NEWS ARCHIVE

31 DECEMBER 2003

WILSON TO RAHAL?

There is talk in the United States that Justin Wilson could be on his way to join Bobby Rahal's CART team. Rahal has spent this year running Michel Jourdain Jr with backing from Mexico's Gigante supermarket chain and the Mexican offshoot of Office Depot.

ANDRETTI MATRIARCH PASSES ON

Rina Andretti, the mother of World Champion Mario Andretti and his twin brother Aldo (also a racer) and grandmother of racers Michael, Jeff and John, has died at the age of 90.

GEORGE AND THE FRANCES MOVING ON CART?

An Indiana judge has cleared away the first hurdles in the planned takeover of CART assets. Judge Frank Otte overruled attempts to slow down the process and thus torpedo the plans of Open Wheel Racing.

DEADLINE WILL BE IMPOSED ON FRENCH GP

Despite stories to the contrary, it is expected that the deadline imposed by the FIA for the French GP is not going to be extended, although the Formula 1 teams will meet on January 14 and it is possible that the race will be one of the items on the agenda at that meeting.

30 DECEMBER 2003

THE THREAT OF TERRORISM IN BAHRAIN

Much has been made in recent days of the threat of a potential terrorist attack on the Grand Prix in Bahrain in April next year. The first appearance of Formula 1 in the Middle East could constitute a tempting target for Islamic terrorists, keen to strike at the western world.

A FAMOUS FORMULA 1 SPONSOR IN TROUBLE

Parmalat, the sponsor of the Brabham team for many years in the 1970s and 1980s has run into big trouble with the Italian authorities with its founder and former head Calisto Tanzi being arrested over the weekend as part of the investigation into an alleged fraud.

MCLAREN PROTEGE HEYLEN MOVES TO FORMULA 3000

McLaren Mercedes protege Jan Heylen has signed to drive for Team Astromega in the 2004 FIA International Formula 3000 series. The 2002 Formula Ford Festival winner raced this year in the Formula 3 Euroseries but did not have a very successful year.

29 DECEMBER 2003

A COUPLE OF DAYS LEFT FOR FRENCH GP

Most of France is on holiday at the moment and there is virtually no hope of the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile being able to get the problems surrounding the French Grand Prix sorted out before the FIA deadline of January 1.

THE TOBACCO NET TIGHTENS STILL FURTHER

Although there has been little happening in racing circles during the Christmas holidays, the anti-tobacco forces continue to tighten the net on tobacco advertising, with three more countries committing themselves to the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

27 DECEMBER 2003

REVIEW OF THE YEAR: WORLD CHAMPIONS - SCUDERIA FERRARI MARLBORO

There are times when you wonder what it will take to stop Michael Schumacher winning the Formula 1 World Championship. This year he picked up his sixth title, his fourth in a row.

26 DECEMBER 2003

REVIEW OF THE YEAR: 2ND - BMW WILLIAMS

When one sits back and analyses the 2003 season, the conclusion that one is forced to draw is that the BMW Williams team should have won both the Drivers' and Constructors' titles.

25 DECEMBER 2003

REVIEW OF THE YEAR: 3RD - WEST MCLAREN MERCEDES

McLaren came third in the Constructors' Championship in 2003, narrowly outscored in the end by Williams-BMW but on the race tracks the difference between the two teams was often much more than the results ultimately suggested. McLaren made better use of its opportunities.

24 DECEMBER 2003

REVIEW OF THE YEAR: 4TH - RENAULT F1

Timing is everything in F1 and the Renault F1 organization seems to have got it a bit out of kilter. The team peaked in terms of chassis performance in 2003. The driver line-up is good and due to get better in 2005; the tires are clearly very good but the engine was a pig...

23 DECEMBER 2003

NOW WHAT FOR JUSTIN?

With Zsolt Baumgartner now confirmed by Minardi there is only one hope for Justin Wilson in 2004 in Formula 1 - with Jordan - and the chances of Wilson getting the drive are decidedly thin with a number of drivers with serious money circulating at the moment.

REVIEW OF THE YEAR: 5TH - LUCKY STRIKE BAR HONDA

British American Racing was one of the four teams involved in the battle for fifth place in the Constructors' Championship and the fact that the team emerged ahead of Sauber, Jaguar Racing and Toyota is an indication that progress was being made.

BAUMGARTNER DEAL TO BE CONCLUDED TODAY

Zsolt Baumgartner will be the second Minardi driver in 2004, if everything goes to plan today. The contract with Minardi is already signed but it does not come into effect until the Hungarian driver meets certain financial obligations, which are believed to be payments to the team.

