I wonder if Damon actually had a wheel bearing seize or was it driver error? I had taped the live broadcast and watch his mishap over and over. One would think if a wheel bearing had seized it would fail to turn at slower speeds through the grass where there is less grip on the contact area of the tire. The tape revealed the front wheels turning at the same time and speed. I think it was a good story for the press but, being impatient and improper brake balance is more than likely the cause. Damon suffered from the rath of the press last year and maybe this "wheel bearing" story was a good smoke screen. After all, it was Damon who said the British GP was the most important race for him to win.
I think that it would be a truly cruel blow to F1 if Ferrari was to take on a purely advisory role in F1. As it is, F1 is having enough trouble relating the racing of today with the wonderful tradition of years gone by. Without Ferrari, F1 would be bereft of the teams who helped make F1 the tremendous sport it is.
Consider this: How many fans of today have even heard of the great teams of Maserati, Lotus, Alfa-Romeo, BRM, or Matra? All of these have contributed World Championships in the annals of F1, yet most are forgotten, or are regarded as trivia questions.
There are fantastic teams in F1 now, as there will always be, but I think that, ultimately, F1 will be ill-served to forget from whence it came.
I suppose I'm a Damon Hill fan but I'm not biased enough to think he's the best driver out there. I think Schumacher has that distinction without a doubt.
One proof of this is that if Schumacher is in front and his car holds together, he stays in front. So does Damon. However, if Schumacher is back in the pack for some reason, he quickly fights his way through and makes up places rapidly. Hill does not. He gets 'stuck' behind cars and cannot make up position.
I have been paying close attention and so far during the 1996 season, I have not seen Hill overtake anyone once. I mean overtake fighting for position, not have his team-mate let him through (Melbourne), overtake back-markers, have cars drop out in front due to failure, or pit stop strategy passing. Silverstone was a classic example. Hill dropped back through the pack at the start and was stuck behind Schumacher. Then Schumacher exited with a failure and then he was stuck behind Hakkinen until he went off.
Does anyone know when the last time was that Hill overtook anyone fighting for position, on the track? Has he done it ever? I'd love to know.
With the consistent cries of fans regarding the lack of competition on the track, rarely do we ever hear a proposed solution to the problem that is portrayed as the plaque of modern Formula One. I am no expert, but several months ago I heard talk of reintroducing metal brakes to lengthen passing zones, lower costs, and bring back the principal of a driver needing to manage his car throughout the race. I am not suggesting this be the simple solution, but it maybe be easier than redisigning the undertrays of cars. I am curious if this is a valid idea?
A while back, (I beleive ~late 1995) Williams, at the urging of the FIA and the technical working group, did run a serious of tests with steel brakes in place of the carbon fibre units. The results to say the least were interesting.
Damon Hill (this is not verbatim recall, but you get the general idea) was impressed. There was little or no difference and lap times suffered only in the regions of a couple of tenths a second. Villeneuve even said he preferred them, saying that the car had 'better balance under braking'. The technical working group is currently exploring the use of "venturi" tunnels, basically a inverted wing underneath the car (as is used in IndyCar). Targets for implentation are around 2000, and while a long time ahead, could avoid the tendency for the FIA to have a knee-jerk reaction.
I'd go far as to say, removal of the front wing would be a desirable move, (balanced of course with the addition of a venturi tunnel) thereby making the loss of downforce of the front wing impossibile, and enabling driver to be just that bit closer throught the corners.
Atlas Team F1
First of all, let me commend you on doing a very good job...normally. I read your previews, subscribe to your results mailer and look for your race reports after every GP.
However, I must complain about your latest correspondent - Mitja Golob. His most recent article was no better than the rubbish posted in rec.autos.sport.f1. I imagined that Atlas was set up to provide commentary of a somewhat superior standard. Mitja's article was full of empty suppositions, biased opinions and ridiculous arguments. There was nothing in the way of good writing, interesting insights or unique information and as such, I don't know why you chose to give him the credibility of an Atlas correspondent.
Mitja is of course entitled to his opinion but let him post this drivel in rasf1 where he can be openly debated and criticized just like everybody else with 2 cents and a modem. If you allow the quality of your correspondents to slide, Atlas will become another version of rasf1 - it'll just take longer to access. I trust that you will not let this happen.
Keep up the good work.
The F1 FAQ on the Web
Some people have said that Damon Hill is the most underestimated driver in Formula 1 today. I think that this is at least partly true. His engine blew up while he was LEADING the Monaco GP. When he spun off in the wet in Spain this year, he was on a part wet setup only, while Schumacher was on the full wet setup. Alesi's Benneton had a rear wheel bearing or brake failure in the British GP, either of which is not too common, so why should a front wheel bearing failure in Damon's car be so unlikely. I can only hope that the Williams' car will have better reliability in future races. I would reserve further comment regarding Damon's driving ability unless a pattern becomes obvious. Don't forget that Senna's fatal crash was attributed to mechanical failure. I would much prefer to see a driver spin off harmlessly than die in the process. He is at least pushing to his maximum ability.
Well, I must first thank Atlas F1 and all the contributing writers for providing such entertaining and informative material. Well done!
