F1 Newsround - 09/June/1997   HomeContentsHelp



Peugeot at Canada...Hill at Senna Trial...Sauber Testing...Engine News...Arrows Leafield Event...


May 29th


CANADIAN GRAND PRIX 1997: interview with Guy Audoux Engine Operations Manager Peugeot Sport


The circuit at Montreal used to be famous for its high consumption, of fuel. Refuelling has made the problem disappear. But does this gas-guzzling track have any effect on race strategies?


"Like Imola the track in Montreal is one of the hardest in terms of fuel consumption. The possibility to refuel has certainly got rid of this, although we must carry 70 kgs of fuel rather than the usual 60Kgs. That is the same for everyone and so it is not a problem. In this respect it really has become a circuit just like all the others - and so we have forgotten the terror of running out of gas."


Without the worry of running out of fuel. Life must be easier for the team?


"lt certainly is. When there were turbo engines and big restrictions on fuel consumption, the engine builders were forced to run the engines with so lean a fuel mixture, that it spoiled the reliability. Today there are no such restrictions on our fuel mixture settings."


Do you rank Montreal as one of the difficult circuits in the World Championships?


"No not really. The difficulties of Montreal are pretty much the same as we encounter throughout the season and which we can overcome easily enough. I don't know about the other manufacturers but at Peugeot we have an all-purpose engine, without special set-ups. This engine suits a circuit like Monaco as much as it does Silverstone or Monza. This year we no longer do any particular changes for individual circuits. We used to do that by altering the lengths of the inlet trumpets but this year we have managed to master this with engine-mapping to suit all types of circuit.

"Our engine has the advantage of Being flexible in terms of revs and power output. We have now developed the torque so that we are able to supply drivers with an engine which is never brutal. No matter whether it is running high or low revs, with high or low loadings. In other words at any circuit. Perhaps we will learn more in the future which will give us new ideas but at the moment I cannot see what we can do to make it better.''


Barcelona marked the end of the first third of the world championship. How does one analyse the progress the engine has brought to the first part of the year and can one distinguish that from the progress from the Jordan chassis?


"Right now a lot of engines are competitive and the advantage of one engine over another depends on whether it is in a good or a bad chassis. That is where an engine advantage comes from. It is as simple as that. This year Peugeot Sport is powering a Jordan chassis which is markedly better than that of last year. That is one factor. If one was doing a comparative study with last year's package one would see that the combination is much quicker, for example, in the slow corners. This improvement is in the order of 10% and so one can say that the same corner which used to be taken at 100kph can now be taken at 110kph. This improvement in the chassis has certainly influenced the way the engine is used. It is easy to see the repercussions of this faster exit speed all the way to the next corner. We no longer find ourselves having to use the engine in critical or uncomfortabIe rev ranges. These gains in the slow corners are really down to the chassis.


But what if you put a Peugeot A12 engine from19960 into a 1997 Jordan chassis, how much performance would you lose?


"I think this loss would be pretty noticeable. We have made a lot of progress in performance terms with the 1997 engine. A little in maximum horsepower but mainly in mid range power where the engine is most frequently being used. That if you compare acceleration and power, the average power output has gone up several dozen horsepower. I think that such a gain is worth close to half a second a lap compared to last years enqine."


Would it be true to say that working with relatively inexperienced drivers has slowed down your progress?


"No, not at all. Of all the drivers we have known in the past only Martin Brundle had sufficient technical knowledge to help us understand and use the engine better. Our two young drivers are in any case supported by the telemetry. We are working with them, but given that the engine is working well in 98% of cases, there is no reason for them to worry about it. At this stage of the careers both Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella are very concentrated and preoccupied with the set-up of their chassis.''


Returning to the Peugeot A 14 engine, in what direction do you want to evolve the engine now?


"There is one constant factor. We are always trying to get more horsepower, But also horsepower in the lower rev ranges. To underline what I said, I think we have a Very satisfactory package and now we can only progress in small amounts. It will certainly not be like the spectacular progress we were making in 1994 when we had to make up a disadvantage of 50 horsepower. Three years have passed and we are now at the same level as everyone else and we must chip away in all areas to gain more"


Engine builders sometimes talk about barriers that must be passed through in order to find new areas in which to develop freely Can you see where you are going? ?