22 DECEMBER 2003

REVIEW OF THE YEAR: 6TH - SAUBER PETRONAS

Fourth in 2001, fifth in 2002, sixth in 2003 the trend at Sauber in recent years has not been what Peter Sauber would like to see but given the resources of the team and the fact that it does not have manufacturer engines, the Swiss are doing remarkably well.

21 DECEMBER 2003

REVIEW OF THE YEAR: 7TH - JAGUAR RACING

Jaguar Racing has been a political minefield since its inception but this year there were finally signs that someone within the Ford Motor Company is taking the operation in hand and doing the right things. For much of 2002 Ford executive Richard Parry-Jones did an in-depth analysis on what was wrong with Jaguar Racing and concluded that a new management was needed

20 DECEMBER 2003

REVIEW OF THE YEAR: 8TH - PANASONIC TOYOTA RACING

Panasonic Toyota Racing was one of the first teams to have its new car up and running and had completed plenty of testing before the first race of the year.

FRANCE DREAMS ON...

The Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile continues to bludgeon its way forward in the vain belief that if it raises enough money to satisfy Bernie Ecclestone that the French Grand Prix will be allowed back into the Formula 1 World Championship.

19 DECEMBER 2003

GPWC-SLEC ISSUES NEW RELEASE

Formula One Administration, GPWC and SLEC have announced that they have agreed a memorandum of understanding on the future structure of the Formula One group of companies, the commercial rights holder of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. But what does it mean?

MINARDI'S "NEW" NEW PS04

When Paul Stoddart bought the old Arrows A23 chassis last year, he intended to use the cars as the basis for the PS04 challengers in 2004. But after tests during the autumn Stoddart has now apparently concluded that the Arrows car was not good enough and a new car is being fashioned.

TOYOTA MOVES ANDERSSON ASIDE

Ove Andersson, the boss of Toyota Motorsport and the man who built the Formula 1 team, is to stand down after more than 30 years with the Japanese car manufacturer. Andersson will remain as a consultant to the company but his role will largely be taken over by Toyota Motorsport GmbH chairman Tsutomu Tomita.

MINARDI AND CHRISTJIAN ALBERS

The recent announcement that Jos Verstappen will not be driving with Minardi next year has loosened tongues down at Faenza, the team miffed at some of the comments made in recent days by Verstappen's new management.

REVIEW OF THE YEAR: 9TH - JORDAN

Eddie Jordan is one of the sport's most colorful characters and for many years was one of the most popular. But something changed. After Jordan sold out a share of his team and became fabulously wealthy, he seemed to lose the drive that was so admired.

WHO WILL DRIVE FOR EDDIE JORDAN IN 2004?

There have been stories saying that a deal is with done between Jordan Grand Prix and Nick Heidfeld but it is clear that whatever that arrangement is, there is still a question of money being needed and with Jos Verstappen's sponsor Trust now saying that the Dutchman will not be with Minardi.

18 DECEMBER 2003

REVIEW OF THE YEAR: 10TH - MINARDI

It has been a tough year for the Minardi team but once again the underdog organization based in Faenza, Italy, survived. This is good news because Minardi maintains the important role as the place where young drivers can learn about Formula 1 before moving onward and upward into a top team.

IRL BANS PRIVATE TESTING

Formula 1 has been trying to do it for years, but the unwieldy decision-making structure has made it impossible and so costs continue to boom in F1. Over in America the Indy Racing League has no such restrictions and Tony George has announced that private testing is out.

CHAMP CAR OWNERS BUY TRANSAM

Open Wheel Racing Series, the company which is in the process of taking over CART, has signalled its desire to be taken seriously by announcing the purchase from a subsidiary of the Sports Car Club of America of TransAm Racing, the company which runs the US saloon car series.

FIA PLANS NEW STRUCTURE

The quiet announcement last week that the FIA is to set up a Motor Sport Safety Institute, "in order to better coordinate the research activities of the FIA in motor sport safety" passed almost unnoticed.

IAN BROWN FROM BAR TO JAGUAR

Iain Brown, the client services director of British American Racing, has left the Brackley team to take up the role at Jaguar which was vacated recently by John Hogan. Hogan's role was to to deal with the coordination between the team and its sponsors and the FIA and FOM.

BAUMGARTNER ON THE VERGE OF A MINARDI DEAL?

Zsolt Baumgartner has been offered the second Minardi drive for next year but he will obviously need to take money to the Italian team. The team says it hopes to complete the deal within the next few days.

