F1 Newsround - 08/Apr/1997   HomeContentsHelp



Senna Trial Continues...Arrows Pick Up Barnard...Schumacher Breaks Mugello Record...Lola Out Of F1...

Schumacher sets new record at Mugello

Michael Schumacher completed the Ferrari tests at the Mugello (Italy) circuit today. The German carried out a grand prix simulation in an F 310 B fitted with the 046/2 engine. The test, divided into three runs was stopped just three laps short of the planned race distance with a hydraulic leak. In the morning, the team worked on a few set- up changes. Schumacher covered a total of 87 laps (approximately 456 kilometres) with a best time of 1m 25.25s, which is a new record for the Tuscany circuit, despite the fact he was not running in qualifying trim. During the test he tried both soft and hard compound Goodyear tyres. "This was a good day. I am satisfied with the 046/2 engine, both in terms of its reliability and drive-ability. We are making major progress," Schumacher said after the tests.

The Ferrari team have also denied the claims made by Italian sports daily Tuttosport, that Eddie Irvine is about to get fired and replaced by Gianni Morbidelli if he doesn't do well during the next Grand Prix in Argentina. A spokesman said: "Ferrari have every confidence in Eddie Irvine." He added: "It is premature to talk about any changes, although it's obvious that every driver must give his best and contribute to the race tactics decided by those in charge of the team."

The next test session is scheduled for the week after the Argentine Grand Prix (Buenos Aires, 13th April) at the Catalunya Circuit outside Barcelona.


Alesi tests at Silverstone

After finishing sixth at Interlagos, Jean Alesi was at Silverstone on Wednesday and Thursday driving the Benetton B197 test car preparing new front suspension geometry for the Argentine GP. "We were very happy with the way the test went," said Nick Wirth, the team's new chief designer. "We had a successful race with both cars in Brazil and we are looking forward to challenging for the lead again in Buenos Aires." It was Alesi's first visit to Silverstone since its corners were re-profiled and the circuit resurfaced. He quickly adapted to the changes and was encouraged by the test, completing 21 timed laps with a best of 1m 22.94s.


Fisichella shakes down fourth Jordan 197

Giancarlo Fisichella returned to England from Brazil to shake down the fourth Jordan 197 at Silverstone on Thursday. The chassis will be introduced into the team as Fisichella's race chassis at Imola, allowing his existing car to become the team spare while the current spare will become the permanent test car. Fisichella completed 38 timed laps with a best time of 1m 25.05s, trying new electronics and an updated differential. Technical director Gary Anderson explained that Fisichella was also testing some minor components in preparation for the Buenos Aires race. "We have to get the best out of certain bits and pieces on the car and this test will help," he said. "I think the cars proved quick enough in Brazil, but if you are stuck down in ninth place, there isn't much the drivers can do."


New bodywork for Stewart

A second set of revised bodywork, as used by Rubens Barrichello at Interlagos, will be available for Jan Magnussen's Stewart-Ford SF1 in time for the Argentine Grand Prix. As mention in Speed Motorsport news’ Grand Prix review, Paul Stewart explains that Barrichello's startline problem at Interlagos was due to an electrical software problem with the drive-by-wire system. "On the grid, the engine suddenly shot up to 16,000rpm and automatically shut down," he explained. "We are still trying to get to the bottom of what caused the problem."


Frentzen up before the beak.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen was due to visit the Williams headquarters today (Friday) to have a detailed de-brief on his disappointing run to ninth place in the Brazilian GP. After colliding with Giancarlo Fisichella in the first start to the race, he had no choice but to race in the spare car, but he never looked able to compete with the front-runners. "It will all take a bit longer," said Frentzen, "At Sauber, it was different and I had my own way of setting up my car, but I haven't been able to do it properly at Williams yet. Here, I’m the new guy and have to work Damon's way, with a team that takes its own options. In any case, I don't think that I'm getting the best out of my car." Gerhard Berger would agree that a faulty damper that Frentzen had during the race could have harmed his lap times. Damon Hill, replaced by Frentzen this season however, already driving his spare Arrows car due to a Fuel leak in the race car and compromised by a gear shift problem, matched the German’s pace for most of the race, with equipment hardly up to the Williams spec. Whilst Frank Williams might think that it could take Frentzen half the season to match his team mate, it is doubtful that the Boss’s patience will last that long. Frentzen has already canceled plans for a vacation after Brazil and his audience with Williams. His excuse could be that Jacques Villeneuve had 6000 kms under his belt this time last year, but then Villeneuve had not sat in an F1 car before. Frentzen had three years at Sauber to get his Formula 1 awareness together. "What will really boost Heinz-Harald's confidence is having a decent run in Argentina," said technical director Patrick Head, ever the diplomat. "He wasn't the only driver to have a poor weekend in Brazil, so we must just get to the bottom of his problem and correct the situation."


