Renault Unveil R23 In Switzerland
Renault became the third F1 team to officially unveil its 2003
contender yesterday, when the wraps fell off a familiar-looking R23
contender in Lucerne, Switzerland.
The French-owned marque, forced into Switzerland to show off the
extended Mild Seven, Japan-Tobacco collaboration, presented the car in
an open-air exhibition area with new drivers Jarno Trulli and Fernando
Alonso in tow.
For its second full year in the Renault guise, the British-based
chassis department have churned out a similar car to last year dubbed
R23; remodeled sidepods and Ferrari-like exhaust treatment the leading
Under the skin, though, technical director Mike Gascoyne promises an
entirely redesigned model comprising new architecture with the
innovative 111-degree V10 engine.
Renault finished best of the rest - or fourth - in the constructors'
world championship last year but are hoping to join the big boys with
podiums in 2003.
President Patrick Faure said: 'We need podiums this year.
'That is podiums with an 's' - not only one, because if we want to be
able to fight in 2004 and 2005 for world championships we need podiums
Lead Italian driver Jarno Trulli, 29, commences a second year at
Enstone and is joined by 22-year-old Spanish sensation Fernando
Alonso, after a year on the development bench having debuted for
Minardi in '01.
Trulli said: 'Seeing a new F1 car take shape is always an exciting
experience. Over five hundred people have invested their passion,
determination and hard work in making it happen.
'Straight away, I want to thank all the people working at Renault F1
for their efforts this winter. It is an honour to be competing in
grands prix as a Renault driver.'
Alonso, from Ovierdo, added: 'Getting a race seat with a major
manufacturer is a major opportunity, and I'm not going to let it go to
waste. One thing's for sure - before fighting for myself in 2003, I
will be driving for the team.'
Colorful team boss Flavio Briatore, with both race pilots under
personal managerial contract, stays at the Renault helm.
Young French driving ace Franck Montagny will steer the in-season
testing role, while ex-Toyota grand prix pilot Allan McNish will join
the team for Friday morning development at all sixteen race venues.
Alonso '200% Ready' For Race Return
Fernando Alonso is '200 percent' ready for his racing return to the
Formula One Grand Prix grid.
Strapped to the shiny new R23 contender, the 22-year-old Spaniard will
join Renault team-mate Jarno Trulli as he returns to the racing
cockpit after a year of team testing.
He debuted, impressively, in 2001 as Paul Stoddart made a Minardi team
ownership entrance, but opted to slide into a year-long testing
preparation with manufacturer-team Renault last year.
'Having tested for a whole year with the team there is some advantage
for me going into this new season,' Alonso said at the launch of the
all-new - if not familiar-looking - R23 in Switzerland.
'It's a big team and you have to get used to it. I have got to know
the people and the car perfectly. I am ready 200 percent.'
The young Spaniard will hit the circuit with the new car later this
week, when Renault return home to France for an unbranded roll-out at
the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet.
'We will only find out how good the car is after testing this week,
but I am confident as the team has been working very hard,' he said.
'We were fourth last year and I think we should be better than that
Renault will join Jordan and Minardi for Friday-morning testing -
including in-season track restrictions - in 2003.
Alonso, with only 17 grands prix under his belt for the little
Anglo-Italian Minardi team, thinks the Friday option is the best for
him. 'The decision is good for me, in particular,' he said.
'There are some tracks I would like to spend some more time on and I
think that's good for the team too.'
Trulli And Alonso: Better Driver Match
29-year-old Jarno Trulli is delighted to welcome new team-mate
Fernando Alonso to the Renault F1 Team.
The Italian embarks on his seventh year at the pinnacle of motorsports
in 2003; number two at the Enstone/Viry-based, French-owned team.
Last year, Trulli was paired up with race mate Jenson Button, the
22-year-old Englishman heading for a new long-term challenge with BAR
for the ever-nearing 2003 racing season.
But having worked with Alonso in his testing capacities last year,
sharing the Italian language, and spending time with him in Kenya on a
recent Renault fitness program, Trulli is sure that the '03 match-up
is a good one.
'We have done a lot of preparation in Africa with Flavio Briatore and
Fernando Alonso,' said the Italian, from Pescarolo. 'I get on really
well with my team-mate and I think we will be a very strong
Trulli outpaced Button in qualifying trim, but the latter Frome-born
charger amassed most world championship points en route to Renault's
fourth in the world championship.
He says: 'I got on well with Jenson Button too, it is just that he
didn't speak Italian. If you both speak the same language it is much
easier for everybody.'
