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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 9, 2003
1


Da Matta: Senna Still The Greatest Ever
Ask a growing majority in Formula One circles, and they'll tell you that Michael Schumacher is fast-approaching the unanimous mantle as greatest ever Grand Prix driver.

Cristiano Da Matta, however - the newest kid in pitlane as he arrives from a successful CART career - still puts his great countryman Ayrton Senna at the top of that eminent file.

The 29-year-old, whilst staring at his new TF103 Toyota Racing mount at the official launch in France yesterday, admits that Schumacher's figures are more impressive but Senna was still the best.

Senna, at the age of 34 and from Sao Paulo, was killed in his prime after a heavy shunt at the San Marino Grand Prix eight years ago.

'My idol was Ayrton,' said Da Matta, who'll make his Formula One debut as reigning CART Champion this March in Australia.

'It is difficult to say what he means to me,' Cristiano, from the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte, adds. 'But he was the guy I always looked up to when I was a teenager.

Senna won three championships and secured 41 victories; whilst Schumacher has just celebrated his own 34th birthday with five personal Drivers' titles and the all-time record of more than 60 wins.

Da Matta adds: 'Even though Schumacher is better than him on the numbers, for speed and driving ability I think Senna is the best ever.'

The only Senna-record not yet attained by Michael Schumacher is the top score for poles; although the German can mount that challenge of 60 qualifying triumphs before his Ferrari contract expires in '04.

Da Matta, though, is quick to scotch early career comparisons with Ayrton Senna Da Silva: 'I still have a lot to prove,' he said, 'although nothing left to prove in America.'

His 2002 triumph was a Toyota-powered domination of the US-based, Champcar series played out on predominantly American road, street and oval courses.

Cristiano, known as Kiki by his family and close friends, adds: 'It is the wrong time to make any comparison between Senna and myself though I have come to F1 to hopefully win one day.'

The Brazilian follows former CART champions including Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya into Formula One - and the pressure is piling for him to emulate their F1-winning ways.

'There is always expectation on people coming from CART but I have nothing to prove,' said Da Matta. 'Juan and Jacques already did the job for us.'

On the other hand, men including Michael Andretti and Alex Zanardi emerged as eminent CART racers but failed to make an impression at the pinnacle of motorsports.

'The pressure on me is that I want to do well, not because Jacques and Juan have done well,' says Da Matta. 'If they hadn't done well the situation would still be the same for me.

'I want to prove what I can do for myself - not anybody else.'

Cristiano will slide into the new TF103 Toyota for his looming Grand Prix debut in Australia, and happily accepts the Cologne-based team's goals of qualifying in the top ten and scoring regular points.

Some commentators worry that, as an F1 rookie and with limited track time before the Australian season-opener in eight weeks, Cristiano will find the new qualifying challenge particularly tough.

For '03, each driver will have one lap - and not four or more - to state his case for the Grand Prix order.

'The team have the goal of qualifying in the top 10 regularly and finishing in the points as much as we can,' said Da Matta.

'But it difficult to say right now because we don't know what we have in our hands with the TF103 at the moment and we don't know what everybody else has got in their hands.

'It is too early to talk of goals but we will improve on last year.'

But, unlike some competitors in pitlane, Da Matta thinks a longer-term goal of Grand Prix victories is not unrealistic. 'In F1 for some teams it is just not going to happen for them,' he said.

'They are never going to win.' He adds: 'But Toyota have a very bright future and they are very serious about F1.

'I know it is very unlikely that I am going to win in my first year but I think some time, I don't know when, Toyota will win.'







Brunner: Huge Gains Amid Car 'Evolution'
Gustav Brunner is adamant that the newly-launched TF103 represents a 'huge aerodynamic step forward' over last year's Toyota challenger.

His promise comes despite media-whispers at the 2003 Toyota Launch in France yesterday that TF103 is outwardly unchanged, and amid acknowledgements that evolution, not revolution, was the design mantra.