"We are focusing on maximum engine revs. We are using the same maximum revs as last year but now we are working with less of a safety margin. Last year we fixed the maximum revs and worked slightly below that level to see clearly what was happening beneath that level. This year we are trying to develop the engine at this higher revs. We are Beginning to run into problems with the existing engine because the running temperatures - which are secret — are fixed because of the demands of the aerodynamicists. We cannot go higher."


The French GP is approaching and with it the mid-season. Every year V10 French engine builders use this to reveal an evolution engine We do not see anything coming from Peugeot this year?

''There is no question of presenting an evolution of our F1 engine. We are busy for the moment working on small reliability problems with our evolution. Our policy is never to put an engine on the track unless we are 100% sure of it. The evolution engine will arrive, perhaps at the end of the year -in qualifying form or in racing form - but it is not definite. We are not running to a specific timetable. When you take into account the current performance of 3-litre F1 engines, it is no longer easy to gain more horsepower."



Hill debunks steering column theory in Senna trial


(June 2, 1997) For over three hours, Damon Hill, testified at the trial over the death of his former Williams team-mate Ayerton Senna, at Imola in 1994. He rejected the prosecution's main charge that Senna had died after the steering column on his Williams FW16 broke after modifications had been made prior to the race. Having studied the video footage with his race engineers at the time he could not agree with the court’s findings. "there must have been another reason for the accident other than there had been a failure in the steering." He said. "It did not seem to me that there was anything to suggest that the steering column broke." Having examined the steering column, on-board telemetry and aerodynamics, he had left the meeting convinced that modifications to the steering had not been the cause of the accident. He told the court, "There had to be something else." Asked if if Senna had complained to him about his steering or the handling of his car, he said, "I can't remember. It was too long ago,"

The lawyer for William’s, Orieste Dominioni, has already claimed that anomalies in the track surface were to blame and Hill’s conclusions, that Senna lost control of his car after hitting mid-corner bumps whilst his tyre pressures were low- having been forced to run slow behind the safety car- echo those of the Williams team. After studying the video footage again in court, Hill noted that there were two occasions when he thought that Senna’s car overstepped through the mid part of the corner where there were some marks on the track. "There are two distinct times when the car looks to be oversteering and the steering wheel is exactly the way that I would expect to see to correct a slide." low tyre pressure and the state of the Imola track surface ‘could not be ruled out’ said Hill, "You can’t separate the two."

Hill, accompanied by his lawyer Michael Breen, remained impassive throughout the lengthy questioning by state prosecutor Maurizio Passarini and was vague on several points that he could not remember, especially on the modifications to his own steering. Hill said, "I don't remember the exact date but I seem to remember that it was before the start of the championship."

Hill also stated that Tamburello was a corner that would not cause a problem in an F1 car, "It's not normally a difficult corner for a Formula One driver," he said, "You'd have to lose an awful lot of concentration to get it wrong." He was also asked about the warning lights that showed in his cockpit after the pace car left the track. "It's quite normal for lights to come on when you're driving at that speed." He replied, "The cars are not designed to run slowly."

The case will continue later this month with a possible appearance by Michael Schumacher although this is being denied bysources in Germany.



Hill in ‘Happy families’ shock at Leafield


(May 30th 1997) Damon Hill is happy and content to stay at TWR. Having witnessed his racing career slip from the top to the bottom of the heap in three short months, he spoke candidly and optimistically at a recent open day at Tom Walkinshaw’s headquarters that drew a crowd of 18,000 Hill fanatics. "I read a lot of reports from the races for my own amusement and they seem to give the impression that I am despondent, I'm unhappy, I'm dejected and I'm cross. But it couldn't be further from the truth,"

Having been linked to practically every team on the grid, he was not being drawn as to any future plans he may have. "I am very happy, I have got a lot of faith in Tom and the Arrows team." He said "It is a tough season, but I have been through tough seasons before and this car is in it’s early stages of development." He inferred that the teams potential would not be realised until at least the beginning of next season. "These things are not going to happen overnight." He went on, "The car is intrinsically not that bad and now we’ve got John Barnard on board, he is going to provide the leadership to the design side that we have needed." Walkinshaw added, what a few million Hill fans already knew, "Our design team did not do a good enough job over the winter, but we've rectified that,"