Trulli, at Lucerne in Switzerland for the R23 launch, looked trim and
fit, and has moved apartment to England for the impending
race-challenge for podiums in 2003.
He adds: 'People are different and maybe Alonso and I match-up
slightly better, but any good team-mate is tough.'
The R23 is outwardly similar to its predecessor, the R202, with a
string of fourth places but no debut appearance on the post-race Grand
R23, designed with a technical team led by Mike Gascoyne and Pat
Symonds, hit the circuit early and has been running its basic
mechanical guise since late last year.
'Development started early,' Trulli confirms. 'We had the car ready in
November and have done mileage already.'
He fends off observations that the R23 is unchanged apart from revised
sidepods and Ferrari-like upward exhaust work at the rear. 'The car
looks very similar at the moment,' Jarno admits.
'But we will have a complete new aerodynamics package for the start of
the season in Australia. We have a new engine and a new gearbox and it
looks as though the guys have done a very good job.'
Flavio, the flamboyant team boss and countryman to Trulli, heralded
the stronger driver pairing of Jarno and Fernando - both
Briatore-protégés - over season 2002.
Briatore said: 'Last year Jenson and Jarno were great, but now it is a
bit better because they both spend time together.
'Jarno and Fernando speak together and it is great to have two drivers
like them. They give a lot of motivation to the team and that is what
Trulli added: 'We will get on very well, even during the season. This
is what we want because I never had a problem in the past.'
Points At Every Race For New Renault
The all-new Renault R23 is capable of finishing in the points at every
grand prix this year, one of its fathers has promised.
Mike Gascoyne, the blue and yellow contender's Technical Director,
said in Lucerne, Switzerland yesterday that drivers Jarno Trulli and
Fernando Alonso should be capable of finishing in the top eight at
'In 2002, when we were reliable, we saw that we generally finished in
the top six,' said Gascoyne as the outwardly similar R23 sat humbly in
an open-air marquee.
Renault, for its first season in full collaboration with the
ex-Benetton team based in Enstone, finished fourth last year amid
concerns of the need to improve reliability.
But with goals of podiums in 2003 and the world championship next year
firmly in sight, Renault will use the looming race year to try to live
up to the launch-mantra of 'Racing To New Heights'.
The contender, powered by the newly-revised 111-degree Renault V10
engine, will make its proper track debut at France's Circuit Paul
Ricard in southern France on Thursday, without cigarette branding.
Mike Gascoyne said that the new points system, awarding finishers down
to eighth place from 2003, will help Renault in particular.
He said: 'More points will be awarded now and that's good for us.
'Finishing in the top eight shouldn't be a problem, which means we
should be able to add to our total at each grand prix.'
Renault Sponsors Mild Seven Extend Deal
Japan Tobacco, through cigarette brand Mild Seven, will stay on the
Renault chargers until the advertising ban falls on Formula One in
Renault, the Enstone/Viry-based Formula One team, announced the news
as it launched a gleaming R23 contender at Lucerne, Switzerland,
According to reports, the deal is worth nearly $40 million a year for
the team eyeing a challenge to the big-three outfits in 2003.
'With our facilities at Viry-Chatillon and Enstone, we possess a sound
technical base,' said Renault boss Patrick Faure as the four-year Mild
Seven branding extension was announced.
Japan Tobacco is fighting a recent court ruling that cigarette-brand
descriptions including 'mild' and 'light' should be banned,
potentially affecting the F1 collaboration.
JT argues that it - and not other cigarette companies - is unfairly
singled out with the court ruling.
Faure continues in Switzerland: 'The extension of our partnership with
Mild Seven offers the perfect combination, providing us with both
long-term financial stability and a solid partnership.'
The newest Renault charger continues to represent the yellow of
Renault and predominant light blue of Mild Seven.
'The 2003 season will mark Mild Seven's tenth season in Formula One,'
stated Mr. Kimitsuna Kidachi, Vice President of Marketing for Japan
'Our numerous successes in this category have enabled us to improve
the international awareness of our company, and to become the second
world-wide brand in terms of sales.
'The renewal of our contract with the Renault F1 Team confirms our
ambition and our desire to once again win the World Championship.'
Flavio Briatore, Managing Director and Team Principal, added his
satisfaction with the agreement. 'I had the honor of competing under
the colors of Mild Seven when we won two World Championships with
Benetton in 1994 and 1995.'
In those days, Michael Schumacher steered the cool blue Benetton
machines, powered by Renault engines in 1995.
'I am delighted that we can count on the support of Mild Seven in the
coming seasons, and hope that numerous successes lie ahead.'