17 DECEMBER 2003

CART FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION

As expected Championship Auto Racing Teams has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This will enable Open Wheel Racing Series to buy certain assets from the court. The assets are expected to raise $3m.

16 DECEMBER 2003

VERSTAPPEN READY TO MAKE 2004 DECISION

Veteran Formula One driver Jos Verstappen who drove for Minardi in 2003 has yet to confirm a drive for next season. It seems that he has put Jordan under heavy consideration.

CART GETS AN AGREEMENT

There will be a CART series in 2004, according to Open Wheel Racing Series LLC. But the CART organization will have to be placed in Chapter 11 bankruptcy before its assets are acquired by OWRS. The assets being purchased include contracts with promoters, sponsors and teams.

HERTA WILL DRIVE A FOURTH ANDRETTI CAR

Bryan Herta, who last year was keen to get into Formula 1, has given up the idea and has signed to drive a fourth car for Andretti Green Racing in the Indy Racing League.

BAHRAIN CIRCUIT SEES FIRST ACTION

Ralf Schumacher has become the first Formula One driver to complete a lap at the all new Bahrain International Circuit.

SAUBER HOPE TO GAIN ADVANTAGE FROM $55 MILLION WIND TUNNEL

Swiss team Sauber-Petronas unveiled their highly anticipated ultra-modern wind tunnel today at their Hinwil headquarters.

MICHELIN PROMISES EVEN MORE COMPETITION IN 2004

Michelin motorsport boss Pierre Dupasquier said he is very pleased by the progress in winter testing.

14 DECEMBER 2003

FRANCE'S LAST HOPE

The FIA World Council on Friday in Monte Carlo decided to keep France in the F1 calendar for next year but the race can only happen if the FFSA can negotiate a deal with Bernie Ecclestone and get all the F1 teams to agree to run an 18th race.

13 DECEMBER 2003

BELL AND JAGUAR

There is a strong possibility that American Townsend Bell will become Jaguar's Friday test driver this year, alongside Mark Webber and Christian Klien.

BRUNI CONFIRMED AT MINARDI

As exclusively predicted by www.grandprix.com more than a month ago, Gianmaria Bruni has signed to drive for the Minardi team in 2004.

SPAIN WINS BEST RACE, GERMANY TAKES TV PRIZE

The FIA Prizegiving Gala in Monte Carlo on Friday night revealed the two prestigious awards related to the presentation of the sport.

THE JOS AND HUUB SHOW

Huub Rothengather was in Monte Carlo on Friday night, telling anyone who asked that it was still too early for any deals to be finalized for his charge Jos Verstappen to be in Formula 1 next year.

12 DECEMBER 2003

GOODBYE HEINZ-HARALD

Heinz-Harald Frentzen has known for some time that he was not going to be in Formula 1 in 2004 but the news was not confirmed until today when it was announced that the German will be racing for the Opel factory team in the DTM.

BRITISH AND FRENCH GPS SWAP DATES

The British Grand Prix has been confirmed on its desired date of July 11 while the French GP has been moved to July 4. France has until the end of the month to make all the necessary arrangements to keep the race alive

WORLD COUNCIL MEETS TODAY

The FIA World Motor Sport Council meets today in Monte Carlo and we can expect some form of an F1 calendar - hopefully something definitive.

HERE'S HO-PING!

The big news event at Jerez de la Frontera on Thursday was the 41 laps completed by Sino-Dutchman Ho-Ping Tung, who became the first Chinese driver to drive a modern Formula 1 car.

ZANARDI TO MAKE FULLTIME RETURN TO RACING?

Former F1 man Alex Zanardi is on the verge of announcing that he will be returning fulltime to motor racing.

11 DECEMBER 2003

WHY NEW TEAMS ARE UNLIKELY IN F1

There is talk at the moment that there will be new teams in Formula 1 in 2005 and 2006. This is hard to believe because the system has been designed to make it very difficult for that to happen.

IRVINE GETS INTO TROUBLE

Motor racing drivers often consider themselves above the law and every now and then we are reminded that they are not. Yesterday in London Bow Street Magistrates Court issued an arrest warrant for Eddie Irvine.

JOS NEEDS TO HURRY

With Minardi having two seats in F1 in 2004 but a lot of drivers keen on landing a deal, Jos Verstappen needs to move quickly if he is to remain in F1 next year.