What is also needed, even the most ardent Arrows fan would agree, is a decent engine and gives the lie to Walkinshaw’s lack of foresight in deciding to run with Yamaha in the first place knowing its dubious history with the Tyrrell team. Walkinshaw admitted to having had "very, very serious' talks with ‘a team supplier’ which, it is thought, could only be Yamaha. "I’m sure there will be a response" he said. Referring to his decision, subject to successful testing at Magny Cours, to run the disappointing revised D-spec engine at Montreal on June 15th, he said "We will have to wait a while to see if it is good enough. I have every faith that Yamaha will do everything that they possibly can to improve the reliability and performance of the engine."


Schumacher Jr flies for Jordan in Silverstone test.


(May 27th-29th) Williams driver Jacques Villeneuve was fastest in the recent 3 day test at the Silverstone circuit (27th-29th). With all teams present except TWR Arrows and Minardi, the outcome was as predicted, with the Canadian setting the benchmark time of 1.22.39 on Wednesday. The surprise of the session however, although it is now becoming more of a regular event, was the speed of the two Jordan Peugeot drivers. Team mates, Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella led the pace on the final day, despite Schumacher suffering from both oil leaks and fuel pump problems, to finish second and third overall respectively, the only other drivers to stay within 1.22s. Jordan’s technical director, Gary Anderson, said, "As long as the track has quick corners and lacks grip, we should perform well. Barcelona was simply a blip."

Michael Schumacher ran moderately successfully in his Ferrari F 310B fitted with the 046/2 engine on the Tuesday. The German covered a total of 68 laps, in race trim, with a best early time of 1m 25.703s. Testing was stopped on Wednesday morning, when the right rear link broke at the exit of Beckett’s. The session resumed the following day, after inspection of the part was returned to Maranello for inspection. His best time of 1.23.40s, came on the final day’s test when he drove all day in race configurations.

"It was important to do this test session on a track which we hardly ever visit," said Schumacher at the end of the day. "The car was definitely good on the quick sections of the track, but it was less good aerodynamically in the slow to medium parts, just as we had seen in Barcelona. We will have to work hard to sort this out."

McLaren drivers David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen showed that the quick times in Barcelona with the new Mercedes F-spec ‘qualifying’ engine could be maintained. The scot ended the session 9th fastest, with Hakkinen two tenths down on Fisichella’s time, in 4th.

Former ITTC driver, Alexander Wurz, being groomed for possible F1 stardom by Benetton boss Flavio Briatore, drove a brilliant test session in the absence of Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger, who is undergoing minor surgery for a glandular infection. His time of 1.23.16 was barely 8 tenths of a second down on Villeneuve and put him 5th fastest overall.

The Sauber team was happy to have its first opportunity of testing at Silverstone prior to a British Grand Prix, in past years having arrived quite unprepared and in poor shape compared with the UK-based teams.

On Tuesday Johnny Herbert did 36 laps with a best of 1m 25.53s, then improved to 1m 23.35s after 69 laps despite a spin into a gravel trap which damaged a front wing. On Thursday recent replacement for Nicola Larini, Gianno Morbidelli, took over and recorded a best lap of 1m 23.55s.

Rubens Barrichello and Jan Magnussen driving the Stewart-Fords, had satisfactory tests, the former concentrating on tyre assessment and the latter on the engine development programme. Rubens's progress, punctuated by a series of red flags and minor problems on Thursday, meant he could only cover 22 laps, with a best time of 1m 25.2s. Magnussen covered a total of 70 laps for a 12th place of 1m 24.4s. He commented; "I could not feel an increase in power from the Spec 6 Ford engine, but it is certainly smoother and more driveable."

Both Tyrrell drivers were testing their cars with ED4 Cosworth engines. Jos Verstappen was evaluating brakes, exhausts and steering modifications and completed 42 laps with a best of 1m 25.7s. Mika Salo worked on aerodynamics and suspension, covering 54 laps with a best of 1m 25.5s. The team had no problems and left Silverstone in a buoyant mood.