Renault: Friday Testing The Best Option
Flavio Briatore is convinced he has made the right decision to trade a
year of unlimited in-season testing for the Friday 'Heathrow' option.
Formula One commentators the world over were flabbergasted when
Renault, a major F1 manufacturer with the world championship in its
sights, opted to join struggling privateers Jordan and Minardi for the
FIA initiative to cut costs.
But Briatore insists that the Friday option, allowing teams to run
test-like two hour sessions - including spare cars and test drivers -
on every Friday morning of the grand prix weekends in 2003.
The catch? Renault, Jordan and Minardi will be restricted to just ten
days of in-season testing development away from the race circuits.
'I know lots of big teams did not consider the option, they thought it
was something that applied to just the smaller team,' said Renault
boss Flavio Briatore, an Italian.
'However, our budget is still the same - we will keep our test team
intact, but we will use the two hours on Friday mornings very
'I believe this is the right way for the future and I hope I'm right.'
He says Renault, with special new Friday tester Allan McNish, will be
free to test various specifications of Michelin tires, run three cars
and get first-hand setup experience of the F1 tracks.
The first Friday session will kick off at 8.45am on the Friday morning
of the Australian Grand Prix, in just six weeks.
'In the past I've heard engineers complain that track conditions are
different at races from tests, but this will give us the closest
possible conditions to those for the race.
'This isn't cost-cutting - I just hope the other teams do not copy
Renault finished fourth - behind the big three outfits - in the
constructors' chase last year; but Briatore insists that Friday
testing will not hinder the team's charge for ultimate success in
'Don't ask me about setting targets,' says the flamboyant boss. 'I
only know what I see on paper so far.'
He says the 111-degree V10 engine has made giant strides forward for
the New Year: 'Renault looks to have got its act together,' he said,
'but I don't know, I'm not an engine man.'
Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso, accompanied by Renault CEO Patrick
Faure, were on hand at Lucerne yesterday to unveil the all-new R23.
Fiery Start To Jordan's New Year
Giancarlo Fisichella got Jordan Ford's pre-season test program off to
a fiery start at a damp Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona yesterday.
The all-black, un-liveried challenger - powered by a new Cosworth
engine - did only a few installation laps in the morning before a fuel
leak caused an engine bay fire.
The team spent the next few hours repairing the car and after more
installation laps late in the afternoon, a frustrating gearbox problem
cut short the day's testing.
So despite completing only 15 laps of the Spanish circuit - and
setting no representative times in dry conditions - Jordan maintains
an 'overall feeling of confidence' in regard to the new car.
'We did a few installation laps this morning in the wet and just two
fairly gentle timed laps,' Giancarlo, the Roman and recent winner of
F1's Drivers Driver award, explained.
The Italian will resume his Grand Prix career at Albert Park this
March having turned 30 and embarking on season number seven.
He added: 'We had a problem quite early on which meant we couldn't run
until late this afternoon and I only got a couple of laps before a
problem with the gearbox stopped us again.'
'It's difficult to get a proper impression of the car on a day like
this,' says Fisichella, 'but I feel there's quite a good response from
the car and engine.
'Let's wait until later in the week to evaluate it properly.'
Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering, explains that
most of the day was lost repairing damage from the fire. 'Some of
these things shouldn't happen,' he said, 'but testing is like that and
you just have to accept it.'
The Irishman continued: 'I'm impressed with what the car's like and it
was good to get the testing program proper off the ground so we can
start addressing these little troubles.'
Testing continues at the Circuit de Catalunya today.
Pocock Joins Oastler As Jaguar Tech Boss
Jaguar Racing has appointed Ian Pocock, a Pi Research specialist, to
the role of Director of Engineering at the Formula One team.
The 44-year-old will join chief engineer Malcolm Oastler as they take
on the collective job of Technical Director.
That role has been unfilled for a whole season in the wake of Steve
Nichols' dismal R3 contender and subsequent firing.
Pocock will commence his role from 13th February 2003, and comes in
the wake of some 70 redundancies at the Milton-Keynes operation
including the sacking of the yet-replaced boss Niki Lauda.
Ian joins Jaguar from Pi Research - a Ford-owned subsidiary - where
his most recent role was Engineering Director. Ian took the lead role
on producing the latest generation of Pi's data viewing software
In 2000 he was responsible for the Ford World Rally Car electronics
program and was subsequently promoted to Engineering Director in
To fill the vacant technical director role, then, Ian will look after
all the management, administrative, personnel-related, financial,
budgetary, marketing and strategic aspects of the role, while Malcolm
will concentrate on the car.
