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Should the cars be slowed down?  Have Your Say  
It could be the first race from hell  
Issue 3 - The Heretic   

Feb 25 - Mar 6 News

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6-Mar: Luca Badoer was in action today at Fiorano testing the F300 (98 spec) and the F1-2000 (2000 spec) cars. He concentrated on testing various mechanical and electronic components. He covered a total of 65 laps in the F300 and 10 laps in the F1-2000. Badoer continues testing tomorrow while Rubens Barrichello will conduct 2 days of testing at Fiorano starting on Thursday.

Click here for the timed results  

Several other Formula 1 teams including Williams and Arrows will start a 3 day test at Silverstone on Wednesday. 


Following the significant drop in laps times and the horrific crash that saw a safety marshal lose his life, the FIA have indicated that they will me closely monitoring the situation and will act quickly as needed. FIA President Max Mosley said "We knew that competition between the two tyre makers might increase the speed, and that is why the technical commission worked on the aerodynamic regulations to reduce it. The impression is that the sums were not right. We don't want to jump the gun, but if Malaysia and Brazil were to confirm, as I fear, the position in Melbourne, then the FIA must act quickly."

6-Mar: What the teams and drivers said following the Australian GP ... Report

5-Mar: Jacques Villeneuve who was involved in a horrific crash at the Australian Grand Prix was given the all clear after being admitted to a Melbourne hospital. Villeneuve experienced nausea and dizziness after the accident but following the check up he was found be suffering from bruising and light inflammation in the back of the neck only. 

Craig Pollock, the boss of BAR and a close friend of Villeneuve has indicated that Villeneuve was lucky to survive the crash and compared the crash with Jacques father's crash in 1982 at the Belgian GP and said "I've studied the accident his father had and it was exactly the same. The only thing is that Gilles didn't go into the barriers and his seatbelts gave in. In this one I saw Jacques going straight towards the wall, and then I thought about Greg Moore, the Canadian CART driver killed at Fontana Speedway, California in 1999, The cars can hold up perfectly and the guy inside just can't sustain the shock."

4-Mar: Olivier Panis and Jos Verstappen have been both penalised with 25 seconds added to their result for passing Nick Heidfeld under a yellow flag situation early in the race following Enrique Bernoldi's spin.
The Sauber team had lodged an official complaint to the race officials about both Panis and Verstappen for passing their driver Nick Heidfeld under yellow flags. The race officials reviewed the race footage and decided to penalise both Panis and Verstappen with 25 seconds added to their result. This drops Panis to 7th and Verstappen to 10th giving Sauber not only an additional point for their driver Nick Heidfeld but also another point for their second driver Kimi Raikkonen who moved from 7th to 6th. 

Click here for the updated results page

4-Mar: At the post Race press conference, Michael Schumacher has indicated that he was shocked at the news of the death of a marshal following Jacques Villeneuve's crash during the race. He added that the Formula 1 community will look at what kind of support they would give to the family of the saftey marshal. 
He also spoke briefly about his race and said "Obviously I had a great start. We worked hard over the winter on that, and as you see it worked out, it went very well and I was quite pleased about this. Then I just tried to get my race into a kind of rhythm where I drove fast when I had to be fast and not to overdrive the car when it was unnecessary.

David Coulthard described his second place finish as fairly insignificant wen there is a loss of life involved and said "Well obviously the overriding story of the race, as Michael just mentioned, was the fatality of the marshal; on behalf of all the drivers our thoughts go to his family. We need to study how we can improve track safety for these people who give their time to enable us to go racing. That to one side, I had a fairly straightforward race to pick up six points but that seems fairly insignificant when there is a loss of life involved."

Rubens Barrichello echoed the statements of Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard and said "I mean to score some points to begin with is quite good, but we definitely are not happy, as David and Michael just said. When a colleague who is there for you happens to be in an incident like that....my thoughts are all with him and his family. I think there is no way we can make up for this race."

4-Mar: Australian GP Race: Michael Schumacher wins the Australian Grand Prix ahead of David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello. Olivier Panis, Nick Heidfeld and Heinz Harald Frentzen make the top 6 Timed Results ... Full Report  Notes. 

4-Mar: Australian GP Warm-up Session: David Coulthard sets the fastest time of the session ahead of Mika Hakkinen and Jos Verstappen Timed Results ... Full Report Notes. 

3-Mar: Australian GP Qualifying: Michael Schumacher grabs pole position ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello and Mika Hakkinen. Heinz Harald Frentzen, Ralf Schumacher and David Coulthard make the top 6 Timed Results ... Full Report Notes. 

3-Mar: Australian GP 2nd Saturday Practice: David Coulthard sets the fastest time of the session  ahead of Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen Timed Results Full Report Notes.

