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2002 F1 Teams/Drivers

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Jacques Villeneuve
Olivier Panis

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M. Schumacher
Rubens Barrichello

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Eddie Irvine
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Takuma Sato
Giancarlo Fisichella

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Kimi Raikkonen
David Coulthard

Minardi
Alex Yoong
Mark Webber

Prost
H. H. Frentzen 
Luciano Burti

Renault
Jarno Trulli
Jenson Button

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Nick Heidfeld
Felipe Massa

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Mika Salo
Allan McNish

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Ralf Schumacher
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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 6, 2003
1


Frentzen: Too Soft For Formula One?
Heinz-Harald Frentzen's former boss thinks the veteran German ace isn't 'hard enough' for ultimate Grand Prix success.

The 35-year-old, from Monchengladbach, headed to Sir Frank Williams' highly-competitive Grove team in 1997, singled out for championship glory after an impressive early career at Sauber.

He nestled alongside that year's champion, Jacques Villeneuve, in the Renault-powered FW19, but struggled to match the ultimate pace and rounded out the year with just one win.

Frentzen got another chance with Williams in 1998, but was shuffled out to Jordan for the following season.

At the small, Silverstone-based team, though, Frentzen once again shone from the midfield and soared to two Grand Prix wins.

'I don't know of any other driver that has such a fantastic feeling for the car he drives like Frentzen,' Sir Frank Williams told the German press.

But the Oxfordshire-based boss, responding to the lingering tag that Heinz-Harald needs a 'mollycoddling' environment, fears that Frentzen would have struggled to honor the spoils at any championship-hopeful team.

'Heinz Harald is a very sensitive character,' Williams adds, 'and I think not hard enough for this business.'

Frentzen, who finished equal to the great Michael Schumacher in German Formula 3, has endured a restless recent career that kicked off with his surprise and unexplained firing by Eddie Jordan in mid-2001.

The Monchengladbach-born charger saw out the final races at Prost, before it collapsed, before sitting out a similar script at the ultimately doomed Arrows Grand Prix last year.

In just a few weeks, though, Heinz-Harald Frentzen will see his career go full-circle with a return to the Hinwil-based, Peter Sauber-led outfit.

In the early Nineties, he was a member of the Mercedes junior sportscar squad, in Sauber's pre-Formula One guise, coming second at Donington, before making his GP debut with the team in '04.

But ten years later, while Sauber is one of only three independents left standing on the Grand Prix grid, Frentzen is adamant that his new employers are 'the team of the future.'

'It blew me away,' Frentzen said after a recent tour of the Hinwil headquarters in Switzerland. 'Sauber is the team of the future,' he added.

'If you look at teams such as Williams or McLaren, they have had their peaks,' he adds. 'Right now they are a tad behind and struggling to get in front again. Sauber is different.'

Frentzen will have the pressure piled on his shoulders in '02 with a one-year contract: 'With that, you are put under pressure to perform, to show how intact your motivation is,' he explains.

But he adds: 'If the performance is there I see no reason why the contract should not be extended.'

Sauber's new facilities at Hinwil include a full-scale wind-tunnel, which is still under construction.

'Seriously impressive,' the 35-year-old concludes with a smile.







Sponsor Crisis Strangles Formula One
'Three years ago, being a title sponsor for a middle-ranking team would have set you back around £7 million for one season,' an anonymous former sponsor told British media.

'That fee has since collapsed to between £4 million and £5 million.'

Formula One has fallen upon tough times; and whether you think it is due to the waning global economic climate, a vanishing track spectacle, shaky long-term future or a declining television audience, it is nonetheless a 'crisis.'

'The very basic entry level to get in the Formula One team door was around £500,000 three years ago,' the anonymous former sponsor continues. 'Now, you can take at least a third off that.'

As we stand just eight weeks prior to the season-opener of 2003 south of Melbourne, Jordan and Minardi are without title sponsors and even established marques like McLaren and Williams have lost corporate support.

In just twelve months, the Grand Prix grid has dropped from a potential 24 contenders - as Toyota prepared to step in and Prost hoped for the best - to just twenty cars.

And in 2000, just as Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen fought out a stonking title battle, a primary sponsor for a team like Jordan was looking at £7m to ensure signage on major bodywork like wings and sidepods.

Today, that same sponsor is offering just £4m - or perhaps nothing at all.

In fact, Eddie Jordan's little Silverstone team, having laid-off nearly 70 people this year, could be forced to make do with an around 20 percent smaller budget in '03 than the season just past.