'Ian's role will be focused on the way Jaguar Racing interlinks with
Ford Motor Company, with Cosworth Racing, with Pi Research and with
Michelin and so on,' explained David Pitchforth, Jaguar's Managing
'He will also take responsibility for operational as well as a
budgetary tasks while at the same time taking care of all the
managerial aspects of running the technical side of an F1 team.'
Malcolm Oastler, an Australian, was fired by BAR at the prime of their
own restructuring after overseeing the technical collaboration of the
first four Brackley challengers.
Jaguar hopes the appointment of Pocock will give Malcolm 'the freedom
to get involved at an in-depth level in whatever aspect of the car he
wants to get involved in at any given moment.'
A statement issued by the Leaping Cat further explains that their
novel Technical Director set-up will allow Oastler to focus on the R4
without being hampered 'by distractions.'
'If he had a traditional technical director's job description, there
is a risk that it would inevitably constrain him.'
Pitchforth adds: 'So if, say, he wants to get involved in an aero
issue, he'll be able to stroll over and see Ben Agathangelou [head of
aerodynamics, Jaguar Racing].
'If, say, he wants to get involved in a mechanical design issue, he'll
be able to stroll over and see Rob Taylor [head of vehicle design,
Jaguar Racing]; and the same applies to the other areas.'
Mark Gillan controls vehicle performance while Jaguar Racing confirms
that the new vehicle science department will get a chief soon.
Ian Pocock says: 'I am delighted to be joining Jaguar Racing for what
is a pivotal time in the company's development.
'I hope to eliminate, via the application of good engineering
practice, some of the more obvious mistakes that Formula One teams can
make. And, clearly, I also hope that we'll produce a good, reliable
'Now, I also hope it'll be a quick car - but, more than that, I hope
that the performance potential delivered by our aerodynamicists, plus
the Cosworth Racing and Michelin engineers, can be maximized in a
'And I want that process to improve throughout the year, and
throughout the team. And at the moment that process needs leadership,
and it'll be my job to provide it.'
26-year-old Mark Webber, from the presently bushfire-ravaged area just
outside Australia's capital of Canberra, will join Brazilian ace
Antonio Pizzonia at the wheel of Jaguar's new R4.
The R4 will be launched via internet later today.
Renault Threaten To Quit Formula One
Patrick Faure has warned that a proposed rule to extend the mandatory
life of a single Grand Prix engine to six races will spell the end of
The Renault F1 Chairman and CEO, speaking at yesterday's launch of the
all-new R23 in Switzerland, warned that Renault and its four
manufacturer cohorts - collectively known as GPWC - will leave F1 if
the rule gets the nod.
The regulation, in conjunction with other new rules for 2003 and
beyond including the re-banning of traction control and expensive
electronics, will not hit the sport for another three seasons.
But Renault, says Faure, will not stick around to see it implemented.
'The plan for an engine for six races is the end of Formula One,'
Faure warned at the Lucerne Culture and Convention Centre yesterday
FIA President Max Mosley's plan is to cut costs for the smaller
outfits by mandating the use of one V10 unit per car per weekend in
2004, and extending it to six race weekends by 2006.
But Faure says that Renault, BMW, Ford, Ferrari and Mercedes 'will not
stay in the championship with these kind of rules, clearly, none of
The GPWC, proposing to race in an alternative premier open-wheeler
world championship no later than 2008, issued a terse statement last
week slamming Mosley's proposed changes.
GPWC urged associated teams, including Williams, McLaren, Ferrari and
Jaguar Racing, to do all they can to reject the changes at the
Technical Working Group on Friday.
Faure added: 'What the communiqué of the GPWC is also saying is that
the way things have been announced is slightly aggressive and I do not
think it is a way to behave.'
The TWG, chaired by FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting and
represented by F1 Technical Directors, came to no discernable
conclusion on Friday and will meet again in London tomorrow
Despite Mosley's insistence to the contrary, our sources indicate that
the forum has the power to either ratify or reject the plan for
further grand prix reform.
'We are hoping to find some clarifications on when the measures are
going to be implemented,' Renault President Patrick Faure continues.
'There is still some need for discussion and refinement. The only
thing totally unacceptable for us is the engine for six races.
'The rest we can discuss.'
An FIA spokesman reiterated today that the TWG would meet this
afternoon in London, and a 'definitive position' would be taken by the
Paris-based authority as a result.
Like A House On Fire For New Sauber Duo
2003 Sauber pilots Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Nick Heidfeld get on like
a house on fire.
