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2002 F1 Teams/Drivers

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Jacques Villeneuve
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Rubens Barrichello

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Eddie Irvine
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Takuma Sato
Giancarlo Fisichella

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Kimi Raikkonen
David Coulthard

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Alex Yoong
Mark Webber

Prost
H. H. Frentzen 
Luciano Burti

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Jarno Trulli
Jenson Button

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Nick Heidfeld
Felipe Massa

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Mika Salo
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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 17, 2003
1


Wilson Hopes For Pre-Season F1 Tests
Justin Wilson completed a final seat fitting in his new, custom-built PS03 Minardi contender this week.

The 24-year-old, who some said would never hit the grand prix grid as a six foot three 'Flying Giraffe', climbed into the progressing monocoque built with his excessive heel, leg and foot measurements in mind.

'There was never really an issue with movement of my arms and legs,' said the Yorkshireman, 'it was more to do with fitting comfortably inside the regulations - which we now do.'

Wilson missed out on a grand prix debut last year when he failed strict FIA safety requirements, due to his height, in the PS02's Minardi predecessor.

Before that, Eddie Jordan informed the impressive young charger that he was simply too tall for the 2002 Silverstone-based team drive.

He adds of the custom-built Minardi: 'It is a much comfier seating position.'

The Sheffield-born rookie reports that the tiny Anglo-Italian team, powered by lauded Cosworth engines this year, were working hard on the new package to get it ready for the new season.

Minardi will roll out the newest black machine for boss Paul Stoddart's home event in Melbourne just a short drive from his home town of Coburg: 'The team is very busy working hard to get the car ready,' said Justin.

Some sources still insist that, given Minardi's recent future uncertainty and a budget hold-up, the Italian-based team will be hard-pressed to debut the PS03 at Albert Park.

But Wilson says: 'The indications I've been given are that it will be ready in plenty of time before the first race.'

The rookie, however - whose F1 debut preparation is presently limited to the latest Sony Playstation Grand Prix game - hopes to hit the testing circuit in late January or February.

If not, he will power out of Albert Park's pitlane for his first F1 outing on Friday afternoon, the second weekend of March. 'The biggest thing these days is to get track time,' Wilson admits.

'It would make a huge difference to us if we can run the cars before the start of the season so that we can learn as much as we can before Melbourne.'







Yoong Introduces Baby Alister To World
Alex Yoong, Malaysia's first Formula One pilot, introduced his new baby son to the world in Kuala-Lumpur earlier this week.

The 26-year-old, struggling Minardi rookie of last year but heading for a new CART challenge in 2003, confirmed that his newborn son has been named Alister Yoong Yi-Ming.

'We waited until today before introducing his name, as we were waiting for the boy's great-grandfather to pick the Chinese name for him,' said the happy father.

Alister was born on January 10th at 10.03am in Kuala Lumpur.

'I've always been the sort of person who was not impressed by how cute babies are. But now that I'm a father, I see them in a totally new light and am completely besotted by my son,' Yoong added.

'Arianna and I have decided to throw away the receipt as we will definitely be keeping this one.'

Alister completes the fifth generation of the Yoong family, the newborn baby's great-great-grandmother - Yoong's paternal great-grandmother - still alive and well at the age of 102.

Yoong and his wife plan to take Alister to visit her, in the Chinese city of Meixian in Guangdong province, as soon as time permits.

Alex, with a best finish of seventh at the pinnacle of motorsports, is widely expected to hit the Champcar tracks with Player's Forsythe Racing this year.







Trim Barrichello Targets More Victory
Rubens Barrichello is fighting fit and eyeing a swag of victories for his fourth year with Scuderia Ferrari this season.

The Brazilian beat his lauded world champion team-mate, Michael Schumacher, to the chequer four times in 2002 but trailed the Drivers' Standings all year after a technically-unreliable start.

In better physical shape than ever, then, Rubens is hoping to get the impending campaign off to a flying start and challenge the 33-year-old German for the world championship.

'First off, I would like to have a better start to the season than last year,' the Paulista said at the annual Ferrari ski and media event in the Italian Berta Dolomites yesterday.

He finished a career-best second in the Drivers' Standings with the F2002 - leaving only one real way to improve.

'As for the rest, it is natural to always want to do better in life,' Rubens said. The important thing is to keep one's feet on the ground, think positively and show grit and determination.'

Barrichello is reluctant to outwardly target the ultimate prize of a world championship. 'I hope to win a lot of races but will have to wait and see about anything else,' he smiles.

Moreover, he is expecting a closer battle with Williams and McLaren this year after Ferrari soared to an utterly dominant fifteen from seventeen wins in 2002.

He adds: 'It will be difficult to score as many points as in 2002, but if we win the title with less points, that will suit us just as well.'

Barrichello hit the ski slopes at Madonna di Campiglio looking trim and taut; his pre-season fitness routine including swimming, cycling, running, and a first-ever endurance triathlon back home in Brazil.

He said: 'I have done a lot of training during the weeks I've spent in Brazil. Friends persuaded me to take part in a triathlon and I have to say it was a fantastic experience.

'I had not swam so far for many years, although I do a lot of cycling and I love running. I would like to pursue this sport and maybe aim for the Olympic distance.

