APRIL 22, 2002
Smoke and flames
IT seems that the lack of on-track interest in Imola has led to an early start for the 2003 "Silly Season" with a lot of rumors circulating about changes in the driver line-ups for next year. The danger at the moment is that rumors are being spread to deflect attention away from what is really happening. This is not unusual, but in recent years teams have become a little more professional at managing the way in which the media is thinking and helping it to work for them.
The big questions at the moment are whether or not David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello, Eddie Irvine and Heinz-Harald Frentzen will be on the move. Jenson Button looks certain to move on from Renault Sport while Jacques Villeneuve is widely tipped to want to have as change of scenery. It is also worth noting that Jos Verstappen is out there on the market.
It is fair to say that there are likely to be two or three vacancies in F1 next year (if all the teams survive - which is by no means certain at the moment). Irvine is not expected to stay at Jaguar and no-one seems to be paying him much attention at the moment.
There is a feeling in some quarters in F1 that it is time for a bit of a clear-out of drivers who have failed to prove themselves sufficiently, although it has to be said that obvious candidates to come into F1 are thin on the ground or are tied to existing teams.
So right now one needs to be very careful about believing all the stories that are floating around...
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