However Brunner, Chief Designer, insists that the new contender - to be piloted this year by Olivier Panis and Cristiano Da Matta - 'Differs considerably' from the often disappointing TF102 design.

The Austrian designer effectively penned the former TF102 without the aid of an aerodynamic windtunnel, as he explains that 'Our in-house windtunnel has been fully operational since July.

'We have taken a huge aerodynamic step forward.

'We are looking to challenge for points in 2003, so we have changed almost everything to create the TF103, but it is an evolution of the TF102, rather than a revolution.'

Engine Designer Luca Marmorini, architect of the lauded RVX-02 that proved the strongest element of TF102, comments: 'Our priority for the RVX-03 was to balance the reliability of RVX-02, with a weight reduction.

'We have also lowered the centre of gravity and increased the power.

'We kept a 90 angle because we want to ensure that the strong design from last season is not compromised and I am pleased with initial tests.'

Other notable changes are a step up from six-speed to the more standard seven-speed, semi-automatic gearbox and carbon fiber - rather than aluminum - push rod front and rear suspension.

TF103 made a six-lap track debut after the static launch at Ricard yesterday, and will again be piloted on Thursday and for the balance of the week by Frenchman Olivier Panis.

Cristiano Da Matta will live out the week in the hybrid TF102B, featuring new gearbox and engine.







Women Racers To Get Formula One Boost
A new initiative could see women playing a bigger role at the pinnacle of motorsports, Formula One.

The most recent female racer to grace the Formula One cockpit was American IRL pole-winner Sarah Fisher, who demonstrated last year's McLaren at the United States Grand Prix.

Before that, Italian racer Giovanna Amati failed to qualify her Brabham in the early Nineties as women struggle for acclaim and respect behind the racing wheel.

In fact, the opposite sex makes up just 5 percent of all competitive racing licenses world-wide.

In a new initiative headed by the British Women Racing Drivers' Club, then, girl-racers could be set for a little assistance in their plight for the top of world motorsport.

Prominent female racer Helen Bashford-Malkie said: 'Woman's role in the sport has changed little since they competed at Brooklands in the 1930s.

'They still lack help and advice, have no dedicated career structures and are rarely treated as serious competitors in their own right.'

Sir Frank Williams and other leading lights in Grand Prix racing insist that women possess the mentality, but not the brute strength, required to excel in Formula One.

But Bashford-Malkie argues that the problem lies deeper than that: 'The facilities for female competitors and spectators attending motorsport venues remain abysmal,' she said.

'Women are clamoring to enter motorsport but need help and guidance in one form or another. The purpose of the BWRDC's forum is to establish appropriate guidelines.'

Colin Hilton, the chief executive of the Motor Sports Association, is offering his help as women try to climb the motorsport ladder.

He said, 'Women currently account for a mere 5% of Britain's 32,000 competition license holders.

'Our recently-published national plan for British motor sport aims to actively encourage more female participants and we will be delighted to work with the BWRDC to that end.'







Sauber Doubts Minardi Home For Massa
Swiss Formula One boss Peter Sauber doubts if his former charger, Felipe Massa, will head up Minardi's 2003 racing line-up this year.

In 2002, the 21-year-old Paulista hit the pinnacle of motorsports with Sauber but his exciting driving style was often blemished by off-track excursions and incidents.

With a new policy of experience over young brevity, then, 35-year-old German Heinz-Harald Frentzen returns to the Hinwil cockpit this year as Massa eyes the Jordan drive.

He has collated a nearly $5 million sponsorship portfolio with Ford of Brazil's help, but Eddie Jordan is known to want at least $10 million and the only other vacancy is at Minardi.

Faenza boss Paul Stoddart would probably welcome the young rookie to his Anglo-Italian squad; but Sauber doubts if the perennial-backmarkers would prove an attractive racing home for Felipe.

'Now there are even rumors that Felipe is driving for Minardi,' Sauber told Swiss media as the brand-new C22 was fired up on Tuesday afternoon.

