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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 8, 2003
1


Albers Out Of The Minardi Running
23-year-old F1 hopeful Christijan Albers has ruled himself out of a 2003 Grand Prix debut for Minardi.

The Dutchman, with a German F3 title and DTM touring car experience, was strongly linked to the vacant PS03 seat alongside English rookie Justin Wilson.

But he explained in a statement issued late yesterday that Minardi boss Paul Stoddart could not agree with the offer proposed by Christijan's sponsors.

'Although we have found the essential budgets for the drive, the sponsors could not agree on the upfront payments due in the very short term and the contracts,' Albers said.

It is reported that Stoddart, the 47-year-old Australian entrepreneur, was asking for nearly half of Albers' 2003 budget before the racing season even kicked off in March.

'It is highly likely that Christijan will drive DTM (German Touring Cars) again in 2003,' his manager, Lodewijk Varossieau, added whilst explaining that a conditional F1 contract with Minardi expired on New Year's Eve.

While the race drive is off, then, Varossieau refused to rule out the possibility that his young charge might spend the new Formula One season as a test driver.

'If possible he will try to get some more experience as Formula One driver,' he said.

'This might be attained through a position with Minardi or another team that has shown serious interest,' he continued. 'We hope to finalize negotiations soon.'

Despite the setback, Christijan remains steadfastly focused upon his eventual goal to grace the Grand Prix grid at the pinnacle of motorsports. 'Formula One remains the ultimate for me,' the Dutchman said.

'So I do not give up my hopes.'

He added: 'I know I can make it. My sponsors made a fantastic offer to Paul, which he unfortunately could not accept. Fortunately there is still a lot to win for me in DTM and I am only 23 so there is enough time for Formula One.'

30-year-old Dutch countryman Jos Verstappen, also courting the spare Jordan drive, now moves into pole position to join Minardi as Christijan Albers falls out of contention.

Albers, then, looks into 2004 for his Formula One debut - possibly with Minardi.

'I still hope that I can start my career with Paul Stoddart,' he said. 'I really like the team and hope that they get stronger soon.'

Sources close to the tiny Faenza-based Minardi team, meanwhile, are adamant that no decision is yet made and further intimate that all strongly-linked drivers are still in the running.

'We are still talking to two companies who are interested to become title sponsor of Minardi F1,' Christijan's management, headed by Cees Faes, commented of the news.

'We are still looking for companies who are interested in building Formula One successes together with Christijan - opportunity knocks.'

'We would like to thank everyone who supported Christijan to reach the highest level in autosport, although at this moment we have no better news.

'And we want to say that there is still a chance that Christijan will drive F1 in the season to come.'

Born in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, Christijan became the German Formula 3 Champion with six wins and ten pole positions in 1999 before moving into Touring Cars and later F3000 with Paul Stoddart.

In 2001, he finished second at the Sachsenring with the DTM Mercedes team, coming home fifth in that series last year.







Schumacher Plans More Red Domination
Michael Schumacher is hoping to dominate yet another season of Formula One racing with a new Ferrari charger.

But the German, who stole eleven victories this year and an early championship bath, concedes that the Maranello marque's unrivaled supremacy of '02 is not a requisite for success.

'It isn't necessary to be as dominant,' he explained, 'as long as we can keep on winning races, everything's okay.'

The five times world champion, meanwhile, knows that Williams and McLaren will eventually curb Ferrari's dominance. 'Of course we hope that we can put this off for as long as possible,' he said.

'And I naturally also hope that it wont happen in my time. In any case, our aim is quite clear - to keep this Ferrari era going for as long as possible.'

Ferrari, with Michael and team-mate Rubens Barrichello, soared to fifteen wins last year and a mammoth championship points-gap to second and third placed BMW-Williams and McLaren.

But despite the fortnightly scarlet-wash that eventually epitomized season 2002, 34-year-old Schumacher rejects the criticism that the Prancing Horse has made the world of Formula One boring.

