar, won't be decided until the 19th when the
victor drives into Sharm el Sheikh.
Ukyo Katayama was born in Tokyo, Japan, making his Formula Japan 1600
debut as a twenty-year old before racing in F3, French Formula
Renault, and Formula 3000 where he wrapped up the Japanese title in
He made his Formula One debut with Venturi Larrousse, taking two ninth
places before heading to Tyrrell. In 1997, Ukyo rounded out a mixed
career at the pinnacle of motorsports with Minardi to go and climb
In '98, he finished ninth in the Le Mans 24 Hours for Toyota and
runner-up a year later.
F1 And CART Ponder 'Strategic Alliance'
CART President Christopher Pook has continued to muse about the
benefits of an alliance with Formula One.
Rumblings in both premier racing categories hint that Pook and F1
impresario Bernie Ecclestone have enjoyed several high-level meetings
Speculation continues to insist that Ecclestone, 72-years old, is
eyeing the purchase of the beleaguered American racing category as it
digs its way out of a crisis induced by the rise of oval-based IRL.
But Pook urges that his undeniable talks with the Grand Prix
ringmaster relate to building the prestige of the pinnacle of
motorsports in America; a crucial market for Formula One.
While Grand Prix racing presently scrapes around in a mini-crisis of
Ferrari domination, struggling privateers and waning TV figures, CART
was nearly destroyed in '02 as teams, drivers, manufacturers and
sponsors fled to the IRL.
'Bernard and I enjoy a very good relationship,' Pook continued. 'I
know I can always pick up the phone and talk to Bernard and get input
Pook and CART, now turning to the European market and circuits like
Spa-Francorchamps and Brands Hatch, stresses that the new direction
for his series is not aimed at stealing Formula One's arena.
'Bernie knows that when we come to Europe as another outfit that's in
the open-wheel business that we're not going to do anything that's
going to be offensive to what he's trying to achieve with Formula
One,' he said.
'To the contrary, we want to be complementary to Formula One.'
It is believed that Ecclestone is helping CART break into Europe in
return for America's help in promoting Formula One in the States.
In the coming years, CART could take on a role as a 'feeder' category
for Formula One by adopting more of a Grand Prix 'look'; including
similar engine and chassis regulations.
'Without interfering with his relationships in the United States,
we've got to see what we can do to help build Formula One over here,'
'Because it's just too good a product not to be at the top of the
ladder when it comes to the USA.
'From my perspective as CEO of CART, when Formula One comes to the
United States, our entire family should be focused on making Formula
One successful. That's in our best interests.'
Pook hits out at the owner of America's Formula One race, Tony George,
for failing to collaborate with CART in promoting the United States
He says that George is too busy 'running around town with a hammer
trying to put nails in our coffin,' to focus on the best interests of
Formula One in America.
'If I had my way, I would make sure that every ticket mailing list in
the CART series is opened up to selling Formula One tickets for the
Formula One race,' says Pook.
Instead of George - owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and
architect of rival Indy Racing League series - trying to destroy CART,
Chris Pook thinks he should join the push to promote F1 properly.
'We had two and a half million people go to our [CART] races this
year,' he says. 'We should be working our tails off to make sure that
every single one of the people who went to our races goes to a Formula
'That would be the best thing for us and the best thing for our
He says that the manufacturers in Formula One - including Ferrari,
Jaguar, Ford, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Honda - need help to
promote their products in their most important market; the US.
And, just as CART and Formula One can benefit from a collaboration,
Pook insists that the Indy Racing League is welcome to join their
He adds: 'We've got to understand that and if we can help, we want to
help. I am convinced if we work together, we will both be far
'We're better off to work as a team. Strategic alliances are far more
effective than trying to row the boat across the ocean on your own,
for both of us.'
Giancarlo Eyes Big-Three Future
Giancarlo Fisichella will wait at least another year before joining
the big-boys at the front of the Grand Prix grid.
The Italian debuted for Jordan in 1997, poached a year on by Flavio
Briatore as he tried to rebuild the post-Schumacher Benetton team.