'But I don't think I would take part in the 'Ironman' event which would involve too much preparation and keep me away from my family.'

2003 will be the 30-year-old's tenth at the pinnacle of motorsports.







Big Three Reserve Judgment On Reform
The big three outfits are generally reserving their judgment on radical new cost-cutting rules proposed by the Federation International de l'Automobile on Wednesday.

'There were some dissenting voices,' FIA President Max Mosley admitted after surprising team bosses with a document proposing a total ban on electronic aids and other changes.

2003 and beyond will also see the phasing-out of spare cars, pit-to-car radios, bi-directional telemetry and automatic gearboxes - amongst an associated raft of plans to curb escalating costs.

Mosley added: 'The great majority were either in favor or at worst neutral.'

McLaren chief Ron Dennis, though, was decidedly unhappy as he stalked from the Heathrow Hilton with his nine Team Principal cohorts. 'I have nothing to say,' he told reporters.

The new reform aims to bridge the gap between Formula One's highest achievers and the struggling privateers, fighting for mere survival.

But an insider revealed that Dennis is firmly of the belief that if smaller outfits like Prost and Arrows cannot survive, it should not be up to McLaren, Williams and company to 'subsidise' their efforts.

Sir Frank Williams, eponymous boss of the nine-times championship winning outfit based in Oxford, was more positive as he left his comments terse but upbeat in London on Wednesday evening.

'I feel largely positive,' he said. 'As long as we sort out the fine detail properly.'

Later, a statement by Williams - also on behalf of works engine partner BMW - acknowledged the need 'in principle' for substantive measures to ensure the continued viability of Formula One.

But the Grove team opted to delay a full response until after a meeting of the Technical Working Group on Friday is held to further clarify the basic proposals of the FIA President.

The statement read: Williams 'is currently assessing the proposals presented. It is therefore not possible to offer a full response until this TWG meeting has taken place.

'The BMW WilliamsF1 Team awaits the outcome of the forthcoming TWG meeting and the clarification that this will provide.'

Meanwhile, Ferrari principal Jean Todt explained that three options exist in the wake of the latest Heathrow Airport summit of team bosses.

He said: 'We could discard everything, reject it, and start a fight which could go in the interest of no one.

'Or we accept everything - but this is also not possible.'

The Frenchman, speaking at the annual ski and media event in the Italian Dolomites, said that Ferrari will work towards 'accepting what proposals are possible.'

Meanwhile, his champion driving charge Michael Schumacher generally welcomed the proposed reform but did warn that it comes a little too close to the new season for instant implementation.

'I got to hear these decisions very late last night and the feeling is that they are maybe a little bit short notice to apply certain rules,' he said.

'The teams, in the end, have to see whether they can deal with it or not - it's not for me to say.'

The 33-year-old ace concludes: 'I just race the car and for me, it doesn't make a huge difference because I race with whatever I have as long as everyone is racing to the same rules.'







Strong Support For Change By Aussie Boss
The flamboyant Chairman of Australia's Grand Prix has strenuously welcomed the raft of new proposals for the pinnacle of motorsports.

With the Formula One circus readying to head down-under for the March season-opener at Albert Park, Ron Walker branded the move to ban electronic aids, in particular, as 'great news for motor sport and for F1.

He said the governing FIA is doing the right thing by getting F1 'out of the space age' and returning it to pure motor racing.

Walker explained: 'The operating costs for the teams had got way out of control and so much of the money being spent meant nothing to the people who matter most in the big picture.'

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation boss said the hundreds of millions of Grand Prix fans would benefit most from the banning of traction and launch control, automatic gearboxes and bi-directional telemetry.

He added: 'The moves we have seen will get those costs back under control over the next couple of years and will be for the benefit of everyone involved in the sport and who love watching the global phenomenon of F1.'

Walker, a member of the Formula One Commission, has long been arguing for many of the clamps that will now be enforced - but explained that, in the teams hands alone, it never would have happened.

Mosley enforced the rules - to also include longer life components, the banning of spare cars, the gradual introduction of standard parts like carbon brakes and ECU's - by applying the existing regulations 'to the letter.'

'The teams, because of the intense competition in which they are involved, were not going to initiate these moves,' says Ron Walker, the tall, blonde-haired boss of the Aussie race.

'None of them was going to dare to be brave enough to put the brake on the spiraling costs, so I applaud the FIA president, Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone, for imposing a massive load of common sense.'

Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria in Australia, will host the opening round of the 2003 Formula One world championship on March 6 - 9.

That race, staged on the picturesque Albert Park lake since 1996, will also welcome all-new rules including one-shot qualifying and world championship points reform, introduced in October.







Fisichella Impressed With Aggressive EJ13
Giancarlo Fisichella was impressed with an 'aggressive and simple' new Jordan racer after a Silverstone shakedown this week.

The Roman, whose Northamptonshire team led by Eddie Jordan has not graced the tracks since the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix last October, said: 'This has been a good start.'

Dubbed EJ13, the new Jordan contender appeared in plain black carbon-fibre bare livery complete with new Cosworth RS engine and 'Powered By Ford' logos.

In a novel branding scheme with Ford of Europe, the Cosworth engines were used by Jaguar last year but will include an exclusive engine development program.