'I don't believe it'll be boring,' he says in prospect of a new racing season, to kick off at Melbourne's Albert Park Circuit this March.

'At least it is not boring for the many Ferrari fans all over the world,' he smiles.

Ferrari went without success for 21 years; from Jody Scheckter's triumph in the last year of the Seventies to a new century in 2000 - when a Kerpen-born German reminded Maranello what world championship glory felt like.

'They still have all the other years in the back of their heads,' he says of the ardent tifosi. 'Just as we do - so why would we be bored?'

2003 is Michael Schumacher's twelfth in Formula One, and eighth for the Maranello-based scarlet marque.

'It would be rather stupid if we were to be tempted to rest on our laurels,' he concluded. 'After all, experience has shown that things always fall off after peak periods.'

Earlier this week, Michael Schumacher described a repeat of the 2002 tactic to bring the old car to Melbourne as an unnecessary 'risk.'

'But we don't want to take that risk,' Schumacher continues, adding that the Prancing Horse will need to take bold steps with the F2003 to maintain its position of strength.







Barnard Swaps Four Wheels For Two
Legendary Grand Prix designer John Barnard, of winning McLaren and Ferrari fame, has switched from four wheels to two.

After decades in Formula One, the Englishman has joined MotoGP motorcycle championship Team Roberts as Technical Director, effective immediately.

Mr. Barnard will be responsible for all engineering and technical development of the organization's projects - including the 2003 Proton KR V-5 four-stroke grand prix racing motorcycle.

'There are a lot of things that can be done with motorcycles,' said Barnard. 'It's all very exciting. There are new ways to make things as well as new ways to approach things in general.'

He added, 'Above all we must be realistic. We need to build a good foundation and get our feet on the ground, from there we can move forward.'

Kenny Roberts, MotoGP Team owner, added: 'Bringing John into our organization is another step in our quest to achieve a higher level of engineering, overall expertise, and competitiveness.

'I've known John for a lot of years and have complete faith in his ability to help us evolve our company and our team to a higher level,' he continued.

Barnard, lauded for his innovative styles in the motor-design world, spent several years in the 70s in America as he penned the Parnelli Jones VPJ6 series of Indy Cars.

The Briton designed the first composite monocoque Formula One car, the McLaren MP4/1, whilst heading up Ferrari's Technical Office in England until the mid-Nineties.

Other notable Barnard-penned cars include Jim Hall's 1980 Indy 500 and Indy Car championship winning Chaparral 2K, and the first all-composite monocoque Formula One car - the McLaren MP4/1.

The MP4/1 led to McLaren's dominance of F1 in the mid-80's, before Barnard developed Formula One's first semi-automatic gearbox whilst penning Ferraris in England.

Moreover, the 1998 Arrows A19 F1 car was the first car to use a carbon composite gearbox, which was designed by Barnard.







Coulthard Eyes New Designer Venture
According to reports in a British tabloid, McLaren ace David Coulthard is eyeing up a new clothing-venture.

News Of The World claims that the 31-year-old Scot, eyeing his ninth year in Formula One, is planning a chain of designer-wear boutiques with close friend and clothing guru Scott Henshall.

'Scott Henshall is a very talented designer and David knows all about models,' a friend of Coulthard's smilingly told the paper.

Rumours whisper that Lady Victoria Harvey, a well-known British model, is already signed up with Coulthard's new company.

David Coulthard recently told reporters that one of his perilous job's biggest dangers was keeping his mind on the black tarmac and off the semi-clad female spectators.

David, for his tenth year at the pinnacle of motorsports, will again line up alongside Finnish whiz-kid Kimi Raikkonen at the wheel of the new silver McLaren MP4-18.

Coulthard, with the exception of German racing colleague Ralf Schumacher, was the only Grand Prix pilot to snatch a Formula One victory from champions Ferrari in 2002.

