Formula 1 News
Update Jan 7th 1997
Damon Hill has
been awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours List.
First to congratulate him was, typically, Murray
Walker. Hill himself seems to have avoided media attention.
If he actually says anything in the future about it we'll
The date has been set
for Team boss Frank Williams and employees Patrick
Head and Adrian Newey to stand trial for
Manslaughter over the death of driver Ayerton
Senna. They are to appear before a judge in Imola
on Feb 20th 1997. Roland Bruinseraede the race
director and an FIA official is to face the same
charges. They could face a maximum jail term of seven
years but the best legal advice according
to FIA President Max Mosley himself a
barrister suggested that they would be acquitted.
Whilst not ruling out a total ban on future
participation in FIA governed racing events in Italy
- if the Italian legal system regarding accidental
deaths during races was not clarified before the start
of the season on March 9th - Mosley said that
there may be difficulty persuading competitors
from outside Italy to participate.
President of the Formula 1 Constructors Association
said that he was hoping that the Italian Government
will look at their law and bring it into line with other
countries. It is not realistic to threaten a ban on
motor racing in Italy, but I doubt if any team would
want to go there and race knowing that they could end
up in the nick.
Williams Grand Prix
Engineering have yet to be allowed more than a
cursory glance at their car, still impounded in Italy,
yet have had to surrender all computer data and video recordings
they hold that are relevant to the crash, to the Italian
After his brief taste
of life in the fast lane, Nigel Mansell has
declined the opportunity of competing with Eddie
Jordans team for next season. After leaving the
Barcelona test session bubbling with enthusiasm, his
decision not to race may have been influenced by FOC
president Bernie Ecclestone who was quoted as
saying, Mansell in a Williams could have made a
nuisance of himself, but in any other car, he would
be really struggling. Mansells statement
predictably made no mention of this, instead he declared
that he could n0o longer devote the time necessary
for a formula 1 season, due to other commitments.
He declined to say that the Jordan car had no winning chances.
This probably means that Brundle will be Schumakers
teammate. A disappointed Eddie Jordan still
thinks that Mansell could still be a winner
and said that The door will always be open for
The appearance in the
frame of Giancarlo Fisichella, could soften
the blow for Jordan and add further to the
frustration of long suffering Martin Brundle who
is desperately holding on to the hope of taking back
his place in the team.
Oil giant Texaco
is to place £12 million in sponsorship money with ITV when
it commences coverage of the new season in March
1997. The deal is worth £4 million a year over the
next three years for coverage of at least 192 programmes including
qualifying and race updates.
Texaco is also part of
the package that is funding the new Jackie Stewart Grand
Prix team making its debut in 1997.
There was a ripple of
bad feeling amongst the contenders for the BBC
Sports Personality of the Year recently. Damon Hill
the winner for the second time in three years, was deemed
to be less worthy than 4 times Olympic Gold medal Rower Steve
Redgrave or championship Jockey Frankie Dettori.
Despite Hill himself personally endorsing Redgrave, Redgrave
himself was none to happy about being runner up. He
was after all only a rower. The BBC
ironically gave their award to a sport that they will
have little or no coverage of in 1997.
Black boxes will be
fitted to all Formula 1 cars next year. Similar to
the Flight Data Recorders fitted to all civil
aircraft, the system will provide information about
the performance and functioning of a car immediately
prior to an accident. Delco Electronics who designed
the box hope that it could prevent protracted
investigations like that of the Death of Ayrton Senna
almost three years ago and only now about to be
In a recent interview
with French magazine Auto Hebdo Tom
Walkinshaw, Boss of the revamped TWR/Arrows team,
predicted that Hill was capable of at least two Grand Prix
wins in the coming season. Despite high optimism for the
new chassis and Bridgestone tyres, as reported
in Speed earlier this year
the Yamaha V10 is an unproven power unit and
has been an extremely unreliable beast for Tyrell
over the last two years.
Damon Hill TWRs
prestigious signing, attempted to cool Walkinshaws
exuberance by saying that he wasnt going to go
out and win the first race but, we could be up
there fighting at the front occasionally.
After all the media
activity of Mansells showing at the winter testing in
Barcelona, Williams driver Jacques Villeneuve unsurprisingly
showed fastest times beating ex team mate Damon
Hills race time by seven tenth of a second.
This came in the wake of the grumbling by Villeneuve,
that the new version Renault RS9 was not appreciably quicker
than the old RS8. Williams new Wunder Kind Heinz
Harald Frentzen, unhappy with his laid back
driving position could do no better than 6th overall
behind the McLaren of Coulthard. With Irvine
in fourth in the Ferrari, second and third
places went to the hard working Benneton team, Berger
being half a second quicker than Jean Alesi.