3-Mar: Australian GP 1st Saturday Practice: Michael Schumacher  sets the fastest time of the session ahead of David Coulthard  and Mika Hakkinen Timed Results Full Report ... Notes.  

2-Mar: At the Friday press conference, Jean Todt explains Michael Schumacher's accident during the second Friday Practice Session. Jean Todt said "He simply did not see the yellow flag and when, at the last minute he realised it, he thought it was corner number 5, and it happened to be at number 6, and when he saw it, it was just hard braking, and he spun."
Jean was also asked about his concerns regards Michael's car flipping over and said "It's a question of the gravel condition. We know that if it is not flat, that's a danger with gravel. So the car is just flying in the air and it then turns over. And fortunately. I mean, it was no more damage." He also believes that there should be some improvements to the gravel trap."

Ron Dennis has indicated that he was not surprised by the quick lap times the teams have achieved in practice today and explained "I think everyone anticipated a performance comparable to what we had, mainly coming from the tyres, of course, because the aerodynamic regulations have slowed the cars down, but not enough to accommodate the performance coming from this year's tyres."
Ron also stressed that one cannot read too much into today's times and said "I would say wait and see until tomorrow. We're pretty focused, as always, on just getting the car optimised for the race over the course of today. It is clear where our main competition is, and we won't know until tomorrow, maybe even the race, because I think how a car works on these tyres is going to be quite critical to, the outcome of the Grand Prix. I think inevitably as you pick up lap time, you lose some of the tyre durability, last year we were in a monopoly situation, running relatively hard tyres, not particularly sophisticated constructions. And as you go towards an optimum race tyre, within the regulations we have, you are going to arrive at a situation where the car balance is going to be critical to the consistency of the lap times."

Kimi Raikkonen who is driving in Formula 1 for the first time has indicated that he hopes to qualify in the top 10 after managing the 11th fastest time. He also indicated that driving in Formula 1 is so much bigger than what he is used to. 

Jenson Button had a number of problems during practice including a puncture and an engine problem. He indicated that they don't expect too much and said "Obviously we didn't know where we were going to stand before we came here. Looking at Giancarlo's effort (who set the 16th fastest time), it's what we expected really, to be in that sort of position again. Friday testing, you don't really know much. But if we're in that position for qualifying, I think that's what we pretty much expected."

Luciano Burti had a crash during the second practice session and also had an engine problem and said "Well, it was okay until I put it into the wall. No, the first session was pretty good. It was just a case to learn the track, try to improve the car. It's quite difficult in the beginning because the track gets quicker and quicker, so really you have to live with the car a little bit and just don't chase the conditions too much. So the first session was okay. Then the second, I had a problem with the engine, so I lost probably 20 minutes of the session, and I had to go straightaway on new tyres. I pushed maybe a little bit too hard, just got my rear left wheel on the grass, which spun me around, and unfortunately here there is no room for mistakes. I spun pretty slowly, to be honest, but that was enough to put it into the wall, and that was it really."

2-Mar: Australian GP 2nd Friday Practice: Rubens Barrichello sets the fastest time of the session ahead of Jarno Trulli and Michael Schumacher Timed Results  ... Full Report Notes.  

2-Mar: Australian GP 1st Friday Practice: Rubens Barrichello sets the fastest time of the session ahead of his team mate Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen Timed Results ... Full Report Notes.  

2-Mar: Just hours prior to the start of the first Friday practice, the American cable network Speedvision has reached an agreement with Bernie Ecclestone to cover all Formula 1 races in the USA exclusively with the exception of the US Grand Prix which will be covered by broadcast network. Speedvision founder and CEO Roger Werner said "We're pleased to extend our relationship with Formula One, now on an exclusive basis, and look forward to another exciting season of the world's most popular open wheel racing." 


The German media group Kirch and their partners EM.TV exercised a $987 million dollar option for a further 25% of SLEC increasing their shareholding to 75%. This move is seen as an end to Bernie Ecclestone's control of the broadcasting rights to the sport and the possible move of Formula 1 coverage from free to air to pay TV.
The Motor Manufacturers and Formula 1 teams have strongly opposed Kirch gaining control and have indicated that they are not comfortable with the pay TV approach.
Ron Dennis McLaren's team boss said "Clearly the teams are going to be pretty uncomfortable if we move away from it (free-to-air television) to a pure pay TV approach. Because Formula One is McLaren's core business, we are very focused on this business, and you can rest assured that our objective would be to keep Grand Prix racing live on free-to-air television.
Jaguar's Bobby Rahal said "I would say that anything that restricts the number of people who can watch a sport, ultimately that is a negative, So probably pay-per-view is not a way to create that or expand that field, no question."
Renault who own Benetton and FIAT who own Ferrari are also in opposition to the deal.
The FIA have also expressed concern over the deal but indicated that the FIA general assembly have 60 days to make up it's mind whether to approve the deal or block it. Max Mosley earlier said "We have to be satisfied and if we are not satisfied then we can terminate the contract. That is the bottom line. 