Close friends of the Twynholm-born charger say David has popped the question to 23-year-old Brazilian beauty Simone and they plan to wed at the end of season 2003.







Pizzonia Warns Racers To Skip F3000
Formula One newcomer Antonio Pizzonia has warned hopeful racers to steer clear of International Formula 3000.

Support series for Formula One - and previously lauded as the stepping-stone category to the pinnacle of motorsports - F3000 has lost stature recently as youngsters enter grands prix from series like F3 and Formula Renault.

22-year-old Pizzonia, from Manaus in Brazil's Amazon, headed to F3000 from a championship-dominant campaign in British Formula Three two years ago.

But his form, sparkling and undoubted at the wheels of F3 and his Williams Grand Prix testing mounts, failed to shine as he struggled to match the pace on F3000's European circuits.

'I think basically a racing car is a racing car,' Pizzonia said, 'but an F3000 is not a very good racing car.'

He finished fourth in the series last year, disappointing a section of European racing media who expected him to fend off the leading challenges of Sebastien Bourdais and Tomas Enge.

But Antonio, affectionately known as Jungle-Boy, said that F3 was a better - and more suitable - launching pad for his Formula One ambitions.

He warned young aspirants to stay away from F3000, played out on twelve of Formula One's racing circuits, or risk debasing a future career in Grand Prix circles.

'I would say an F3 car is nicely balanced, easy to work on, and quite similar to the way you have to drive the F1 cars,' he explained. 'But an F3000 is just funny.'

Nonetheless, young pilots including Mark Webber (runner-up 2001), 2001 champion Justin Wilson and race-winner Fernando Alonso vaulted into the world's premier category from successful F3000 campaigns.

But Jenson Button (F3), Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa (Formula Renault) found alternate routes into Formula One.

Pizzonia continues: 'You go through Formula Ford, Formula Renault, F3, or whatever, which are all related and similar to drive. But F3000 seems to take you in a different direction.

'Basically, I wouldn't recommend anybody to do F3000 because it doesn't teach you the technique you're going to need to drive an F1 car.'

Antonio Pizzonia, Grand Prix rookie, will join Aussie star Mark Webber at the Jaguar Racing R4 controls this year.







Dirty Tricks In Dutch F1 Shoot-Out
Dirty tricks are epitomizing the Dutch shoot-out for Minardi's final 2003 Grand Prix seat, it has emerged.

The racing pair of Jos Verstappen and Christijan Albers, separated in age by several years but both originating from the Netherlands, are left as the last standing combatants for the vacant Faenza berth.

But reports now indicate that fans of the highly-popular racers have attempted to boost their favorite pilot's campaign for the pay-seat by feeding detrimental information to the media.

Late last year, media agencies received a mail from an anonymous Formula One fan linking pictures to a punch-up at Michael Schumacher's Kerpen-based go-kart track in Germany.

The puncher? Jos 'the boss' Verstappen. 'I urge you to follow this up,' the mystery sender advised.

And in more recent days, editors were encouraged to investigate an exaggerated claim that pornographic pictures were adorning 23-year-old Christijan Albers' official internet website.

Verstappen, with seven years of Grand Prix experience at 30-years-old, has secured the backing of Holland Media Group as he eyes a racing return with Jordan or Minardi.

But Michiel Mol, boss of internet group Lost Boys, has additionally promised to boost the career of whichever Dutch racer earns a place on the Grand Prix grid with $500,000 in sponsorship.

The successful Dutch racer, Verstappen or Albers, will line up alongside confirmed Minardi pilot Justin Wilson.







Brief: Bernie, Women, BMW, and IndyCar
F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone has won a Press Complaints Commission-ruling that he was wronged by a British newspaper.

The Mail on Sunday, ruled the Press Complaints Commission, intruded upon the 72-year-old and his family's privacy by portraying the Formula One Management head as a battered husband.

