F1 Newsround - 02/Mar/1997   HomeContentsHelp










"I can assure all Australians that the race will go ahead on time, on schedule, and it will be one of Australia's greatest sporting events despite this vandalism."
Melbourne Race Chief Ron Walker.


















































"Testing has been a bit of a struggle. We haven't got any more time now so we just have to pick up our things and go to Australia and hope for the best."
Damon Hill on his hopes for Melbourne.








Melbourne Sabotage...Senna Trial to Continue...Arrows Frustration for Hill...

Oil crisis at Albert Park

(c)in part Associated Press 1997

MELBOURNE, Australia (Feb 27, 1997) Demonstrators opposed to the staging of next week's Australian Grand Prix auto race dumped diesel oil on the circuit overnight in an apparent bid to sabotage the event, race organizers said Friday. The slick, four metres wide in parts, stretched from Pit Straight to the southern boundary. The damage caused to the track by the fuel was still being assessed.

Police spokesman Senior Constable David Gamble said the fuel was spread by a fast-moving vehicle over around 500 meters of the track, including the start-finish area. Bruce Barrett, a Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade inspector, said fuel might have to be burned of the track if cleaning with chemicals doesn't work.

Victorian state Premier Jeff Kennett said the sabotage was "absolutely appalling. It's unforgivable "

The Grand Prix is scheduled to be contested on March 9 on the controversial Albert Park track, which is being used for the second time. Local groups have protested the use of the park for the season-opening race, citing trees being felled and a lack of access to the public park before and after the event. The Save Albert Park group, which has campaigned against the Grand Prix, denied any involvement with the sabotage. a spokeswoman said: "I'm dismayed because I think the lunatic fringe could let it rebound on us.

Race chief Ron Walker said: "I can assure all Australians that the race will go ahead on time, on schedule, and it will be one of Australia's greatest sporting events despite this vandalism."

Judge dismisses claim mistakes

(c)in part Associated Press1997

IMOLA, Italy (Feb 28, 1997) - 36-year-old Italian magistrate Antonio Costanzo has rejected the claim made by two of the defendants in the ‘Ayrton Senna’ trial, that mistakes were made in the process of obtaining evidence a week ago. The lawyers of Adrian Newey and Roland Bruynseraede stated last week that their clients were questioned without being told that they could be prosecuted. Newey's lawyer Luigi Stortini claimed that Newey had been interviewed by investigating magistrate Maurizio Passarini in September 1994 without knowing he was a possible suspect, and therefore without any legal aid. Both lawyers had demanded that the technical evidence, which is key to the prosecution case, be ruled inadmissible against their clients. He also claimed that Newey knew nothing of the charges against him until the end of last year, when they were officially levelled. Lawyers representing circuit inspector Bruynseraede, a member of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), also claimed that the Belgian knew nothing of the enquiries against him.

The judge, Antonio Costanzo, said the claims were unfounded. He also

disagreed with the claim that the trial should move to Bologna where Senna was declared dead. Costanzo adjourned the trial until March 5 when the prosecutors are to present their case.

Villeneuve says he ‘knows it all’

(c) 1997 Associated Press

LONDON (Feb 27, 1997 ) The 1997 Formula One season, which opens next week in Australia, is being billed as the most competitive in years. But there's little argument about the man to beat. It's Jacques Villeneuve, runner-up for the world title last year behind Williams-Renault teammate Damon Hill.

Hill has since joined the Arrows-Yamaha team, leaving Villeneuve as the No. 1 driver with Williams and the bookmakers' odds-on favorite for the championship.

Villeneuve, the 1995 Indy Car champion, was a Formula One rookie last season but still won four races. He was self-confident before he ever won a race and even more so now. "I know everything now, there is nothing for me to learn," he said. "I just have to adapt a bit and improve what I've learned so far. ... Knowing the tracks will help a lot.