Fisichella, who got his first taste of the car on his 30th birthday on a closed section of Silverstone, added: 'I am very impressed by the engine's power and also with the car which not only looks very nice but is aggressive and simple.'

After the shakedown, he enjoyed a slice of a special birthday cake featuring '30' candle and model of a yellow Jordan racer.

He said: 'Everything went okay without any major problems so I am looking forward to starting testing in Barcelona on Monday.'

Jordan's distinctive yellow transporters, wearing new Blue Oval badges as Ford outwardly return to Formula One after an absence of three years, are now en route to the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain for the first public test.

Fisichella, yet to have a paying team-mate for season 2003, will hit the Barcelona track with EJ13 next Monday.

The all-new package, produced by a design team headed by Henri Durand and Director of Race and Test Engineering Gary Anderson, bears little resemblance to its ultimately disappointing predecessor.

The bare black bodywork will stay on the EJ13 until a new title sponsor is launched; Deutsche Post World Net having departed along with a reported $30 million in sponsorship, late last year.

A statement explains how the 'Team's objective is to achieve maximum impact for existing and new sponsors and partners when the car is officially launched rather than carrying out initial testing with an interim livery.'

Gary Anderson commented on the successful roll-out and shakedown at Silverstone: 'This gave us the opportunity to run the car from the point of view of checking the electronic set-up.

'We also made sure the basic systems such as water and oil did their job.

'It's nice to make a plan five months ago and achieve it to within the hour - everyone has worked hard and done a good job.'

The Irishman explains that EJ13 is 'more complete now' than last year's was when Jordan turned out for the 2002 Australian Grand Prix nearly twelve months ago.

He said of the car: 'It's come out exactly as specified in terms of the aerodynamic and weight targets.'

Henri Durand, the French designer, described the all-new challenger - simpler, sleeker and lighter than its predecessor - as a 'very important car for Jordan Grand Prix.

'Five months ago the technical team decided on our technical objectives and approach and we have achieved all that we set out to do.

'The concept of the car is based on having good aerodynamic efficiency allied to engineering simplicity. We have used the very considerable expertise which exists here within Jordan and also with our new partners at Cosworth Racing.

He concludes: 'The engine is obviously a very important aspect of the new car, which has been easy to integrate into the new design and has all of the qualities we would expect from a top ranking engine.'

The team is yet to unveil a date for the EJ13's official launch, waiting instead for boss Eddie Jordan to secure a title sponsorship deal.







Arrows In Liquidation, Assets For Sale
Former Arrows driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen headed a long list of unpaid creditors on a winding-up petition that ultimately spelled an end for the Leafield team.

'The company is in liquidation but we are still acting as receivers,' administrator Philip Long said this week after the high-court granted the order for forced liquidation.

He added: 'This is just another stage in the insolvency process ... everything's been up for sale since we were appointed.'

Scottish boss Tom Walkinshaw, being sued personally for unpaid debts by engine supplier Cosworth, took control of the outfit in 1996 as the signing of world champion Damon Hill sparked optimism that Arrows was on the cusp of greatness.

But, now, the only reminder that 25 years of Arrows Grand Prix even existed is an empty Leafield factory, several stationary A23 chassis, and two wind tunnels - all up for sale.

Frentzen's personal manager, Monte Field, denied that the 35-year-old German was more instrumental in the final decline of Arrows than any other unpaid creditor.

The rated driver drove half a season with the orange-clad outfit before he quit citing 'team uncertainty' after the German Grand Prix.

'It just happens that Heinz-Harald's name is on top of the list of close to 20 creditors,' said his manager Monte Field. 'On Monday it was ruled that the company is to be wound up.

'Let's just call it a closed chapter.'

Arrows lost their battle for survival when potential buyers from the United Arab Emirates pulled out the running when the FIA denied the team a 2003 Formula One entry.

Walkinshaw claimed the controversial decree of force majeure when teetering insolvency forced him to miss five races.







Gizmos To Remain On F1 Cars This Year
Wheel-spin will still be managed by traction control in 2003 despite the FIA's decree this week that all electronic driver aids should be banned from Formula One.

The Federation International de l'Automobile President, Max Mosley, said that costs could be cut by reducing development expenditure on expensive electronic gizmos such as traction and launch control, automatic gearboxes, and others.

But so close to the 2003 season-opener in Australia, the FIA boss concedes that imposing the ban instantly would probably only drive costs up or mean that cars are not ready for the first Melbourne event.

'The problem will be completely solved in 2004,' Mosley said in London in the wake of the Heathrow meeting with Formula One's ten team bosses.

But the Briton, to sit in on the forum of the Technical Working Group in London later today, admitted that he is still governed by the unanimity of the grand prix outfits.

Mosley framed the new rules by using the existing framework of the Sporting Code - but the Technical Working Group, headed by technical directors, will still get a say.

'We'll either agree that it's finished or it isn't finished,' he continued.

The Paris-based President continued that, while he'd like to see the ban fall somewhere in 2003, the teams have the option to delay until 2004.

'We've given them the possibility of going on to 2004 and I don't think you'll get somebody switching it off when somebody else has still got it on,' he said.

'I would guess they will but they may all agree to end it sooner. They've undertaken to discuss it and try to see if they can.'