Most of Jordan's major sponsors, with connections to departing chief backer Deutsche Post World Net, are gone leaving a $30 million budget black-hole.

When Michel crossed the line to soar home Ferrari's first world championship since 1979, a little decal on a Formula One's car's wing mirror would have cost you some three-quarters of a million Pounds.

Today, just two years later and as Ferrari scarlet-wash the Grand Prix circuits, £500,000 will get you that honor.

And a sticker or two on someone like Giancarlo Fisichella's helmet can now be bought for, perhaps, £500,000 - half-price in contrast to the lucrative market three years ago.

'The world as a whole is not perhaps as easy a place to gather sponsorship from as it was in years gone by,' explains Minardi boss Paul Stoddart - forced to sign two pay-drivers, bringing in a collective $10 million, for 2003.

'Everyone knows that Mark Webber drove for me for free last year,' the Australian continues, minds harked back to the 2002 Melbourne Grand Prix where the rookie's debut read like a fairy-tale.

'But we are now fighting as hard as we know how,' says Stoddart.







Berger Backs Technical Rule Revolution
When seventeen-year-old Nico Rosberg stepped out of a Williams Formula One car last month, team boss Sir Frank was seriously impressed.

In 1982, Nico's father - the original Flying Finn Keke - soared to the second Williams-powered Formula One Drivers' World Championship.

And, as a recent reward for his son's impressive efforts in Formula BMW this year, the Munich-constructor arranged for teenager Nico to do a few flying laps in the '02-spec FW24 at Barcelona.

'Nico is only 17 years old, but he was driving very fast after only a few laps and he wasn't impressed by the car at all,' said the Grove chief, Williams.

But Gerhard Berger, Grand Prix pilot from days past and now joint BMW Motorsport Director, says that little Nico's instant speed in the modern F1 machine car should actually be of concern to all Formula One pundits.

'We used to ride on cannon balls,' the Austrian told Swiss media. 'We fought for seconds, not tenths - our turbo charged cars would spin the wheels in fifth gear.

'You really had to shift gear and pull at the steering wheel,' he explained. 'Over a bump you would immediately go sideways. On the gas your head would snap back under the power.'

Berger adds: 'Today, a 17-year-old like Nico Rosberg comes along and immediately achieves top times. There is something wrong there.'

The 44-year-old Austrian, born in Worgl and having hung up his racing helmet five years ago, insists that Formula One technology has spiraled out of control and stolen the march from the driver.

'Today, everything is automatic,' he says, 'all the driver has to do is to find the braking point.'

As the Formula One world braces for an emergency meeting with FIA President Max Mosley, then - aimed at cutting down electronic aids like traction-control and telemetry - Berger adds that power steering is another area to look at.

'Electronics and other technical advancements have to be reduced,' he stressed. 'Driver aids like traction control and power steering need to be eliminated.'

In twelve months, Formula One has lost two teams and a barrage of television spectators and, therefore, sponsors.

While some blame Ferrari's dominance, Gerhard Berger blames technology-driven 'show-killers.'

'Toys like diffusers and bargeboards should also be banned,' the former Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton pilot - with thirteen years of cockpit experience behind him, insists.

'Instead, the cars and tires should be made wider again.'

Gerhard Berger started racing as a twenty-year old with a Group 5 Ford Escort. He moved into the European Alfasud series, before contesting F3, winning the Spa 24-Hours race in a BMW and making his Formula One debut in 1986.

Berger won ten Grands Prix at the pinnacle of motorsports.







Words Of Praise For Sacked Drivers
Toyota boss Ove Andersson has a few words of praise for sacked 2002 drivers, Mika Salo and Allan McNish.

'Whatever you will be doing in the future, you will always remain in the history books as the first ever drivers for Toyota in F1,' the Swede said in a personal message for Mika and Allan.

That historic consolation, however, will be little comfort to the ousted pair.

Salo, 35, was fired with another season to run on his Cologne team contract. And McNish, the 32-year-old from Scotland, is left without a home in pitlane after his rookie season.

Both men have aired their frustration after a trying first year for the Japanese-owned, German-based Formula One outfit.

'I really hope they struggle a lot,' says blonde-haired Salo as he ponders a career outside of Formula One - perhaps in German Touring Cars. 'I'm happy I'm not there - I couldn't take that any more, one more year of the same thing.'

Allan McNish watched on with a somewhat longer face as pre-season 2003 Formula One testing wrapped up for a Christmas break. 'I should be out there testing with the rest of them,' he said.

'It may hit me even harder when the season starts in Australia next March and I am no longer part of it.'