In other news, the British Women Racing Drivers' Club is to hold a forum on 'The Future Of Women In Motorsport' this Friday at the Autosport International show at the NEC, Birmingham.

Guest of honor will be Lyn St James, the successful and long-time female racer from Indy 500 fame. President of the BWRDC, Helen Bashford-Malkie, will chair the meeting.

Meanwhile, Johnny Herbert - former Grand Prix winner - will race in sportscar team Bentley's Le Mans 24-Hour lineup in June this year.

Herbert, now 39, raced for Bentley's sister marque Audi at Le Mans last year, finishing second with Rinaldo Capello and Frank Biela but won the event with Mazda in the early Nineties.

Turning to America, the BMW Technology Office in California has transferred micro-display technology, originally developed for Ralf Schumacher's Formula One Williams helmet, to the BMW Racing sailing team.

In a successful transfer of technology, BMW has created an integrated system - introduced as Miniature Head-Up Display - that displays real-time race information directly and wirelessly onto Ralf's F1 visor.

And, now, BMW sailors will enjoy the same technology as HUD information is beamed onto their sunglasses-lenses.

'Our overall objective is to optimize the speed and performance of ORACLE BMW Racing's two sailboats,' said Robert Passaro, BMW Technology Office USA.

He adds: 'To that end, we think microdisplay technology is the perfect example of cross-pollination of technology from Formula One to America's Cup yachting - the Formula One of sailing,' says Robert Passaro, BMW Technology Office USA.

Staying across the Atlantic, America's premier open-wheeler series will resume its original title from 2003, to be officially known as the Indy Racing League 'IndyCar' series.

The change in identity is designed to enhance the links between the series and its premier event, the Indianapolis 500, as American racing focus is switched from the ailing CART series to IRL.

Past their prime drivers like Dario Franchitti and Michael Andretti, along with teams including Chip Ganassi and Team Green, turn their attention to the oval-predominated forum this year.






Frentzen Predicts '03 Ferrari Repeat
Heinz-Harald Frentzen is forecasting a fourth consecutive Drivers' world championship for German compatriot Michael Schumacher.

'Michael and Ferrari will defend their titles and then we'll see exactly how much closer Williams and McLaren can get to them,' the 35-year-old from Moenchengladbach said.

The German pair finished equal runner-up in the 1989 German Formula Three series behind Karl Wendlinger, later joining forces as team-mates in Mercedes Junior sportscars.

Heading into Formula One, though, Schumacher's career took off to five world championships whilst Frentzen hovered from one mid-field team to the next including Sauber, Jordan, Prost and Arrows.

In the late-Nineties, Frentzen tried his hand at the top of the order with Williams, winning just once whilst team-mate Jacques Villeneuve snared the championship.

This week, Frentzen will return to the Sauber racing cockpit as he takes his career full circle.

The German launched his long Grand Prix foray with a three-year stay at Peter Sauber's team from '94, and will try the brand-new, Ferrari-powered C22 at Ferrari's private Fiorano track on Friday.

Moreover, Frentzen is confident that changes to the system for allocating world championship points - reducing the gap between first and second and awarding points to the top-eight finishers - will help smaller teams like Sauber.

'The new system also rewards the engineers who do a good job,' the German explained.

Experienced pilots like the German, with one win for Williams and two for Jordan Grand Prix under his belt, are tipped to make the best of new-for-2003 one-shot qualifying rules.

Unlike the twelve-lap challenge of 2002, each driver will get one chance only to make his case for the Grand Prix grid this year.

'I can nearly imagine that qualifying on a Saturday will be more interesting than the actual race on the Sunday,' he said, welcoming the change.







Off The Track: Jacques Villeneuve
'He may not the easiest driver to work with,' says Martine Kindt of Bell Racing Helmets - 'but he is fun, and he is one of my all-time favorites.'

The Formula One racer in question is Jacques Villeneuve, the French-Canadian ace who soared from a successful American career to snare the limelight as 1997 world champion.

