This week's Grapevine brings you
information fresh from the paddock on:
- McLaren's Parts in the Works
- Ferrari have a Wet Solution
- Prost gearing for action
- Honda Out, Toyota In?
- Picked from the Bunch
McLaren's Parts in the Works
Adrian Newey's claims that new parts are on the way, but not for San Marino, have set the rumour mill in action again.
If they are to be believed, the rumours have some new body parts for McLaren to run at high downforce circuits - particularly Monaco - which significantly improve the car's downforce, but do not overly affect drag.
The most outlandish of the rumours sees a development on the flip-ups. The theory seems to be that the flip ups will be used to generate downforce - in effect, being used as small wings rather than just smoothing the flow over the rear wheels. The net effect would be a significant improvement in downforce, with relatively limited effect on drag.
However, if this rumour is true, you'll be able to see the evidence of it at Monaco.
Ferrari Have a Wet Solution
Ferrari's work with the wet specification Bridgestone tyres appears to have yielded some fruit.
Sources revealed that in wet conditions, Ferrari would now hope to be on terms with McLaren, having stumbled across an excellent setup in wet conditions. Rather unexpectedly, one of their high downforce setups from last year's Goodyear rubber translates almost straight onto this year's car. The wet setup leaves the car very well balanced, and with better traction than originally anticipated.
As a result, it is speculated that wet races will see the team perform on a par with McLaren, where the engines power differential will not be as marked. It is unknown if an evolution of this setup would work for high downforce circuits like Monaco.
Prost Gearing for Action
At the start of the year, Alain Prost said the company has a three year plan. This year, they aim to put cars on the podium. Next year, they'll win races, and the year after, the championship. Between Brazil and San Marino, the Prost team are working on Qualifying solutions - they've said as much!
What they have not said, is that there should be something over a second that needs to be unlocked from the chassis. It is believed that Prost's computer simulations not only indicate that the car's qualifying trim is significantly under performing, but a number of possible causes.
Before the Imola Grand Prix, the team aim to unlock the car's potential: and if they can manage a full second, then it will put the team in front of the Supertec runners and Sauber for qualifying. From there, the team would expect to be in serious contention for points alongside Jordan and company. Considering Heinz-Harald Frentzen has twice put his car on the podium, this would give Prost a chance to deliver on their pre season promise for 1999.
Honda Out, Toyota In?
Honda abandoned plans to enter their own team in 2000 with the death of Harvey Postlethwaite. The plans have shelved (not scrapped) for now, as they concentrate of returning with an engine program. Current rumour has them linked to BAR and Jordan for next season as engine supplier.
So with Honda clearing the 12th spot among the F1 teams, Toyota are rumoured to be considering entering their own works team for 2002 or thereabouts. First step into that direction was recently made, as Toyota began snatching personnel from several F1 teams, amongst them engineer Luca Marmorini from Ferrari and several members of Sauber. "Toyota has taken away four of my high-level technicians," team owner Peter Sauber said. "I wasn't able to do anything about it, because the offers were too big."
Picked from the Bunch
McLaren's top men have been in the rumour mill again, with speculation that Mansour Ojjeh could sell up to buy into Bernie's Bond, with Mercedes taking a stake in McLaren, and Ron Dennis being lined up as successor to Bernie's crown. All parties denied everything as usual!
Renault might be back to the F1 circus. The rumour mill has Benetton team boss, Rocco Benetton, currently negotiating the French engine giant's return as supplier for the team, as of 2001.
Williams FTT is delayed, as the team is looking for performance by more conventional means. A number of components coming online for Monaco (some think San Marino) should see the team taking a step forward.
Television coverage in New Zealand will happen this year, as TVNZ secured the rights for the next three years. Sky were revealed as the ogres, when the FOA released a fax detailing their attempts to negotiate with the channel, including massive reduction in fees, and confirmation there was no coercion to avoid showing other single seater categories.