36-year-old French veteran Olivier Panis and newly-crowned CART champion Cristiano da Matta fill the two vacated seats at Toyota this year.

'I really don't know what Panis can bring to the team,' adds McNish. 'I think Da Matta could really struggle,' adds Mika Salo.

Andersson, however, knows that the decision from check-writers in Tokyo to sack both drivers was hard on Mika and Allan; and worthy of their frustration.

He even questions the arrival of marketing-favorite, Cristiano da Matta, who promotes Toyota motor-cars in both South America - as a Brazilian - and North America, as CART champion.

'He's been a Toyota driver for as long as he's raced in America,' explains a somber Ove, 'which means that Toyota North America are very keen on him.'

To Mika and Allan, then, Andersson says: 'Just simply thank you very much for your good work and your positive attitude to a beginner team.'

'I'm sure it was a tough, and often very frustrating, season for you,' he adds.

Meanwhile Toyota President, Fujio Cho, admits that the full extent of Formula One's rigor was fundamentally unanticipated by the Cologne-team.

'We have realized that F1 is much tougher than expected,' said the Japanese at the end of a season 2002 that saw only defunct Arrows Grand Prix further down in the Constructors' chase.

For this year, the President makes it clear that tenth place is not a reasonable nor a satisfactory target.

'We do want to make significant progress in 2003 and the experiences we have gained last year will be a real benefit to us,' Cho adds.

He continues: 'I am very grateful to both Mika and Allan for their performance over the last two years.'

The driving pair completed a mammoth, comprehensive season of testing in 2001 that took Toyota and their TF101 test car to twelve of the seventeen F1 circuits, before racing in '02.

According to our sources, though, Mika and Allan are far from dispensed with lives spent steering powerful racing machines.

Salo, with nearly nine years of experience in F1, is reportedly contemplating a stint in German Touring Cars (DTM), whilst McNish could see out '03 in a Toyota-powered, IRL contender.

'It's been an exciting year for me in Formula One and I hope to announce my plans for 2003 in the very near future,' the racer, from Dumfries, said.







Albers 'Getting Closer' To Minardi
Christijan Albers has moved within striking distance of the second '03 racing seat at Faenza-based Minardi.

The 23-year-old Dutchman, with a German F3 title and praise from his '02 Touring Car world, signed a conditional contract with Minardi boss Paul Stoddart that expired on the final day of '02.

But according to the youngster's management, only minor details stand between Christijan Albers and a 2003 Melbourne Grand Prix debut in a Cosworth-powered PS03.

'We are getting closer now,' personal manager Lodewijk Varossieau told German television.

'It's just about the details now and it seems we can work this out.'

Stoddart, the 47-year-old Australian entrepreneur, admits that the ride as Justin Wilson's racing teammate this year has scaled down from the 20-strong shortlist to a Dutch shoot-out.

Jos Verstappen, with more than seven years experience at the pinnacle of motorsports, is next in line to join the Faenza crew but presently spends his days courting Eddie Jordan and the spare F1 berth.

Varossieau continues: 'If it doesn't work out for Christijan, all doors are still open for Jos but obviously he still has another option, because he doesn't really seem to fight for the Minardi drive.'

Montford-born Verstappen last week admitted that Minardi was not his only option, as we revealed that Eddie Jordan offered 'the Boss' some sort of deal to grace an EJ13 cockpit.

The rapid Dutchmen has secured lucrative backing from Holland Media Group and appears to be fending off the challenge by Sauber rookie Felipe Massa, also eyeing a future at Jordan with Ford Brazil cash.

Verstappen's manager, Huub Rothengatter, now admits: 'We're talking with Minardi and Jordan.'

But Jordan are officially scotching the intense speculation that Massa, Verstappen - or anyone else - are closing in on the last vacant mooring in Grand Prix pitlane.

'Team boss Eddie Jordan is concentrating on finalizing sponsorship agreements prior to making any decisions or announcements regarding the driver line-up,' said a spokesperson.

'So the stories linking the team definitively with certain drivers are rather wide of the mark.'







Full Swing In Bahrain And China
Formula One's new racing venues, in Bahrain and China, are progressing smoothly as their respective Grand Prix debuts loom for 2004.

Construction work on the Bahrain Racing Circuit is in full swing, foundations having already been laid for the track's main structures including central grandstand, VIP Tower and pit buildings.

General Organization for Youth and Sports president Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa toured the site and gave a media briefing on the progress of the 169-hectare facility in Sakhir.