"The first few races, starting in Australia, are the most important. If you can put points in the bag and have a lead, then you can have a race strategy and play on that lead."

Bridgestone supports five teams for 1997

(c) 1997 Agence France-Presse

TOKYO (Feb 25, 1997 EST) - Bridgestone has added former world champion Alain Prost's new team to its growing list of clients including reigning champion Damon Hill. The top Japanese tyre maker said Tuesday it would supply five out of the 12 F1 teams, breaking the tyre monopoly held by Goodyear of the United States for five years since Italy's Pirelli pulled out.

Prost-Mugen-Honda, Arrows-Yamaha, Minardi-Hart, Steward-Ford and Lola-Ford machines will be supplied with Bridgestone tyres.

"We hope you will see Bridgestone's F1 tyre at its best, giving full play to the know-how the company has reaped through motorsport activities at home and abroad," the company said in a statement.

Bridgestone began development of F1 tyres in 1989 and has been testing them since June last year with Tom Walkinshaw's racing team.

Bridgestone supplied cars have won 10 out of the 16 IndyCar CART series while sweeping Japan's F3000 "Formula Nippon" races last year.

Arrows continues to frustrate Hill

(SILVERSTONE UK Feb 26th 1997)- Damon Hill drove a final test with the Arrows on the Silverstone circuit today. Frustrated by continued technical problems and more than a little depressed, he said: "Testing has been a bit of a struggle. We haven't got any more time now so we just have to pick up our things and go to Australia and hope for the best."

Arrows team boss Tom Walkinshaw is however, expecting Hill to be competitive by the end of the season. Hill commented: "We will be fighting to get on the podium, but that would be an extremely good result for us. There is every opportunity for us to do extremely well, but I am under no illusion. I had an enormous level of success last year. This time, I will be stepping backwards in order to go forward again."

Michael Schumacher showed himself not very optimistic: "I would not bet any money on myself. We have not made as big a step forward as I had hoped."

Final list of drivers for 1997 F1 season

Williams-Renault Jacques Villeneuve (Can), Heinz-Harald Frentzen (G).

Ferrari Michael Schumacher (G), Eddie Irvine (UK).

Benetton-Renault Jean Alesi (Fr) , Gerhard Berger (Au).

McLaren-Mercedes Mika Hakkinen (Fin), David Coulthard (UK).

Jordan-Peugeot Ralf Schumacher (G) , Giancarlo Fisichella (It).

Prost Olivier Panis (Fr). Shinji Nakano (Jap).

Arrows-Yahama Damon Hill (UK), Pedro Diniz (Br).

Red Bull Sauber Johnny Herbert (UK), Nicola Larini (It).

Tyrell Ford Jos Verstappen (Neth), Mika Salo (Fin).

Minardi Ukyo Katayama (Jap), Jarno Trulli (It).

Stewart Ford Rubens Barrichello (Br) , Jan Magnussen (Den).

MasterCard Lola Ricardo Rosset (Br) , Vincenzo Sospiri (It).


Interview with Frederic Saint-Geours Deputy Managing-Director, Automobiles Peugeot

Before we talk about the 1997 Formula 1 season which is afoot to begin can we have a quick look back at last year? What was it that didn't work out in the alliance between Jordan and Peugeot?

"Jordan invested a lot in machinery, staff, organisation and new techniques. This was essential to raise the team to a new level in F 1, But it happened too late in the season. The first results of that work were only really seen in the preparation work for the 1997 car. We nonetheless succeeded in doing the essential things in 1996, in the normal development process in the course of the season. We made progress with the car out not as quickly as the opposition was able to do, which was a reflection of our partial lack of means with which to do it."


Is that the result of mistakes of the young Jordan- team and a lack of experience in F1?

"I do not think that it is a lack of experience We are engine suppliers and in that role we are not in complete control of all the elements involved. Our engine was competitive and reliable from practically the Beginning of the season From the Jordan point of view putting in place the things necessary to improve took longer than expected. You can't talk about youthful errors Because both Jordan and Peugeot had looked in depth at the problems we encountered the previous season so as not to make the same mistakes again."