'That I can hardly imagine, since Massa never wanted to drive for a bad team.'

Peter Sauber has promised Massa a test and reserve berth at Hinwil this year, but the young Brazilian racer insists his immediate future should lie in the racing cockpit.

We understand, anyway, that his motoring prospect is governed to some extent by Scuderia Ferrari, who hold a long-term contract on the Paulista's driving talents.

Speculation still links him to Luciano Burti's second test-driving role at the world championship, Maranello-marque.

Meanwhile, Sauber will roll-out their impressive looking, all-new C22 contender at Ferrari's private testing facility at Fiorano later today.

27-year-old German Nick Heidfeld will initially take the wheel before countryman Frentzen tries the controls for the first time on Friday.







Minardi Deny Weight Of Website Error
Minardi has vehemently denied any significance to an uncovered discrepancy on the Anglo-Italian team's website.

Keen computer clickers noticed yesterday that, despite 23-year-old hopeful Christijan Alber's statement that the 2003 Minardi drive was off, an unlinked information page had been created for the so-called 'World Championship Driver'.

Some reports deduced that the internet page, seemingly ready to be hyperlinked to the official website home page, was indication that Albers was either to be imminently announced or had missed the seat by the skin of his teeth.

When contacted, though, Minardi manager of communications Graham Jones insisted that nothing should be read into the website administration 'error.'

'We will announce something through the normal channels when there is something to announce,' he said.

He then referred to the unlinked website page as an oversight originating from site administrators in Italy.

Of course, observers should not be surprised that Minardi was preparing to welcome the 23-year-old Dutch racer, Christjan, to the team as he recently signed a conditional contract.

But, when his sponsors refused to make upfront payments to Minardi boss Paul Stoddart, the conditional contract elapsed on the final day of 2002 ending his close-call with the Grand Prix grid.

The Dutchman, with a German F3 title and DTM touring car experience, explained in a statement on Tuesday that 47-year-old Australian Stoddart could not agree with an 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 was asking for nearly half of Albers' 2003 budget before the racing season even kicked off in March, to plough into the PS03 car's development.

'It is highly likely that Christijan will drive DTM (German Touring Cars) again in 2003,' his manager, Lodewijk Varossieau, added.

Meanwhile, Graham Jones - Minardi spokesman - continued to insist that all strongly-linked pilots were still in the hunt for the vacant PS03 berth alongside rookie Justin Wilson.

However, our sources urge that Jos Verstappen, Albers' 30-year-old countryman, is left in pole position for the Faenza berth.







January Debut For All-New Jordan EJ13
Jordan will unleash its all-new challenger, the EJ13, on the Spanish tarmac of Barcelona within a fortnight.

The Silverstone-based team, still negotiating for a title sponsor and pay-driver team-mate for Giancarlo Fisichella, confirmed yesterday that the new package would see light of day on 20 January.

Italian ace Fisichella, 30-years-old and eyeing his second consecutive year in yellow, will take the controls for a mammoth five-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya, concluding next Friday.

The EJ13, designed by Gary Anderson and Henri Durand, will boast the customer CR3 Cosworth engine dubbed Ford-Cosworth RS1 as Jordan welcome the blue oval back to Grands Prix.

The novel engine branding-scheme with Ford of Europe marks the return of the famous Detroit marque to Formula One after an absence since 1999, when the last Stewart Ford raced.

In 2000, Sir Jackie Stewart sold out to the Ford Motor Company and has run as Jaguar Racing ever since.

After the initial, week-long session at the Circuit de Catalunya kicking off on the 20th, the Jordan EJ13 will head south to the twisty Valencia track for a further four days starting on 28 January.

From there, Jordan will return to Valencia in mid-February before wrapping up pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in the days running up to the season-opening Grand Prix.

Formula One 2003 kicks off down-under this March, as 10 teams and 20 contenders turn out for the 19th Australian Grand Prix, held in Melbourne.