10 DECEMBER 2003

FRENCH FACE UP TO GRAND PRIX CRISIS

The French Grand Prix will be cancelled on Friday when the FIA World Motor Sport Council meets in Monte Carlo, unless the French can find an extra $20m to pay the teams to take part in an 18th race.

BAT STRENGTHENS ITS POSITION IN BAR

British American Tobacco has strengthened its position within BAR by taking up shares which were authorised when the team began in 1998. It is not clear to what extent this alters the balance of the shareholdings in the team but it will inevitably mean that the other shareholdings have been diluted.

MINARDI TO TRY OUT AUSSIE YOUNGSTERS

Paul Stoddart says that he is planning to help out Australian youngsters Will Davison and Will Power with test runs in his cars next year.

WHO WILL DRIVE FOR WILLIAMS IN 2005?

The lastest spat between Ralf Schumacher and Williams may end up being of little significance given the cut and thrust of modern Formula 1 contract negotiations but, at the same time, we may be witnessing a split between Schumacher and Williams which will result in the German departing the team in 2005.

AUSTRALIA SIGNS ANTI-TOBACCO PACT

The Australian government has become the latest - the 79th - to sign the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, committing the nation to not only ban all tobacco advertising but also to encourage other countries to do the same.

THE RAIN IN SPAIN

The Formula 1 test in Jerez de la Frontera has beens eriously disrupted for the last couple of days by rain although the teams have been using the wet weather to work on the development of tyres and carry out systems checks rather than pushing ahead with major development work.

9 DECEMBER 2003

NORBERT SIEDLER TO TEST FOR MINARDI

Austrian driver Norbert Siedler is to test drive for Minardi this week at Vallelunga. The 20-year-old has backing from both Superfund and Red Bull, both of which have money available for F1 in 2004.

MOTOYAMA GETS A CALL FROM RENAULT

Renault and Nissan seem to be working more and more closely together with the latest evidence being the fact that Nissan GT factory driver Satoshi Motoyama, who this year was also crowned Formula Nippon Champion, is to test for the Renault F1 team.

THE FULL STORY BEHIND A NEW JARAMA

Spanish racing sources are reporting that there are plans for the Real Automovil Club de Espana to completely rebuild its famous racing facility at Jarama as a "Motor City".

8 DECEMBER 2003

BRITISH GP TO MOVE TO JULY 11

As we exclusively predicted some weeks ago it look like the British Grand Prix will be confirmed for the weekend of July 11, taking the date which had been set aside for the French Grand Prix.

MEANWHILE IN POTENZA, ITALY

An investigation in the Italian backwater of Potenza could lead to interesting times if a local magistrate by the unlikely name of John Henry Woodcock, gets his way.

WILLIAMS AND O2

The word on the street in Formula 1 circles is that Williams is about to add another new sponsor to its impressive roster with stories suggesting that the Grove team will soon announce a deal with the mobile communications company O2.

7 DECEMBER 2003

IMOLA TO REMEMBER SENNA

It is coming up to 10 years since the death at Imola of the great Ayrton Senna and the organisers of the San Marino Grand Prix have announced that they will not let the event pass without some recognition of one of the sport's greatest drivers, killed in his prime on May 1 1994.

PANTANO ON THE WAY TO MINARDI?

It is a little known fact that Giorgio Pantano was heavily in negotiation with Jaguar Racing before the drive went to Christian Klien. The Italian is believed to have a considerable amount of money behind him and has plenty of experience in Formula 3000 and he drove some very strong races this year.

ALL PART OF THE NEGOTIATION PROCESS?

There have been reports in recent days in the German press indicating that the negotiations between Williams and Ralf Schumacher have run into difficulties. this is not surprising as Schumacher's management will be of the belief that Williams needs Schumacher in 2005.

5 DECEMBER 2003

A NEW PIT ROAD IN MELBOURNE

Work is nearly finished on a new pit road in Albert Park in preparation for the 2004 Australian GP.

BUT IS IT ART?

Jaguar Racing and Italian design studio Pininfarina have joined forces to produce an unusual livery for a Formula 1 Jaguar, based on the aerodynamic forces which are involved in running an F1 car.

CART DEAL OFF. FUTURE UNCERTAIN

The merger between CART and Open Wheel Racing is off and the CART company now faces the prospect of being placed in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. OWR may then try to buy the assets and run the series in 2004 but with time being short, the prospects do not look good

LOPEZ TO TEST MINARDI

Renault Development Driver Jose-Maria Lopez has his first taste of Formula 1 this week in Barcelona at the wheel of a Renault F1 car but he will be back in an F1 car shortly - courtesy of Minardi. The Argentine youngster will test for the Faenza team at Vallelunga

TUNG HO-PIN PREPARES FOR F1 TEST

Chinese driver Tung Ho-pin, who will have his first tests in an F1 car on December 11 at Jerez, is now working with trainer Erwin Gollner to prepare for his first taste of F1. Gollner was previously working with Jacques Villeneuve but has been with Tung since mid-November.