Not only do they share a home town with a complicated name in Germany
- Moenchengladbach - they speak the same language and are amongst
Formula One's highest-rated drivers.
Separated in age by eight years, though - and in Formula One
experience by six - Heinz describes a 'very special relationship'
between himself and Heidfeld as the former veteran returns to Sauber.
Frentzen debuted for the Hinwil-based, Swiss team in 1994 but headed
for a career at Williams, Jordan, Prost and Arrows in the interim
before returning for 2003.
'I have known Nick Heidfeld for quite a long time,' says Frentzen,
signed on a one-year contract to replace erratic Brazilian rookie
He adds: 'We are from the same home town in Germany, and I do regard
him as a 'youngster'. But he is not a new comer and has established
himself as a quick and reliable driver with a lot of experience.'
Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Nick Heidfeld have known each other since
'Quick Nick' was still setting the pace in go-karts.
'The fact that we are both from Germany gives a very special
relationship between him and myself,' says Heinz.
'Already I speak the same language than him - I do not see in him an
enemy but a competitor with talent. And that is really what you need
to make a good team, isn't it?'
Wilson Sets Sights On Regular Points
Justin Wilson has his sights set firmly on regular points finishes for
his looming, debut season at the pinnacle of motorsports.
The 24-year-old rookie, with a new Minardi contract in hand, thinks
the new world championship points system will help him fulfill an
ambition to grace the Drivers' standings in his first F1 year.
Wilson, standing at a problematic six foot three necessitating a
custom-built PS03 cockpit, says: 'Well, it's going to make a
difference isn't it?'
Unlike previous years, Minardi will have a real chance to score points
this year after the system was reformed in October to also reward
positions seventh and eighth with two and one points.
Rookie of the Year Mark Webber, lining up for Jaguar Racing this year,
scored Minardi's only points of 2002 with a incidental fifth place on
debut at his home Australian Grand Prix.
Wilson adds: 'But, from what we saw last year, Minardi finished in the
top eight several times and they would have scored points for those
'It'll be a case of chipping away and picking up some of those
finishes again this year.'
Justin, who brings some $5 million in finance to the Faenza seat, will
be powered by the same lauded Cosworth CR3 engine - in a customer-type
arrangement - that propelled Eddie Irvine to the Monza podium last
Wilson says: 'The Cosworth was reliable and powerful last year, which
is bound to help us be a lot more competitive.'
The Sheffield racer stares into the new racing season still fending
off his label as The Flying Giraffe - too tall for Formula One, in
some observers' eyes.
PS03, Minardi's latest racer that will probably get a track debut in
February, has been substantially modified to accommodate the same
lanky legs that failed safety requirements in the 2002 car.
Wilson, as a result, missed out on the Alex Yoong fill-in drive and
was gutted to observe Anthony Davidson as he made a Grand Prix debut
in his place.
'They've moved the pedals and the bulkhead,' Wilson explained, 'so as
to give me a bit more space without reducing the car's performance.
'It's a bit more than a simple sandpaper job but not a complete
'The team realised what they'd have to do if they were going to give
me the drive - but they reckon I was worth the extra work, which is
nice for me!'
Schumacher Only Third Best: Montoya
Michael Schumacher, five times world champion, is the third best
Formula One driver of all time.
That is the opinion of one of his closest track rivals, fiery
Colombian ace Juan Pablo Montoya, who still regards fellow South
American Ayrton Senna at the top of the greatest-ever list.
'He's probably in my top three with Jim Clark and Ayrton,' said
27-year-old Montoya who has found himself on the working end of
several on-track incidents with the German champion.
In 2001, the pair locked wheels at Interlagos and fell off the circuit
at the A1-Ring, before last year when a Malaysian incident saw Montoya
penalised and later branding Schumacher 'dishonest' after another
Montoya, from Bogota, thinks the late Ayrton Senna, killed at the
Formula One wheel in early 1994, would have soared to at least four
more crowns - and beaten Schumacher to his first back to back
Juan Pablo says: 'Just think about it. If Ayrton hadn't been killed he
would have won the world championship in '94, '95, '96 and '97, which
would make it seven titles. And then Michael would only be on three.'
Montoya's association with the Schumacher name doesn't end with
on-track spats with the 33-year-old from Kerpen, though.
A younger version - the introverted Williams star Ralf Schumacher at
27 years of age - is Juan Pablo Montoya's coveted team-mate, and the
pair share a reportedly icy (at best) relationship.
But JPM insists: 'He's fine, we're okay. We're not what you'd call
'We don't have much in common, to be honest. But he's okay. And
professionally we work well together in our meetings, openly, to
improve the car.'