He said he is very satisfied with the progress so far: 'As of this week, 1.6 per cent of the work has been completed, ahead of a projected 1.3pc completion schedule,' said Shaikh Fawaz.

'A total of 151,050 man hours have been spent with a total site manpower of 318 people.

'As of today, 54 days have elapsed and 431 days remain until the completion date.

'For Bahrain to build such an advanced facility in such a short time will be an achievement in itself and based on today's evidence we are very confident of a March 2004 handover,' he concluded.

Shaikh Fawaz was joined on the tour by Bahrain Racing Circuit Committee chiefs as they surveyed progress that kicked off in early November.

The work is due to be completed by March 7 next year, ahead of a Grand Prix debut at the end of that 2004 Formula One season.

Renowned German F1 track architect Hermann Tilke is overseeing construction of the Bahrain Grand Prix circuit that, by the middle of this month, will host a 1000-strong workforce.

The main grandstand will be three stories high, measuring 19,733 square meters. The pit building will stand at a majestic two and three stories, measuring 17, 587 square meters.

A VIP Tower will dominate the skyline at 10 storey tall, with a 30-metre diameter, while six one storey team buildings, a media centre, a medical center as well as service buildings will complete the impressive facility.

Shaikh Tariq said the circuit will be the 'most advanced facility of its kind in the world,' featuring a more than 5-metre wide Grand Prix track and three other circuit specifications.

'It will also have a 2.4km inner track designed for testing, a 3.4km multi-purpose outer track, a 1,200 meter drag strip and a 2,500-metre test oval for endurance testing,' he said.

'When completed, the circuit will be the most advanced facility of its kind in the world and is scheduled to host a round of the International Automobile Federation Formula One World Championship in October next year.

'We are projecting a 200-day annual usage, which will include a one-make care series and motorbike races prior to the Bahrain Grand Prix,' said Shaikh Tariq.

Meanwhile, in China's bustling economic hub of Shanghai, their own International Race Ground is progressing nicely as it prepares for a seven-year initial stint on the F1 schedule.

Max Mosley, a recent visitor to the circuit site for the inaugural '04 Chinese Grand Prix, said: 'The organizers have demonstrated the commitment to make this circuit a major global attraction.

'Formula One will only add to Shanghai's international reputation as one the most modern and vibrant cities in the world.'







Pundit Predicts: More Change For 2003
Keen F1 pundit Martin Brundle is hypothesizing more regulation revamps ahead of the 2003 season-opener in Australia.

The former Grand Prix pilot and lauded ITV commentator, from Kings Lynn in England, speaks after news broke that FIA President Max Mosley called an emergency meeting of team principals for January 15.

'I don't think they've really done enough and I'm pretty sure that before we head down to Melbourne some of these rules will be revised and added to,' says the former Tyrrell, McLaren and Jordan driver.

Mosley has called the meeting as a response to expert analysis that 'one or two' of pitlane's remaining privateers may not see the looming season out, potentially reducing the Grand Prix grid to less than sustainable numbers.

In the last twelve months, Formula One has lost four cars as independents Prost and Arrows succumb to financial peril and an absence of sponsors.

An October meeting of the F1 Commission pushed through a raft of changes to the Sporting Code including one-shot - or shoot-out - qualifying, points reform and bespoke tire rules.

But Brundle, now 44 having retired from the cockpit at the close of season 1996, is not convinced that the one-lap challenge will, in effect, have much bearing on a spiced up Grand Prix grid.

Mosley, and F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone, hope that front-runners often fudge their Saturday efforts, are relocated down the grid, and have to duke their way to the front.

Brundle says: 'I've seen data where teams have looked over the last couple of seasons, and they've worked out that their drivers would roughly be in exactly the same place on the grid if they took their first run of the day.'

'But nonetheless it should spice up Saturday afternoons nicely.'

Next Wednesday's meeting of team principals is expected to discuss ways to sensibly cut costs for the privateers whilst spicing up the waning on-track 'show.'

The team bosses will thrash out the touted banning of electronic aids like launch and traction-control - only reintroduced in mid-2001 - automatic gearboxes and bi-directional telemetry.

Mosley, seriously disappointed after the recent Technical Working Group forum delayed substantial change until 2005, is hoping to obtain a unanimous mandate to implement changes in the best interests of Formula One.

It is also suggested that stricter scrutineering rules will fall to ensure that bigger teams don't start producing special cars for new, one-shot qualifying.

'We have got to be open-minded about cutting costs,' says BAR boss David Richards. 'A group of people so close to the coal face as the team principals sometimes don't come to the right conclusions.