Jordan Testing Schedule
20 - 24 January 2003 Barcelona
28 - 31 January 2003 Valencia
10 - 13 February 2003 Valencia
17 - 20 February 2003 Barcelona







Frentzen Saddened By Arrows Plight
His name might head a winding-up petition against the Leafield operation, but Heinz-Harald Frentzen is saddened by the declining plight of British team Arrows.

Last year, the 35-year-old German drove half a season with the orange-clad racers before Arrows encountered the first track-damaging financial trouble at Silverstone.

Just weeks later, drowning in debt, Scottish entrepreneur Tom Walkinshaw oversaw the final Grands Prix for the Arrows name at the Hockenheim race.

But Frentzen, not paid for his steely resolve at the wheel of A23, is now fighting for wages as Arrows prepare to head back into the London High Court under the protection of administrators.

Frentzen says: 'It is very sad that a team like Arrows had to close down and stop activities. In F1 it is very difficult to stay competitive.'

The experienced German pilot, from Moenchengladbach, continued to tell Australian website F1Central that all privateer teams are struggling to make ends meet with reluctant sponsors.

Little more than twelve months ago, Heinz-Harald found himself at the centre of another dying team, Guyencourt-based Prost Grand Prix, headed by the famous four-times world champion.

Heinz continues: 'It is important for a small team to maintain the momentum with the sponsors and keep them excited when their sponsored outfit is often at the lower end of the grid.

'This has been difficult, but probably in the process of changing,' the German hints. 'But it feels good of course to be back at Sauber in Switzerland!'

This year, Frentzen will line up alongside a fellow Moenchengladbach-born German called Nick Heidfeld as he returns to Peter Sauber's little privateer team.

He drove for the Swiss outfit for three years, making his debut in the nimble 1994-machine more than eight seasons ago.

'Many things have changed since I last was with Sauber Ford,' said Frentzen, noting that the Swiss outfit is now Ferrari-powered.

'Over these years I had scored 27 World Championship points for the Sauber Ford Team and my best result there was a podium and third place at the Italian Grand Prix.

Sauber finished fourth in the Constructors' chase two years ago and followed it up with a solid fifth in 2002, behind the big-three of Ferrari, Williams and McLaren, and works team Renault.

Today, 300 people of 19 different nationalities work for the success of the Sauber team at their Swiss headquarters in Hinwil, near Zurich.

'Most of all now,' adds Frentzen, 'There is a modern and new wind tunnel right near the building of the factory. It is in the process of being built and will be in operation at the end of the year.

He adds: 'It is the most modern in the world. This and many other key investments confirms that the team has grown a lot since I last drove for them in 1995 and 1996.'







Toyota '03 Target Points And Top Ten
Toyota are targeting a season of regular points finishes with their new 2003 challenger, the TF103.

Launched amid boasts of evolution, not revolution at the Le Castellet test circuit in the south of France yesterday, team principal Ove Andersson said that expectations were boosted with the help of a new points system.

Voted into regulation by October's meeting of the F1 Commission, the top eight Grand Prix contestants on Sunday afternoons will, from this year, score points ranging from 10 to 1.

The Swede said: 'In 2002 we picked up two lucky championship points.

'In 2003 our aim is to score points regularly based on our competitiveness and the new points-scoring system.'

Andersson added: 'Our aims for 2003 are higher but realistic compared to what we achieved last year.'

For Toyota's debut season of racing last year, the stated goal was to merely qualify for every race. In '03, the Cologne operation 'want to qualify at least one TF103 in the top 10 at all the races.'

After a static launch at the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track, new pilot Olivier Panis climbed into the TF103 racing cockpit for six casual flying laps in front of 400 world media.

The car's Chief Designer, Gustav Brunner, explained how TF103 - designed with greater aerodynamic efficiency in mind - is lighter, generates more downforce and should qualify strongly for each race.