FIA technical delegate and Formula One race director Charlie Whiting will chair the all-important TWG meeting in London today.







CART Contingency For Jacques Villeneuve
Jacques Villeneuve can always fall back on a Champcar option, his personal manager Craig Pollock has reportedly promised.

As the Scottish businessman announced his plans for the PK Racing CART Team assault in 2003, he explained that his French-Canadian charge had been 'very supportive' of the project from the beginning.

Villeneuve was mentored by Pollock to CART success in the early Nineties, including the Championship win and Indy 500, before launching his foray in Formula One with Williams.

But coming to the end of a five year stint with British American Racing, founded by Pollock in 1998, Villeneuve has said he'll either return to grand prix's winners rostrum in 2004 or call it quits.

'If I have another bad season this year it would be close to impossible to get a drive and I would not want to be in a team at the back,' Villeneuve admitted at the BAR005 launch in Barcelona earlier this week.

He stares hopefully at the latest Brackley racer, then, as his ticket back onto the Formula One podium: 'This might be the right car, maybe not this year but for the future as well.'

Craig Pollock will launch the Champcar assault and use his knowledge from the Formula One Team Principal's circle to bring it to success.

'We have made some mistakes in the past, but we have also done some very good things,' said Pollock, fired by the BAR board of directors at the behest of backer British American Tobacco last year.

He added: 'We're going to tap into the knowledge bank of what went right with the BAR start-up experience and use that as a type of blueprint for PK Racing.

'We want to make sure that we don't make the same mistakes that slowed the development of BAR.'

Formed out of the ashes of PacWest and in conjunction with businessman Kevin Kalkhoven, PK will be based in Indianapolis and is tipped to feature the driving efforts of ex-F1 veteran Mika Salo.







Toyota F1 Support Cost-Cutting Plans
Fledgling Formula One team Toyota Racing has put its support behind the FIA incentive to cut costs and spice up the grand prix action.

In London this week, FIA President Max Mosley imposed his ideas on the ten team principals by applying the letter of the law on existing rules.

As a result, a complete ban on driver aids including traction control and automatic gearboxes, spare cars, radios and telemetry will be phased in over 2003 and beyond.

Toyota, based in Cologne and readying its second full assault on the Formula One World Championship, explained that it 'supports and appreciates any FIA initiatives aimed at reducing costs.'

The Japanese-owned marque, the third biggest vehicle manufacturer in the world, also hopes that new rules including long-life engines and standard parts such as rear wings will increase safety and improve the excitement for spectators.

Failing unanimity between the teams over several recent meetings, Toyota explained that it 'welcomes the proposal received yesterday from the FIA.'

Team boss Ove Andersson and technical boss Gustav Brunner will attend today's meeting of the Technical Working Group in London to 'positively contribute' to the definition of the detailed rules.

The TWG will vote on the definitive amendments to Formula One's technical rulebook ahead of season 2003.

Toyota's statement concluded: '[We] expect the FIA to be open-minded and accept constructive proposals from the teams aimed to reduce costs, with no compromise for the drivers safety.'







Panis Finds TF103 'Room For Improvement'
Olivier Panis has found 'room for improvement' for the all-new Toyota TF103 whilst running in his first open test of the year.

But, as he wrapped up a week's session in Spain at the Circuit de Catalunya, the 36-year-old veteran - to first race the Toyota in Melbourne in just six weeks - said he expected the new challenger to be competitive.

Panis, 36, arrives from a nine year career at teams including Ligier, Prost, McLaren as a tester, and two years at the British American Racing operation.

He completed a further day of set-up and Michelin tire testing at Barcelona on Thursday, Panis calling the Catalan test 'very promising.'

The Lyon-born racer said: 'I feel the new car is competitive and it proved to be responsive to changes.

'We obviously have room for improvement during the next tests and have identified some good directions of work.

'I am very happy with the work done.'

His fresh faced team-mate, the newly crowned CART Champion and F1 rookie Cristiano Da Matta, helped launch the TF103 at Le Castellet last week but still hasn't had a try with the new machine.

The Brazilian spent the week at the controls of a hybrid TF102B, fitted with new longitudinal gearbox, and completed more than 900 kilometres of useful development.

On Thursday, though, Da Matta still trailed his team-mate's lead by nearly a second per lap: 'I am overall very pleased with this test,' he said after a week of development and TF103 components evaluation.

'Although Tuesday was a bad day for me, Wednesday was excellent and today was good as well. I managed a great deal of laps in total and we could test some components that will be used on the TF103 in the near future.'

Toyota now head back to their private French testing ground at Paul Ricard, for a three day test. Da Matta will get his first ride in the TF103, while new tester Ricardo Zonta makes his red and white track debut.

Cristiano, 29, said: 'I really look forward to having my first ride in the new car next week.'

Keizo Takahashi, General Manager Car Design and Development, explained that 'We gathered a lot of valuable data in the aerodynamic and mechanical fields but also on the engine and electronics side.

'Cristiano carried out some important work on components for the new car and all in all, we have a lot in our hands to improve in the coming weeks.'







Bernie Spurns Claims Of Grand Prix Crisis
F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone is dismissing claims of a Formula One crisis despite a year of total track domination, collapsing teams and declining TV numbers.