Tyrell’s disappointment continues

The Tyrrell Racing Organisation is satisfied that both cars finished the Brazilian GP, but disappointed about their mediocre placings. "We have reliability, now we must look to the performance," said Ken Tyrrell. In order to do just that, Chief Designer Harvey Postlethwaite is back in Britain working on modifications to use on the cars in Argentina. A new specification Ford V8 engine is expected for the San Marino GP.

The team have also have denied rumours that they have started talks with Bridgestone after it has become obvious that their tyres are proving to be quick. The team stated that they have a contract with Goodyear which they will honour.


Lola out of credit

March 29th Interlagos. The blue covers stayed on the cars in the Lola team pit garages this weekend. It seems now that they will never roll again. A spokesman for the company said in a short statement, "the Lola organization is experiencing financial difficulties and, as a result Lola Formula 1 would not be able to continue its 1997 racing season and as a consequence of that, Mastercard sponsorship of Lola Formula 1 has ended." Team Boss Eric Broadley stated that ‘funding was nor forthcoming’.

In a complex sponsorship deal with the Brazilian arm of Mastercard funding was to be provided from a ‘Lola Mastercard holders Club’. This would bring money to the team by mid season. It seemed however that there was some confusion as to who would bridge the gap until this cash came on-stream. Mastercard was said to have assumed that Lola had ‘funds already raised’ and that it’s sponsorship deal was ‘on top’ of Lola’s budget. Lola it was said hoped to survive until mid season on the cash already delivered (approx £200,000), its smaller sponsor Penzoil, and Lola itself.

It says something for the wisdom of Broadley to pull out now rather than to go on digging himself further into financial debt and jeopardising the other sporting arm of Lola Cars which looks, for the immediate future to be unaffected by the crisis " We have delivered $12 million of equipment to the US and we will continue to supply chassis elsewhere." Said a spokesman for Lola.

Lola’s Engine development programme was not totally funded by them and is now seen as a separate entity(see separate engine story).

Despite attempts to raise further funding it is widely assumed that Lola will quit Formula 1 at least for this year. Broadley said, "I won’t say Lola will not return to GP racing in the future. F1 is the Pinnacle of the sport and we have vowed to participate in it."


Preparation for Formula 1’s mini tour of South America is different from that of the European races. Renault Sports Race Team Manager, Jean-Francois Robin explains:


How do you organise yourselves for the two consecutive Grands Prix on the South American continent?

Jean-François Robin: "Because of the distances involved, the South American campaign follows the same overall planning strategy as that employed for the Australian Grand Prix. Being so far away from base for two races in succession does however accentuate the unknown factor which faces us in the early part of the season, and that is that we are unable to confirm the total reliability of our engines following inspection of the units used for the opening race."

"After each Grand Prix, Renault Sport's priority is to recuperate the engines from the previous race as quickly as possible in order to strip and inspect them, a procedure which is essential if the engine is to evolve. The principal difference with long haul events compared to a European Grand Prix resides in the time it takes to get the engines back to Viry-Châtillon. Generally we are able to work on them on the Wednesday after a race, but this clearly isn't the case for the South American rounds."

"The distances involved when traveling to Brazil and Argentina do not leave us with sufficient turnaround time and that, it has to be said, is effectively something of an inconvenience."

What does this mean in concrete terms?

Jean-François Robin: "In concrete terms, we are obliged to prepare the qualifying and race engines for Brazil and the qualifying engines for Argentina at the same time. These are built to exactly the same specification since we do not have time to react between the two Grands Prix. These engines are sent together to Sao Paulo."

"The race engines for Argentina however follow our normal methodology and are shipped directly from France to Argentina. We will have had sufficient time to incorporate any fine tuning adjustments judged necessary following inspection of the components that come back from Australia. It is not vital for the Argentina race engines to be in Buenos Aires on the Monday preceding the race - as is the case with the qualifying engines - and we therefore have time to carry out any modifications we believe necessary."

"From the logistical point of view, our total running stock of engines - that is to say, 20 per team- has been built up by the time the South American campaign comes around. This means that our entire stock of engines is physically away from the Factory for the seasons first three races."

How do you see the 1997 season?

Jean-François Robin: "The major unknown factor of the season is the tyres. Being able to choose from two types of rubber for each Grand Prix is going to be very important tactically and changes in weather conditions are likely to complicate matters further still."