Jean-Christophe Boullion was present all three days carrying out Goodyear grooved tyre testing with the 1996/98 modified spec narrow track FW18 test car nicknamed ‘Skinny Lizzie’. "We've improved the car by using a different undertray and changing the weight distribution," said the Frenchman. "The real gain must come from the tyres." Boullion's best lap, a 1m 30.41s, was over eight seconds adrift of Jacques Villeneuve's best time.

The whole circus moves to Magny Cours for final testing before the Canadian Grand Prix on June 15th.



Arrows opt for French testing



(June 3rd) The Arrows-Yamaha team did not go to Silverstone, but will instead be carrying out three days of aerodynamic tests at the Lurcy Levis circuit in central France next week. Test driver Jorg Muller will carry out this work on Tuesday and Wednesday while Pedro Diniz will carry on development running of the new D-spec Yamaha engine at Magny-Cours next Friday.



Further testing at Magny Cours


(June 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th) Williams, Benetton, McLaren, Jordan, Prost, Arrows and Minardi took part in four days of testing at the Magny Couyrs circuit in France prior to leaving for Montreal this week (June 9th) for the Canadian Grand Prix. Jean Alesi, running revised rear suspension topped the overall times on Wednesday 4th with a 1.15.14. He suffered gearbox problems on the previous day and on Thursday a spin prevented him from completing a full race distance. Brilliant Benetton test driver Alexander Wurz participating in his first ever test at the circuit, came in third with 1.12.26s little more than a tenth of a second behind the Frenchman. He worked on aerodynamic setups and also managed to complete a full race distance with Montreal downforce levels.

Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher both completed two days of testing for the Jordan Peugeot team, concentrating on differential development, front and rear suspension geometry programmes and general set-up work. Fisichella ended the session over half a second faster than his team mate in second overall with a 1.15.24s.

Olivier Panis in the Prost Mugen-Honda, was the fastest man on the track on the final day, with a time of 1m 15.34s. making him 4th over the four days. He performed a Bridgestone long-run test. Heinz Harald Frentzen finished 5th, with Villeneuve falling down the order putting in times little better than the top three drivers slowest laps. He ended the sessions 6th, with a best lap of 1.15.88.



Italian testing for Sauber/Ferrari’s


(June 4th 5th) Ferrari and Sauber had a brief spell testing at Monza. Johnny Herbert was fastest in the Sauber-Petronas on both daysworking on new aerodynamic and mechanical solutions for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. Eddie Irvine, driving a Ferrari 310B fitted with the 046/2 engine and a hydraulic differential, was hampered by a wet track on the second day but completed a full race distance of 66 laps. His time on the first day, was almost half a second slower than Herbert’s 1.25.59.

Nicola Larini freshly gazumped from the Sauber team, tested in exile at Mugello and shook down the three F 310 B that Ferrari will have at its disposal at Montreal. He completed, partially on a wet track, 5 laps with Schumacher's race car (chassis 177, engine 046/1), 10 with the T-car (chassis 175, engine 46/2) and 27 (10 on the shorter version of the track) with Irvine's race car (chassis 173, engine 046/1) respectively.




World’s most expensive Goodyear’s


According to US sources, Management had to step in, working overtime, to continue production of Goodyear Eagles when a strike at the Akron factory prior to the Spanish Grand Prix threatened supplies of tyres for the race. The source confirms that quality was maintained and that the blistering suffered by the majority of teams running these tyres, was in no way connected to that particular production run. It was probably, however, the most costly run of tyres produced



Villeneuve called to the Headmaster’s study (FIA)


(Jun 7th) Jacques Villeneuve has had to disrupt his preparations for the Canadian Grand Prix to return to Paris on Wednesday (11th) to appear before the Sport’s governing body, the FIA to explain his outspoken criticism of the new rules for next season. In an interview published in last Monday’s German Publication ‘Der Spiegel’ he claimed that the new rules designed to curb the ever increasing speed of Formula one cars, as ‘crap’. "I think it's going to take a lot away from the driver," he protested. "Instead of still being the ultimate sport that it is, it's going to become more of a show and a circus." Villeneuve has always advocated the ‘fun’ aspect of driving and ‘taking things to the edge’ and firmly believes that the FIA is going in the wrong direction with its rules regarding grooved tyres and a narrower car width. "We need bigger tires and 70% smaller wings," he said, "There's no longer any difference between Monaco and a 160 kmh bend at Barcelona -- no faster heart beat, no adrenaline, nothing but disappointment,"

Whilst all that Villeneuve has said had been widely reported over the past few months, it came as a shock to him that the German weekly magazine should publish it now. It is not expected that Villeneuve will get any disqualifications or fines for ‘bringing the sport into disrepute’. He believed that ‘everyone should have the right to speak their minds’. He also stated that he was only ‘saying in public what 90 percent of the drivers say privately.’

