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1 - 9 January News
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Only Williams and Benetton were present with 3 drivers from Williams and only one from Benetton.
The session was dry in the morning and teams continued their tyre evaluation testing while in the afternoon, the teams switched to wet tyre testing as rain fell in the afternoon.
Testing concludes tomorrow with Jenson Button returning to the track hoping to be able to test the new Renault engine. Jaguar team was the first team to launch their 2001 contender. After Jaguar's disappointing results of the 2000 season, they have decided to launch the car at Jaguar's design and engineering centre at Whitley without any of the fanfare of last season.
Jaguar Racing CEO and team principal Bobby Rahal has indicated that the teams aim for this year is to achieve respectability and said: "We have experienced a challenging first year in the sport but implemented changes that we feel are necessary to deliver our objectives. Our aim this year is to achieve respectability. People ask me to define what this means in terms of results, but it's too early to say. Maybe I'll tell you at the end of the season. We will also continue to put in place the building blocks that we believe will deliver success in the long term. We are unswerving in our ultimate goal which remains to challenge for World Championship honours."
Eddie Irvine is confident that they will improve on their results of the 2000 season and said "To be honest, last season looked a lot worse than it was, our qualifying performances werenít so bad and we had a few problems early on that stopped us scoring points. We've sorted those problems now and moved on. Of course, you can never say how competitive youíre going to be; the goal posts are always moving and we'll have to wait until Melbourne to see where we really are."
Luciano Burti will be driving in his first full season in Formula 1. Burti drove for Jaguar last year at Austria when Irvine pulled out due to abdominal pain. Burti was the team's test driver in 2000 and has set his goal at scoring some points in his first season and said ďI know what it takes to race and I know how to qualify, there are going to be a lot of challenges, but Iím pretty confident for the season ahead. I already know six or seven of the circuits, but it will be tough. Itís too early to say what my expectations are for next year. We wonít know how good or bad the car is until Melbourne, but Iíll be happy if I can score some points this year."
9-Jan: "Testing is totally inconclusive!" is the title of the 1st issue from the Diagnosis and Prognosis Series for the 2001 season. In this issue, the Heretic looks at why one cannot draw any conclusions from testing - Check it out here !!
On the first day of testing, it was Ralf Schumacher who topped the time sheets with a time of 1:23.630. Ralf was 0.3 seconds ahead of teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. Giancarlo Fisichella was third, a fraction behind Montoya while Marc Gene and Jenson Button were 4th and 5th.
Ralf Schumacher also completed the most number of laps with 72 followed by Montoya with 67. Marc Gene did the least number of laps with 20.
Despite Ralf Schumacher being a full second slower than the fastest time set here during the previous session in December, it appears that Michelin have improved their tyres considerably. Ralf Schumacher was 1.3 seconds faster than his best time set here in December. Testing continues tomorrow.
Giancarlo Fisichella believes that he is 90% fit following the minor knee surgery that he had on December the 18. When asked about his thoughts on Jenson Button being his teammate at Benetton he said "Jenson is a nice guy, very funny, concentrated on his job and he is competitive of course, but I am not going to act any differently because Jenson is my team mate. I will just have to do the maximum everywhere. I've done it in the past and I will do it in the future - whether it is Jenson, Jacques Villeneuve or Michael Schumacher. Now I feel I am very strong mentally and physically, and I feel confident."
Schumacher did not participate in any testing since the Malaysian GP and has been resting following the removal of the pin from his leg which was inserted after he broke his leg when he crashed at Silverstone in 99.
Mika Hakkinen will be back performing his driving duties for McLaren from the 15th of January when McLaren resumes their testing at Valencia. Mika Hakkinen did not participate in any testing since the Malaysian Grand Prix as he was spending time with his wife and new-born son.