The TF103 is the product of a design group led by Brunner and co-ordinator Keizo Takahashi. 'We have made gains with this car in every area,' says Gustav, Cologne-based designer.

'I hope that we have come up with a good compromise between building a fast car, but also a reliable one. That is the challenge in Formula One.'

Toyota has been collating data for the TF103 since late 2002 when an intermediary version of the TF102, denoted the TF102B, hit the circuits with the new RVX-03 engine and seven-speed gearbox.

The RVX-03 V10 engine is both lighter and more powerful than the 2002 RVX-02, designed and produced in-house by a technical team overseen by Luca Marmorini.

'We have already tested the RVX-03 in the TF102B interim car and we have already a good feeling about progress made,' says Marmorini.

Panis and newly-crowned CART champion, team-mate Cristiano Da Matta, get down to development work in earnest today at the French circuit.







Berger Still Reflecting On F1 Future
If the future Formula One pitlane boasts a popular Austrian called Gerhard Berger, he will still wear a BMW uniform.

The joint BMW Motorsport Director, presently weighing up his future at the pinnacle of motorsports, insists that he won't consider a new role with another manufacturer or team.

But the 43-year-old Austrian, with a thirteen-year driving career behind him, is looking for a new challenge in his Munich-based job.

'If I should decide to go on for another period of time in motor sports then I'd prefer to do so with BMW,' he says, alluding to his rapidly expiring contract set to run-out in August.

He adds: 'There's no question about that. And if that was the case I also believe that I would be welcome at BMW and I would very much like to go on with BMW.

'The question, however, is; shall I quit or continue...'

Spearheading BMW's involvement since returning to Formula One in 2000, Berger is torn between his love of motorsport and a growing family stretched to prize Dad away from the world's race-tracks.

He says he'll announce a decision before long, but urged BMW to split from the supply-collaboration with chassis builders Williams and try the full Ferrari or Toyota-esque Formula One project alone.

'When we made out debut in Formula One, we reached the podium in the very first race,' Berger recalls of Ralf Schumacher's feat at Albert Park three years ago.

'And since then we have continuously improved and by finishing second in the World championship this year, we certainly have achieved our objectives once more.'

Berger says he'll sit down and sign a new contract immediately if BMW cancel the Williams collaboration - set to expire at the end of 2004 - and go it alone.

'I believe during the last two years we have proved that we have constructed the best Formula One engine,' he said, highlighting a section of the BMW Motorsport board frustrated by Williams' form.

In 2002, Ralf Schumacher and his BMW-Williams managed just one victory to Ferrari's fifteen, despite team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya's mantle as holder of seven pole positions.

The new BMW-Williams, dubbed FW25 with its all-new P83 BMW engine, will be launched on the final day of this month.

Berger shares the BMW Motorsport Directorship with Dr Mario Theissen, a German.







BAR005 Gets Track Debut On Tuesday
The brand-new British American Racing challenger, dubbed 005, will run for the first time next week at the Circuit de Catalunya.

New race pilot Jenson Button will join testing returnee Takuma Sato and regular Anthony Davidson at the wheel of the Geoff Willis designed machine after its official launch on 14 January.

005, the fifth BAR car but first designed by the ex-Williams aerodynamic guru, will run for three days for a shake-down after the world's media has snapped first photos at the static launch.

The Brackley-based team will then return to the Spanish city of Barcelona the following week, from 21 to 23 January, with a second new chassis for '03 racer Jacques Villeneuve to drive.

Button, 22-years-old and targeting a new challenge after a difficult early career at Williams and Renault, will get first taste of the promising challenger next week before Takuma Sato tries his hand.

The 26-year-old, from Japan, similarly returns from a trying debut year with Jordan as he accompanies works-manufacturer Honda to an exclusive BAR collaboration.

BAR, based in England, stares into 2003 as its fifth year at the pinnacle of motorsports.

Team boss David Richards is starting his second full year at the team after ousted boss and founder Craig Pollock - Villeneuve's personal manager - was fired by the BAR board of directors.