The other 10% includes World Champion Damon Hill who last month cautiously embraced the rules (see Speed Motorsport news last update) suggesting that it would make racing more exciting.

Asking for the hearing date to be rescheduled because of the disruption to his press and public commitments in Canada, the FIA declined his request, forcing Villeneuve to make a further double crossing of the Atlantic to arrive in Montreal in time for a press briefing on Thursday evening.



Ecclestone the highest earning company director in the known Universe . . . .


According to a report published on Sunday (8th) in The Independent, Bernie Ecclestone, current boss of Formula 1 and director of Formula One Promotions and Administration, paid himself £54 million in salary in the 1995/96 financial year. 66 year old Ecclestone, looking to feather his nest further for his retirement earns £147,945 per day or a little over £102 per minute. This far exceeds the amount Elvis Presley earned during his Las Vegas heydays and Elton John currently the biggest earner, who made a paltry £12.8 million last year.

A new company Formula One Holdings is set to go public in July, against a sea of criticism and lawsuits, to coincide with the British Grand Prix on July 13th. This will make Ecclestone worth between £750m and £1bn. He is currently riding high with pay-TV deals worth over £200m and a likely pre-tax profit of £85m.

The seven original teams to have signed the most recent version of the Concord Agreement are questioning the reduced amount of TV revenue that they will get, should the ‘maverick’ three teams of Williams, McLaren and Tyrrell -who, having recently settled their dispute with the FIA, signed the document- get an equal share of the payout. The seven teams at present receive 47% of TV rights between them. This would drop considerably should the payouts be divided even further.

Confirmation was provided by newly appointed finance director David Wilson. "Bernie has always kept a tight reign on all information to protect his position in negotiating with broadcasters, teams and promoters," he said. "Now the company is going public that has to be balanced against the need to be more transparent."

Meanwhile Ecclestone’s company is being sued for $25m by one Patrick Peter founder of the BPR Organisation and representing several European TV companies. Ecclestone is accused of ‘monopolising F1 Television’ This is against the European constitution and he is in effect stealing customers and viewers.



. . . but finds it all a bit of a fag.


To add to Ecclestone’s problems, the proposal of the British government to ban tobacco sponsorship of all sport, has come at a most inconvenient time. Eccleston’e ‘hot under the coller’ reaction was to suggest that with the intended inclusion of more Pacific rim races into the calender, some European fixtures needed to be dropped anyway. Realising the size of the motorsport industry in this country and it’s value to the economy, the British government, aware that Ecclestone could sever manufacturing and development ties in the UK by moving the F1 centre to Asia, insisted that as a special dispensation for the time being at least, the ban would not necessarily affect the livery of cars, just the sponsorship of events. This would give teams time to secure alternative sponsorship. Since the ban on tobacco advertising in Britain, cars have been allowed to keep their sponsor’s colours, replacing the brand names with team associated word’s often in the same type face. Hence the Grands Prix of Britain, France, Germany and now Canada, will have had cars dressed up as cigarette packets with the names Marlboro, Rothmans, Mild Seven and Benson & Hedges, replaced by ‘McLaren’, ‘Racing’, ‘Benetton’ and ‘Jordan’, respectively.



Engines . . .


Jordan could hold on to their Peugeot engine deal despite having been earmarked for Prost Grand Prix's use on a five-year deal beginning in 1998. Jordan’s improvement this year could extend the deal for a further three years. As a fail safe measure, Jordan have been courting Mugen-Honda as a possible replacement and the deal has in part, been engineered by Alain Prost who desires complete exclusivity of the highly rated French V-10. Peugeot are likely to announce their plans at the French Grand Prix. In a recent dispute between Prost and Honda, it is alleged that Prost gave Peugeot access to view the Honda engines on a recent visit to the team factory.