1-Mar: The Orange Arrows teams was the last Formula 1 team to launch their 2001 challenger. Orange Arrows team principal Tom Walkinshaw said "We had a good season in 2000 but we feel we can do better in 2001. I hope the technical collaboration of Arrows, AsiaTech and Bridgestone will deliver the results that Orange Arrows and all of our partners, both existing and new, undoubtedly deserve."
One of the new Arrows sponsors is the Red Bull group who will end their sponsorship with Sauber following a dispute over the appointment of Kimi Raikkonen to driver for the Sauber team rather than Enrique Bernoldi. Bernoldi now drives for Arrows.


McLaren's team boss Ron Dennis has indicated that he would rather have a fast and unreliable car than a slow reliable one but stressed that the team's reliability last year was incredible and said "I'd rather have a fast, unreliable car than a slow, reliable car, but I feel a bit uncomfortable when people start portraying us as an unreliable, incompetent Grand Prix team. We're far from that and our results show it. The facts are our reliability last year was incredible. That our main competition has perhaps slightly better reliability tends to throw the spotlight onto us and why we didn't win the world championship. Since the first time McLaren turned a wheel on a Grand Prix track in 1966, we've won one of every four races in which we've competed. That demonstrates not only a winning culture, but a culture of reliability."

28-Feb: Both the Prost and Minardi teams launched their new cars today in Melbourne just 2 days before the start of the first practice session on Friday. Arrows will be the last team to launch their challenger tomorrow also in Melbourne. 
The Prost car retains the blue livery but with Acer, PSN and Parmalat as the main sponsors rather than Gauloises and Yahoo.
Alain Prost said at the launch "I feel we are finally ready to step up and achieve credible gains this year. In the pre-season, the team and its technical partners Ferrari and Michelin have worked very hard and their efforts have paid off. The AP04 ran on the track quite early and since its first test, it has performed well and consistently."

The 2001 Minardi loses the yellow livery and now runs a mainly black livery with European as the major sponsor (owner). Paul Stoddart said at the launch "The first race was to get the cars manufactured in six weeks and three days and to get them to Melbourne. I was amazed to learn that we were the first cars to arrive here."
Stoddard's expectation from this year are modest, he said "Starting so late, with no testing, a building programme that was impossible to achieve; 10th or better in the constructors' championship is the best we can expect. If we score a point that will be like winning a Grand Prix!"
Minardi only shook down one of the two cars in Italy and will use the practice sessions as test sessions. Stoddart added "We are starting our testing on Friday morning on the track with two drivers who have never seen the place before. The perfect scenario for me would be for one car to finish on Sunday, that will be like winning the world championship."

28-Feb: It could be the first race from hell is the title of the 3rd issue from the Diagnosis and Prognosis Series for the 2001 season. In this issue, the Heretic looks at the upcoming Australian Grand Prix - Issue 3

27-Feb: "Do you favour the return of Traction Control" Topic of the week - Have Your Say

27-Feb: Michael Schumacher believes that the 2001 season will be another duel between Ferrari and McLaren. He indicated that he will face tough competition not only from Mika Hakkinen but also from David Coulthard and his team-mate Rubens Barrichello and said "It is going to be another very hard season. I'm anxious for everything to start and I want to race and fight on every circuit. I am looking forward to battling with Mika again as we have had some great races and battles in the past. David certainly gave me a very tough run at quite a lot of races last year and there is also my Ferrari team-mate, Rubens. I think we make a good pairing for the team and this year I expect even more pressure from him as I think he will be consistently fast."


Mika Hakkinen has indicated that they have encountered a lot of problems in testing that he is not optimistic for Melbourne, however he still has the full confidence in McLaren to deliver and said "We have had far too many problems and that doesn't make me optimistic for Melbourne, but I have complete confidence in McLaren and I know that the car will enable me to fight for the title. Even if I lose points to Ferrari in Melbourne, it won't be a problem. I am confident about this year's world championship."


Jacques Villeneuve criticised the BAR 003 after his first test describing it as slow. He has since changed his opinion of the car indicating that it is improving daily and they have a lot more room for improvement and said "There is still a lot of work to be done so I cannot evaluate the full potential of this car at the moment. My impression is that it started badly but that it is improving day after day. Who knows what its limits are and what levels it can reach? There is room for improvement and that is a positive thing. Villeneuve also wants Honda to reach the level of the top engine suppliers and added "They still have a lot to learn and develop, and their engine still isn't at the level of the top two or three engines in the business."