'It's healthy,' said the 72-year-old after he, the ten team bosses and FIA President Max Mosley emerged from a meeting staged to further reform the rules, including the banning of all driver aids.

Ecclestone, head of grand prix commercial rights holders Formula One Management and an intermediary between the governing FIA and the teams, said that a so-called 'crisis' has been dreamed up by the press.

'The problem is these past few months the reporting on F1 should have been in the financial columns rather than the sports columns, because everyone was talking about money,' he said.

Nonetheless, television figures have declined by as much as 20 percent, sponsors are turning away, and the privateer team owners appear to be losing a battle for mere survival.

'We are talking about Formula One, which is in good shape, not bad shape,' continued the plain-talking Briton; the man most directly responsible for giving the sport its modern global stature.

He says the television figures might have fallen - not helped by controversial Ferrari team orders and an early championship bath - but Formula One actually stood up well in contrast to other sports.

Bernie says: 'We lost less percentage of our television audience than any sport.

'Did we lose viewers at the end of the season because the championship was over? I would have to say yes, and that's normal, that's what has happened in the past,' he said.

'We have been lucky in the past that championships have gone down to the final round.'

But Ecclestone insists that the furor of team orders - when Rubens Barrichello was told to hand an undeserved win to Michael Schumacher in Austria - reflected worse on Ferrari than it did on the sport in general.

'I think they [Ferrari] are more embarrassed than I am,' said Ecclestone in London.

'It's one of those things that happens, Michael never expected the crowd to react like that and he panicked a bit.'

Asked if he thought Formula One would benefit from a season of dipping Ferrari form, Bernie was adamant: 'No, the best thing for F1 is for Williams, McLaren and Renault to have a good season.'

Bernie thinks that new rules including one-shot qualifying, a better points system and the looming re-banning of driver aids will see Williams and McLaren 'back and winning races like they used to.'

He adds: 'I'm not worried at all, because I know that Ferrari's dominance is going to end. I mean, those two teams [McLaren and Williams] have won more championships in the last 25 years than anybody!'

The diminutive supremo has cancelled his pay-per-view Digital F1 Television spectacle for the looming season after too few customers signed up for the $20 fortnightly events.







Privateers Saved As Grid Fixed At Ten
Paul Stoddart and his fellow independent team bosses are delightedly celebrating the outcome of Wednesday's FIA-led meeting in London.

The 47-year-old Australian chief, whose Minardi team hovered over the brink of extinction last year, hailed the foresight of the governing authority in returning the impetus of the driver and excitement to Formula One.

But with the bans on driver aids and other cost-cutting measures, FIA President Max Mosley and FOM boss Bernie Ecclestone also moved to assure Paul - and privateer comrades Eddie Jordan and Peter Sauber - their future in Formula One.

In the form of added financial incentives and guarantees, all ten team bosses agreed unanimously that the grid should not dip below the present ten teams in the wake of Prost and Arrows' collapses.

'It was a very important day, not only for Minardi but for F1,' said Stoddart.

'There was unanimous agreement that we could not go below 10 teams. It takes a lot of the pressure off us. It takes away any doubts whether we would be able to see out the season.

'But it also addresses all the issues F1 has been criticized for in the past couple of years.'

In more good news for Paul, Peter and Eddie, the FIA urged the Formula One manufacturers including Mercedes, BMW and Renault to help their pitlane playmates by offering subsidized engine supplies.

Prost and Arrows went out of business weighed down by $25 million customer engine programs.

But FIA President Max Mosley pushed his plan at Heathrow to get the prosperous manufacturers to cough up fixed-spec V10s for less than a third of normal rates.

'If they don't,' warned Mosley as he emerged from the emergency meeting with Formula One directors at Heathrow Airport yesterday, 'We will bring in some sort of rule.'

In light of the proposed agreement, it is believed that Toyota and Renault have joined German giant Mercedes-Benz in agreeing to supply a customer team for a price of no more than $10 million.

Ferrari, meanwhile, said it has 'no intention' of handing out cut-price power units without strong commercial agreements.

The Prancing Horse supplies year-old units to Sauber: 'It is up to the others to make their own specific decisions,' boss Jean Todt continued, 'but this is the position of Ferrari - they have to pay.'

Nonetheless, Paul Stoddart is still celebrating the day in London when his future at the pinnacle of motorsports was given a shot in the arm.

All teams agreed that interest would begin to wane if any more grid stragglers went out of business. 'I think that we are in for a really exciting season next year,' said the Australian from Coburg.

'And that, after all, is what everyone in F1 wants to see.'







Ferrari: No New Car For Season-Opener
World Champions Scuderia Ferrari will launch their all-new F2003 in three weeks' time - but they don't intend to race it in Australia.

The Maranello-based concern revealed at the annual ski and media event in the Italian Dolomites yesterday that the all-conquering F2002's heir will have its wraps taken off on Friday the 7th of February.

But when Managing Director of the Gestione Sportiva, team boss Jean Todt, was asked if the sparkling new scarlet challenger would see light of day in Melbourne, the Frenchman said:

'No, it's not going to race in the first Grand Prix.'

Ferrari soared to unrivalled world championships last year, including winning fifteen of the seventeen Grand Prix events, by using the same strategy of kicking off the campaign with a developed, old charger.