This incident could have given Mugen the leverage to keep Nakano at Prost for the rest of the season. Current Williams test driver Jean-Christophe Boullion and factory Porsche GT driver Emmanuel Collard were tipped as possible replacements. Prost was adamant if a little down hearted in Barcelona when he stated (probably through gritted teeth) "Shinji is going to stay in the team, no problem." It is understood that Mugen would be only too happy to give Jordan their power units.

Second choice for Honda would be Bennetton who despite rumours of having signed with Renault suppliers Mecachrome, are still on the prowl for a competitive engine. More likely however, would be that Arrows, 99% certain to ditch the dreadful Yamaha, would snap up the opportunity of an alternative Japanese engine. This could be regarded favourably, especially if Hill signs for another term of office.

Cosworth Ford meanwhile, are considering stopping development on the aging Zetec V8 and concentrating their efforts solely on the new V10. This would put at least two teams out of the picture for next season.




. . . and engine drivers.


There are currently more driver rumours than you can shake a stick at. Jordan Hot shots Fisichella and Schumacher are both due to leave their hot seats for even hotter ones according to one German Publication. As Flavio Briatore has announced before, Fisichella is one of the young italian drivers he fancies for further grooming. With the success of Alexander Wurz in testing, Flavio seems now to be going the way that Eddie Jordan has paved so well and start employing ‘young guns’ who are both hungry for success and cheaper. Jordan, king of the F1 talent spotters, has seen a great many of his signings wrested from their contractual obligations, Michael Schumacher was filched by Briatore in 1994 and the possibility of it happening again with the young Italian is not beyond the bounds of impossibility. However seeing as Jordan has the hotter of the two cars right now, it would seem to be in Giancarlo’s interests to stay put. Jarno Trulli is another prospective Benetton driver who would in fact probably benefit from a change. Seeing as Briatore owns the Minardi team for whom Trulli drives, that scenario looks more than likely. Current driver, Alesi looks set to go to Prost if boss Allan Preset can get rid of the Albatross called Narkarno, or even back to his old home, Jordan.

Ralf Schumacher is a different kettle of sauerkraut however. It seems that the young German’s contract is pretty solid with Jordan and a move, Possibly to McLaren, would only take place along with a large parcel of money. Manager Willi Weber is still talking to Ron Dennis, who looks to have two vacant seats at the end of the season. West, McLaren’s major sponsor are said to be interested in a German driver and again the possibility of a move such as this cannot be totally ruled out. Jörg Muller was a consideration for Mercedes but having recently signed as test driver for Arrows he is now out of the frame.

Damon Hill, despite his renewed vow of confidence in Tom Walkinshaw is also linked with Jordan by way of McLaren in a deal brokered by West that would effectively trade Schumacher junior for the services of the current World Champion. The penalty fees paid by West to Jordan, would go a long way to pay Hill’s probably high asking price.

This leaves Gerhard Berger, David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen with no particular place to go but it is likely that, if no suitable alternatives appear, they will stay put at their team boss’ ‘pleasure’ until they become redundant.



The Team from Hell . . .


In a nightmare scenario, an extremely frightening rumour that Toyota may be entering into Formula 1 with Yamaha and Bridgestone, is circulating the paddocks. If sponsors are desperate enough to throw their money into the all Japanese entry, a stone cold loser a best, the team could surface in 1999. ‘Think tank’ meetings with former Yamaha users Tyrrell and Walkinshaw have not so far been discussed.



Tyrrell considers pension?


Further unfounded rumours suggest that Ken Tyrrell is to sell his team to Jacques Villeneuve’s manager, Craig Pollock as a vehicle for the Canadian, with the backing of Chassis manufacturers Reynard and British American Tobacco.

Banbury-based technical concern, Prodrive, which runs Subaru's world rally team were also rumoured to be knocking on Tyrrell’s door and again BAT are involved sponsoring Prodrive with their ‘555’ cigarette brand. Having openly admitted to having a five year plan to enter Formula 1, they have purchased recently liquidated Lola’s telemetry system.

Ken Tyrrell, 77 year old Boss of the Ockham team, has categorically denied that any deals have been struck, saying that they enjoy their racing too much to even consider them.



Chris Richardson June 9th 1997


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