Juan Pablo and Ralf line up for their third season together at Grove
this year, to steer the 'revolutionary' FW25 set for debut on the last
day of January.
Minardi Tester In Illegal Street Race
Formula One tester Sergey Zlobin found a novel - and illegal - way to
promote Russian motorsport in Moscow.
According to the RIA news agency, the occasional Minardi tester took
part in a Moscow street race but finished an embarrassing last.
The Russian occasionally tests a Minardi racer as part of a commercial
agreement with Gas Company Gazprom - a new major sponsor of the
After tests at Fiorano and Mugello, the Russian is still yet to clock
a time within less than multiple seconds a lap of his track rivals.
Zlobin insisted that his participation in the illegal street race was
to 'draw attention to the development of Russian motorsport.'
He says he finished last because he obeyed the law of the road,
stopping at traffic lights and slowing down for the police.
Early Monday morning, Zlobin stopped the clock on the illegal street
race at 25 minutes and 35 seconds - some nine minutes down on the
winner who was taken into police custody.
Zlobin told RIA that his defeat was down to 'the observance of the
rules of the road.'
He added: 'For me the main thing was not to win. The most important
thing is to draw attention to the development of Russian motor sport.'
Zlobin said he would take part in another race 'but not, under any
circumstances, in the city.'
Andersson To Japan: Leave Toyota F1 Alone
One of the more controversial judgments of season 2002 was Toyota's
corporate decision to sack both race drivers.
Allan McNish and Mika Salo, both having accompanied Toyota on their
world tour of testing tracks in 2001 before launching into Formula One
last year, were booted out of Cologne ahead of the New Year.
'Madness,' said one well-known F1 pundit. 'A conclusion made by
someone with little inside knowledge of this sport,' said another.
Toyota boss Ove Andersson, however, will readily admit that it was not
While he now incessantly defends the new pairing of Olivier Panis and
Cristiano Da Matta, he makes it clear that continuity is one key to
'There are so many rumors and so many discussions,' the Swede, taking
Toyota into its second full season in 2003, says. 'We have to realize
that Toyota Japan come with the money, and they own the company.
'They obviously tell us what we have to do. This is very clear. The
one that pays normally pulls the strings.'
Outwardly, the decision was not without justification. McNish, the
32-year-old Scottish rookie, was outqualified by Salo fifteen times
And Salo, who earned the wrath of his boss at the season-ending, home
Japanese Grand Prix in October, was often too negative for the
Anderson warns that Panis and Da Matta - the newly crowned CART
Champion - will get the same harsh assessments at the end of their
first year at Cologne, in Germany.
'Well, yes,' Andersson said.
He admits there is a chance that Panis and Da Matta will get similar
treatment, and run the risk of being fired, when the next October
Japanese Grand Prix comes about.
'That is clear, yes,' he adds.
Olivier Panis, the 36-year-old veteran with nine years of F1
experience, comes direct from BAR but with a valuable season of
testing with McLaren, in 2000, intact.
'He has a very clear technical understanding,' Andersson said. 'He
knows what he wants, and that is a big help for all the engineers to
have someone with that experience that understands the techniques.'
The Swedish boss, who relinquishes the role of Toyota President this
year but maintains the mantle as team principal, says that 29-year-old
rookie Da Matta may prove a challenge to his new team-mate.
He raced a Champcar last year and won seven races from seven pole
positions - a dominant display. 'In terms of driving it will be very
interesting to see,' Andersson said.
'I believe he can push Olivier, yes. Da Matta seems to be a fairly
laid-back young man. I think he will fit in well. I don't think he
will have any problems.'
But Andersson urges the check-writers in Japan to leave the driver
line-up - and the rest of the F1 structure - alone to stabilize.
'If you want a team to succeed long term you have to leave it to
stabilize,' he insists.
'You can't just keep changing, and changing and changing. You can see
that in Ferrari - stability is something that is needed.'
Briatore Warns: Bans Could Return Cheats
Flavio Briatore has warned that jumping into an immediate ban on
traction control runs the risk of returning cheats to Formula One.
Speaking at the Swiss launch of a new Renault R23, the Italian team
principal said it was unlikely the teams would agree to FIA President
Max Mosley's desire for a 2003 ban on all electronic driver aids.
'We don't want somebody cheating again because this is dangerous for
the sport and we need to be sure before we do anything,' the
flamboyant boss said, as his '03 drivers Trulli and Alonso posed for
photos with the R23.