'And sometimes you need a facilitator from the outside to assist you in that process.'







Alex Yoong: No F1 Plans For Baby Son
If departing Formula One pilot Alex Yoong could have his time again, he wouldn't do it all the same.

Three times this year, the 26-year-old from Kuala-Lumpur failed to qualify his Minardi whilst fending off scathing criticism from his home Malaysian - and global, for that matter - press.

So when his baby son asks Dad what he should do when he grows up, Alex won't be suggesting ambitions at the pinnacle of motorsports: 'I am going to encourage him to take up football,' Yoong smiled.

'Then again,' he continued, 'tennis or water-skiing would be ok too! It's been a horrible ride for me to get where I am today. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't!'

In 2003, Alex farewells the exclusive piranha-club known as the Formula One paddock and heads across the Atlantic for a year in America's open-wheeler series known as CART.

Yoong struggled to match the pace of talented '02 teammate Mark Webber in Formula One this year, as he complimented a lucrative portfolio of Malaysian sponsors for Paul Stoddart's Minardi team.

'I am doing a full season with Champcar World Series in 2003,' Alex confirmed. 'I want to gain new experience in the States with a chance to run in the top half of the field.

'Champcars allows me to do that as all the cars are of similar specifications. Thus, getting on the podium or winning a race is possible unlike Formula One where you need to be in the top three teams of Ferrari, McLaren or Williams.'

But Yoong will try to keep his toe in the Formula One waters: 'I am also hoping to be a test driver for Minardi in 2003,' he said.

Before putting his European racing career on hold to kick-off American testing in the coming weeks, though, Alex let the Malaysian media in on a little secret he carried throughout 2002 in his Grand Prix cockpit.

Early last year, the 26-year-old rookie married his long-term girlfriend Arianna; and, they will welcome a baby son into the world on Friday when Mrs Yoong gives birth by caesarian.

'We wed in early 2002 but I didn't want anyone to know,' Yoong explains. 'You know me, I am a quiet, private person and I prefer my personal life to remain that way.

'I didn't want the papers to sensationalize and blow things out of proportion, they were already critical of my Formula One performance,' he adds.

'Since marriage, I've been so happy, settled and motivated. Now, with a baby on the way, I feel on top of the world!'

Yoong concludes that he'll be by Arianna's side for the birth 'but will have to leave shortly after for America.'

It is widely touted that he will reside a Player's Forsythe CART machine in 2003; rumors even placing ex-F1 winner Johnny Herbert in another seat.







Sir Frank Williams: I Wanted Michael
For the eponymous Sir Frank Williams, boss of the successful Formula One team, lauded pilot Ralf Schumacher was only ever second on his short-list of drivers.

The 27-year-old German ace has won four Grands Prix at the wheel of a Williams since joining in 1999, and he'll stay on with a lucrative contract until season 2004 finds a conclusion.

But if Sir Frank had his way, the 'Schumacher' sticker on the cockpit cowlings of a new, BMW-powered FW25 machine - set for launch on the final day of this month - would mean something entirely different.

He explains: 'In September of 1995, I wanted to sign Michael Schumacher; but we simply didn't have enough money.'

The world champion hit the driver market after conquering back-to-back titles with the Flavio Briatore-led Benetton team - but now he was after a tougher challenge.

Scuderia Ferrari, desperate to find ultimate spoils after so long in waiting, wooed the German ace with the biggest salary in Formula One history.

But even that doesn't stop Sir Frank dreaming about Michael Schumacher in a Williams. 'Michael is not only fast but he is a real commercial machine,' the English team boss continues.

Sir Frank is widely known for his profound affection of the five times world champion's driving talents.

He once famously said: 'It's still a turn-on to imagine myself as Michael Schumacher, driving in the wet.'

He adds: 'Michael is the main problem for all of the other drivers, because he is so unique. But we had set other priorities for our budget at that time so that we could move forward technically.'

The Grove chief, however, thinks that he has got a pretty good consolation prize in Schumacher's younger brother Ralf.

No matter what team-mate Williams threw at the German - including people like Alex Zanardi, Jenson Button and Juan Pablo Montoya - Ralf has acquitted himself well and more often than not emerged the superior.

'Ralf is still learning and with each season he becomes more focused,' says Frank Williams of his young charge, who will line up for a fifth year at the team in 2003.

'He also knows he must do more as a driver.'

But Patrick Head, Sir Frank's Williams partner as the distinguished technical director, is willing to go a step further by penning Ralf - and not Juan - as Williams' best chance for a championship.

