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Formula One

News Update - 11/Feb/1997



The Tyrell team completed three days of trouble-free testing today (Friday) with its 1997 Formula 1 challenger - the 200 mph Tyrrell Ford 025 - at Spain’s Grand Prix circuit near Barcelona. Summarizing the 025’s first dry-weather test, Harvey Postlethwaite Director of engineering, commented, " we are very pleased with the progress of the new car. It has a good handling balance, all three drivers like it and report that the Ford engine feels very robust The reliability has been excellent and we are all very encouraged by the potential the 025 is displaying."

Tyrell 's new recruit for 1997, Dutchmen Jos Verstappen covered 24 laps on Wednesday morning running on wet tyres and a further 33 laps on slick tyres in the afternoon. It was the first time the car had run on slicks and the team used Goodyear C compound tyres throughout the three days. Jos recorded a best time of 1 min 25.4 sec during a programme of reliability tests.

On Thursday morning Jos ran Briefly on new tyres and recorded a fastest lap time of 1 min 22.6 sec. He then completed two 15 lap stints, making some set-up adjustments to reduce understeer after the first stint and finished the programme trouble-free except for a small Oil Pipe leak as he completed the 30th lap.

Verstappen commented, "On Wednesday in the morning, it was wet, so we started running on treaded tyres and everything went really good, with no mechanical problems but the circuit lacked grip because there wasn't much rubber on the surface. For Thursday we Began with some runs on fresh tyres and then did some longer runs until an oil pipe suffered a minor break. I now feel comfortable in the car though my thigh still rubs on the steering wheel when I‘m braking. We tried the new master cylinder and I preferred the feel of the brakes with that system. The Ford engine feels strong. I was delighted with the way the tests have gone."

Much of Tyrell's intense testing programme in 1997 will be undertaken by Japan's most talented rising star 22 year old Toranosuke Takagi and he was the second driver to sample the 025 in Spain. During Thursday's lunch-break, the cracked oil pipe was replaced and the 025's seat and pedals were changed to accommodate the Japanese driver. "He enjoyed his first outing in a Formula 1 car in dry weather with slick tyres and covered 29 laps during the afternoon without incident " reported team manager Steve Neilsen. His best lap time was a highly promising 1 min 24.9 sec on a circuit he had only seen for the first time on Wednesday and overall he did a very professional job."

Takagi enthused: "I was happy with my first real outing in a Formula 1 car and I want to thank the team for making me feel part of the 'family' so quickly. I look forward to testing the 025 again next week at Jerez.'

On Friday it was the turn of race driver Mika Salo to take the wheel but because of early morning fog serious testing didn't get underway until 11.30. The 30-year old Finn completed a total of 5 laps during a simulated race-distance run of three 18 lap stints. The car again ran faultlessly and Mika's fastest lap time was 1 min 23.3sec "It was my first dry run in an F1 car since Suzuka so it took a few laps to got adjusted to the grip and pace. Certainly the new car has better traction and less understeer than the '96 car The 025 is a big improvement and felt very Good while the engine has good power and the whole car responds very nicely to the driver ."

Final assembly of the team's second Tyrrell Ford 025 car is being completed at it's Ockham headquarters this weekend and the car will be transported to Jerez in time for Both Salo and Verstappen to run simultaneously on Thursday 6th February.



Driving one of the 1996 Ferrari F310’s fitted with electronics and hydraulic components from the new F310B, Eddie Irvine established a new lap record for the team's Fiorano test track with a fastest lap of 59.77sec on Thursday, the first time the one minute barrier has been broken. Both Irvine and Michael Schumacher are expected to test there again on Sunday before going to Estoril with two F310Bs from 6-12 February. The team expects to have more 'Step 2' versions of its V10 engine available in Portugal than 'Step 1' units.