Traction control was originally banned in the early Nineties but
reintroduced scarcely 18 months ago; the governing FIA seemingly
forced to admit the systems' impossibility to police.
Rumors at the time suggested that Ferrari were mimicking illegal
traction control by using the pit-lane speed limiter.
Briatore added: 'We are in a big sport and have a big responsibility
and I believe we need to have a referee who has the ability to police.
'If we can't do that in 2004 we will do it in 2005.
'If you have a rule, you must have the possibility to police the rule,
and we need to be very careful with the new regulations.'
The Technical Working Group, headed by team tech gurus, will meet
again tomorrow after a Friday meeting - billed at either ratifying or
diluting Mosley's new wave of reform - came to no conclusion.
Mosley admitted that an instant ban on electronic aids including
traction control, so close to the looming race season, might actually
drive up costs.
'We need to look very carefully at when we apply the new regulations
because a lot of time in Formula One anything you move costs much more
money, especially now, one month before the start of the season,' said
'I think we can do it in the middle of the season or in 2004 because
if you rush into it now the cost will explode again.'
FIA sources hint that, in accordance with their new zero tolerance
policy on electronic aids, heavy fines and $1 million rewards for
uncovering cheats will accompany the bans.
Our sources still insist that all applications to delay the banning of
traction control until 2004 may be rejected.
Last week, the Paris-based FIA asked two circulating test teams at the
Circuit de Catalunya to experiment by simply 'switching off' all fancy
electronic systems including traction control.
Traction control, a sophisticated system, limits wheel-spin by cutting
the engine spark.
An FIA source told us: 'BAR switched it off and it was relatively
easy. The other team [Toyota] also showed that it was possible to
switch it off before Melbourne, no problem.'
Tomorrow's TWG meeting in London has the mandate to ratify the
rules-changes for 2003, but only with a (virtually impossible)
Ferrari boss Jean Todt hints that a compromise solution is the most
McLaren Planning Melbourne Boycott?
According to swelling rumors in grand prix circles, former
championship-winning outfit McLaren are considering a boycott of the
Australian Grand Prix.
Furious and determined to reject a new wave of reforms aimed at
bridging the gap between pitlane's rich and poor and cutting costs,
Woking boss Ron Dennis has reportedly warned that Melbourne will be
off if the rules get the green light.
The rumor hit the floor running as the world's media converged at
Lucerne, Switzerland, for yesterday's official launch of the Renault
'There is talk of one of the teams boycotting the first race in
Melbourne,' an interviewer put to team principal Flavio Briatore, his
sparkling new challenger in the background.
'The rumor is that McLaren is not so happy about it,' confirms
Briatore, breaking into a smile. 'I am delighted! This is the best
news of today!'
Seriously, though, the ten remaining Formula One teams are acutely
split on the matter of cost savings.
Speculation has it that Dennis, refusing to comment after last
Wednesday's meeting with the ten team bosses, is incensed that new
rules will compromise the investment ploughed into a radical new
Amongst other things, FIA President Max Mosley proposes immediate bans
on electronic aids including launch and traction control, two way
telemetry, radios and automatic transmissions.
'A lot of people don't want to change anything,' says Briatore,
continuing. 'I've been in Formula One for 14 years and nothing's
changed. We can't make the rules ourselves.'
Briatore is willing to admit that the teams should not be left to
design the rules, thereby welcoming the FIA's move to reform.
He adds: 'It needs somebody to recognize that we are not in fantastic
shape, but some teams want to leave everything the same. You know we
are never unanimous.
'We can't agree anything in the meeting, we can't even agree what time
the meeting should be held!'
In the end, they did agree: Charlie Whiting will meet with technical
directors in London tomorrow afternoon where the FIA will take a
BMW Abandons GPWC Hostility To Reform
Formula One engine supplier BMW has split from the pessimistic policy
of GPWC to back FIA President Max Mosley's blueprint for reform.
With the BMW Group logo in full view, the GPWC Group slammed the
proposed FIA changes - including the re-banning of traction control
and the introduction of long-life engines - in a statement and urged
teams to reject them.
Also comprised of Mercedes, Fiat, Renault and Ford, GPWC threatens to
split from Formula One no later than 2008 to race in its own, more
equitable and liberal, world championship.
GPWC said it was 'dismayed' to note that their own cost-cutting
measures had been rejected by the FIA, and questioned the 'content'
and 'manner of implementation' of Mosley's Wednesday proposals.
Gerhard Berger and Dr Mario Theissen, however, have abandoned the GPWC
corporate line to support - with some secondary reservations - rules
changes including the abandonment of traction control.