But as the Enstone operation prepared for a full Renault-takeover at
the end of 2001, the 29-year-old Roman was shuffled into the cold as
Briatore welcomed protégé Jarno Trulli to the blue ranks.
Fisichella, despite his heralded title as one of Formula One's very
best, had no option but to head back to Eddie Jordan's struggling
In 2002, Giancarlo Fisichella endured his toughest at the pinnacle of
'Disappointing, yes,' he smiled. 'Unfortunately for the first part of
the season the package was not good enough. Engine and reliability
wasn't good, and even the car grip wasn't fantastic.'
A contract stipulation allowed him to depart yellow shores ahead of
the new racing season; with the departure of manufacturer support in
the form of Honda, Fisichella was free to go.
'Only in the case that the engine was not a good engine,' the Roman
urges. 'But I think the Ford engine is good, very strong and light.
I'm quite pleased about that deal.'
Pleased or not, the Ford-deal is not a factory one.
Eddie Jordan has managed to subsidize the expensive customer Cosworth
program with the help of Ford Europe, but Jaguar Racing will be ahead
of the game with the works powerplant.
But with no openings at Ferrari, Williams or McLaren, Italian ace
Fisichella opted to stay put and wait out the season.
For 2004, though, the Roman is eyeing a seat at the top of his sport.
'Maybe in 2004, yes, there might be a chance to go to the top,'
Giancarlo Fisichella told Australia's Associated Press.
But with contracts all stitched up for the foreseeable future at
Ferrari and Williams, Fisichella concedes that an opportunity in
silver looks to be his best option for '04.
He adds: 'It depends on some other drivers.
'I think the two Ferrari drivers and two Williams drivers are there
until the end of 2004. So the only place could be McLaren, because
Coulthard's got one more year, and then I don't know.'
Whether he steps into a silver cockpit as a 31-year-old, though,
depends largely on what Giancarlo can do with a Ford-powered EJ13 this
year. 'I have to be strong, to be quick and competitive everywhere,'
'If the car is good and the package is good, I will do it. I feel
strong mentally and physically. I just need a good package to show my
Giancarlo is adamant that the lauded, ultra-light CR3 Cosworth, and a
hope-carrying new EJ13 chassis, will go some way to providing just
that: 'I'm much more confident for this year,' says the Italian.
'I think the new car will be good. Gary Anderson and Henri Durand are
designing it, and especially with the new engine, I'm very confident.'
Zanardi: Williams Will Catch Up In '03
Alex Zanardi is hopeful that Formula One's runners-up can track down
the worrying gap to Scuderia Ferrari.
Last year, the Maranello marque took home fifteen of a possible
seventeen winner's trophies; Michael Schumacher able to ease off with
his fifth Drivers' title after July's French Grand Prix.
But 34-year-old Italian Zanardi, with first-hand knowledge of the
resources and gritty determination at his former team Williams, thinks
that the Grove-squad may be able to pull something out of the bag in
Alessandro, who lost both legs in an horrific CART accident at
Lausitzring just more than 15 months ago, says that Sir Frank's ranks
and drivers Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya may be able to 'do
interesting things' this year.
The racing season kicks off in March, and quadruple consecutive
Constructors' Champions Ferrari will be favorites; but Zanardi thinks
that tires will play a leading role as McLaren and Williams fight
'Ferrari will probably start in front,' Zanardi says as the 2003
Australian Grand Prix looms just eight weeks on the horizon.
He continues: 'But I think other squads, in particular Williams, may
be able to do interesting things on the track.'
Zanardi joins the chorus of concept that Ferrari's domination of 2002
had more to do with superior - and tailor-made - Bridgestone tires
than the undoubtedly consummate F2002.
This year, Williams and McLaren will head French rubber rival
Michelin's third year back at the pinnacle of motorsports, and aim to
make best use of new-for-2003 bespoke tire rules.
'We have to see how Michelin cope with raising their game,' says
The 34-year-old spent 41 grands prix in Formula One, at the wheel of
team challengers like Lotus, Jordan, Minardi and - in 1999 alongside
Ralf Schumacher - Williams.