News in Brief
producer Keith McKenzie has been pinched by ITV
to head the production of its newly acquired
Formula 1 coverage. With Marray Walker already
in the bag and the possibility of them using Fleetwood
Macs The Chain as their opening
theme it will be to all intents and purposes Grand
Prix with adverts.
will not be the nominated test circuit for Title holders
Team Williams next year. As required in the FIA rules,
teams have to nominate a single venue for testing throughout
the season. Barcelona will be used instead. It
is believed that it will be used as a bargaining
point in negotiations for the 1998 calendar. FIA will
drop this ruling in exchange for 20 races in 1998.
The teams have agreed to 18. Silverstone is
also to have a new sponsor in the Royal Automobile
Club for the nex three years.
As reported in Speed
last week, Lola, another new team for 1997 has
hired Italian Vincenzo Sospiri and Ricardo Rosset
drive for 97. The Sospiri contract plus options, is believed
to be for 4 years. Sospiri was F3000 champion in 1995
and was test driver at Benetton this year. Rosset, second
Arrows driver to Jos Verstappen in 96 is believed to
have been hired as part of Lolas contractual
obligation to Major Sponsors Master Card to
hire a Brazilian driver. The new car is scheduled for
unveiling on Feb 1st.
launches: The Arrows should be launched on 9
January at the Birmingham Motor Show. Both
Hill and Diniz will be on hand to pull off the sheet.
It is expected that it will be given a brief shakedown
at Silverstone the following day before being
exported somewhere more exotic for evaluation and
tweaking. Ferrari is scheduled for January 7. Sauber
will be launching in February as they are behind with
the design of the C16 due to late negotiations to use Ferrari
power. Until recently the team didn't know if they would
be carrying a V8 or V10. Engine type and weight has a
big effect on locating the car's center of gravity and
setting up the desired wheelbase.
will go to McLaren early in 1997. It is reported that
he will be earning more than current highest rolling
car designer, John Barnard. A figure in excess
of $3 million was mentioned.
much praised public relations officer for Team
Williams is obviously missing her favourite
boy Damon Hill. She is to take up a similar
position with Damons new bosses Tom Walkinshaw
Racing. She will be missed by Williams, providing as
she did, the very important link between the media,
team activities and personalities. This will no doubt
be influential in increasing Hills
comfort zone and to a
seamless integration into his new team.
has been signed to drive for the part Flavio Briatore
owned Ligier Mugen-Honda team. According to an
official press release, Minardi has announced
half of their driver lineup for 1997. Ukyo
Katayama is confirmed, but the 2nd driver is
still not being announced. Early reports that Tarso
Marques has the 2nd seat, seem premature. However,
with Fisichella, another possibility, looking through
the Jordan Window(see earlier story), Marques might
just get lucky.
Government are putting moves into action to ban
all tobacco advertising. This could put in serious jeopardy
the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal (not to mention
the Indy Cars series etc). Not only Players
the major Sponsors of the GP would be banned but all
teams currently sponsored by Tobacco money. It is
thought that merely covering up or
changing the lettering/colour schemes would not
satisfy the authorities.
president of the GP for Canada announced that there
is a clause in the contract with the FIA which states
that the said contract would be automatically void if
an anti-tobacco law is passed by the government, limiting
the advertising on F1 cars. He confirmed that the 1997
Montreal GP could be canceled.
announced on December 10, 1996 that it will issue 2
commemorative stamps to honour the late Gilles Villeneuve.
Artwork for one of the stamps, to be issued next June
12, 1997, was unveiled at the time of the announcement
at a function attended by Gilles' widow and mother.
The image shows a close-up of Gilles at the wheel of his
Provisional line up
for Cars and engines for 1997
Arrows FA17 Yamaha V10
Williams FW19 Renault
Ferrari V10 Goodyear
Benetton B197 Renault
Mercedes V10 Goodyear
Jordan 197 Peugeot V10
Ligier JS45 Mugen
Honda V10 Bridgestone
Petronas(Ford) V10 Goodyear
Tyrrell 024/5 Ford ED
V8 Bridgestone (?)
Minardi M196/7 Hart V8
Stewart 001? Ford
Zetec-R V10 Bridgestone
Lola 001? Ford ED V8
All news reported is,
as heard, read and seen by a bloke over the pit
wall and should be at least 50% correct! But things
change in Formula 1 with the speed of a Benetton pit stop.
Next week the tyres could be on the other wheel. Keep
watching these pages.
A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO