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25 - 31 January  News 

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31-Jan: For the second day in a row, Jean Alesi sets the fastest time of the day in the Prost AP04 over half a second ahead of Jordan's Jarno Trulli. Ralf Schumacher was 3rd over a second behind Alesi.
6 teams were present with 9 drivers setting lap times. Jarno Trulli covered the most number of laps with 82 followed by Ralf Schumacher with 70 and Jenson Button with 67. Jos Verstappen covered the least number of laps with 9 after the team had problems with their software control programs.
For the first time this test, Jenson Button was quicker than his team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella while Ralf Schumacher in the 2001 car was quicker than Juan Pablo Montoya in the 2000 car. Jaguar continue to struggle with Burti setting the 8th fastest time almost 3 seconds off the pace and test driver Tomas Scheckter was 9th just under 5 seconds slower than Alesi!.
The top 3 were running 2001 spec cars indicating that the new cars could be faster than last year's despite the new regulations.
Testing continues tomorrow with Montoya testing the FW23 for the first time while Ferrari returns to the circuit with Rubens Barrichello testing the F1-2000.
The McLaren team are testing at Jerez with a number of test drivers including Giorgio Pantano and Darren Turner. No times are available from that test.

Click here for the timed results 

Michael Schumacher will start testing the F2001 at the Fiorano track from tomorrow (Thursday). He is expected to remain there for a few days. Rubens Barrichello resumes testing at Barcelona while Fabrizio Giovanardi (stand in for Luca Badoer) will test at Vairano.

31-Jan: Arrows have finally announced their driver line-up for the 2001 season. Jos Verstappen remains with the team while Enrique Bernoldi replaces Pedro de la Rosa. Team Principal Tom Walkinshaw commented on the announcement by saying �We are pleased with our line-up for 2001. We have a strong, experienced driver in Jos and some young blood with Enrique. It should prove to be an interesting combination. We have been pleased with the feedback and maturity shown by Enrique when testing the car so far and look forward to watching him develop as an F1 driver. We would like to thank Pedro for the 100% commitment he has shown to the team in the last two seasons and wish him well for the future.�
There was no official statement from de la Rosa's management although there are rumours that de la Rosa could take up a testing role at Prost.
It was speculated that Bernoldi was in line for a drive at Minardi but when he tested for Arrows at Barcelona on Friday and Monday, it was clear that some deal was being negotiated. 
In other news relating to the Arrows team, Dutch telecommunications company chello have announced the termination of their sponsorship deal with Arrows. Arrows made no official announcement. 

Click here of the 2001 Lineup & Launch Dates  

Peter Sauber has revealed that Kimi Raikkonen will be on trial for the first 4 races of the season. Raikkonen will be allowed to continue racing if he proved capable of competing safely. Peter Sauber however is confident that Raikkonen will continue beyond the first 4 races and said "We believe Kimi is up to it. We are convinced, based on our experience up to now, that he will perform well."

30-Jan: Jean Alesi was the surprise of the day if not the whole mega test here at Barcelona as he sets the fastest time on day 10 of testing with a time of 1:18.991 which is faster than any time set on this track since 1997. He was almost a second faster than Giancarlo Fisichella in 2nd and almost 1.5 seconds ahead of 3rd place Juan Pablo Montoya. 
What is more surprising is that Prost's second driver Gaston Mazzacane who tested for the team during the last 2 days was last in the timesheets on both days and over 2 seconds off the pace!
Alesi was delighted with the result and said "I am extremly happy with the work we did today and with this track record. Today's times show we are on the right track and that we might score some points at the start of the season."
5 teams were present with 9 drivers setting timed laps. Giancarlo Fisichella covered the most number of laps with 112 followed by Jean Alesi with 95 and Juan Pablo Montoya with 68. 
Jos Verstappen and the Arrows team where the only Bridgestone runners present, He set the 5th fastest time before having an off and slightly damaging his car. Tomas Scheckter, Jaguar's test driver drove last year's Jaguar R1 at the Barcelona track for the first time. He also had a small off.
The mega test continues tomorrow.

Click here for the timed results 

Following his takeover of the Minardi team, Australian Paul Stoddart has promised a surprise driver for the 2001 season. He said "One of them you'll be definitely wrong on because it's really changed and I think you might get a shock. We are hoping to have a young charger and then somebody with more experience alongside him. One will be announced next week and the second the week after."
Spaniard's Fernando Alonso will almost certainly be the young charger while it appears that Brazilian Enrique Bernoldi will miss out. This could explain the reason why Bernoldi was testing for Arrows. Arrows have yet to confirm their driver line-up so we could still see some surprise driver changes.

Click here of the 2001 Lineup & Launch Dates  

30-Jan: Australian Paul Stoddart, the head of the European Aviation group of companies has acquired the Minardi Formula 1 team for an undisclosed amount. He replaces Gabrielle Rumi as Chairman and Team Principal of the team. The Minardi team have issued a statement confirming the deal following weeks of speculation concerning the team's future. The team will retain some of their operations in Faenza, Italy with part of the operation utilising European's manufacturing facility in Ledbury, England. 
Gian Carlo Minardi who founded the team in 1979 commented on the deal and said "I will be providing all my experience to let the team show its true values." Minardi will retain his current position as a Director for the team.
Former Chairman, Gabrielle Rumi described the deal as the solution to all Minardi's problems and said "For quite some time, I have been stating the necessity for a group to take over the team in order to provide the resources required to compete in today's Formula 1. After several ups and downs, this agreement now represents the ideal solution to all Minardi's existing problems. I wish the new ownership, and the whole team, a successful future."
Paul Stoddart described Minardi and European Aviation as a perfect fit and said "Minardi and European fit like a glove, the companies complement one another superbly, and together we will achieve more than either one could individually. European has a number of highly-experienced Formula 1 personnel on staff already. It really is only people of this calibre who could join with the Faenza workforce at this late stage in order to ensure that there will be a pair of Minardi's on the grid in Australia. It is undoubtedly a huge challenge, but everyone is up for it. That said we do not underestimate the enormity of the task ahead. However, this is eased by the fact that European has its own airline and can do things at a pace other companies would find impossible."
The team will run a European V10 engine which is an upgraded version of the Ford engines the team ran last season.
The driver line-up for the team has not been announced yet but it is widely expected that Formula 3000 star Fernando Alonso will be one of the drivers. The other driver could be Enrique Bernoldi.

29-Jan: Juan Pablo Montoya sets the fastest time at Barcelona on day 9 over half a second ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella and almost a second faster than Eddie Irvine. Montoya was testing the FW22 while his team-mate Ralf Schumacher ran the new FW23 for the first time. Ralf ran for 13 laps and was over 2.3 seconds off the pace.
5 teams were present with 8 drivers setting lap times. Eddie Irvine covered the most number of laps with 96 showing an improved level of reliability for the Jaguar although his team-mate Luciano Burti had problems and only managed to cover 24 laps. Giancarlo Fisichella covered 55 laps showing some good signs from the new Renault engine which has proved unreliable on the first few runs it had. Enrique Bernoldi once again drove the Arrows hybrid and covered 45 laps. Gaston Mazzacane continued to test for Prost and set the slowest time of the day.