From a technical point of view, your highly successful efforts to make the engine perform reliably went unnoticed?

"It was quite frustrating, that's for sure. From the statistics we can say that the performance of our engine was up there with the best in terms of horsepower and the delivery of that power. We had some small problems a the beginning of the year and we took the immediate decision not to introduce development parts and new engine specs without being absolutely sure that they would be completely reliable, even if this was detrimental to the ultimate leveI of performance. We needed to test to make sure that the engines finished the race without problems. This policy was successful but it was frustrating that the effort was not translated into more flattering results."


When one invests so much - both in human and financial terms - how does one react when the resulIts do not reflect the work that has been done and one seess the season slipping away without hope of improvement?

"We wanted to learn as much as possible from the situation in which we found ourselves and use that information to make sure that we were wellprepared for the 1997 season. And so in June we started to apply ourselves to ensuring that our new engine and the car Jordan was preparing for 1997 would be successful. We have done a great deal of testing work in preparation for the start of the new season in the knowledge that this year we will me able - with Jordan to develop the car much more successfully than we were able to do last season know the areas in which our engine can and is going to develop in the course of the year. We had to ask ourselves the question about what we were going to do beyond the end of 1997. This reflection was undertaken during last summer and produced several different possibilities. Everyone now knows what we decided to do concerning Alain Prost.


When you were preparing for 1997 what were your technical demands?

"Working with, Jordan we conducted an in depth analysis of he problem which held us back in 1996 and looked at ways to correct them. Everyone knows that the Jordan suffered from a serious lack of grip in 1996. As the engine supplier, we did what we could to remedy that problem. We have reduced the weight of the engine and significantly lowered the centre of gravity of the engine. That was something Jordan particularly asked for."


It was a completely new engine then?

"In fact the engine has been in our planning for a long time and is a logical development which we decided on a long time ago. In 1996 we gave up some development in order to make our engine more reliable because we felt that it was performing well enough. The new engine has been on the cards for a long time and we adapted the designs to the specific needs of Jordan."


Moving on to Peugeot Sport s decision to work with ALain Prost, would you be staying in Formula 1 without that agreement?

"Monsieur Calvet (the President of Peugeot) has Been very clear on this. When we studied the various options the Balance swung towards a decision to withdraw from Formula 1 in 1998. This was because of economic reasons, as the European car market is very unstable and a price war is intensifying. The programme which Alain Frost proposed to us was sufficiently interesting to make us decide to enter into a three-year partnership with his team."


Rather than pulling out of F1 are you row studying the possibility of supplying two teams? Do you have the technical means and The staffing levels necessary to do that?

"In the contract that we had with Jordan this was not excluded for 1997 although we had to warn them about it in June 1996. At that point we told them that we were going to continue on an exclusive basis. For 1998 we have an exclusive deal with Alain Prost although if we reach an agreement to continue the relationship with Jordan we will be able to do it. Whatever the outcome, if we want to supply our engine to two teams next year it can only be to Prost and to Jordan. If a decision is taken to do this, it will be no later than June 1997 as this would create technical, financial and logistical problems which are currently not sorted out. This option will only happen if Jordan makes an exceptional start to the season in terms of performance and results ."


This situation reflects the powerful new position which F1 engine manufacturers now have because they are fewer of them?

''In spite of this relative engine shortage, our reflections last summer highlighted the fact that an F1 engine-maker is only a supplier and not in the spotlight. One of the things which convinced us to make an alliance with Alain was that we are going to be partners. We will have the chance to have more say than in a traditional relationship. We are one of a group of partners and these partners are talking of a shared project."


What about Jordan's choice of drivers. it doesn't seem like you have been able to impose what you wanted Why was that?

