Atlas F1 The Formula One Insider



Actually, after a couple of months of F1 inactivity (no, I'm not referring to a Minardi pit-stop), even those fans who are only moderately retentive are examining the testing results from Fiorano, Jerez and Barcelona with the attention to detail of a three-fingered oyster shucker. (I'm not an oyster shucker, I'm an oyster shucker's friend and I'm only shucking oysters coz the oyster shucker's shagged).

The results of testing have so far allowed us to conclude that Hakkinen will win the championship, Schumacher will drive for Ferrari (if he feels like it) and the BAR02 will have a wheel at each corner (probably).

In their traditional welcome to a new driver, Ferrari allowed Rubens Barrichello to set a new lap record at Fiorano although Schumacher asserted team orders at the UNESCO kart race. Commenting on his victory over Barrichello, the German said: "Today, we finished first and second. When we achieve the same results next season too, we will be satisfied." I don't know which 'we' he was referring to but if it wasn't the Royal We, Rubens had better take another look at his contract.

Eddie Irvine hasn't tried out his new Jag yet but took his lips out for a couple of laps just to make sure they're still working. Apparently, they are but they still seem to be firmly clamped to Schumacher's posterior as Eddie predicted his former teammate will win the championship next year. Seems Irvine has been predicting a championship for Schumacher next year for as long as Ferrari has.

Villeneuve got 35 laps out of the new Honda engine, which has got to be encouraging. All BAR has to do now is perfect a 7-second engine change and they should be in with a chance of finishing a couple of races next year. Ralf Schumacher wasn't overly impressed with the new BMW mill in his old Williams clunker but was enthusiastic about the new Bridgestone tyres. Unfortunately, it's pretty likely that some of his competitors next season will also have the new Bridgestone tyres.


If it's Tuesday, he must be leaving.

Speculation over Zanardi's future which had been the subject of discussion for most of the 1999 season, increased in the last couple of weeks to the point where various Williams spokesmen attempted to quash further speculation by revealing that they didn't know what was going to happen. The team was somewhat surprised to discover that this tactic was not entirely successful in stopping the rumors and was forced to wheel out another spokesman who was able to assure the media that Williams did indeed not have the slightest clue what was going to happen.

The knock on effect has of course been groundless speculation about Villeneuve, Panis, Montoya and Nigel Mansell. (Colin McRae and Jos Verstappen have stated that they're not interested in the Williams drive). Throughout all this speculation, Zanardi has remained aloof although it must be said that its probably easy to be aloof when the worst that can happen is a $6 million check and a year's vacation.


A spokesman for Michael Schumacher's spokesman has confirmed that Schumacher's spokesman has been forced to resign. No further spokesmen were available for comment.


Assuming that Minardi and Arrows can hang on for another year, it seems that Toyota will be joining the fray and taking the last available spot on the grid - although it's not yet clear whether BAR is willing to give up the last spot. They spent a lot of money to earn that position last year and are not likely to surrender it easily. Having plonked down a $48 million deposit, (makes the 5 cents on a can of Coke seem kind of ridiculous doesn't it?), Toyota will be obliged to field a team or forfeit their five cents.

Now that the grid has reached a total of 24 cars, it is of course impossible to allow any other manufacturer to enter. More than 24 cars would of course be dangerous as the 25th car is likely to be driven by Jos Verstappen. Seriously, 24 cars is the theoretical limit on a F1 grid because….Actually, I have no idea why 24 cars is the limit but it's probably one of the following reasons:

a) The typical F1 steward can't count to 25.
b) 25 is Bernie's unlucky number as that's how many billion he is behind Bill Gates.
c) What do you think this is!!?? NASCAR!!??
d) Sod the fans! Who the hell else wants more than 12 teams?
e) An ingenious plot to raise the value of current F1 franchises by forcing future F1 entrants to purchase existing teams which have no competitive assets or actual value as commercial enterprises but which are nevertheless priced somewhere around the level of your typical NFL expansion team.

As the new kids on the block, I would like to offer a little advice to Toyota. It doesn't matter how you do as long as they spell your name right. Why do you think Lamborghini left? For example, Ferrari's lack of success in recent years is almost certainly due to the way they have named their cars. Nobody knows, for example, whether the F300 came before of after the F310 and whether the 412 had four cylinders and twelve gears or twelve cylinders and four wheels and, if the latter, how many wheels did the 312 have?

I suggest that you pick something memorable when you name your F1 entry. How about Camry? You may even find that some of the people to the left of the big, wet thing that isn't the Pacific are drawn to your team and to F1 as they themselves own a Toyota Camry. Hell, it worked for NASCAR. And besides, which sounds better, Toyota Camry or Honda BARO2 (which, if not a one-wheeled garden tool, must be the reading of the starters for the 3:30 at Cheltenham).


Eurobusiness has reported that Bernie Ecclestone is now the richest person in Britain. Along the lines of the Bill Gates Wealth Index, Eccles' income has now reached the point where it is not fiscally sensible for him to take the time to stop and pick up your bar-tab. In terms of world population, his net worth is now approximately $1.25 per person, which means that we are all worth slightly less to him than a McDonald's cheeseburger.

At an average income of $1 million per day, it costs him over $1,000 to blow his nose so don't be surprised if he sometimes seems a little stuffy. Taking a new shirt out of the wrapper would cost approximately $5,000 even if he did it really quickly, which would probably mean getting stuck in the neck by the last pin that you can never find and which has no apparent purpose, so please bear this in mind when critiquing his sense of style.

And don't even think about the cost of a haircut. It makes giving a s*&t seem like the Sale of the Century.


What did F1 personalities get from Santa? Answers on a fruit cake to the usual suspects. This week's prize - your fruit cake back.

Mitch McCann© 1999 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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