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Team & Driver Season Review
1 - 11 December
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Several drivers have expressed different views regarding the re-introduction of traction
control during the 2001 season. Several teams have been testing traction control systems
during the last testing session at Jerez in anticipation of the new rules.
Patrick Head wants Juan Pablo Montoya to raise his game the same way Jacques Villeneuve did when he moved from CART to F1. Patrick Head indicated that Montoya is 5kg heavier than when he was a test driver in 98 and that he needs to work on his physical fitness levels if he wants to make it in Formula 1. Patrick added that Montoya will need to follow Jacques' example "When Jacques came into Formula1, I think he thought 'Oh this is going to be tough'. To his credit he went away and worked his arse off to get himself fitter and tougher and harder."
Juan Pablo Montoya was delighted with the way his first test at Jerez went. He
felt very comfortable with the car and felt like he has been driving it all year. Montoya
added "These three days in Jerez have certainly exceeded my expectations. I
didnt expect to be on the pace right from the beginning and Im obviously
delighted with my return to Formula One.
Montoya was impressed with the Michelin tyres but expects more from them, he was also happy with the new BMW engine and said "Michelin still have some work to do, but they deserve credit for being at this stage of development. Ive been driving the FW22 with the 2000 spec BMW engine and Ive been pleasantly surprised at its power and drivability when compared to my last F1 experience."
Regarding the groove tyres and the lack of grip, Montoya said "Contrary to what people told me beforehand, I didnt suffer any problems with grooved tyres and subsequently grip levels, everything felt good and comfortable with the car."
The FIA World Motor Sport Council has accepted the recommendation of the
Technical Working Group that traction control allows for smoother starts, reduce wheelspin
and provide more grip in the corners and in the wet.
If the team bosses approve these new measures on February the 14th and the World Motor Sport Council accepts them on the 1st of March, unrestricted use of engine electronics could be permitted in time for the Spanish GP on the 29th of April.
8-Dec: Rubens Barrichello has indicated the no one believes David Coulthard when he talks about winning the World Championship because he said that every year for the last 5 years!. Barrichello also indicated that he believes that he can mount a challenge to Hakkinen and Schumacher and said "At the moment I think I can be up there with Mika and Michael, because I feel more confident."
Following the FIA's granting of a superlicense to Kimi
Raikkonen, Ralf Schumacher has warned against drivers being allowed into
Formula 1 without going through the lower Formulas of F3 and F3000. Ralf said "I'm
not saying anything against Raikkonen personally but there are rules that you must
respect. In my opinion you should not go directly from Formula Renault into F1.
Ralf also indicated that he and Montoya spoke a bit and got on well. He added that Montoya seemed to be a nice guy. As for lap time comparison between the two at Jerez, Ralf said "I didn't look at the times, but I know what to expect. There's no number one at Williams. Whoever is the fastest will be the number one."
8-Dec: Olivier Panis who clocked the fastest time on the final day of testing at Jerez this week has indicated his surprise for such a result and said "We had a very good day, we improved the car and made various set-up changes that we were happy with. I was a little surprised that I went quickest, but obviously I am happy to be at the front!"
BAR Test team manager, Andrew Alsworth was very happy with the way the testing at Jerez went and said "Its nice to be testing again after our short break. Everyone was looking forward to working with Olivier. We have had three good days with wet and dry running. Today Olivier was quickest, so its a nice ending to the test. Darren also did a good job on the chassis development and traction control programme, so all in all we have had a very productive test here in Jerez."
Jenson Button had his first taste of the Benetton car this week at Jerez and he has indicated his satisfaction with the way things went despite the weather and said "We have had a satisfying first test, in spite of the weather. With all the rain and wind it has been more like England than Spain! The team and I have completed some good groundwork with the tyres and I'm happy with how the car feels. I also feel I have settled in well with the team already."
Olivier Panis seems to carry on the form he demonstrated at McLaren last season
when he was a test driver but this time in the BAR. Panis set the fastest time of the day
on the final day of testing at Jerez ahead of Rubens Barrichello and David
Coulthard. Nick Heidfeld, Jarno Trulli and Kimi Raikkonen make the top 6.
16 drivers and 9 teams were present on the final day. Rubens Barrichello covered the most number of laps with 88 Olivier Panis (BAR) with 75 laps and Jarno Trulli with 72 laps. Juan Pablo Montoya covered the least number of laps with 25 while Alex Wurz covered only 27 laps. Japanese driver Takuma Sato was given an opportunity to test the Jordan and he completed 42 laps and was 14th overall ahead of Irvine and Gene.
It appears that the Michelin tyres are not a match for Bridgestone in the dry. The highest Michelin runner was Ralf Schumacher in 9th place 2.5 seconds slower than Olivier Panis in the BAR. Next week the teams go to different venues with several Bridgestone running teams move to Valencia while the Michelin running teams move to Barcelona.
Luca Badoer has concluded his testing for Ferrari at Fiorano for the week, he continued testing new components and did a number of practice starts. he covered a total of 66 laps with a best time of 1:01.138. Badoer will continue testing at Fiorano next week.
The FIA World Council have granted Kimi Raikkonen the superlicense. The Sauber
team immediately confirmed their driver lineup for 2001 with Nick Heidfeld and Kimi
Raikkonen. Sauber were waiting fir the FIA decision on Raikkonen before confirming him.
