Atlas F1 The F1 FAQ

  by Mark Alan Jones, Australia

Have a question about Formula One statistics or history? Well you're not the only one, and it's about time someone came up with the answers to Formula One's most Frequently Asked Questions. Send us your questions, to - we may not know everything, but we will sure make the effort to find out

"DEAR SIR, With reference to GP of Suzuka 1999 - Michael Schumacher started on pole but was overtaken by Mika Hakkinen right at the start of the warm up lap; Michael was still stationary but did not seem to have a problem as he started moving a split second later. This was seemingly not picked up by the TV commentators as no comment was made, nor did it seem to bother the Race Stewards as the issue did not come up during the race. Given the big hullaballoo that was made in the mid 90's when Michael dared to overtake Damon Hill on the warm up lap, I am a bit confused as to the ruling regarding overtaking on this lap. (or has the rules changed ?) Please assist - Thank you Pierre F"

There has to be a certain amount of common sense applied to the various regulations. As you say it was the start of the parade lap. In the event that there was something wrong with Schumacher's car, the entire field would have to sit still and wait if the rule was applied to the last letter. The difference between Suzuka 1999 and Silverstone 1994 was that Schumacher overtook Hill deliberately several times in what could be seen as an attempt to outpsyche Hill.

"Could you estimate for me the annual team budgets of all eleven F1 teams in US Dollars? Much Appreciated..."

Last year, Jordan's Trevor Foster told "Sport Auto" that Jordan's 1999 budget was $62 million. The drivers split $12 million equally, and Honda got $9 million for the engines. The team therefore managed on a design, construction and operating budget of $39 million.

Furthermore, Italian Financial newspaper, Il Sole 24, reported last year that McLaren had in 1999 the largest budget in Formula One, with 520 Million Marks a year (285 Million US Dollars), followed by Ferrari, with 440 Million Marks (240 Million US Dollars). This was confirmed by Ferrari's president, Luca di Montezemolo, who stated in a recent interview that his team's budget was $240 million in 1999.

However, the British based magazine F1 Racing recently had an investment journalist investigate the finances of the Formula One teams, which included determining the 1999 annual budget for each of the teams. Note that these are 1999 figures, and that for this year, Arrows' budget has dramatically increased, while BAR's has decreased.

Ferrari's budget was conservatively estimated at approximately $225 million; McLaren $125 million, Jaguar/Stewart and Williams $105 million, Benetton $80 million, Prost and Sauber $60 million each, Jordan $55 million, Minardi $50 million and Arrows just $35 million. Benetton's figure was hardest to calculate as they were still a full owned subsidiary of the Benetton group of companies at that time.

Which brings us to BAR. As a new team the figures are higher because of establishment costs. This was further complicated by the change of engines, which saw them break their contract with Supertec. Overall, BAR have spent at least $210 million, similar to Ferrari's budget, with almost exactly opposite race results. Probably the greatest financial disaster in the history of Formula One.

"Hi, Having recently seen the good performance of Jackie Stewart's team versus the poor performance of Alain Prost's team, I was wondering how many successful F1 drivers have gone on to become successful F1 team owners, and how many have not made the transition? Neil P, UK"

The team that became Stewart Racing in Formula One was Paul Stewart Racing, Jackie helping to move the team into Formula One, which he did admirably. Alain Prost's team was originally founded by former Brabham privateer Guy Ligier. In the early 80s Ligier threatened the world championship and continued to steadily accumulate points.

The most famous example of a successful driver turned team owner is Jack Brabham. He was able to do it while still driving. Brabham left Cooper in 1962 to set up his own team with Ron Tauranac. When the 3 litre Formula arrived, Ferrari flattered, BRM disappointed, Lotus were caught without an engine, and Brabham had built his car perfectly for the formulae. It was light, nimble, and handled predicatbly, which when compared to the rest, more than made up for the small horsepower deficit of the Repco engines. Brabham sold his team to Tauranac, who in turn sold it to Bernie Ecclestone in 1971 and the team continued winning until the mid 80s, before dying in 1992.

Two of Brabham's teammates followed the same route. Former Cooper sparring partner Bruce McLaren started building his own Formula One cars in 1966. By 1968 the car was winning. McLaren was killed in 1970 but the team continued on and is now one of the dominant teams of today. A former Brabham driver, Dan Gurney, had his team debut in 1966. Eagle won one race but disappeared after three seasons.