But Zanardi won multiple titles and races at the wheel of a Champcar;
a series he says is really teetering on the brink as a crisis takes
'I believe that Formula One is in a crisis to a certain degree but in
America there is a true crisis,' he said.
'Nascar, although being all about the show, also doesn't have a clean
bill of health,' he adds. 'And the old Indy has lost a lot of points
in the war between CART and IRL.'
In Formula One, though, privateer teams are collapsing, sponsors
withdrawing, spectators switching off, manufacturers threatening to
quit and scarlet cars totally dominating.
But 'crisis', he says, is a word that should be taken with a pinch of
'It is still the best series on four wheels and many people switch on
the TV to watch it. If I'm not mistaken,' he adds, 'it is the second
most popular sport after soccer.'
Zanardi says that Formula One's position of strength - or ultimate
resilience in fending off an economic and sporting dip - can be laid
at impresario Bernie Ecclestone's feet.
'He has to be given much of the praise,' the Italian says. 'He is an
intelligent person not only in the way he promotes the product but
also in the way he has destroyed all the alternatives.'
Alex is sure that the sport's massive public following has highlighted
the so-called crisis but also stalled much needed change, such as in
returning the focus to a driver's talent.
'The success of the public viewing in the past has also been bad,' he
says. 'If the sport did not have such a huge following, then perhaps
F1 would have changed many years ago.
'There needs to be something done to recapture the role of the driver.
I'm not talking only about overtaking, but also the tactics employed
during a race.'
Formula One was hauled into furore last year when the Ferrari pitwall
ordered Rubens Barrichello to give up a deserved race win at Austria
for the sake of Michael Schumacher's championship-dominating position.
'The new rules should go somewhere to address this issue,' says
Zanardi, highlighting the FIA's recent decree that all result-damaging
team orders are forthwith banned.
Zanardi's best result in Formula One was a single sixth, at the
Brazilian Grand Prix of 1993, and a resultant 20th in the Drivers'
Sato Looks Ahead To 2004 Race-Return
Japanese Formula One star Takuma Sato is already looking forward to
his racing return with BAR in 2004.
'I hope you continue to enjoy Formula One,' the 26-year-old rookie
told his fans in a New Year message, 'And you can be sure that I will
be working hard to prepare for racing again in 2004.'
But before he is expected to burst back onto the Grand Prix grid in
'04, the rated, Tokyo-born charger will spend this year steering the
British American Racing challenger in a development role.
Takuma Sato soared to a dominant British F3 title in 2001 and, with
manufacturer Honda, found his way into the Jordan F1 cockpit last year
but spent a little too much time in the hedge.
The crucial element to his 2003 relocation to the reserve-bench,
however, was finance as Eddie Jordan seeks to replace a $30 million
budget hole in the wake of departing backer Deutsche Post World Net.
Sato, with manager Andrew Gilbert-Scott, tried to woo commercial and
corporate Japan but failed to stump up the reported $10 million to
keep his berth alongside Italian charger Giancarlo Fisichella.
'It is no secret that the economic conditions in Japan at the minute
are not favorable,' says Gilbert-Scott. 'While it would be better to
race, I'm positive the BAR move is a very good one for Taku.'
So as 2002 departs and Sato prepares to travel the Formula One
calendar as BAR's reserve driver this year, the always-smiling
Japanese says: 'I would like to wish all my many fans a Happy and
Prosperous New Year for 2003.
'Many thanks again for your valuable support over the past year, it
really means a lot to me.'
The diminutive racer's new, three-year BAR-Honda contract paves the
way for his probable return to the cockpit in 2004 and '05 as teammate
to Jenson Button.
'It's a real shame of course that I will not race for Jordan next
year,' said Sato.
He will keep his motivation up, however, by knowing that he'll be
pushing on the development of a car that he'll probably race in just
more than twelve months.
'That makes it good preparation,' says the Japanese. 'And who knows,
there might even be a chance to race in 2003 as I am the reserve race
And the 26-year-old rookie is in good company as a pilot who took a
step back from racing before re-launching a successful Grand Prix
career on the F1 grid.