Click here for the timed results 

29-Jan: Ferrari have launched their 2001 contender at their Maranello headquarters in Italy. Named the F2001, the car will run the new type 050 engine which is lighter and smaller than its predecessor, the type 049 engine. The transmission is the same 7 speed used last season with a few changes. Aerodynamically, the car has been developed around the new regulations with a distinctly lower front nose.
The ceremony was conducted in Italian and all the speakers spoke in Italian. Ferrari's President Luca Montezemolo thanked all the sponsors, the shareholders and the fans for their patience to wait all these years and vowed to retain the title this year and said "We want to win the 2001 World Championship. We have everything we need, strong sponsors, magnificent fans and great drivers. We will try our utmost to win"
Director of Sport, Jean Todt also voiced the team's will to retain both titles and said "After years of suffering, we have succeeded in winning both titles. Everything will be different now as there will be less tension and more determination to retain both titles."
Michael Schumacher indicated that winning the title has not made him less motivated, on the contrary, he is a hungry as ever for more success and said "I don't have much to say as the 2 titles say it all. Winning the title for Ferrari is something special and we still have the same motivation for winning and keeping the title with Ferrari for many years to come and we will fight for this."
He assured everyone that he won't rest now that he's won the title for Ferrari and said "My motivation couldn't possibly be higher. I am more relaxed now because a weight has been taken off my shoulders but I am constantly improving and getting better. I cannot see a time when it's going to get worse. A lot of people may fear that my motivation is less or that I am not so concerned any more, but really, I'm just born for this. I am a natural, I just want to get in the car and get to the limit."
Rubens Barrichello indicated how emotional he was being at the launch and that he has great pleasure in driving for the team for the second year. He added that he will do the best he can to retain the title for Ferrari.
Michael Schumacher will test the F2001 at the Fiorano track on the 1st of February following an initial shakedown on the 31st.
Rubens Barrichello will be at Barcelona testing the F1-2000 from the 1st to the 3rd of February.

28-Jan: Nick Heidfeld continues his impressive form at Barcelona and sets the fastest time for the second day in a row. His time in the 2001 Sauber C20 is just over a tenth of a second slower than the best time set on this track this year by David Coulthard in the 2000 McLaren. His team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest over half a second behind while Eddie Irvine was third over 2 seconds off the pace.
4 teams were present with 6 drivers setting timed laps. Eddie Irvine covered the most number of laps with 69 followed by Kimi Raikkonen with 56 and Luciano Burti with 50. Except for Sauber, all the teams are running Michelin tyres and it appears that Michelin could be over a second slower than Bridgestone in the dry at this stage.
Only Juan Pablo Montoya was running a hybrid car. His team-mate Ralf Schumacher will start testing the new FW23 tomorrow after the car arrived in Barcelona this afternoon.
The Mega test continues tomorrow with Benetton joining the test while Sauber take a 3 day rest.

Click here for the timed results 

27-Jan: At the Williams team launch, Ralf Schumacher has indicated that his target for the 2001 season is to close the gap to Ferrari and McLaren and said "Our target is to start where we finished last year, stay within the top three and close the gap to number two. After all Ferrari and McLaren were quite far away from us and we hope to change that. I am working on it and I have 17 chances."
As for his relationship with his new team-mate he said "So far so good. He is team-mate number five since I have been in Formula1 so that's nothing new. He is a little bit of a crank like most of the racing drivers, but despite all the things in the press we get along quite well. He knows what he wants and that is important. Team mates will never be best friends, that is normal. You get along well on the race track, but apart from that you don't have much contact. I have never had much contact with my team-mates."
Juan Pablo Montoya didn't make any predictions for the upcoming season and said "We have to wait and see how competitive the car is and I have a lot to learn. I can't go out there and say I'll be winning races. I can only do the best I can, but I'll be giving it 100%. I hope I can get a podium finish, but races go in different ways."
As for his relationship with Ralf Schumacher, he said
"Ralf is a good guy and I don't have any problems with him. We must first try and push each other quite a lot to do well on the track. He's focusing on his job and I'm focusing on mine."

Day 7 of testing at Barcelona saw Sauber's Nick Heidfeld top the time sheets ahead of BAR's Jacques Villeneuve and Nick's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. 
4 teams were present with 6 drivers setting lap times. Jacques Villeneuve covered the most number of laps with 85 ahead of Marc Gene with 79 and Nick Heidfeld with 60.
Heidfeld becomes the first driver in a 2001 spec car to set a time under the 1:21 mark at this track. Jacques Villeneuve was just over 0.2 seconds slower in the BAR003 as he appears to have found a good setup. The Jaguar team have returned to testing with Eddie Irvine and Luciano Burti however they were at the bottom of the timesheets with Eddie Irvine over 2 seconds off the pace while Burti only managed 12 laps and his time was not competitive. Williams were the only team to run a 2000 car with Marc Gene. Ralf Schumacher is expected to start testing the FW23 for the first time tomorrow.