Michael Schumacher in the new Ferrari


The first of the new McLaren-Mercedes MP4/12s has been back at the team's Woking headquarters this week being rebuilt and prepared for its continued test programme which is due to start next Monday at Estoril. A team spokesman described the first run at Jerez as "very encouraging" and McLaren is now working to complete a second MP4/12 chassis for the official launch of the new West sponsorship livery which will take place at London's Alexandra Palace on Feb 13th.



The new Minardi M197 will be unveiled Tuesday (4th) at Monza after which the new car will be tested at Mugello before drivers Ukyo Katayama and Jarno Trulli move to Estoril, then back to Mugello for the final two tests before the cars are shipped to Australia. The car is powered by the Hart type 830 V8 engine which is now running on Magneti Marelli electronics rather than the TAG system when used by the Arrows team last season.



Pedro Diniz had his first taste of Arrows A18 motoring last Saturday when he completed about ten runs at the Santa Pod drag strip in Northamptonshire in order to shakedown his car. It all went to plan and he then sampled 22 laps of Silverstone on Monday.

"Obviously the conditions were far from good," he said, "but I felt that the Yamaha V10 engine had more power than I expected. But as far as driveability is concerned, the power and torque bands are quite narrow, but we are working on it." Diniz did a fastest lap of 1m 37s, while Damon Hill managed 12 laps on a wet track at Silverstone on Wednesday and suffered hydraulic problems, although the electronic problems which hampered his progress at Jerez seemed to have been rectified. The Arrows team is scheduled to test at Barcelona from 7-9th Feb.



Stewart Grand Prix is aiming to resume its test programme on 6 February at Estoril. Rubens Barrichello, who has been in Brazil recently, is expected to return to England this weekend.



Following it’s unveiling to the media in London last week, the Jordan-Peugeot 197 made its debut at Silverstone today 3rd Feb.

On an icy winter day with freezing track temperatures, the 1997 car, with Ralf Schumacher at the wheel, completed 28 trouble free laps in a best time of 46.08 on the National part of the circuit. The team now goes to Jerez for a four day test. Schumacher will test from Friday 7th to Sunday 9th and Giancarlo Fisichella is due to run on Monday 10th.

Eddie Jordan, Managing Director of the Jordan Team, watched the car’s first run. "It’s fantastic to see the car in action-it looks quite stunning!" he exclaimed. " We have great hopes that this is the car which will take the team to the top rungs of the Formula One ladder." Technical Director Gary Anderson added, "The day ran very smoothly with no hiccups. The team is now very much looking forward to testing the car in sunnier climbs in Spain and Portugal."



Following a unanimous request from the teams competing in the 1997 Formula One World Championships, (in which the teams had to designate the circuit on which they wished to test during the following year), the FIA has modified the offending Article 68d of the F1 Sporting Regulations to read as follows: "... no testing is permitted on any circuit which has hosted, or will host, an event during the championship year other than those hosting the British, French, Italian and Spanish Grands Prix. This represents a significant victory for the teams collectively and could save millions of dollars a year in unnecessary travel and transport costs.



1 February 1997: Canadian Jacques Villeneuve tested the new Rothmans Williams Renault FWl9 Formula One car for the first time in Barcelona, Spain on Saturday 1 February, just over 24 hours after the car was launched in England.

The new car arrived in Barcelona at lunchtime after a 24-hour drive by race transporter, via the Channel Tunnel, and Villeneuve finally gave the new car its very first outing at 1710hrs Spanish time. As the mist and darkness descended Villeneuve completed seven more laps of the 2.937 mile (4.727km) Circuit de Catalunya, which will host the Spanish Grand Prix later in the year.

Villeneuve gave the 'thumbs up' as he jumped out of the cockpit of the new car and he will start serious testing tomorrow (2nd) and on Monday. His new team-mate, German Heinz-Harald Frentzen, will test the new car for the first time on Tuesday.