Mika Hakkinen did it in the early Nineties, Olivier Panis spent a
stint as McLaren tester in 2000, and Fernando Alonso revives a racing
career in '03 after a season as Renault developer.
'It's definitely a good thing,' thinks Takuma. 'It will make me much
stronger I think. Formula One cars are full of technology and it takes
time to find improvements.
'It's a good opportunity to drive the car a lot.'
Williams To Unveil FW25 This Month
Sir Frank Williams and his hopeful Grove team have penciled the final
day of January as the provisional date for the FW25 package launch.
The date, to be confirmed early in the New Year, will see a
revolutionary new BMW-powered challenger have its wraps taken off at
the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
This year, en route to a distant runner-up in the Constructors' chase,
Williams managed just one victory to Ferrari's fifteen, while the
race-day deficit stood somewhere in the region of a second per lap.
And those facts, says former Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton driver
Gerhard Berger, will not be trampled on overnight.
Berger, now joint Motorsport Director at BMW, says: 'We must draw even
with Ferrari from the beginning of this season. I don't believe,
however, that we'll be able to overtake and beat Ferrari.
'In any case, we want to challenge them more than last year.'
Meanwhile Sam Michael, Williams' 30-year-old Chief Operations
Engineer, is hoping that important gains in the wind-tunnel will make
the 2003 package a substantial step over FW24.
'Our main weakness is at the rear end of the car,' the Australian
admits, 'And aerodynamics in general.'
Most experts note that the Williams chassis is overly brutal for the
rear Michelin tires, often leading to increased wear.
'It remains to be seen what gains can be made on our package for next
year, but rest assured that every effort is now devoted to that
Will we see a 'radical' Williams contender next year, then? 'There is
a fine line between a revolutionary step and a misguided, untried or
experimental step,' he said.
'We will walk that line.'
Sir Frank Williams similarly worries that last year's racer was too
conservative an evolution on the work of 2001; the team boss now
promising that his Grove outfit will not make the same mistake two
years in succession.
In 2003, he says, its all or nothing: 'Next year we won't repeat the
mistake of not risking enough,' said the 60-year-old chief.
'We'll prove our technological boldness and present a revolutionary
FW25,' he says.
No Sixth Title Dreams For Schumacher
Michael Schumacher may be the overwhelming favorite to snare 2003
Formula One glory, but the German ace is not yet dreaming about a
sixth world title.
If he follows the title-winning script since the twentieth-century
became the 21st, the 33-year-old from Hurth Hermuhlheim will surpass
Juan Manuel Fangio's mantle as the most successful F1 pilot in
But Schumacher, who'll take the racing wheel of his eighth scarlet
Ferrari in March, is not yet planning a spot for his sixth world
championship star on his personal cap.
'I'm not a dreamer,' he told ITV pundit James Allen in a television
interview. 'I only start thinking about a sixth title when I have it
in my pocket.'
In 2002 at least, though, Ferrari easily defended its two previous
years of scarlet double-championships by taking fifteen of seventeen
race wins and a record-early title bath.
'It has been a fantastic season, with many achievements, with many
good races, with lots of emotion,' said the Ferrari ace who wrapped up
the title bid in July for the French Grand Prix.
'So it's been a beautiful year.'
Struggling to find the words to elucidate his Ferrari career, though,
Michael Schumacher simply refers his listeners to the final stages of
the 2002 race at Magny-Cours, and then the champagne-popping
celebrations on the podium.
'I think, quite often, the pictures explain more than the words and
this is the case for the [2002 championship] win,' he continued.
'If you look at my emotions and the way I have been after the race,
crossing the line and on the podium, I think those pictures say more
than I can put into words,' he admitted.
But as Formula One fends off a so-called crisis, and spectators lose
interest as Grands Prix become the latest PR exercise in scarlet
domination, Schumacher faces the obvious observation that his
supremacy is bad for the sport.
Schumacher, not surprisingly, is unapologetic: 'I have, for many
years, spent time behind dominant cars and I always dreamed about
having the dominant car,' he says.