Click here for the timed results 

27-Jan: The BMW WilliamsF1 team launch the FW23 at Silverstone with the presence of all the teams key members including the Team Principal Sir Frank Williams, Technical Director Patrick Head, BMW Motorsport Director Gerhard Berger, Chief Aerodynamicist Geoff Willis and the drivers Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya
Frank Williams expects to improve further this season and said "Much is expected of the partnership in 2001 and everybody at the BMW WilliamsF1 Team is aware of this important responsibility." Frank didn't seem to be concerned about the relationship between his two star drivers and said "We've got two really competitive drivers and there's no doubt in my mind what they can do. I don't think they'll get on marvellously, but that's not important it's what happens on the track that matters."
Patrick Head outlined the team's target for this year and said "The FW23 will build on the progress made over the last two years and have a visual similarity to the successful FW22 2000 car. The aerodynamics of the car have been optimised around the new regulations, and we hope that this car and engine will permit our drivers to challenge for race wins in 2001."
Gerhard Berger was less optimistic and said "It is highly unlikely that we will be able to completely close the gap with the established front-runners in only our second season with Williams, but we want to improve our performance so we can be ready and waiting to pounce as soon as one of the Ferrari's or McLaren's run into problems."
Technically, the car is an evolution of last year's car as Geoff Willis said "The FW23 is, in concept, an evolution of the FW22 with developments and improvements for the new engine installation and gearbox and a large number of changes reflecting the impact of the new regulations."
The team will shakedown the car at the Silverstone track and then move to Barcelona and join Marc Gene who is testing the FW22B.

26-Jan: At the BAR launch, Jacques Villeneuve described the target of them finishing third in the constructors' championship as "the minimum acceptable" and said "Third place overall is the minimum acceptable for us to be happy, I would say. Hopefully, we will reach it because otherwise it will be a big weight for all of us to carry if we are not in the top three.
Comparing BAR to McLaren a few years ago, Jacques said "Before McLaren started winning again, they were behind. I have a high belief in all the people in BAR and Honda to give us the package needed to be in the front.
Hopefully, now that Ferrari have won they will go to sleep for a little bit and that should help everybody.
But still Villeneuve wants to keep the pressure on his team and said
"If the team keeps progressing, then I wouldn't see any reason to go anywhere else, but you also need the team to be wanting you. Sometimes you start getting angry with some people you don't want to stay there either, so you just never know in advance."
Villeneuve is happy to have a team-mate who pushes him and said "For two years I had a team-mate who let me sleep, so it's good to have a team-mate who wakes me up a bit."
Asked who he considered a tougher opponent, Michael Schumacher or Mika Hakkinen, he indicated that it was Michael because of his unpredictable behaviour and said "I would say Michael because you don't know what he's going to do. You don't know if the track is going to be wide enough for you, you don't know if he's seen you. It's very difficult to judge. Whereas in general you know that Mika is going to think like a normal human being and have a normal behaviour."

Villeneuve's team-mate, Olivier Panis is happy to be back racing after a year as a test driver at McLaren and said "It's a different engine, different car, different colour, everything! I drove for a strong team last year but this team is very stable and motivated and I am pleased to be here. I have already driven the car, and the aerodynamics are very different, but I feel very positive for 2001. At the moment we need more information in order to make progress.
As for the relationship with Jacques, Panis said "I have the greatest respect for Jacques and I am ready to push his performance forward, and I am sure he will do the same for me, which is very good for the team."

In a surprise move, Olivier Panis takes the number 9 car while Villeneuve takes the number 10 car. Pollock indicated that Panis won his only GP at Monaco driving the number 9 Ligier and hopes that Panis could repeat that this year.