Michael Schumacher won the 2002 Australian Grand Prix at the wheel of a revised F2001 - the car he steered to ultimate victory a year earlier.

Ron Dennis' McLaren team will also follow the 'old car' Ferrari-policy this year by taking the 2002 machine, dubbed MP4-17D for the opening Australian race, to the first three flyaway events.







Another Meeting To Decide F1 Fate Today
Formula One will not necessary delve into further reform, including the re-banning of electronic driver aids, for season 2003.

That is the caveat of Scuderia Ferrari team principal Jean Todt who warns that FIA President Max Mosley did not necessarily 'impose' his ideas for emergency cost-saving on the ten team principals.

The group of Formula One outfits, to be represented this time by technical directors in the form of the Technical Working Group, will meet in London later today to vote on what changes should be implemented for 2003.

Mosley's radical plan includes the banning of all electronic aids including traction control, automatic gearboxes and radio communications, as well as bans on spare cars and the gradual phasing-in of standard components.

But the TWG will need to give the plans a once-over - including either rejection or ratification - before Formula One is further changed.

Todt, a Frenchman, thinks that a compromise - not full rejection - will be the likely outcome of today's meeting in London.

He said: 'I don't know what the position of the teams will be on Friday because yesterday we saw this document, it is now being assessed by each team and tomorrow we are going to have a clearer understanding.

'Tomorrow we will see what is going to happen next and what will be implemented in the year 2003.'

According to sources, Jean Todt strenuously rejected the proposal to ban all pit-to-car radio communications; some hinting that this FIA provision is to make it more difficult to implement team orders.

Formula One was cast into furor last year when Ferrari swapped the racing order, by messages on the radio, in sight of the checkered-flag at Austria's A1-Ring.

Todt added: 'As for radio communications, if there are orders to be given, we don't need the radio, so I don't think this is the reason why radio communications will be prohibited.'







McLaren Maintain Grip At Barcelona Test
McLaren maintained its grip on testing proceedings at the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday, David Coulthard fastest for the third consecutive day.

The Scot's 2003 grand prix teammate Kimi Raikkonen clocked up 66 laps to go second quickest, some six tenths of a second slower than his silver cohort with the MP4-17.

Once again, Juan Pablo Montoya headed the timesheets for the two-car BMW-Williams effort, the Colombian only just fending off the new-car challenge from Olivier Panis in the TF103 Toyota.

'For the fourth consecutive morning we have had minus temperatures on the track for the installation lap,' explained Williams test team manager Tim Newton.

'The high humidity also made the track quite frosty,' he continued.

Montoya drove a program based on Michelin tire development and 'other systems' work.

Observers also watched Juan Pablo conducting practice starts at the end of the pitlane without the aid of launch-control.

It is suggested that the practice might possibly be in preparation for confirmation by the Technical Working Group later today that drivers must use the clutch for a grand prix getaway from 2003.

Newton continues: 'Aside from a couple of red flags on the circuit, it was a routine day and we were pleased with the data collected.'

Cristiano Da Matta was fourth quickest in the older Cologne machine, followed by Alex Wurz who managed a mammoth 94 laps for Woking-based McLaren as they assessed the initial 2003-package, an interim MP4-17 car.

Marc Gene was next best as he continued to circulate with all-new P83 BMW engine and gearbox for Williams, while Anthony Davidson got back to work in his BAR testing development components for the newly-launched BAR005.

The Renault of Fernando Alonso was some 2.5 seconds off the leading pace, in the new 2003 mechanical package dubbed R23 - Renault's progress watched on by new Friday tester, Allan McNish, who completed a brief shakedown in the morning.

Italian team-mate Jarno Trulli, in the R202, trailed the order on a suspension evaluation program as he returned from a day off feeling unwell.

'A more productive day's testing today,' said Renault technical director Mike Gascoyne.

Antonio Pizzonia, new Jaguar Racing rookie, managed 50 laps for a best time of 1.18.817, with the hybrid R3C.

Coulthard McLaren 53 28 1.15.392
Raikkonen McLaren 68 26 1.15.996
Montoya Williams 65 15 1.16.153
Panis Toyota 49 12 1.16.376
Da Matta Toyota 58 51 1.17.012
Wurz McLaren 96 33 1.17.484
Gene Williams 72 8 1.17.590
Davidson BAR 26 11 1.17.630
Alonso Renault 52 11 1.17.856
Pizzonia Jaguar 51 47 1.18.815
McNish Renault 6 5 1.20.207
Trulli Renault 77 33 1.20.768







Schu Warns: Costs Cut But Danger Fueled?
World Champion Michael Schumacher has warned that a re-banning of driver aids including traction control, penned to cut Formula One's spiraling costs, may come at the price of safety.

'My view is that it doesn't really change so much,' said the 33-year-old German after a raft of cost-saving proposals were put to the team bosses at a meeting on Wednesday.

The Ferrari driving champion fended off initial claims that, especially in wet conditions, he stands to gain most from a ban on the wheel-spin limiting traction control device.

Schumacher, lauded as head-and-shoulders above the pack, is often described as taking an even bigger talent-advantage in slippery or changeable conditions.

'I don't see that I, or any good driver, will take the advantage by a big amount,' Michael said as he faced the media at Ferrari's annual Madonna di Campiglio ski event in the Dolomites.