'I am just now waiting for him to be in a competitive car and bring some suspense into the red era of F1,' Martine continues of the BAR pilot staring into a fifth year at Brackley.

'When Jacques came to Europe at end of 1995 Formula One was still mourning the loss of one of the sport's greatest ever drivers, Ayrton Senna, who died one year before,' Kindt explains.

Jacques - son of the legendary and exhilarating F1 pilot Gilles Villeneuve who died in his Ferrari in the early Eighties - climbed into his Williams cockpit for a first test at Estoril, Portugal.

Martine explains the mood in the late '95 paddock at the time: 'Formula One desperately needed somebody with star qualities and the star attitude, so Jacques' arrival came with a frenzy as he had both of those attributes.'

Jacques' manager, ex-BAR boss Craig Pollock, called Martine to see if Bell Helmets were interested in working with Jacques at the pinnacle of motorsports.

'I immediately said 'yes', Martine recalls.

She flew to Estoril where Jacques was to have his first run in the Williams. 'Sure enough,' she says, 'all we had to do was follow the group of journalists that had come down for the same reason: to meet Jacques.'

Kindt, a veteran of dealing with new pilots to the Grand Prix paddock, explains her knack for knowing immediately if a new-boy is precise, meticulous, cool, easygoing, or 'a pain in the neck.'

She recalls: 'Jacques simply said, 'convince me why I should use your helmets rather than the ones I have been using!'

'I realized my charming smile would not be enough there, so I got him a quite long document of our engineering department, with technical data, graphs, and in-depth analysis of impact testing.

'We have worked with Jacques since end of 1995,' Martine continues. 'Jacques has had wonderful times and bad times as an F1 driver, and over the years, I have got to know him a little.

'He is one of a kind.'

Martine concludes by revealing that a brand-new aero model of Bell Helmet will be ready for Jacques Villeneuve to test this month.

'He really pushed us to have it ready and Jacques should test this new helmet from January onwards.'

22-year-old Englishman Jenson Button will join Villeneuve in the 005 BAR racing cockpit this year.







Ferrari Join Williams At Jerez, Spain
Defending world champions Scuderia Ferrari joined Williams at Jerez de la Frontera yesterday as the scarlet marque kicked off its Formula One season.

Italian tester Luca Badoer, sharing one of three F2002 mounts with track cohort Luciano Burti, topped the times after 59 circuit tours of the coastal track in southern Spain.

Under cloudy - and later raining - skies, Brazilian-born Burti did one less lap than his Italian colleague as work centered on Bridgestone tire and electronics testing.

Burti's best time was just a couple of tenths slower than the pace of Luca Badoer.

Also in action were 2002 championship runners-up Williams, continuing to clock up miles after starting a four-day program on Monday.

Ralf Schumacher, brother of world champion Ferrari ace Michael who is still holidaying in Norway, amassed 78 laps with a best time of 1'21'009, while Spanish tester Marc Gene managed 57 for a time more than a second slower.

The Grove-based team, from Oxfordshire, continued to supply a hybrid FW24 for Gene, fitted out with new P83 engine and seven-speed gearbox, as continuing development work for the new FW25.

'We were expecting heavy rain today but conditions fluctuated between dry and wet, with the track taking longer than expected to dry out,' explained test team manager Tim Newton.

'We continued to work through our testing agenda of chassis work, brakes and tire work with Michelin.

'Ferrari where also out on the track today and we were happy with the progress made.'

1 Luca Badoer Ferrari 59 1:20.871
2 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW 78 1:21.009
3 Luciano Burti Ferrari 58 1:21.029
4 Marc Gene Williams-BMW 57 1:22.241





Secret Meetings At Ferrari Headquarters
Italian sources are claiming that Max Mosley met secretly with Jean Todt at Ferrari headquarters in Maranello this week.