On day 6 of testing at Barcelona, Williams test driver Marc Gene was the fastest man on the track slightly ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Jarno Trulli.
5 teams were present with 7 drivers setting lap times. Darren Manning covered the most number of laps with 80 followed by Jarno Trulli with 69 and both Marc Gene and Kimi Raikkonen with 63 laps each.
Nick Heidfeld went off and damaged the undertray of his car limiting his running to just 12 laps as he waits for repairs to be carried out. Enrique Bernoldi made a surprise appearance for Arrows, he covered 14 laps and was slowest of all.
Marc Gene and Enrique Bernoldi were the only two drivers to test 2000 cars. All others are testing their 2001 contenders. Darren Manning tested both 2000 and 2001 BAR cars.
Testing continues tomorrow with Jaguar expected to return to the track following Irvine's crash. Jordan and Arrows have concluded their testing at Barcelona this week.

Click here for the timed results 

26-Jan: British American Racing have launched their 2001 contender in London today with the aim of competing head to head with Ferrari and McLaren. Craig Pollock, BAR's Managing Director said "While last year was a big improvement on our debut season, I am still not happy finishing 5th in the Constructors' Championship. Our aim in 2001 has to be at least a third place finish overall and to win some races, and with the team and infrastructure we now have in place, that is achievable and that is what I want. Last year no single facet of our car was really good or really bad, but in order to compete with the likes of Ferrari and McLaren we must ensure that every aspect excels. In the BAR003, we feel we have a car that can fulfil such high expectations.
Technical Director Malcom Oastler is pleased with the new car and said "We are very pleased with the 2001 car. It has met all of the objectives that we set ourselves in the design brief last year. We have made a saving of around 30 kilos on the weight of the car and have already exceeded our original aerodynamics targets. It has been a very intensive programme and the team has done a really good job. We feel we are in good shape and looking forward to the season ahead."
BAR's engine supplier Honda has also set high expectations for the 2001 season. Honda Racing Technical Director Kazutosho Nishizawa said ""The new unit may look the same from the outside, but we have improved it in almost every area, we have investigated and addressed issues from last year and the result is a superior unit. We are looking forward to our second season with BAR Honda, we had a good start to last year and there were some encouraging results, but we have to make sure that we build on this in 2001. Our target for 2001 is to have one Honda powered team in the top three in the Constructors' Championship. We also want a Honda powered driver on the top step of the podium." Honda also supplies 'works' engines to the Jordan team.

With Olivier Panis driving for the team alongside Jacques Villeneuve, Craig Pollock is looking forward to Panis pushing Villeneuve and said "Panis to push Villeneuve? Of course he will! I hope he really puts the wind up Jacques. It's good for the team to have such competitiveness between drivers."
BAR have also recruited James Robinson from Williams as their Chief Race Engineer. James Robinson and Jock Clear (Villeneuve's race engineer) helped Villeneuve win the World title in 1997 driving for Williams.

25-Jan: Olivier Panis continues his impressive form as he sets the fastest time in Barcelona over half a second faster than the second best time set by Michael Schumacher. Panis set his fastest time in the 2000 car but also managed to set the third best time in the 2001 car over half a second faster than the best time Trulli managed in the rival Jordan Honda car.
5 teams were present with 6 drivers setting lap times. Jarno Trulli covered the most number of laps with 96 showing some good signs of reliability for Jordan. Michael Schumacher covered 83 laps followed by Olivier Panis with 53 laps.
McLaren and Prost concluded their testing yesterday while Ferrari conclude their test today while Jordan will conclude their test tomorrow. BAR and Williams started their testing today. 

Click here for the timed results 

James Allen has been elected to stand in for Murray Walker at the Brazilian, Canadian and European GP's this season. James is hoping that he can live up to expectations at these 3 events so he can be appointed as the permanent replacement for Murray Walker when he retires at the end of the 2001 season. James said "'If I play my cards right and no scientist manages to generate a clone of Murray, I might be the one to take over from him. ITV are giving me the first opportunity with the races he misses this year. Let's see what happens"

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