Renault Join Jerez Testing Action
Enstone-based team Renault joined the action with Williams and Ferrari at the Jerez de la Frontera track in coastal Spain for Wednesday testing.

Poor weather hampered the six contenders' progress at the high-speed track as Ferrari's full-time tester Luca Badoer topped the times closely mirrored by his F2002 cohort, Luciano Burti.

The two scarlet development contenders again shared three 2002 championship-winning chassis.

Ferrari's program centered on a continuation of the tire and electronics testing, which began on Tuesday. Badoer managed 52 laps in all, while Brazilian ace Burti did 50.

Next quickest in the changeable conditions were Williams duo Ralf Schumacher and Marc Gene, who again clocked up nearly 130 combined laps of 2003 track development.

Gene, the Spaniard, continued his program of development at the wheel of a hybrid machine fitted out with new P83 BMW powerplant and 2003-spec gearbox.

Both men completed wet-weather tests for French tire partner Michelin: 'Today we continued the same routine as yesterday, tire testing, systems work and traction control,' said test team manager Tim Newton.

'The weather again was changeable providing both wet and dry conditions.'

Newton continues to explain that his chargers failed to set representative lap times as they missed the best track conditions with both cars in the garage.

'Then the weather changed again,' he smiles. 'However, the weather did provide us with a perfect track for wet testing.'

Renault's new racing combination of Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso were on duty with two chassis; a 2003-spec, R23 challenger for the Italian Trulli, and Spanish ace Alonso using a hybrid R202.

Trulli, 29-years old, managed just nine laps as he shook down a new chassis comprising this year's new mechanical package.

Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director, described a 'Difficult and changeable day limiting our running with the weather conditions.'

He adds that Trulli's program was cut short to save engine mileage, while 21-year-old Fernando continued new suspension development work in last year's R202.

'Overall we had a frustrating day due to the weather but we hope for better conditions tomorrow and beyond,' adds the technical boss.

1 Luca Badoer Ferrari 52 1:27.215
2 Luciano Burti Ferrari 50 1:27.706
3 Ralf Schumacher Williams-BMW 63 1:28.059
4 Marc Gene Williams-BMW 54 1:28.455
5 Fernando Alonso Renault 27 1:31.064
6 Jarno Trulli Renault 9 1:33.502







McLaren Ride Storm With Another Sponsor
McLaren are continuing to snub the storm of tough economic conditions in Formula One by announcing yet another sponsorship extension.

The Woking outfit, headed by meticulous boss Ron Dennis, declared yesterday that Advanced Composites Group had signed on for a new 'long term' sponsorship agreement.

Based in Derbyshire, England, ACG supplies the European market with high performance composite materials and has a facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma covering the American region.

'In the current economic climate, it's extremely satisfying that ACG has become another of our Partners who has decided to extend its relationship with the West McLaren Mercedes team,' said Martin Whitmarsh, Managing Director.

ACG stays on as an Official Supplier to McLaren and aids in the construction of carbon-fiber materials for the Formula One chassis and bodywork.

'As approximately 85% of the McLaren Mercedes Formula One cars are constructed from carbon fiber materials our relationship with ACG is extremely important and we have complete faith in their products,' Whitmarsh adds.

'We are all looking forward to the start of the 2003 season and with a company like ACG on-board our challenge can only be stronger.'

ACG Managing Director, Alan Moore, adds: 'The Formula One industry is always regarded as being at the forefront of technical innovation.'

'This has certainly been the case with composite materials considering the advances in structural performance and safety seen over recent years,' he adds.

'Our relationship with McLaren is of tremendous value.

'The McLaren brand is a powerful tool in helping us promote our technologies into other markets just starting to take advantage of the benefits that composite materials can bring.'

The news comes as privateers Jordan and Minardi reportedly conclude arrangements with yet-announced title sponsors.