Peugeot’s Chief Engineer Jean-Pierre Boudy puts onus on Jordan to produce the goods this year.

Can you tell us about the new V10 engine produced for this season?

"The new V10 is called the A14. It is a logical development of the A12 but there are practically no parts that have been carried over from it. The A14 is smaller, lighter and more compact than its predecessor."

Peugeot Sport is presenting the A14 engine as its first real three-litre design. Is that how you would describe it?

"The earlier A10 and A12 designs were both derived from the 3.5-litre engine of 1994. They had the same architecture and were fundamentally the same. We didn't want to build a pure three-litre engine any earlier because we wanted to apply the experience we gained with the A6, rather than making big changes to the layout of the engine prematurely, before we had sufficient experience with this kind of engine. Developing a new engine takes a relatively long time and we preferred to take our time to introduce the A14 for 1997 rather than rush it out for last year and risk problems with reliability. At Peugeot Sport reliability is close to our hearts - as much as finding more horsepower - and I think we were right to use the A12, which was derived from the A10 - last year."

What have you incorporated in the A14 which you reamed from your previous engines?

"The A14 is still a V10 with the same 72-degree v-angle. Fundamentally it works in the same way as the A12 did. What we did was to look at ways of making every piece of the engine smaller and lighter with the lowest possible frictional losses. We have, if you like, pushed ahead with the development which we did on the A10 and A12 engines."

How many parts of the A14 are the same as in the A12?

"There aren't many. At most I would say a dozen." You talk about the engine being lighter and having gained a few centimetres here are there, to the casual observer, the figures don't seem to be very big. "Our engine has dropped from 135 to 127 kgs. That means we have gained eight kilos. That is quite a lot. At this level it really is not easy to reduce weight. When you build an engine which weighs 150kgs it is easy to find a way to save five kilos but after that it gets more and more difficult to save weight without affecting the reliability of the engine. Making a lighter engine means that one can improve the weight distribution of the car to improve the handling, which is also helped by the fact that we have managed to lower the centre of gravity of the engine by some centimetres. A smaller engine also allows all the engine ancillaries to be arranged to improve the weight distribution."

When you began working on the design of the A14 engine, how much did you know about the design of the 1997 Jordan?

"We didn't know anything at all about the car, but we did know the objectives which we had defined with Jordan engineers in our development plan. We worked along the lines laid down in this plan."

The big word at Peugeot Sport last year was "reliability" what is this year's catchphrase?

"In the course of the 1997 season we want to show that the A14 engine is as reliable as the A12 was and, if possible, better because we have two failures with the A12. That may be not be many but for us it is not good enough. Having said that we do not know the A14 as well as we knew its predecessor and we have obviously taken a calculated technical risk in introducing the new engine this year. We are satisfied with the performance-and the weight but we have to improve the reliability. We can only do that as we go along in the course of the season." As far as this year's A14 engine is concerned we have reached all the targets which we had planned for with Jordan."

"As far as we are concerned this is not really the principal goal. It is only one of them. The aerodynamic set-up of the cars at the moment means that it is not easy to exploit all the available power in all situations Clearly in terms of acceleration from tight comers we don't know how to use all the available horsepower. We know how to use the horsepower when the car is accelerating at high speed in a straight line. Using horsepower at the top of the rev ranges is not difficult, the skill is to find smooth delivery of power at low speeds and in the medium rev ranges so that it is always power available when a driver needs to use it."

Do you think it is a handicap to have to work with two young and inexperienced drivers - Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella?

"If there is a handicap, it is in the development of the chassis. As far as the engine is concerned we are in our fourth season in F1 and we are beginning to profit from a certain amount of experience in setting-up our engines. The youth of the two Jordan drivers ought not to be a handicap to us during the 1997 season."

Paris, March 1997


More Engine News...

Reports that Benetton team boss Flavio Briatore has sealed a two year deal to use Mecachrome prepared Renault engines have yet to be substantiated but it looks more than likely and Briatore is expected to make an announcement in the next week or so. The expected cost of over £10 million a year is likely to be funded in part by the extra money provided by the increased TV revenue the teams will receive from a revised structuring of the Concord Agreement. For Briatore to consider a deal with Mugen Honda, it is thought that he would want the parent company of the Japanese engine supplier to become fully involved by the ’99 season. Favourites for the second batch of engines after Prost, is Jordan who seem unlikely to retain their links with Peugeot in view of their poor showings at the first two Grands Prix this year. Whether Mugen Honda would want Jordan however, is another matter as repeated promises, as yet unfulfilled, that the team will break into the top five next year are beginning to wear thin.