'Juan [Pablo Montoya] has enormous talent but he has quite a way to go to be at a level where he could win a championship,' says Head.

But of Ralf, Head explains: 'He is now very experienced and fully capable of driving a championship year.

'If, and only if, we can provide him with the right equipment.'

Grove boss Sir Frank Williams thinks that his BMW-powered outfit have the best driver line-up in pitlane. He sees Ralf and Juan as representing 'the right and very, very talented combination'.

Patrick Head agrees. 'I think Ralf and Juan are very well matched for speed,' he says. 'Ralf was criticized in '01 and even '00 for letting his teammate get on top of him in the latter part of the year.

'But that was very much not the case in 2002,' the burly Englishman adds.







Plentiful Support For Lauded Fisico
Rome's Formula One charger, Giancarlo Fisichella, is the best man not winning races at the pinnacle of motorsports.

So say two leading Grand Prix pundits who laud the 29-year-old after serving under his driving talents.

Ian Philips, Jordan's Director of Business Affairs, says that 'Fisico' is acknowledged by his fellow professionals as hot on the heels - in the talent-stakes - of Michael Schumacher.

'There is absolutely no doubt about it,' said Phillips. 'We let him down last year with a package that just was not good enough.'

'The best way to judge it is by what his fellow professionals and colleagues say - and they know he is the best man not winning races right now.

Fisichella was forced from his rising Renault seat for the start of last season as boss Flavio Briatore welcomed young countryman-protégé Jarno Trulli to the R202 racing wheel.

But Giancarlo, who farewells his twenties later this month, always had the support of his former Technical Director Mike Gascoyne, who saw the Italian's talent for four years since '98.

The Roman came to Formula One with Minardi having secured a dominant Italian Formula 3 Championship in 1994 with ten wins for RC Motorsport; also winning the prestigious Monaco F3 race.

He spent time with Alfa Romeo in International Touring Cars before getting his break first with Minardi and then, for a first, full season, with Jordan Grand Prix in 1997.

Gascoyne, still technical chassis-boss at Enstone, says: 'He's a lovely guy. Jordan has had a tough year especially at the start, as we did the year before as Benetton,' he said.

Benetton rolled out a dismal Renault-powered charger in 2001 that team-mate Jenson Button could not drive. But 'Giancarlo carried us for the first half of the season.'

Mike Gascoyne continues: 'He produced some fantastic drives that kept everyone going and I think he did exactly the same for Jordan in difficult circumstances.'

Fisichella's mere seven world championship points last year came from just eight (out of seventeen) finishes.

But next year, still strapped to a yellow Jordan challenger, Fisichella will be driving for his career as he eyes a definitive move into the big-boys ahead of season 2004.

'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.'

The young Roman, despite the loss of factory-backed manufacturer power, is happy to see the end of an overweight, under-powered Honda engine in favor of customer Cosworths for '03.

'I think the new [Jordan] car will be good,' he says, having already sat in the highly-secreted EJ13 monocoque. 'Gary Anderson and Henri Durand are designing it,' he reports.

'And especially with the new engine, I'm very confident.'







Sponsorship Focus For Eddie Jordan
Eddie Jordan is still yet to compile a full racing budget for his Silverstone team's 2003 Formula One campaign.

According to a team spokesperson, the Irish boss is 'concentrating on sponsorship agreements' before turning his attention to a team-mate for Italian ace Giancarlo Fisichella.

But whoever graces the sister EJ13 - speculated to be anyone from Eddie Irvine, Felipe Massa, Enrique Bernoldi or Jos Verstappen - will need to convoy a handy sponsorship portfolio.

Jordan are still reeling from the loss of major backer Deutsche Post World Net, speculated at more than $30 million or 40 percent of their entire anticipated 2003 budget.

Earlier this year, when Jordan got word of Deutsche Post's - and subsidiary sponsors DHL and Danzas - intentions to depart for the new season, EJ laid off nearly 70 Silverstone staff.

Outwardly, though, the team in yellow are looking forward to a better 2003; particularly lauding the novel customer Cosworth Racing engine program with the help of Ford Europe.

'Jordan is currently finalizing launch plans together with Ford and team sponsors,' the Jordan spokesperson continued, 'and preparing to unveil the team livery and driver line-up.'

Sources indicate the Ford-badged Jordan EJ13 will see its official launch in mid-January, following initial track tests.

Jordan was the only outfit that failed to join pre-Christmas testing action in Spain last month. 'The car build program is well underway and going efficiently to schedule,' says the team.

'Staff are returning from Christmas and New Year holidays feeling very excited at how the new car looks.'