Former Lotus driver Jackie Oliver was one of the men running the Shadow team when he and Shadow's design team left to form Arrows. Shadow disappeared in 1980, with a solitary win in 1977, but Arrows continues to this day, now under the umbrella of the Tom Walkinshaw Racing organisation.

Some of the less successful driver-to-owners were Wilson Fittipaldi (Fittipaldi & Copersucar), Arturo Merzario (Merzario), Graham Hill (Hill), John Surtees (Surtees) and Chris Amon (Amon)

"Greetings! The TV commentators I listen to seem to mention flat spotting the tires every time a bit of smoke appears under braking. I can understand this if clouds of smoke appeared but there is minimal smoke sometimes. They talk about it anyways with all the inherent evils such as vibrations and imbalances. Is this accurate? If it was every driver would suffer continually! Minor lock-up; a problem or not? Thanks. Ron H."

A big brake lock up will cause a flat spot to form on a tyre, giving a flat surface where it should be round, and it is that which causes the vibrations the commentators talk about. A minor lock up though will cause a very small flat spot which soon disappears through the normal wearing of the tyre.

"How is it that MANUTD.COM appears on the side of, i think its the arrows car. Anthony F."

Manchester United in itself is not a sponsor of Arrows, but this report from the Arrows official website news archive should clarify it for you: "Coral International Limited, one of the world's leading bookmakers, today announced the launch of, its new UK-based online sports betting service. To mark the launch of the service, Eurobet confirmed its agreement with Manchester United to become its exclusive online betting partner. A hotlink will be created linking Eurobet to Manchester United's official club website ( A further partnership deal has been signed with the Arrows Formula One team. Eurobet will be an Arrows lead sponsor for two years."

By the way, football clubs sponsoring racing teams is not out of the question: Newcastle United have sponsored the Lister sports car team several times in the past.

"Who are the main sponsors for the formula One events? Not the teams per se, but the events themselves. Thanks. Laurence"

The sponsors of the races of the 1999 season did not have a lot of variety. The cigarette brand Marlboro was the naming sponsor of the Brazilian, Spanish and Hungarian Grands Prix. Two breweries sponsored a total of three races - the German brewer Warsteiner sponsoring the San Marino and European Grands Prix, while the Australian brewer Carton United Breweries sponsored the Belgian Grand Prix through its Fosters label, while the Italian spirit drink Campari sponsors the Italian Grand Prix.

Petroleum giant Mobil sponsored the French and German Grands Prix and the Malaysian petroleum company Petronas sponsored the Malaysian Grand Prix. Two airlines each sponsored their local race, Air Canada the Canadian race while QANTAS sponsored the Australian Grand Prix.

The 'odd' ones out were the British Grand Prix, sponsored by the Royal Automobile Club; the Japanese Grand Prix, which is sponsored by Fuji TV television broadcaster; and the Monaco and Austrian Grands Prix, which were unsponsored.

"Hello, would like to know more how often, and how exactly, do the drivers communicate with the crew in the pit? Are there any restrictions on what may/may not be discussed? if so, how are the talks monitored? normally, how many drivers compete in the qualifying [more than 20, around 30 etc]? does it so happen that usually all the drivers make it within 107% of the best time? would appreciate your response. Thanks shirish"

The drivers talk as much or as little as they like. Sometime several times a lap, sometimes not for a few laps. Depends greatly from driver to driver, and each driver's race engineer also. There are no restrictions on what may be discussed; however, you are unlikely to hear things not related to the race itself discussed very often.

In qualifying each of the eleven teams field two drivers each, leaving a grand total of 22 drivers. All 22 drivers start each race unless a team or driver withdraws, or if a driver is slow enough to not make the 107% timing cut-off, and is unsuccessful in their appeal to enter the race from the local organisers. It is very rare for a driver to be excluded for failing to meet the 107% rule.

Editorial Remark:

  • Some of the questions we receive have already been replied to in previous F1 FAQ columns. Therefore, before sending in a question, we suggest you have a look at the back issues, by searching the FAQ database. Not that we mind getting so much mail, just that we feel bad for those who feel they are left unanswered...

  • We receive quite a few questions from you all, and it is absolutely impossible for us to research and respond to each of you, be it here or privately. Please, don't feel discouraged if your question was not replied to; it might come up in the next column. And don't forget - you can always look for answers at the Atlas F1 Bulletin Board.

Mark Alan Jones© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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