Raikkonen's recent form at the Jerez test must have impressed the FIA. Raikkonen said
"This is a fantastic opportunity for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the F1 testing I did
earlier this year, and although there was pressure to prove myself to the FIA in Jerez, I
believe that I demonstrated my potential successfully. Now I will be doing everything I
can in 2001 to justify the faith that Peter Sauber, his team and the governing body have
placed in me."
6-Dec: The third day of testing at Jerez started with circuit staff using pumps to clear standing water on the track following heavy rain overnight. The track remained wet for most of the day with teams testing full wet and intermediate tyres throughout the day. The top times recorded were very close with Rubens Barrichello setting the fastest time 0.2 seconds faster than an impressive Juan Pablo Montoya who tests a Formula 1 car in the wet for the first time since 1998. David Coulthard was third ahead of Jenson Button (Benetton), Ralf Schumacher and Eddie Irvine.
17 drivers and 9 teams were present. Only Prost and Minardi are not at this test. Olivier Panis (BAR) covered the most number of laps with 57 followed by Luciano Burti (Jaguar) and Ralf Schumacher. Fisichella covered the least number of laps with 13 after suffering problems with the new Renault engine.
Despite Barrichello being fastest in the Ferrari today, 4 of the top 6 drivers were running on Michelin tyres possibly indicating an advantage for Michelin in the wet. However, this is testing and the times could be misleading. Testing continues tomorrow.
Luca Badoer continued testing for Ferrari at Fiorano, he concentrated on testing new components and covered a total of 70 laps with a best time of 1:00.378 which is 0.152 seconds off the lap record at Fiorano
Here are the highlights of the day:
The McLaren Formula team was the first to start testing at Jerez with David
Coulthard at the wheel. Coulthard completed a total of 58 laps during the day. He
concentrated on tyre and aerodynamic testing.
Luca Badoer started the testing season for Ferrari at Fiorano. Badoer completed a total of 42 laps with a best time of 1:01.866. He concentrated on testing new mechanical and electronic components. Badoer will continue testing at Fiorano tomorrow while Rubens Barrichello will start a 3 day test at Jerez.
BAR have signed Anthony Davidson who has recently won the McLaren Young Driver of the Year Award. Craig Pollock, BAR's Managing Director said "All of us here at BAR are extremely excited about the signing. We fully believe that we have found an outstanding talent in Anthony and were not surprised by the outcome of the McLaren Young Driver Award in recognition of this. We are looking forward to a successful partnership and welcome him on board as a test driver
Marc Gene who drove for Minardi in the 99 and 2000 seasons will be a test driver
for the Williams BMW team in 2001. Gene is hoping that he will secure a drive with a top
team in 2002 but has indicated that he is prepared to remain as a test driver for 2 years
as long as he can secure a competitive drive.
The holders of the British Grand Prix rights, Octagon have done a deal
with the Silverstone circuit where the circuit will hold the British
Grand Prix for the next 15 years. The circuit will have major improvements carried out.
Jackie Stewart, the president of the British Racing Drivers Club said "The BRDC is delighted that we have structured a partnership to ensure the future development of the Silverstone circuit as the centrepiece of British motor sport. This deal is good for Britain as the capital of motor sport in the world."
Jaguar have confirmed that their technical director Gary Anderson
has left the team and has been replaced by Steve Nichols. Jaguar's chairman Neil Ressler
said "During 2000 Gary has worked hard to make the Jaguar R1 a competitive challenger
in Formula1, but at this stage of our development we believe that a change in the team's
technical direction will benefit Jaguar."
Steve Nichols has worked at a number of Formula 1 teams in the past in different roles. He was the head of future projects at McLaren, Chief Designer at Jordan and Technical Director and Sauber. Neil Ressler said of the appointment "Steve will bring a new technical dimension to the team. His experience at the highest levels of Formula1 racing, together with his engineering skills, will give new impetus."
The FIA have announced the provisional entry list for 2001. Kimi Raikkonen appears as a Sauber driver despite him not obtaining a super license yet. Minardi have yet to announce both of their drivers and Prost have yet to announce their second driver. A team can change their entries up until the 1st of March provided the driver holds a super license. Click here for the Provisional entry list
Benetton, Jordan, Arrows and Jaguar were present at Silverstone for a shakedown
their cars in preparation for the upcoming test at Jerez on the 5th of December. Weather
conditions were wet and the teams only completed a few laps.
1-Dec: Pedro Diniz has purchased a significant stake in the Prost Formula 1 team and has decided to give up racing in 2001 for a management role with the team. Pedro said "Obviously Alain gave me the option of driving for Prost next season. It was a hard decision to make because I am a driver and I love racing but since we have made a big investment in Prost Grand Prix, I have to think about long-term plans for my future and commit entirely to the success of the team."
Alain Prost whose team has struggled
during the 2000 season and failed to score a single point was delighted with this deal and
said "The alliance of Prost Grand Prix with Pedro Diniz is excellent news for the
team. It widens our commercial objectives and reflects our strategy, which is to become
truly international. In the short terms, these new funds will be aimed at increasing our
Prost will run customer Ferrari engines next year instead of the Peugeot engines. They are also expected to use Ferrari gearboxes.