But with just eight weeks until the five lights extinguish on season 2003 south of Melbourne for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Jordan are yet to reveal a title sponsor and hold one of just two remaining seats in pitlane.

'In spite of intense media speculation concerning various drivers and their possible links with Jordan, the team has made no decision concerning either the second race seat or reserve driver,' the team statement continued.

Last week, the media indulged on a frenzy of speculation that Felipe Massa and Jos Verstappen are the two drivers left shooting it out over the second EJ13 racing wheel.

'Takuma Sato has natural driving talent and a lot of bravery,' said Eddie Jordan in a statement of thanks after the Japanese rookie was shuffled out of Silverstone doors.

Jordan insists that, in the present void of a major sponsor, 'Drivers are the least of our problems.'

Eddie Irvine, Enrique Bernoldi and Pedro de la Rosa are all linked to the EJ13 seat, whilst tobacco-firm Benson & Hedges are hotly tipped to return to the title role.







President Admits Formula One Crisis
Formula One's state of crisis threatens the world championship's very existence, FIA President Max Mosley has warned.

'Even the biggest and richest teams are going to suffer badly if the smallest three or four teams go out of business,' he says.

The governing Briton has called an emergency meeting of team principals in a bid to obtain a mandate to make changes he deems necessary for the sport's survival.

In twelve months, Formula One has lost four cars, or two privateer teams, and two more are in serious prospect of following them out of the door.

'We have never had a problem like this before,' says Mosley, adding that a significant decline in television audiences has impacted severely on the smaller team's sponsorship agreements.

'Maybe it's because people got spoiled,' Mosley adds. 'In five years out of seven we had the last race as the deciding one which is complete luck.

'The problem is Ferrari have done a brilliant job and Williams and McLaren haven't done quite well enough and still less Renault, Jaguar so on.'

In 2002, Scuderia Ferrari soared to an unrivaled championship en route to fifteen of a possible seventeen Grand Prix wins. And to worsen the matter, the two scarlet pilots weren't allowed to race.

'When you are confronted with a problem like a falling television audience you should react,' says Mosley, whose January 15 meeting in London could pave the way to the re-banning of traction-control.

Any additional change will be directed at either cutting the costs for the grid's struggling outfits or spicing up the track action for the all-important television viewer.

Sponsors, in response to a decline of up to 20 percent in television figures last year, are said to have cut their cash-offerings by, in some cases, more than half.

In response, expensive telemetry systems also face the chop, and Mosley intends to get tough on bigger teams reportedly planning one-lap special cars for the new-for-2003 qualifying challenge.

Max Mosley is believed to have been 'seriously disappointed' after last month's meeting of the Technical Working Group that effectively shelved vital regulations change until 2005.

BAR boss David Richards is supportive of Mosley's plan to grab the power for change from the team principals. 'We sometimes don't come to the right conclusions,' he warned.

The F1 Commission requires a majority vote by a 26-strong panel of F1 stakeholders, while the FIA needs a unanimous consensus in the Technical Working Group for tech-change.

Max Mosley is trying to hand some of that power back to the governing FIA, to act in the best interests of the sport as a whole.

Richards adds: 'Sometimes you need a facilitator from the outside to assist you in that process.'







Brief: Ski Marathons And Wet Weather
This weekend, Jacques Villeneuve and manager Craig Pollock will host their now-renowned Grand Prix, 24-Hour Ski-Race of Villars, in Switzerland.

The event is 31-year-old Grand Prix driver Villeneuve's 'Formula Charity' flagship affair, in its fifth year and widely considered one of the best weekends on the Skiing, Formula One and Music calendars.

The brain-child of Jacques and his personal manager, ex-BAR boss Craig Pollock, Formula Charity has also given rise to numerous events including the 24-Hour ski-race in Mt Tremblant, and golf charity events in Italy, Austria and America.

The beneficiaries will be the Swiss Society for Cystic Fibrosis and 'Hope and Homes for Children,' with more than 1.5 million Swiss Francs raised in total.

The 24-Hour race sees competitors of all standards participate in an endurance team race, alongside sporting greats like Franz Klammer, Damon Hill, Patrick Ortlieb, Jacques Villeneuve and Henry Leconte.

On the Saturday night a pop-concert takes place on the mountain; recent years seeing Stephan Eicher, Yannick, Dirty Vegas, Dannii Minogue, Damon Hill and even Jacques himself on stage.

In other news, a couple of bright British Formula One pundits are worried about new-for-2003 regulations governing wet-weather tires.