Shinji Nakano, current Prost No 2 driver is to marry the daughter of Mugen's Chairman, Hirotoshi Honda. Nepotism, it seems sits beside Formula 1 well. It will indeed be hard for Alain Prost to even think about taking on the errant Jean Alesi next season. To do this Nakano would have to go elsewhere. Perhaps to Benetton next year in a sort of musical chairs? This could of course throw a spanner in the works regarding Briatore’s above mentioned deal with Renault. But it is widely rumoured that Flavio is not interested in taking the rookie Japanese and Honda are extremely keen naturally, to see him placed in front of one of their engines.

The possibility that TWR may be in line for the Honda would make sense as it would also with Renault. Both manufactures recognise Damon Hill’s proven development capabilities. Mugen are also familiar with most the TWR engineers who worked with the Ligier team before moving with then team boss Tom Walkinshaw to form the revamped Arrows outfit. There must also be a clause in Walkinshaw’s contract that stipulates Hill staying on for a further two years to realise the engine’s potential. Hill is currently half way through his one-year deal with TWR. The revised Yamaha engine is not now expected until the Spanish Grand Prix, and could even be later, requiring some fundamental redesigning of the Arrows A18 chassis.

Whilst it is known that Williams are using the Mecachrome Renaults until 1999, it has been rumoured for quite a while that BMW are covering the cost of the two year deal in order to keep the team available for the supply of its own engines when they enter Formula 1 in 1999.

With the demise of Lola immediately prior to the Brazilian Grand Prix (see seperate story), it now seems that there will be a spare engine looking for a home. MCD Consultants, who in consultation with Lola were producing a race engine from ‘the ground up’. MCD Boss Al Melling said. "It’s ready for someone to stick their name on it". The engines were not funded by Lola who put ‘very little money into it’


Computer connections fail to reveal secrets of the ‘Black Box’

IMOLA, Italy (Apr 2, 1997) - Ayrton Senna's 'black box' data recorder came under scrutiny Wednesday, as the trial continued into the Brazilian's fatal crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Witnesses said last month that due to damage, the recorder could not be connected up to the team's computer. Senna's Williams-Renault hit a concrete wall after leaving the track on the Tamburello bend. Marco Spiga, a technical expert called by state prosecutor Maurizio Passarini, attempted to show in court whether or not the Williams chassis data logging computer could be downloaded via three pin connectors supplied by Williams expert Giorgio Stirano. The session however, proved inconclusive because the recorder also requires the addition of a card, in order to upload data to a computer.

Passarini said: "Only today are we told we need a card. Williams never told us this before. Why wasn't it made available?" Stirano replied: "Because we were only asked for the pin connectors."

Lawyer Edda Gandossi acting for Williams said: "I think it's clear today that it would be pointless to try and cast any suspicion on the behaviour of the Williams engineers, which has always been courteous and professional."

The trial resumes April 15th, at which time Williams will supply the data card.

Barnard in Arrows deal

It now seems that John Barnard has linked up with TWR to do design work for the Arrows team. This is an unexpected turn of events as Barnard was expected to forge a close alliance with old friend Alain Prost’s new team. Current Arrows designer Frank Dernie ‘Knew nothing about the deal’ and got the news from the media, rather than from Walkinshaw himself. He is not expected to leave the team as Barnard’s role is being regarded as ‘consultative’. Barnard will be expected however, to start work on the 1998 spec Arrows Chassis as well as supplying minor modifications to the current ’97 model.

"We have the capacity to do a development programme." He said. But when pressed on his plans with Prost he played the whole episode down saying, "There’s still a couple of bits we can do for Prost".

Barnard bought the FDD design facilities from Ferrari when his contract expired and despite his expectations to provide consultancy work for both Prost and Ferrari it is widely thought that this will not happen.



Rumours fall thick that Williams has been talking to Jordan Peugeot’s chief designer Gary Anderson about taking over the position vacated by Adrian Newey. Newey meanwhile has yet to attend a grand Prix this year but ten to one McLarens number is on his ‘speed dial’.

BIC, maker of pens and razors, have entered into a four-year sponsorship with Prost . It is not known how much the deal is worth.

Minardi-Hart meanwhile, have reached on agreement with Roces, manufacturers of in-line roller skates, for the ‘97 season. It is also rumoured that Ukyo Katayama, will leave the team and Formula One next year to go to the Indy car series.

A new team involving Williams driver Jacques Villeneuve and backed by Reynard and Chrysler has been hinted at and denied by everyone, including Villeneuve's manager, Craig Pollock. It is understood that Villeneuve’s contract with Williams ends this year.

Chris Richardson 05/04/97

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