Panis To Button: Watch Out For Jacques
Olivier Panis has warned BAR's new driver to watch out for a hard-charging Jacques Villeneuve.

The 36-year-old Frenchman, speaking from Le Castellet as he launches a new challenge with Toyota, was team-mate to ex-champion Villeneuve last year at British American Racing.

And as young Englishman Button arrives from Renault to fill Olivier's BAR shoes, Panis says that 'I think he is quite good but Jacques is a really tough person.'

Villeneuve, a French-Canadian and having shared a good relationship with Olivier, soared to the world championship in 1997.

But Panis thinks that little Jacques, 31, is driving even better today than his race-winning form with Williams including a title-triumph against Michael Schumacher.

'I don't know Jenson very well,' said Panis just before climbing into the new Toyota TF103 for a few demonstration flying laps.

'But Jacques is really tough and really quick - perhaps even better than he was five years ago.'

Jacques and Olivier, sharing a first language, got along famously and were closely matched for ultimate pace during two years at BAR.

And the Canadian, Villeneuve, has already pointed out that new cockpit-cohort Jenson Button will need to show hardy pace if he is to earn his respect.

Panis says of Villeneuve: 'I like him and respect him because he is very quick and very strong.

'If BAR give him a quick car then I know he will do well.'

Olivier Panis, after six installation laps at Paul Ricard yesterday in the new TF103 Toyota, is back behind the wheel on Thursday as a proper development test kicks off in France.

The Lyon-born charger arrives at the Cologne-based, manufacturer-boosted team from stints at BAR, Prost and Ligier - and the famous, career-reviving role as McLaren tester in 2000.

His real ambition for two years at Toyota, however, is to return to the top of the order and add another victory to his solitary tally of 1996.

Panis, at the attrition-fueled Monaco Grand Prix in his Ligier, soared to a well-earned victory on the tough streets of Monte Carlo.

And he steers his new Toyota mount with one ambition only: 'I am sure that Toyota will win one day and I want to win another Grand Prix before I retire,' he says.

'I hope it will be early on but realistically it won't be this year, I mustn't be stupid.

'But I know that we can make a step forward and close the gap with the others.'







Toyota Confirm Continued Free Testing
Toyota team boss Ove Andersson has confirmed his Cologne-based team's intention to continue extensive in-season testing.

Formula One's outfits were offered the opportunity to restrict their testing activities to 10-days after March in return for an extra session at the Grand Prix circuits.

But, as the world's media converged on Paul Ricard to catch a glimpse of the new Toyota TF102 on Wednesday, the Swedish boss said: 'We are opting for free testing in 2003.

'This policy is made in order to obtain an overall steady progression throughout the season.'

He explained that privateer teams might get an advantage in cost-saving and more time to set up their cars for the individual tracks, but 'Toyota still have a wide range of things to develop and learn.

'Friday morning practice may be an advantage in terms of immediate car set-up for the race weekend,' he conceded.

Three outfits have signed up for the cost-cutting measure; French-owned manufacturer Renault rumored to have joined the Friday running with struggling independents Jordan and Minardi.

Toyota also used the 2003 car launch to welcome new rules to the world of Formula One.

'The revised rules,' such as one-shot qualifying and points reform, 'are good for the sport and applicable to every participating team,' noted Team Manager Ange Pasquali.

'There will be no single team or driver that is penalized under these new rules,' he adds, fending off claims that Toyota new-boy Cristiano Da Matta will struggle with one-shot qualifying.

'Every team is still on a level playing field, even if it is always a tough challenge.'







Brief: Suzuka, McNish And F1 Engineers
Work has begun on a comprehensive re-profiling of the treacherous 130R corner at Japan's Suzuka Circuit.

In October for the Formula One season-finale last year, Toyota pilot Allan McNish lost control of his mount at the flat-out left hander and injured his knee as his car penetrated the barriers.

The new 130R will run inside the older corner to comply with new demands made by FIA safety and technical delegate, Charlie Whiting in a post-Grand Prix report.