So while he may not find a significant advantage in wet weather, Schumacher warns that the banning of traction control undoubtedly makes a Formula One car more dangerous.

'I believe, without traction control in particular in the rain, it will be very, very difficult and you need a lot more feeling in order to be on the pace,' said Schumacher.

'At the same time, it will be quite a bit more dangerous. But it has been the same in the past and we will have to deal with that - so it is going to be a little bit more exciting.'

Schumacher is adamant that the young drivers, particularly those who found a route into Formula One in the age of electronic gizmos, face the steepest learning curve with the new rules.

The German added: 'It will change for some young drivers who seem to get on very easily with Formula One at the moment to a certain speed.

'It will change because, with the amount of power that we have, with the amount of grip that we have, if you imagine that we don't have all those technical possibilities anymore, that will be a lot more difficult.'

In general, though, Michael Schumacher concedes that Formula One needed to make changes to support the smaller teams and adjust to changing times.

'Perhaps with this, F1 will become more accessible for smaller teams,' says the 33-year-old. 'There are huge expenses involved in the sport and some of the smaller teams are afraid.

'Maybe it is something positive, F1 has to consider how to find funds. We know that in races the technical details are not always so important - you can have a race without these aids'.

If Michael Schumacher could have his own way, though, Formula One would not be taking a technological step back. 'I prefer all the technical possibilities, because I don't like to take compromises in the race car,' he said.

'I like to make the race car as fast as possible and all the electronics have helped that.'

He also denies that Ferrari, as the dominant force and particularly lauded as architects of consummate electronics, will be particularly disadvantaged through the reform.

'Honestly not,' he responded. 'A good team will always be a good team.

'The success of a good team is not really because of one reason, there are thousands of reasons because there are so many different things on the car which make a car good.'

2003 is Michael's eighth year with Scuderia Ferrari.







BAR Use Ferrari F2002 As Design Template
The architect of BAR's all-new 005 challenger, Geoffrey Willis, has admitted to 'borrowing' one or two design features from the utterly dominant Ferrari F2002.

'We have the same Bridgestone tires as Ferrari,' the BAR technical director, lauded as an ex-Williams aerodynamicist, said, 'so you could ask why doesn't the car look like a Ferrari?'

He explains that if you merely copy a 2002 Ferrari, 'it won't be as quick as a 2003 Ferrari.

'So you do have to look at what the competitors are doing and try to understand it, but at the same time you have to be led by your own wind tunnel program and your own research and analysis.'

Geoff Willis will admit, however, that the front end of the new Brackley racer - and particularly the exhaust treatment at the rear of the white and red chassis - is designed with Ferrari principles intact.

He adds: 'We have a little bit of a longer wheelbase than the Ferrari, but that is probably the main difference.

'We tried to apply the same principles as they have; very narrow at the front of the car and very low bodywork at the back of the car.'

So while the latest Brackley concoction - the fifth since inception in 1999 but first penned by Geoff Willis - is designed with Ferrari in mind, the design ace warns that 2003 will not be spent duking it out with the Maranello champions.

'I thought that by the end of this year with the new car we would have achieved 75 percent of where I wanted to get to in the long term,' Willis said.

'I think we have pretty much achieved that, but we have to make another big step during this year and for next year to be competing at the top level of the grid.'

Jenson Button and Jacques Villeneuve will steer the sleek and slender new BAR005 this year, launched earlier this week at Spain's Circuit de Catalunya.







Jos Verstappen Heads To Faenza Factory
Jos Verstappen's first visit to his new Minardi team was characterised by a lot of hand-shaking and a PS03 seat fitting.

The 30-year-old Dutchman, after a year on the reserve bench and in court with Tom Walkinshaw over unfair dismissal, will return to the Formula One racing wheel in 2003 with the tiny Anglo-Italian team.

On Wednesday morning, Jos touched down in Italy accompanied by photographer Frits van Eldik, greeted and reunited with his new race engineer, Greg Wheeler.

Jos, affectionately known as The Boss, was engineered by Wheeler at the Arrows team in 2000 and 2001 - the South African promptly ferrying the rated pilot to Faenza and the Minardi headquarters.

The former Benetton, Simtek, Tyrrell, Stewart and Arrows driver caught up with development on the new Cosworth-powered PS03, hopped into its cockpit for a first seat fitting, and met his new Minardi colleagues.

'Everyone at Minardi is very enthusiastic,' Jos told his personal website.

'The team is a lot smaller than I am used to but the welcome was fantastic. I am very impressed with the professional attitude of everyone.

After lunch, Jos hit the factory floor where he donned a new black racing suit and climbed into the PS03 cockpit to make two moulded seats.

He adds: 'Tomorrow we will see if they are fine, then I will be flying home again.'

The mechanics made some initial adjustments for the steering wheel position, brake and accelerator pedals, but Jos explains that 'the only real way to feel if everything is okay is when I am driving my first laps on a circuit.'

Verstappen and 2001 F3000 champion teammate Justin Wilson will hit the circuit for the first race of the New Year on the second weekend in March; for the Australian Grand Prix.