'It's a drying day at Monza, you're doing 200mph, it's scary,' says 44-year-old ex-pilot and ITV commentator Martin Brundle as he sets the scene.

'It's too dangerous to have just one wet tire,' he adds.

For the impending Formula One season, new FIA regulations state that tire suppliers Michelin and Bridgestone are allowed to offer just one type of compound and tread for wet conditions.

Brundle adds: 'They cannot, surely, have such a big window that it will be safe in all conditions.'

Mark Blundell, a former Brundle teammate at Ligier and co-ITV commentator, agrees. 'It's going to be a tough call for the manufacturers to make that universal wet.

'Especially to suit all the different cars. But the bigger call for me is going to be the dry tires.'

This year, in stark contrast to the wet rules, tire suppliers can tailor Grand Prix boots specifically to each contracted team's chassis package. Formerly, each team chose from just two universal compounds per event.

'Now we're talking about having two different compounds for each team and the manufacturers can do whatever they want,' worries Blundell.

'Are we going to get a super-sticky for that hot lap in qualifying and then a compromise between hard and soft for the race?'







Sauber C22 Fires-Up On Wednesday
This Wednesday, a swarm of nervous Sauber workers will surround the first, 2003-spec, Ferrari-powered C22 at the Hinwil factory.

There, an army of fingers crossed, the latest Sauber challenger - to be piloted this year by Monchengladbach-born, German pairing Nick Heidfeld and Heinz-Harald Frentzen - will be fired-up for the first time.

'At the fire-up many employees will surround the car in awe, and I hope it will be loud,' an excited team boss, Peter Sauber, told Swiss press.

'And then in the factory, we'll let the bubbly flow!'

After C22 and its new, world championship-winning 051 Ferrari - dubbed Petronas - get the stationary thumbs-up, it will be packed into a blue and turquoise team transporter. Destination - Fiorano, Italy.

27-year-old Nick Heidfeld, staring into his third year as a Hinwil charger, will be the first to grace its cockpit for a quiet shake-down at Ferrari's private testing facility.

Following that, Sauber Petronas will head to the warm weather of Spain where C22 enjoys its first full development test at the Circuit de Catalunya, just outside of Barcelona.

And on Sunday, the ninth day of February, the wraps will be taken off the all-new C22 race car in Zürich-Oerlikon, close to the Zürich airport.

The public event which will take place, in the evening, in co-operation with the 'Mövenpick Art on Ice' show in the 'Hallenstadion' in Zürich.

'Art on Ice' combines ice skating and music in an innovative way.







Ron Dennis: F2003 Will Be Even Better
Refusing to underestimate the task ahead, McLaren boss Ron Dennis has warned that the latest Ferrari will 'only be better' than the all-conquering F2002.

The silver ranks, based at Woking, came home a distant third in the 2002 Constructors' chase with a mere single win at the Grand Prix of Monte-Carlo.

'Despite the progress that we made in the course of the year, we are under no illusions that this year's Ferrari will be only better,' said Dennis; CEO and principal at McLaren International.

Even so, the McLaren outfit intend to roll-out only a developed version of the MP4-17 chassis for the first three flyaway installations of season '03.

'We have not lost the ability, knowledge and motivation required to win,' said Dennis, adding that a radical MP4-18, designed with a clean sheet of paper, will debut for the San Marino Grand Prix in April.

He sees the new chassis, 'coupled with the extensive restructuring and recruitment processes in both McLaren and Mercedes-Benz,' as representing a chance to curb the dominance of the Prancing Horse.

In 1998 and 1999, McLaren surged to the top of their chosen sport with double, back-to-back championships with Adrian Newey's new silver machines and the winning form of Mika Hakkinen.

But, since then, 2002 culminated in McLaren's worst season-ending result since 1997 and those barren years in the post-Senna period.

Dennis adds: 'But, with the increased efforts from Michelin and the total commitment of David [Coulthard], Kimi [Raikkonen] and Alex [Wurz], we believe that we can look forward to a much more competitive 2003 season.'

Mercedes Motorsport Director, Norbert Haug, makes no secret of his own company's need to catch up with the power-leading opposition of Ferrari and BMW.

Some pundits have even noted that the Ilmor-Mercedes collaboration may now have fallen behind the might of Ford Cosworth or Toyota, let alone BMW and Ferrari, in the power stakes.

Other commentators, meanwhile, blame a late-arriving '03 powerplant as the chief reason for the delayed debut of MP4-18.

'We definitely know that we have to catch up the opposition,' says the German. 'A very busy winter is lying ahead of the team.'

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