The Minardi team have suffered yet another
setback with two key mechanics leaving the team and heading to Prost. Frenchman
Jean-Francois Sinteff who has worked with Alain Prost in the past and Italian Gabriele
Pagliarini who will take on the chief mechanic role at Prost have both left Minardi.
who has moved from Prost to
Sauber (Story) will be driving
alongside the least experienced driver ever to drive in Formula 1, Kimi Raikkonen
(Story). Heidfeld wants to establish his
supremacy inside the team already and said "Kimi's very fast and I am surprised about
that, but I will show that I am the number one driver at Sauber."
Mark's departure is a big loss for Jordan as their spokesperson said "Mark has been at Jordan for 10 years, since the team begain. It is a big loss for us, there is no doubt about it."
Jordan are trying to get the services of Arrows Chief Designer Eghbal Hamidy however Hamidy has a contract with Arrows that expires in 2002. There is also talk about hiring George Ryton who is a former Ferrari designer to replace Mark Smith
One of the founding members of British American Racing has decided to leave the team. Rick Gorne, the Motorsport Development Director, who alongside Craig Pollock, Adrian Reynard and Julian Jakobi created British American Racing in 1997 wants a new challenge and said "I have personally achieved all that I can at BAR. It has been one of the most exciting, rewarding and challenging projects to have been involved with. Helping to create a Formula1 team was a major achievement and I'm proud to have been part of it. However, it's time for me to move on. I have many opportunities ahead of me and I'm looking forward to new challenges."
The Prost team is expected to launch their car around mid-January and announce their second driver to partner Jean Alesi. The AP04 will be fitted with the Ferrari engine.
The Sauber team will launch their challenger (the C20) on the 24th of January while Williams are expected to launch their FW23 on the 25th and BAR are expected to launch the BAR03 on the 26th of January.
Benetton will launch their final challenger before Renault takes over in 2002 on the 6th of February.
Ferrari and McLaren have yet to finalise their launch dates but it is expected that they will launch early February.
Arrows who have yet to confirm their driver lineup are also expected to launch in February. Arrows launched their 2000 challenger on the eve of the Australian Grand Prix last season.
Minardi have yet to announce their driver lineup, engine supplier and sponsors for the 2001 season although team boss Giancarlo Minardi has confirmed that they will be on the grid at Melbourne.
Michael added that the mid-season slump had nothing to do with over confidence and said "People might think this way because of the crisis we had where we didn't score points in the middle of the season. But for me it would have been too easy to believe I would win the championship already by mid-season. I knew that would not be the case and that there would come a difficult time, but there would come a good time afterwards. I was warning everyone at the beginning of the season that it wasn't over. After I won the first three races everyone wanted to put me in the position of saying it is done, but I had enough experience that these things are not over until they are over."
Michael also admitted that David Coulthard gave him a tough time during the season especially after his plane crash and said "Certain things in your life may give you a boost and maybe knowing he survived this gave him even more confidence. I don't know. I can't look into him. Maybe it was a case of circumstances nothing to do with that at all. What counts is where you finish. He certainly gave me a very tough run at quite a lot of races."
Jean Alesi who tested for Prost in December running Michelin tyres has indicated that he was very pleased with the professionalism of the Michelin people and said "I have to say above all that I am very pleased about the agreement between our team and Michelin. My first impressions are very positive. When you work with the people from Michelin, you get the feeling that they really listen to what you say. Technically, we have already seen the undeniable quality of their tyres, but the simple fact of working with Michelin delights me!"Is the current points system fair?" Topic of the month - Have Your Say Ayrton Senna who was by far the most popular choice with over 82% of the readers placing him in the top 5. He was followed by Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost. Juan Manuel Fangio and Jacques Villeneuve made the top 5. Click here for more details on the top 15 drivers chosen by our reader in addition to some of the readers comments.
He said "If I were to stand myself in front of an F1 team now and sell myself, I would say right away that I am a far better driver than I was 10 years ago, quicker and more thoughtful. I'm not fazed by the idea of taking on the likes of Michael Schumacher, I faced him years ago and I know I am quick. How quick we will find out soon when the Toyota F1 car is running. The door to F1 is there and I have the key, it is up to me if I have the right machinery."