Since joining the Scuderia in 1996, and enduring tantalizingly-close
championship failures for the next four years, cars like Williams' and
McLaren's have painted the circuits in whitewash.
Therefore, 'I'm not unsatisfied,' the great German smilingly insists
of winning eleven races this year.
And it wasn't as easy as we might all believe: at Magny-Cours, for
example - when the title was within his grasp - Michael Schumacher
felt the pressure to wrap it up for Ferrari.
'Before the race not so much pressure,' he says, 'But driving the race
in particular at the end, knowing that if I win the race I win the
Championship, there was a lot of pressure.'
With mere laps to run, the leading McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen slid on a
puddle of oil and Michael was handed his fifth personal world
championship; and third on the trot for his adopted Scuderia.
'What a year it has been,' he says, smilingly shaking his head at the
And another, more than likely, will kick off on the dusty roads of
South Melbourne in a picturesque Albert Park this March.
But Schumacher is less confident than a racing world already penning
'03 spoils to Michael and his team. 'I don't think at all that we have
an advantage for next season,' the 33-year-old from Kerpen insists.
'We have important ideas and steps which we absolutely have to put
into practice to go forward.'
Fisichella: I Hope We Can Improve
Giancarlo Fisichella is sure all the ingredients are in place for
Jordan to take a step forward in 2003.
'I hope we can improve,' says the 29-year-old Roman after a difficult
and unrewarding return to the Silverstone-based team last year.
'We are working hard for that.'
Fisichella, from Rome, made his way onto the Grand Prix grid with
Minardi but was soon leading the effort for Benetton by 1998.
But as the Enstone team transmuted into Renault last year, Fisichella
found himself in the cold and faced with Jordan as his only option to
stay fixed on his Formula One dream.
For '03, though, Jordan lose manufacturer-backing from Honda and face
the new season with a massive budget deficit. But Giancarlo is adamant
that his yellow team are ready to move forward with an impressive
'I really like Gary Anderson,' he says of Jordan's technical director.
'I worked with him when I raced for Jordan in 1997, and he's the man
for Jordan,' the Italian continues.
Fisichella also sees French designer Henri Durand as the way forward
for Eddie Jordan's ranks who have struggled ever since expanding in
Finishing third in the Constructors' chase, Jordan bolstered the
workforce and invested in Williams, Ferrari and McLaren-esque
expansion aimed at joining the big-three outfits.
70 redundancies in 2002 later, however, Jordan realized it was a
But Giancarlo Fisichella thinks that the leaner, tougher crew taking
Jordan into 2003 is the way to recapture success at Silverstone.
'Henri is a good guy,' he says of the new chief designer - architect
'I haven't talked a lot with him, because he's usually at the factory,
but he looks very concentrated, he looks a very nice guy, and he has
Outwardly, the loss of factory power and the forced signing of a
customer engine program is a significant step backwards for a Formula
One outfit; particularly in tough economic times.
But Fisichella, whose contract stipulated that the departure of Honda
gave him an 'out' clause, sees lauded CR3 Ford power as a boost to
Jordan's '03 chances.
'Honda was very, very disappointing,' Fisichella insists. 'I thought
we'd have a better engine, more reliability, even if they did very
well in the second part of the season.
'Obviously the weight of the engine was not good, it was too heavy,
and even the fuel consumption was too high.'
Jordan's financial woe, however, is more serious an issue.
Nearly 70 Jordan workers lost their jobs in April as Deutsche Post
World Net - bringing $30 million with brands like DHL and Danzas -
announced that 2002 would be their last with the team.
'That made the future development of the car more difficult,' says
Fisichella, 'So I was a little bit sad for that. But honestly we went
in the right direction, and we did quite well, even if the results
were not so good.'
Six year veteran Fisichella will farewell his Twenties before the new
racing season kicks off, but still insists that his career lies with a
big-three team like Ferrari, McLaren or Williams.
'I don't know if I'm getting better every year,' he says, honestly.
Fisichella smiles: 'In my first year in F1 I did my best season, so
maybe I'm getting old!
'But I've got much more experience now, and I know that the future is
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