4 DECEMBER 2003

AN AGREEMENT FOR THE FUTURE OF FORMULA 1?

In September Bernie Ecclestone remarked that he did not care what the GPWC and the banks who are shareholders of SLEC, were discussing at a meeting during the Italian Grand Prix weekend. He felt that he held all the cards in the long-running dispute over the future of the sport.

PEACE IN OUR TIME?

The GPWC and SLEC met in Geneva on Thursday have agreed some kind of a deal at a meeting in Geneva today. The parties involved have agreed to prepare a "memorandum of understanding" before the end of the year to detail the future structure of Formula 1.

ANOTHER AUSTRALIAN TO WATCH FOR...

Australian Formula 3 Champion Michael Caruso was in Italy this week for a two-day test with Coloni Motorsport at Magione. Caruso hopes that the test will help him raise money to come to Europe, following in the footsteps of Mark Webber, James Courtney and Ryan Briscoe.

RECOGNITION FOR CRASH-TESTING

The 2003 Prince Michael International Road Safety Award has gone to the Euro NCAP organisation for its work in improving the safety of new cars through its crash-testing programme.

FERRARI ACQUIRES RACER'S CAR GROUP

Ferrari has purchased its French importer Charles Pozzi SA. Pozzi became a car dealer in 1932 when he became a Ford agent.

THE END FOR CART?

Championship Auto Racing Teams announced yesterday that Open Wheel Racing Series had informed it that the pending merger could be off because there will not be enough teams in the series next year.

3 DECEMBER 2003

RENAULT AND NTT DOCOMO (PART 2)

As we revealed last week,the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team has agreed a long-term partnership with NTT DoCoMo, the mobile communications company. The sponsorship will be used to promote i-mode the Japanese company's mobile e-mail and internet access.

JAGUAR FRUSTRATED BY WILSON SITUATION

Jaguar Racing's boss Dave Pitchforth says that he is "frustrated" at not being allowed to run Justin Wilson as the team's third driver in 2004. The Englishman cannot be used because he has competed in more than six F1 events in the last two years.

HEIDFELD AND JORDAN

The Jordan team has yet to make any official announcement about its drivers for 2003 but reports from Germany say that the team has reached an agreement with Nick Heidfeld.

THE BRAZILIAN GP IS SAFE

The Brazilian Grand Prix is no longer under threat, following the decision of Judge Sergio Coimbra Schmidt of the Tribunal de Justica in Sao Paulo, who has overruled a previous decision by Judge Joao Andre de Vicenzo banning the organisers from running the event because it is a waste of public money.

2 DECEMBER 2003

JAGUAR RACING CONFIRMS KLIEN

Jaguar Racing has confirmed that Austria's Christian Klien will be Mark Webber's team mate for the 2004 Formula One season. Klien begins testing today at a three-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya. Klien drove an F1 car for the first time only a week ago at Valencia but impressed the team greatly.

MEANWHILE IN COURT IN INDIANA...

Stefan Johansson's American Spirit CART team is being wound up following a lawsuit from Motorsports Spares International, Inc. for the non-payment of debts. The case came to court in the Marion County Court, Indianapolis, last week.

1 DECEMBER 2003

ROBINSON JOINS JORDAN

James Robinson has joined Jordan Grand Prix as head of race and test engineering, taking on some of the role which was previously done by Gary Anderson.

WHICH IS THE 18TH RACE?

If rumors of the French Grand Prix being saved are confirmed there is likely to be some confusion as to which is the 18th race. This is highly important because the Concorde Agreement only allows for 17 races and the organizers of the 18th must find an extra $20m to pay the 10 Formula 1 teams $2m apiece to race.

THE F1 ENTRY LIST

The official entry list for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship has now been issued but it reveals little in terms of any news as most of the drivers, sponsors and engines are already known.

KLIEN SIGNS FOR JAGUAR RACING?

We hear that Jaguar Racing is on the verge of confirming that Christian Klien will be its second driver in 2004.

GASCOYNE GOES TO WORK AT TOYOTA

Today marks Mike Gascoyne's first day at Panasonic Toyota Racing in Cologne and the ambitious Englishman is keen to take the team forward this year.