Meanwhile, the infamous 'triangle' chicane is being moved by 65m and opened up to form a faster corner. Formerly, drivers complained that the first-gear stop ruined the flowing nature of Suzuka.

The work is due to be finished by the end of February.

In other news, various Formula One sources are reporting that Allan McNish, Scotland's 32-year-old F1 rookie, could be lining up a year as Renault's Grand Prix tester.

The boy-faced racer from Dumfries found himself without a racing home for 2003 after debuting for Cologne-based Toyota Racing last year.

Allan had been expected to head for America to head up Toyota's Indy Racing League program, although a return to sportscars was also on the cards after Audi and Bentley made him offers.

Frenchmen Franck Montagny and F3000 champion Sebastien Bourdais are still tipped for Renault development roles whilst McNish could travel to the sixteen Grands Prix next year as reserve driver.

If rising speculation is to be believed, Renault will join the Friday GP-testing action this year and McNish is understood to be favorite to pilot the T-Car for those two-hour morning sessions.

Still at the pinnacle of motorsports, Ralf Schumacher has lost his long-serving Formula One race engineer, Craig Wilson, as he heads from Williams to British American Racing.

Schumacher's former engineer will team up with 22-year-old Briton Jenson Button as he embarks on a new challenge at Brackley.

A BAR spokesperson confirmed that Wilson, Ralf's Williams engineer since the beginning of 2000, had joined BAR but had yet to start work with the Honda-powered team.







Toyota Chairman: Long Way To Go In F1
Tsutomu Tomita knows that his Formula One racing project with Toyota has a 'long way to go' before race victories will be in sight.

Tomita, Toyota Chairman, oversees all the Japanese marque's international motorsport activities, is leader of the Toyota F1 project, and the driving-force behind the decision to battle the sport.

After a fledgling year in 2002, though - in which the debutant Cologne-based outfit finished tenth of eleven teams - Toyota has discovered that Formula One is a lot 'tougher than expected.'

'I have to admit that we still have a long way to go until we are among the frontrunners,' The Japanese told nearly 400 international media as the wraps fell off a sparkling-new TF103.

The Toyota Chairman addressed the media for the first official launch of 2003 at Bernie Ecclestone's Paul Ricard Circuit in southern France.

'We are determined to close the gap in the shortest possible time and to increase the rate of our development processes, so we can live up to the expectations of all Toyota customers and employees worldwide.'

He adds: 'As well as motorsport fans.'

The official Toyota objective for last year was to simply qualify for each round of the championship - something ousted drivers Mika Salo and Allan McNish did comfortably.

But the TF102 proved difficult to set-up and highlighted weaknesses in the aerodynamic design.

'The 2003 season is just our second year in the F1 world,' Tomita continues to explain. 'This year, we want to take last year's results a step further.'

Team Principal Ove Andersson admits that the two world championship points wracked up by Mika Salo last year were 'lucky.'

In 2003, incoming drivers Olivier Panis and Cristiano Da Matta have new, revised points rules to play with but also a chassis and RVX-03 engine with two years of development on-board.

Toyota embarked on a mammoth project of worldwide testing in 2001 preceding its Formula One debut last year.

Tomita adds: 'Our aim for 2003 is not only to finish, but also to regularly do that with Championship points.

'Our involvement in F1 is little in comparison with those teams that have been with the F1 for decades. But we Toyota, as a member of the F1 world, wish to contribute to the development of F1 culture.'

Tomita started his career with Toyota in 1969 as an engine development engineer.

In 1987, he took control of all Toyota racing engines including Le Mans V8 and V10 powerplants and those for the World Rally Championship.

Since 1996 he has been on the Toyota Board of Directors, and is Managing Director of Toyota Motor Corporation.

'We set the first year as our 'learning year', and our target was to qualify within the 107% time and to finish as many races as possible,' he told the media in his launch speech.

'When you look at our results of 2002 season, we achieved our target.'

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