The pair, respective heads of Formula One's governing FIA and world champion marque Scuderia Ferrari, are believed to have discussed ways to cut costs at the troubled pinnacle of motorsports.

Mosley, a Briton, will meet with the ten current team principals in London this time next week; emergency plans to push through urgent cost-cutting regulations to get top billing.

Ferrari's Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Tuesday that Mosley is attempting to privately advance support for his plans - including the banning of traction control and telemetry - before the January 15 meeting.

The FIA President was purportedly accompanied by fellow Englishman and FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting, as they spent most of Monday at Ferrari's Maranello base.

Ferrari, interestingly, refused to deny the meeting. 'We don't have anything to say on that,' Ferrari spokesperson Luca Colajanni said.

Formula One's governing FIA is no doubt worried that the continuing dominance of Ferrari, which collected fifteen of seventeen (90 percent) of all Grands Prix victories this year, is damaging the sport.

'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,' he adds. 'In five years out of seven we had the last race as the deciding one which is complete luck.

He goes on to explain the 'biggest problem' - which threatens the very existence of the championship itself - as Ferrari and its utter dominance of the Formula One world.

'And,' he adds, 'that Williams and McLaren haven't done quite well enough and still less Renault, Jaguar so on.'

Furthermore, Max Mosley is reported to have been 'seriously disappointed' after the recent meeting of a Technical Working Group that effectively shelved plans for further change until 2005.

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.

'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.

'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.'







Sperafico Joins As Williams F1 Tester
It appears increasingly likely that Brazilian ace Ricardo Sperafico will join Marc Gene as a full-time Williams tester this year.

Despite the absence of an official announcement, the F3000 winner from Curitiba is now listed as an official development pilot alongside Gene on the WilliamsF1 website.

It explains: 'Ricardo test drove the WilliamsF1 BMW FW23 in 2001 a number of times whilst competing in International F3000 for the Petrobras Junior Team.

'He remains with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team in 2003 as test driver.'

Williams, headed by the eponymous Sir Frank and based in Oxfordshire, made use of two testers in 2002 as Spanish-born Gene was joined by Brazilian F3000 star Antonio Pizzonia.

But as Pizzonia heads for a Grand Prix racing career with Jaguar, Williams looked to fill the vacant seat with an Italian replacement; the recent tests of Giorgio Pantano and Vitantonio Liuzzi interpreted as a shoot-out.

Sir Frank Williams, however, was reportedly unimpressed with 23-year-old Liuzzi whilst the rapid Pantano accepted an offer to head Stateside for a two-year stint in Champcars.

Sperafico, with his links to the recently re-signed Williams sponsor Petrobras, is an obvious candidate to fill the void having impressed in F3000 with Rookie of the Year honours in '01.

Last year, he followed Antonio Pizzonia home in the stepping-stone category to finish fifth.

Ricardo Sperafico, 23-years old, first drove a Formula Ford racing car aged 17 before becoming the Brazilian Champion in F-Ford and Formula Three by 1999.

In 2000, the Brazilian rose to ultimate success in Italian F3000 before winning the Spa-Francorchamps race in the International category a year later and completing Formula One test drives with Williams.

The BMW-powered, Grove-based team will keep tester Marc Gene, and Grand Prix pilots Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, on board for 2003.







New Sauber Breathes Life At Hinwil
Peter Sauber and nearly 200 Swiss workers gathered nervously around the sparkling-new C22 challenger at Hinwil on Tuesday afternoon.

Ahead of schedule, a mechanic fiddled with the electronic starter as the 900-horsepower, Swiss-made Grand Prix car burst into life amid shrill, barking tones of a 2002-spec, 051 Ferrari engine.

'Perfect, fascinating, a picker-upper,' Hinwil team boss Peter Sauber smiled as he surveyed the new beast. 'No hitches, the gears could be shifted easily, the temperatures were correct, and the clutch worked perfectly.'

His proudest boast about Petronas-branded C22, however, is that every component - for the first time - is completely new.

