F1 Newsround - 21/Apr/1997   HomeContentsHelp



Argentina Fined...Schumacher Happy...Jordan and Arrows Testing...Lola Out For Good...


$10,000 fine for Argentinian organisers


The stewards committee for the Argentinian Grand Prix has decided to inflict a fine of $10,000 on the event organisers, when the red flag was shown instead of the yellow flag at post 2 signifying that the race has been interrupted due to an accident involving Rubens Barichello, Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard at the first bend.



Schumacher runs through the first corner incident in Argentina


"After a good start I found myself behind Frentzen with oil over my visor which made it difficult to see. I had a coming together with Barrichello at the first corner, ending up nose to nose with his car which was still accelerating. This made the situation worse and that was the end of my race. When I saw a red flag I ran back to the pits as I thought I could start again the race with the spare car. As I got back to the garage I realised that the race had not been stopped. I am very happy for Eddie who did a great job of picking up points for the team. I am optimistic about the San Marino race."


Irish flag causes concern for Irvine


There was some confusion as to the colour of the flag that was raised above Eddie Irvine when he took the second step of the podium in Buenos Aires. Eddie from Ulster in Northern Ireland had asked the FIA to raise a neutral flag, perhaps white and showing a shamrock. The FIA allegedly agreed but raised instead the Tricolour, the national flag of the Irish Republic. Had regulations strictly been adhered to, the Union Jack of Great Britain and Northern Ireland should in fact have been raised. Should Irvine ever get to the top step of the podium and the decision is taken to fly the Tricolour again then we could also be greeted with the strains of 'Oh Danny boy' or 'When Irish eyes are smiling'.


John Barnard set to deal with TWR


Maranello: Thursday April 17, 1997

As reported in Speed Motorsport News earlier, former designer for the Scuderia Ferrari Team, John Barnard, has finally signed a deal with bosses at Maranello to take over FDD, Ferrari Design & Development, the Guildford company they had build up over a five year period together, in UK. In a statement issued by Ferrari last week a spokesman said "A final agreement has been signed yesterday between Ferrari and John Barnard to conclude the arrangements for the transfer of its English facilities." The company will now be called B3 Technologies Ltd. The statement concluded, "The facility will continue to operate, totally autonomously in respect of Ferrari, in the field of specialist design and manufacture." 50 year old Barnard who was reluctant to leave England to work full time in Italy, is said to have paid Ferrari 800,000 and it is not thought that he will be involved in any future development with the team.

Before Barnard's bed gets too cold, it is expected that a fresh deal with Tom Walkinshaws TWR team is in the offing, whereby the Leafield company will pay Barnard a design fee of 3 million for development of the 1998 Arrows chassis. Barnard's inovative design approach is said to be a key factor in retaining the services of current driver and World Champion Damon Hill. His introduction of the semi-automatic gearbox to Ferrari in the late 1980s was adopted by all the teams until FIA rule changes outlawed 'driver aids' in 1994.

Meanwhile, rumours of discussions with engine suppliers Mugen Honda and Mecachrome Renault are rife and it is not thought that the one year agreement with Yamaha will be extended. Walkinshaw said, "talks are still ongoing."


Jordan test fourth chassis Ralf spins


The Total Jordan Peugeot team tested the fourth JP 197 chassis at Silverstone on the 16th and 17th. Both drivers concentrated on differential and aerodynamic development and brake work in preparation for Imola. Progress was delayed however, by oil leaks, and steering problems and a spin at Club Corner for Ralf Schumacher who will continue to race in chassis number 03. Giancarlo Fisichella will now race the new 04 version. The original chassis will be used at the Jordan factory on the 'seven post' rig.

Whether or not the grevous misunderstanding has been settled, over their coming together at the Argentinian Grand Prix, has yet to be determined. Schumacher Jr does not speak a word of Italian whilst Fisichella speaks little or no English and not a word of German. Schumacher supposedly told the newspaper L'Equipe: "I'd like to have a chat with him, but he(Fisichella)can't string two words of English together." After the Grand Prix however, things seemed to have resolved themselves. Fisichella said: "Ralf has apologised to me which implies he is admitting it was his mistake."