2 February 1997: Jacques Villeneuve completed 72 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, testing the new Rothmans Williams Renault FWl9. The Canadian driver's fastest lap was set in one minute 18.8 seconds, and he was pleased with the progress of the new car that had only been run for the very first time the previous day.

"We are pleased with the first day of proper testing and the car was quick and produced plenty of grip, " explained Villeneuve. "The steering was a bit heavy and I was sliding about a bit in the car and so there is some work to do on the seat. "

Villeneuve is expected to continue testing for the next two days.

 Jaques Villeneuve in the new Williams FW19


3 February 1997: Testing at Barcelona was delayed until after lunch due to drizzle at the Circuit de Catalunya Villeneuve hoped to continue testing the FWl9 during the afternoon and on Tuesday.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen will test the FWl9 for the first time at Jerez in Spain on Thursday.



The FW19

Technical Specification Engine: Renault V10, RS9, 3 litre normally-aspirated Management System: Magneti Marelli

Transmission: Six-speed Williams transverse semi-automatic

Clutch: AP

Chassis: Carbon Aramid epoxy composite, manufactured by Williams

Suspension: Williams. Torsion bar front, Helical coil rear with Williams-Penske dampers

Steering: Williams

Cooling System: Two Secan water radiators, two IMI oil radiators either side of the chassis

Brakes: Carbone Industrie discs and pads operated by AP calipers

Lubricants: Castrol

Fuel: Elf

Wheels: Oz; 13 x 11.5 front, 13 x 13.7 rear

Tyres: Goodyear Eagle radials

Spark Plugs: Champion

Cockpit Instrumentation: Williams digital data display

Seat Belts: Six-point Willans

Steering Wheel: Personal

Driver's seat: Anatomically formed in carbon/epoxy composite material with suede covering

Extinguisher Systems: Williams, with Metron actuators and FM 100 extinguishants

Paint System: DuPont CENTARI*

Front Track: 1670 millimetres ,

Rear Track: 1600 millimetres

Wheelbase: 2890 millimetres

Weight: 605kg including driver and camera weight

Overall car length: 4150 millimetres



Technical Specification: 10 cylinders in V configuration 71degrees

Length: 623mm

Width: 542mm

Height to cylinder heads: 395mm Weight: approximately 121kg depending on equipment

Materials: Cylinder heads in aluminium, cylinder block, oil sump and timing cover in thin aluminium

Valves: Pneumatically controlled Magneti Marelli electronic engine management and static ignition



The final grand prix of the 17 race season will be held at Estoril in Portugal on 26 October. TheFIA announced last week that the Automovel Club de Portugal has guaranteed that the required improvements at the Estoril circuit will be ready for inspection by 31 August. The Jerez circuit in Spain was standing by to take over if Estoril could not guarantee the work would be carried out. While Estoril was confirmed, Magny-Cours, the venue for the French Grand Prix, has until 30 April to find a solution with the French authorities with regard to fulfilling the terms of their contract. The organisers are confident that the problems will be overcome.



Twenty-two-year-old Italian Jarno Trulli completed the 1997 drivers' line-up when he joined Japanese driver Ukyo Katayama at Minardi. Trulli won the German Formula Three Championship last year and has also tested for Benetton.

Another Italian, 29-year-old Gianni Morbidelli, has been signed by Ferrari as their test driver. The former Arrows driver was the Ferrari test driver between 1989-1991. He finished sixth in the 1991 Australian Grand Prix, when he replaced Alain Prost in the Ferrari team.



British driver Martin Brundle has swapped his crash helmet for the commentary box this season. Thirty-seven-year-old Brundle was hoping to retain his seat in the Jordan Peugeot team this season, but was replaced by 23-year-old Italian Giancarlo Fisichella. Brundle will now join the legendary Murray Walker in the television commentary box to broadcast to most English-speaking countries.

Brundle has also become a director of Arrows and will contest this year's Le Mans 24-hour event as the main driver for the TWR Nissan team.