'I have learned to respect the FIA's decisions,' said Berger, a former
driver for thirteen years, from Austria.
'As so often, I have two different viewpoints on this matter; the BMW
Motorsport Director's viewpoint and the former racing driver's.'
His own personal opinion, is this: 'It's all about making races more
exciting and to give the driver more influence on his car and to cut
'The new measures are aiming at this direction. Therefore, I have a
positive view on the decisions.'
With his BMW hat back on, though, the 43-year-old adds: 'On the other
hand, BMW are also competing for the world constructors' championship
in Formula One.
'BMW want to display their technological competence compared to the
competitors. The decisions restrict these possibilities, but are still
within an acceptable range.'
He joins the chorus of caution that implementing bans on expensive and
intricate electronic systems so close to the season-opener in
Australia in just six weeks, might only drive up costs.
Berger adds: 'I think, however, that some of the measures cannot be
realized with such little time left. In any case, now I'm even more
anxious to see the start of the season in Melbourne on March 9.'
Mario Theissen echoed his joint BMW Motorsport Director in saying:
'The time at which the decisions were taken, only a few weeks before
the start of the season, makes it doubtful whether all of them can be
implemented on time.'
Generally, though, he admits that the spectators ought to 'benefit
from the decisions.'
But he adds to Gerhard Berger's point that BMW will suffer a loss in
technological innovation, also through the phasing in of long-life
engines, through the reform plan.
'On the other hand,' he says, 'BMW is in Formula One to demonstrate
their technological competence in this world-wide motor sport
spectacle in all conceivable facets.
'From this point of view, the new rules lead to certain restrictions.'
He notes that, nonetheless, Max Mosley's plan gives BMW enough room to
show 'our technical know-how in the complex world of Formula One.'
The Technical Working Group is scheduled to meet in London tomorrow
afternoon to, once again, discuss and vote on the raft of reform.
Brief: Renault, Bell, The R4 And Minardi
Renault boss Flavio Briatore has admitted to testing Michelin's
revolutionary OPT suspension technology, but he says it won't debut
immediately on the R23.
Whilst committing to a new goal of beating Williams and McLaren to the
mantle as best Michelin-shod team, the Italian team boss let slip that
a variable camber suspension system is finding the pre-season testing
OPT uses special Michelin tires and movable camber to maintain optimum
contact with the tarmac at all times.
'We are testing something which is a little bit different,' the
Renault boss admitted at yesterday's Swiss launch, in Lucerne, of the
He adds: 'We are still testing it and I'm sure that you won't see
anything new until the middle of the season.'
Meanwhile, American ace Townsend Bell, of Champcar fame, will contest
the International F3000 Championship this year after sealing a deal
with title-winning squad Arden.
The 26-year-old will line up alongside Bjorn Wirdheim after losing his
CART seat last season at Patrick Racing to Oriol Servia.
Bell, the American, has signed a two-year deal and will hit the track
with testing duties at Imola in February.
He sees F3000 as his ticket into a grand prix car: 'Formula 3000 is
the obvious step to Formula One racing,' said Bell, 'and I am really
looking forward to racing on European circuits.
'This season will be a learning year as all the circuits will be new
to me but I am confident that with the new free practice format I will
be able to get up to speed quickly.'
Back at the pinnacle of motorsports, Jaguar Racing will become the
third Formula One team to launch its 2003 campaign and challenger
later today with a novel, first-ever internet event.
The all-new R4, to be steered by Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia this
year, was rolled out at the private Lommel test-track in Belgium on
Friday, where promotional video was shot for the online launch.
'Our decision to adopt a virtual launch is primarily driven by the
desire to give something back to the millions of fans around the
Jaguar Racing fired more than 70 personnel at the end of last year,
making a glitzy launch - like the 2000 extravaganza at Lord's Cricket
Ground - 'grossly insensitive' to the ousted workers.
The Milton-Keynes team is yet to name a replacement for fired team
boss Niki Lauda.
And finally, perennial F1 backmarkers Minardi are expected to return
to the test tracks for the Faenza debuts of Justin Wilson and Jos
Verstappen at Valencia next week.
Tipped to roll out a 2001-spec, PS01 chassis (Wilson doesn't fit in
the PS02), the former F3000 Champion will take the wheel on the 29th,
next Wednesday, before popular Dutchman Jos Verstappen gets his turn
Reports hint that the PS03 will be launched in the week leading up to
the season-opener in Melbourne; probably - like 2002 - on the very
streets of Paul Stoddart's home capital city in Australia.
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