The cars depart for San Marino on Sunday 20th after a very short turn around time of only two days. "Now that the European season has started we will begin the set routine of a race every fortnight with testing in between." Said Eddie Jordan,"It means fewer hours spent travelling and therefore more time spent working on the car, but with that comes increased pressure. After our Podium finish in Argentina we are all pushing for more good results. I now want to see both our drivers on the podium."


Lola bows out

The official receivers have been called in to wind up the affairs of the Lola Ford Team. Despite earlier hopes of finding a sponsor to enable them to compete at Imola it seems that for this season Eric Broadley's dream of having fully fledged Lola cars on the starting grid has been shattered. Only last week Broadley was hopeful of fresh finances, "I only know that things are looking good," he said. "The company had a spot of financial difficulty, but there is no real problem." It is understood that only the F1 arm of the company is involved. Production of chassis for the US CART and Indy series remain unaffected.



'Skinny' Williams slowest of all in Barcelona...

new regulations desputed


April 16th 1997: Barcelona will see the Williams prototype 'narrow track' car run for the first time. This is in preparation for the new FIA rulings expected to come into force next year in a further attempt to slow the cars by reducing effective downforce areas. Nicknamed "Skinny Lizzy", it is a modified '96 FW18D and will be driven by test driver Jean-Christophe Boullion. At 180cm, and 20 centimetres narrower on the rear width than the current specifications, it proved predictably slower than any of the other teams testing there. Williams are expected to run the new Goodyear grooved tyres which will drastically reduce the speed for next season.


Meanwhile.... it is rumoured that Flavio Briatore, boss of Benetton is opposed to the idea of these technical changes despite having signed the agreement under the 'Concorde arrangement' and is set to try and convince other teams to stop the revisions. Both Ferrari and Williams have invested considerable time and money into the '98 specifications and Ferrari Team Director Jean Todt is understandably reticent about the possible consequences. "I don't know if the new rules will make for more overtaking or better racing, but it is the principle," he explained. "The decision was taken months ago, and nobody complained. You can't keep changing your mind." Eddie Jordan surmised that at the end of the day, "The designers will come up with a quicker car automatically. It is a Catch-22 situation." Ken Tyrell, acknowledging the safety factor of the new regulations spoke for the smaller and often underfunded teams when he stated, "The cost is huge and at the end of the year, all the cars on the grid will be scrap."


Another packet of Rothmans for Williams

Rothmans have renewed their sponsorship with Williams Grand Prix Engineering for a fifth successive year. "I'm delighted that we are to continue our relationship with Rothmans for another year," said Director Frank Williams, "Continuity is one of the main keys to success in the motor racing business and we look forward to delivering further success over the next two seasons." Williams can breath a sigh of relief to have one problem out of the way and it is with no small contribution from Damon Hill who won the drivers title and helped in securing the Constructors' title for the team, that they remain one of the most attractive sponsorship packages around.


Villeneuve set for 1998 ..... probably

Despite Frank William's denial, it is now more than likely that Jacques Villeneuve will drive for the Team in 1998. He was quoted as saying in a London Newspaper last week that, "Jacques will be staying here in 1998, after which, he will be a free agent." When asked to comment, he said, "It was not precisely what I said. At this stage in the season I do not discuss drivers for 1998." A deal with Reynard F1 and British American Tobacco brand 555 was widely circulated in Argentina but it is thought that Williams has in fact exercised its option on the young French-Canadian.

A senior BAT executive however, did comment that: "We have had discussions with four potential partners, who will make presentations to us during the next four weeks." Williams were thought to be linked to the 555 brand-who also sponsor the Prodrive Subaru Rally team-prior to their renewal of sponsorship with Rothmans.



Schumacher happy in Barcelona

Barcelona, 18th April - Amongst several teams testing, Michael Schumacher drove a grand prix simulation in a Ferrari F 310 B fitted with the 046/2 engine. The long run, carried out in four 16 lap stints, was successfully completed without problem. The German driver, who during the warm up had done further work on improving the set-up of his car, covered a total of 94 laps, equivalent to around 444 kilometres, with a best time of 1m 19.96s. "I am happy with the work we have done today. The balance of the car is better than yesterday," he said afterwards. "I like the engine, not just because of its power curve but also because of its driveability. I certainly want to use it for qualifying in Imola. As for the race, the engineers will have to decide as to its reliability, not just for the engine but for all the other components as well." Yesterday in testing, Schumacher worked on improving the set-up, and different types of Goodyear tyre, including those already used this season. "We need to do a lot of work to find a good set-up as it is difficult to find a good balance on a track like this." He said. The shakedown of the the cars which will be used at Imola for the San Marino Grand Prix, will take place next Tuesday at Fiorano with Eddie Irvine doing the driving.