More spectacle, more speed, greater safety and a more attractive venue - that's the four-way promise of the 'new' Grand Prix circuit recently completed at Silverstone. World Champion Damon Hill and Formula 1 ace Martin Brundle played a key role in devising major changes to the beginning of the lap at Copse Corner and the four-corner Complex at the end. Together with the resurfacing of the entire course, circuit owner the British Racing Drivers' Club is confident it has restored the 'high speed flow' to Silverstone.

As well as being longer -- 3.196 miles /5.143 km - and faster (according to computer predictions by leading F1 teams) the new circuit should provide more excitement for spectators and a tougher, more rewarding challenge for drivers. BRDC Director Martin Brundle commented: "I'm hoping that when drivers first tackle the new circuit they'll feel breathless because it's going to be very fast and challenging, with almost no let up during the lap. But it will also be very safe, particularly for the spectators and the track marshals, and I think drivers will once again look forward to the whole lap, not just isolated good bits.


"Some of the changes post-1994 were excellent and we wanted to keep them. The Abbey chicane created a whole new spectating and overtaking area, a very technical section and plenty fast enough. Clearly the new Becketts sequence is also one of the great complexes of the world in an F1 car. The new Club Corner worked fine, creating potential overtaking opportunities. Last year we speeded up Stowe nicely and that worked really well.

"Some things we didn't like. The exit from the fabulous Bridge Corner was the braking area for Priory -- that just ended up wrong. There wasn't much pleasure in tackling Copse and you ouldn't attack the final Priory, Brooklands Luffield Complex because it didn't reward an aggressive approach.

"An F1 car is a thoroughbred and you want to let the thing have its head all the way round the track. We wanted to speed up the final section, so we've opened the Complex, lengthening it a bit and putting a little banking into the track in an attempt to make the cars work well, so they can keep in close formation for the rush to the finishing line," added Brundle.

"Now, you won't have to stand on the brakes as you exit Bridge and those last four corners should be taken one gear higher. The first corner, Copse, should be pretty quick and you'll approach Becketts much faster, making that three corner sequence even more of a challenge. We hope we have achieved a lap where drivers will be looking forward to the little left hander at Club for some respite..." concluded Brundle.

Construction work to create what is hoped will be, a faster, safer Grand Prix track for 1997, began on 11 November and was completed by 22 December, but prior to that the BRDC's 'circuit redesign sub-committee' had been hard at Work for almost 18 months. The sub-committee -- BRDC directors Howden Ganley, John Fitzpatrick and Brundle -- consulted Damon Hill and Construction work to create what is hoped will be, a faster, safer Grand Prix track for 1997, began on 11 November and was completed by 22 December, but prior to that the BRDC's 'circuit redesign sub-committee' had been hard at Work for almost 18 months. The sub-committee -- BRDC directors Howden Ganley, John Fitzpatrick and Brundle -- consulted Damon Hill and leading drivers from several other formulae before devising the final plans which were submitted to the FIA for approval in mid-1996.

"During the redesign process we became aware that some sections of the existing track were in need of resurfacing and the decision was taken to resurface the entire circuit, to tie in with work required at the modified corners. "There have also been criticisms of the amount of redundant tarmac at Silverstone, a legacy of many track layout alterations over the years. All these old pieces of roadway have been excavated and those areas will be grassed over -- enhancing the appearance of the circuit. For 1997, what you see is what you race on!

Map of Silverstone, Graphic by Russell Lewis, courtesy of Silverstone Circuits Ltd.

"Throughout this project, we haven't forgotten the spectators. The faster, more spectacular circuit will provide a better show and the view will also be much better. Many of the track-side embankments have been raised and new grandstands at Becketts and Abbey are being constructed, so we expect the '97 season to be our best ever at Silverstone," declared Ganley.

Chris Richardson

 1996 onwards. Speed and its contents may not be reproduced without written permission from the editorial team.