Being Canadian, I must say that I am quite glad that Jacques Villeneuve closed the championship gap to Damon, even though the race was not very exciting (not boring, because I believe F1 can NEVER truly be boring). The reason the race was so unremarkable was, again, the lack of drama presented due to the absence of the scarlert #1 car. With Schumacher in each race, there is always the question of can he bring out the maximum performance of a sub-par machine and challenge for the win? Sadly, too often this year we haven't had the chance to find out. A friend of mine said that Schumacher should not go back to Ferrari in 1997, but I disagree. He would spend another year in development instead of challenging for the title... which by all means should be his (unless he went to Williams -- no development needed there).
My pondering lead to some interesting questions. Did Damon's demand for $18 Million US stem from the fact that he wants to leave Williams to prove that he can win a championship in another car? (doubtful if he hasn't won one in the Williams yet). Is that the only reason he would want to leave? Does his demand stem from brain damage? Will Schumacher stay on at Ferrari? Will they have to pay him $50 Million US per year after 1997? Will Heinz Harald Frentzen (my favorite pilot) be hired by Frank Williams after a very disappointing season? Who would he replace? Will the USA get a GP (or two as Flavio Briatore wants)? If they get two, will we in Canada lose ours? (God forbid)
P.S. To all F1 fans.... yes this year has been lacklustre for Formula One, but it is still the greatest form of racing on earth. For those of you who think that Indycar could lend improvements, I beg to differ. Yellow flags and repositioning of lapped cars cause artificial racing which is not true excitement. Oh well..... on to Hockenheim! Go Jacques GO!
Keith A. Peterson
Damon Hill is obviously an extremely talented driver, but come on Murray, he is not infallible. I'm no mechanic, but wouldn't a failed wheel bearing manifest itself in some way visibly -- wheel wobbling or if the bearing seized, some smoke from a locked wheel? I have a feeling that if Damon can't have it all, he'll make sure something "happens" to the car. In any case, I thought Villeneuve should have got more credit for a great drive, but then, I'm Canadian, eh?
I certainly hope it's not too late in the season for Jacques Villeneuve to become very competitive against his teammate. It would be a shame for Jacques to make a late season charge and have it go unrewarded. As a Schumacher fan I have all but written off Michael's chances in the Ferrari this season. The only hope I have for an interesting run up till the end of the season is if Villeneuve can challenge Hill. Hill has driven very well this season, but he is not invincibile. What with the Frentzen rumours circulating, and Frank Williams penchant for not caving in to the demands of World Champion (or potential World Champion) drivers. It may be that Villeneuve will get full #1 driver treatment until the end of the season. If this was to work out, Villeneuve could have the championship and Williams would meet Renault's request to retain the #1 for next season.
Sunday, 14 July, was a black day for racing worldwide and our hearts go out to the families and friends of the drivers, course workers and spectators who were lost.
Certainly Ferrari's performance in Britan must be being discussed today at the highest levels of FIAT. With Schumi's retainer being what it is, Ferrari's F1 budget must be approaching $100 million U.S. expenditures. In fact, days like yesterday create negative images of Italian products, bringing back the specter of FIAT meaning Fix It Again Tony.
Although it would be a shame not to see the red cars on the grid, it would be better than the further destruction of the legend that has been built up by Ferrari being the only continuous contestant in F1 since the inception of the World Championship in 1951.
Perhaps the answer is an arrangement akin to what Mercedes originally had with Sauber in sports cars -- provide technical support to an independent team with its own name and when performance gets respectable, put Ferrari's name on the team and become an official entrant again.
This may not be the definitive answer, but everyone agrees that something must be done. The organizational structure that has evolved since the FIAT takeover seems unlikely to produce positive results over the long term.
Michael T. Lynch
Is it just me or does Damon have a lot of trouble when stuck in mid-pack. His teamate never takes quite as long to get through traffic as Hill does. Whenever Hill gets off cleanly he suceeds but whenever he has a bad start he ususally lingers in traffic for too long killing all hope of winning. I wonder if he is still a little timid after all the incidents with Schumacher last year when Michael always accused Hill (sometimes wrongly) of attempting "impossible" passes.
Another F1 race with virtually no passing - a change is definitely needed. It was hard to tell from the coverage and commentary who lead (and won) the race, as the television cameras seemed to be transfixed by Damon Hill's car. Even after he went off, we saw very little of Jacques. My guess is Jacques was on-screen for less than ten minutes of the entire race.
A dominating drive by Jacques, largely ignored by Murray, Jonathan and the producers. Too bad. Since Jacques had as much experience as most of the other drivers at this circuit, it tells us that on an even playing field, he is one of, if not the best driver in the championship.
I am 37 years old and have been a Formula one follower all of my life. I been to Grand Prix's in Italy, France, Monaco and when they use to have them in the United States. I love F1 but recently it has bored me to death.
Although I'm no lover of Indycar racing, maybe F1 should look at that series to see what is making it tick. I have alot of friends who know very little of auto racing so their opinion doesnt count. But one comment from a chap still rings in my ears: "the trouble with Grand Prix racing is that no one passes..." I think that sums it up....
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