Jacques Villeneuve topped the overall times with a best time of 1m 17.82s. on the final day. Gerhard Berger set second fastest time on the previous day, with a 1m 17.94s. The Benetton team working on aerodynamic and suspension setups. "You have to make all the small advatages to a big plus." Said Berger. Heinz Harald Frentzen's Williams was third quickest with a time of 1m 18.26s. whilst Jean Alesi in the second Benetton, came in at 1m 18.44s.


Stewart-Ford look forward to an easier time in Europe

David Stubbs Stewart-Ford's Team Manager admits to being very relieved that the long haul races are over in this, the teams first year in Formula 1. "Those fly-away tracks are great places to go to, but for a new team, in terms of sheer hard work, it's a nightmare." He said last week. "My concern from day one was how we would come together as a team. On the people side, the car and the equipment, everything was new. The whole thing just had to gel, and Australia was one of the hardest races I've ever done. For a start, none of the packing cases arrived on time, and when they did they weren't finished! In the end, though, Australia proved that all the planning we had done could actually deliver the goods. It was bloody dIfficult, and we only managed a very few hours' sleep, but we got there."

"Since then we've made a massive leap forward: parts are coming through faster, we're used to the cars now, and we're working well as a team - we must be, because we're finishing at midnight instead of six in the morning! Now, getting back into Europe, with our own trucks to work from, things should improve even further - it's like working from an extension of your workshop."

"Having said that, Imola won't be easy: the paddock's a strange shape, a bit pointy at one end. which puts space at a premium, so we need to be there early to get our trucks in! Otherwise it shouldn't be a problem. We'll fly a few people out on the Wednesday to set the garage up, and the bulk of the team will follow on Thursday. The way race weekends are structured right now suits us very well, I must say; there are many circuits we've never been to, so having a whole day of free practice to get things up and running properly is very helpful. Two-day Grand Prix weekends would be fine, as long as it's from next year!"

Also new to the circuit at Imola is rookie Stewart driver Jan Magnussen. "I haven't driven a Formula 1 car at Imola, though I did an Opel-Lotus race there in '93. But the track's changed since then and it's mostly the corners they've changed that I remember! It's quite long, so it will be another physical test, but if I can avoid misfortune in practice and get lots of laps in again, we should be okay."



In brief......

TWR arrows have scheduled two days of testing at Silverstone in preparation for Imola with a major test to follow the San Marino Grand Prix in Barcelona to test revised rear suspension and the new Yamaha engine.

Sauber have been testing brakes at Ferrari's Fiorano track and on traction improvement in readiness for the tight corners at Monaco.

Stewart Ford will use new rear wing end plates on the SF1 cars for Imola and a new low downforce wing will also be evaluated.

Johnny Herbert will celebrate his 100th Grand Prix in Monaco next month. However due to space restrictions in the pit area, the celebrations will take place a fortnight earlier at Imola, where the Champagne corks are less likely to do any damage.

Gerhard Berger will also be celebrating 200 Grand Prix just to make Herbert seem like a rookie.

McLaren estimates that because of width restrictions and the introduction of grooved tyres, next year's cars will have 50 per cent of the downforce generated by the current 1997chassis.

Rumours have it that Tyrell driver Mika Salo has already been signed to drive for Ferrari next year in Eddie Irvine's place. This has been denied by Race Director Jean Todt who said, "It has never been the intention of Ferrari to destabilise Eddie. We must be pragmatic. I was criticised for keeping him this year, but last season we did not give him enough support. He deserves to be judged in the normal way, but the season has just started. He has seven or eight races in which to prove himself before we can talk about the future."

Williams Technical Director Patrick Head and former designer and aerodynamicist Adrian Newey were present at the Senna trial for the first time. They were not required to give evidence but listened to other witnesses regarding the subject of the faulty weld in the steering column that allegedly caused the drivers death.


Chris Richardson 21.04.97


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