Jaguar Ease Failed Crash-Test Reports
Jaguar Racing has played down reports that its all-new R4 grand prix car failed mandatory FIA side-impact crash tests.

'It did not fail the side impact test per se,' said Manager of Communications Nav Sidhu, as the Leaping Cat prepare to launch the green machine on the internet next Tuesday.

'But a very small area of the chassis cracked.'

The spokesman explains that adhesive used to hold the chassis into the crash rigs were probably at fault: 'It is certainly not a big problem,' Sidhu continues.

'It will go in for another test at the end of the month and as far as we are concerned it's a formality.'

The Milton-Keynes operation headed down to the Ford Motor Company's Proving Ground in Belgium yesterday for aerodynamic comparisons, the initial shakedown, and to film footage for the internet launch scheduled for next week.

According to sources, the R4 roll-out will go ahead unhindered later today, at the Lommel track.

After sacking 70 Jaguar workers at the end of last year - including the yet-to-be replaced team boss Niki Lauda - Jaguar said a glitzy live launch would be 'grossly insensitive.'

Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia will head the drivers' duties this year as Jaguar aim to build competitiveness after three seasons of mid-field frustration.







Back Strain Puts Ralf Out Of Action
Ralf Schumacher will sit out BMW-Williams cockpit duties until February after pulling a muscle in his back.

The 27-year-old abandoned a day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya earlier this week at the end of just one installation lap, when he felt a 'strange feeling' in his upper back.

'He had some back problems when he got into the car on Monday morning,' said his spokesman Tomas Hoffman.

He added: 'He had a strange feeling so came back into the garage and when he got out of the car he couldn't really move.'

Former Larrousse grand prix pilot Olivier Beretta, from Monaco, was called up to continue Williams development while the German race ace stayed in Barcelona overnight to see if a night's sleep helped the twinge.

The following morning Ralf, younger brother to five times Ferrari world champion Michael Schumacher, flew home to Salzburg - in Austria - to see his doctor.

Hoffman added: 'Ralf felt much better afterwards but his back and neck are still very stiff at the moment.

Ralf himself was quick to scotch rising speculation that the strain - probably a pulled muscle - would prove any more serious than causing a temporary lull in track activity.

He said: 'Of course, it's a pity that I'm not in the condition to complete the tests. But it doesn't make any sense if you can hardly move.

'I wasn't due to test in the near future anyway. I'm going to take a break until the presentation of the new car [on January 31st] in order to really get my strength back.'

Ralf Schumacher was the only driver apart from David Coulthard, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello to earn a grand prix victory last year.







New Rules Won't Stop Schu's Reign: Mosley
As far as the FIA President is concerned, even the banning of traction control won't stand in the way of Michael Schumacher's sixth world championship.

Max Mosley, after 'surprising' team bosses with a radical plan to cut costs by banning driver aids this week, is still convinced that 2003 - and probably 2004 - will be painted red by the German.

'Quite simply I think no matter what you do, the best will always shine through,' the Briton said. 'And Michael is the best, as at this time is Ferrari.'

Triumphs in 2003 and 2004 will elevate Schumacher above the total personal title haul of record-holder Juan Manuel Fangio, whilst setting surely indomitable precedents for consecutive championships both as Driver and Constructor.

This year, Ferrari will defend four successive manufacturer's crowns whilst Schumacher aims to build on his tally of snaring the past three Drivers' mantles for his Scuderia.

Mosley continues: 'So yes, I do think he will win the championship this year and possibly again after that.'

But the Paris-based President added that, with the impending ban on traction and launch control, automatic gearboxes and sophisticated telemetry, 'at least you will know it's purely down to Michael and not all the gizmos in the car.'

Schumacher himself, on skis in Italy this week as part of the annual media event at Madonna di Campiglio, said he didn't particularly mind whether his F1 challenge was laden with electronic gizmos or not.

Although the German, from Kerpen, prefers the technical contest with free electronics and traction control, he said: 'There is simply a different challenge for me.

'I preferred the challenge where you have all the technical possibilities, because I don't like to take compromises in the race car, I like to make the race car as fast as possible and all the electronics have helped that.'







Changes Will Cost Jobs, Ferrari Warns
Jean Todt believes that a new raft of cost-saving proposals will cost jobs at the pinnacle of motorsports.

Todt's world championship winning Scuderia Ferrari - as well as other big outfits including McLaren, Williams, Renault and Toyota - employs around 700 people.

But plans to simplify the technology of a Grand Prix car, including bans on the use of spare chassis', electronic aids, and eventually development pieces like rear wings and brakes, will render superfluous whole armies of F1 personnel.

Todt said: 'For the time being we have not analysed the situation but should we need to cut down on staff for any reason because of the rule changes, we will do so.'

But while new rules could spell redundancy to swarms of technical staff, the livelihood of Maranello workers are not in jeopardy.

Should Jean Todt find a Formula One technician, engineer or mechanic needless in the garage, they will simply be re-allocated to the newly-established Maserati Racing program or the design and construction of road-going cars.

He adds: 'So of course, should anyone leave the Ferrari team, they can always continue working within the group.

'But going back to Formula One, should it be necessary, certain departments may require a reduction of staff, while others departments may have to increase their staff.

'The overall trend or desire is to cut down on costs and if necessary, also to do it via a staff reduction.'

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