Max Mosley has explained the FIA's plan of action in the event that cars would actually lap quicker if the grooves are worn out but indicated that at this stage they will only monitor the situation and said "The rule says that we can take whatever action is necessary. This could be anything from specifying the minimum tread thickness to a more radical proposal, which is to get a thin steel band that they have to put at the bottom of each groove, so that once the tyres are worn down, they go off in a shower of sparks! That's a bit extreme, but it's a possibility. 
Up to now it's been clear that, if a tyre was run down to the point that it was bald, its performance drops off. That happens provided that the thickness of the tyre is small enough that, once the grooves have worn away, they heat up the corners of the tyre. So, the first thing we're going to do is measure the thickness of the rubber at the bottom of the groove. If we see that increasing, we'll start to worry. If we get evidence that the cars are quicker when they run bald, then we will really start to take an interest. Teams can't use them for qualifying, because we'll see the tyre at the end of the session and just take the times away. They can't use them in the first stint of the race because after the first pit top we would just stop the car, without any embarrassment at all. It wouldn't bother us to black flag them. The only time we would be embarrassed is if they ran them bald in the last part of the race, and we discovered this while they were shaking the champagne."

26-Feb: The First Race of the Season. The Australian Grand Prix Preview is now available ... Race Preview

Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix Schedule:

Friday Practice Session 1
Friday Practice Session 2
Saturday Practice Session 1
Saturday Practice Session 2
Qualifying Session
Warm-up Session
Race
11 AM Melbourne Time / 12 AM GMT
1 PM Melbourne Time / 2 AM GMT
9 AM Melbourne Time / 10 PM GMT (FRI)
10:15 AM Melbourne Time / 11:15 PM GMT (FRI)
1 PM Melbourne Time / 2 AM GMT
9:30 AM Melbourne Time / 10:30 PM GMT (SAT)
2 PM Melbourne Time / 3 AM GMT
Go to the Australian GP Page

26-Feb: The Williams team and their engine supplier BMW decided early in 2000 that in order to compete with the top 2 teams this year, they must build a new engine from scratch. BMW's Motorsport Director commented on the P80 by saying "After the very good season in 2000 the expectation from the outside has obviously risen. In 2001 we want to defend our third place in the Constructors World Championship closing the gap with the top teams. We knew from the start that we would have some good results with last year's engine but we could not challenge the top teams. Therefore we started already in January 2000 with the development of the P80. It's completely new V10, which is smaller, lighter and should be also stronger than the E41-4."

Juan Pablo Montoya has indicated that he is hoping to surprise himself in Formula the same way he did in CART. He also hopes that Michelin will deliver and said "I hope I'll surprise myself in F1, like I surprised myself with how well I did when I first went to CART. The biggest thing after America is that I'm wiser than before. I know how to win a race, how to push a car to go fast and how to get a team behind me. It'll be nice to shake up the established order. But a lot is going to depend on how good the Michelin tyres are. In testing they looked quite good, but quite good is not enough. They have to be on the money."

Heinz Harald Frentzen has claimed that Ferrari are already using some kind of traction control on their cars and that is the only reason why they tried to delay the re-introduction of it. He also expects that McLaren have a similar system. Frentzen said "By devising a different program to overcome the excessive torque that creates wheel-spin you have what is effectively a traction/launch control system that provides a huge advantage off the start-line or in the wet. It's a very delicate job to write the right program and to be able to use it at the right moment. A job which Ferrari certainly seemed to have mastered last year, which is certainly why they are keen to delay any rule changes on the subject. Whether there system is legal or not, is something that even the FIA admit they are unable to verify. Honda does not have a system as sophisticated as the Ferrari one and probably nobody else in the paddock has with the exception of McLaren. So all I can say for the first four races of this season is that I hope it stays dry! At least then I think we can give them a good run for their money."

25-Feb: It is now official, ex-Arrows Chief Designer Eghbal Hamidy now takes the role of Technical Director at Jordan. Hamidy replaces Mike Gascoyne who left Jordan last year to join Benetton (story).
Eghbal Hamidy commented on the official announcement saying "'I'm excited to be joining Jordan as I think there are some exciting times ahead of us. The team and Honda have done a very good job and I'm looking forward to contributing to that effort and guiding the evolution of the new car package to achieve the goal that the team have set themselves."
It is believed that Nicolo Petrucci has joined the Arrows team as their Chief Designer.


Minardi have announced that they will launch their car on the 28th of February in Melbourne. The team will have only 2 cars at the Australian GP as the spare car will not be ready in time. 


The TV coverage of Formula 1 in the US for the 2001 season has yet to be finalised. It is believed that ABC, ESPN and Speedvision are waiting for a decision by Bernie Ecclestone. Speedvision who covered the races last season are believed to be the front runners and are fully prepared to provide coverage if the decision is made in their favour. 

 

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