He beamed: 'Here there has been no cloning; everything is new and the differences are in full sight!'

The Sauber C22, carrying the hopes of everyone at the Swiss factory and headquarters in Hinwil, will next see light of day when its wraps are taken off at Fiorano on Thursday.

Here, 27-year-old German pilot Nick Heidfeld will climb into its cockpit for a first roll-out test on the private Ferrari development track.

To be joined by fellow Monchengladbach-born pilot Heinz-Harald Frentzen, eight years Heidfeld's senior, the C22 will be officially launched in Zurich on Sunday, the ninth day of February.

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







Father Wilson Gambles On Son's Future
Keith Wilson would sell everything he owns to pursue a Formula One dream with his son.

Last month, 24-year-old Sheffield racer Justin Wilson was announced as the first 2003 Minardi pilot having penned the novel scheme to sell shares in his future earnings.

But, as we revealed yesterday, the lanky Englishman is yet to collect a dime from the plan to recoup a projected $3.2 million for the Faenza racing seat: 'Officially nobody is on board yet,' Wilson said.

A few years ago, as Wilson emerged as Formula Palmer Audi Champion and stared into F3000 success, a lack of sponsors nearly scotched the Grand Prix dream of The Flying Giraffe.

'There was a time about three years ago when we thought we just could not carry on because we needed £300,000 to go racing,' the Yorkshireman now continues to explain.

'Dad considered selling the petrol station then,' adds Justin Wilson. 'Now, if the worst comes to the worst, he would do it again.'

Reports in the British press detail that Justin has promised Minardi boss Paul Stoddart 3.08 million Euros by the end of season 2003; and Keith has backed up the claim by putting his Petrol Station on the line.

Speculation also hints that Mr Wilson's company, Solvents For Safety - valued at several million dollars - might also be representing collateral for Justin's Formula One career shares-scheme.

'My dad is prepared to go a long way and he has always said he will do whatever it takes,' said Wilson, 2001 F3000 champion from runner-up Mark Webber.

'I do not have any problems paying Paul.'

Veteran Ulsterman Eddie Irvine, former long-time Ferrari and Jaguar driver, called the move to sell shares in a potentially lucrative future salary 'brave, but brilliant.'

Time will tell whether it pays off. 'We all know the multi-million dollar salaries that drivers can earn,' explained his manager Jonathan Palmer, winner of the F1 championship for naturally-aspirated cars in 1987.

Wilson's rise to the Grand Prix grid escalated when he won Palmer's novel Formula Palmer Audi series in 1998, and fully-funded F3000 seat as a prize.

'The potential is to come up with schemes whereby people who invest in drivers can then get a return later on, and that's what we're doing with Justin,' Palmer adds.

'People that put money into Justin on an enterprise investment scheme will be in line for a 200 percent return on investment.'

Justin will make his debut on the streets of Australia; at a small public park on the outskirts of Melbourne.







Ferrari Will Float In 2003
Ferrari will float shares on the stock exchange later this year, Maranello President Luca di Montezemolo has promised.

Presently across the Atlantic for the North American International Automobile Show in Detroit, the Italian intimated that the 34 percent stake owned by a consortium of banks would hit the market in late 2003.

'We will do it this year,' the Ferrari Group President said.

Di Montezemolo, at the famous Detroit Motor-Show, called the past year an 'unforgettable' one for the Ferrari Maserati Group - particularly at the pinnacle of motorsports with a fourth Consecutive Constructors' title.

He also revealed a ten percent increase in turnover compared with 2001, explaining that 'a figure of 7,500 cars sold between both marques is 20 percent up on 2001.

'This success has come on the back of heavy investment in research and development and in 2002, this represented twenty percent of turnover.'

The scarlet President also promised to expand into new markets, including Russia and China, as Formula One toys with futures in both countries.

'In 2004,' said Luca, 'We will expand into new markets.'

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