"In our contract with the Jordan team it was always forseen that Eddie Jordan would be the one who made the decisions about drivers. From a personal point of view I would have liked to have seen Damon Hill in a Jordan-Peugeot. We are sure that in 1997 Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher will show that they are right up there among the rising stars in F1."


Paris, February 26 1997

(MARANELLO 26th February 1997)- Today, Ferrari shook down the three cars which they will use in the Australian Grand Prix, at the Fiorano circuit Michael Schumacher covered a total of 34 laps: 11 with the Eddie Irvine’s F 310 B time with his car and 16 with the spare car. Schumacher also did 5 practice pit stops. He following day however he said without optimism: "I would not bet any money on myself. We have not made as big a step forward as I had hoped."

Jackie Stewart worries about new career move

Bravado and optimism continue from all the teams, unabated. On the eve of the opening race of the season, three times world champion Jackie Stewart said, "This is the most important race of my career. From a team point of view the logistics of having our first ever Grand Prix in Melbourne increases the challenge. Melbourne is as far away from our Milton Keynes base as we could possibly be asked to travel. It will be one of the most important times in the Stewart family’s life.

Jan Magnussen in his first full season faces his own challenge: Learning the circuits. The 23 year old Dane will be hoping for some first hand tips from Brazilian team mate Rubens Barichello. " It looks and feels like a normal circuit," says Barichello, "not like a street circuit at all. This year I hope to give Stewart-Ford a flying start to the 1997 World Championnship campaign!" For Rubens, Melbourne is particularly special as he will be coming to the Grand Prix fresh from his honeymoon with new bride Silvana.

Both Ford and Cosworth have carried out an intensive development programme during the Autumn months. Martin Walker director of Ford’s European Motorsport division says: We have significantly improved both the peak power and the width of the power curve of the Zetec-R V10.This new evolution has already proved successful at the car’s first serious test in Jerez, with both drivers achieving competitive lap times."

Silverstone expands TV coverage for 1997 British Grand Prix

Silverstone TV, the innovative broadcasting initiative launched last year by Silverstone Circuits Limited, will double the number of events it covers for 1997. As part of a 500,000 investment programme designed to make the action on the track more accessible to spectators, coverage of six of this year's events will be transmitted live around 800 acre site and also via giant screens and close-circuit televisions at the famous Northamptonshire circuit.

Special permission had to be sought from the Broadcasting Authority in order to obtain the necessary licence for on site transmission where it will be possible to receive the signal anywhere within the boundaries of the circuit.

Silverstone TV will provide a unique service to racing fans, offering a total of 96 broadcast hours over the course of the six events. The content of the transmissions will be a combination of race footage (both live and recorded) and news updates (such as qualifying results, grid positions etc.), together with all the essential information that any race enthusiast requires, such as weather forecasts, timetables of the day's events, interviews and even betting tips.

Broadcasting a minimum of 10 hours of live programming during each race day, Silverstone TV will have up to eight cameras around the track and two additional for studio and roving action, offering coverage of the highest quality. Spectators will be encouraged to bring portable TV sets to race meetings and two giant screens will ensure that everyone has access to the service. During the RAC British Grand Prix meeting, there will be no less than 7 such screens around the historic 3.196 mile circuit, bringing coverage to every spectator at the track.

Responsibility for the quality of Silverstone TV'S output, lies with newly-appointed production company BHP. Marie Nicholson, Managing Director of BHP, boasts that both the sound and image will be of broadcast quality. "BHP are delighted to be involved with such a pioneering venture," she enthused. "It is a very exciting opportunity to be able to transmit images as they happen, keeping the crowd up to date with the latest news around the circuit."

Silverstone TV will operate in conjunction with the excellent service

already offered by Silverstone Radio on MW 1602 (FM 87.7 during the Grand Prix meeting and the Coys International Historic Festival) and will maintain close links with both the public address system and the commentators at the circuit.

Chris Richardson

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