Atlas F1

The Grapevine
Rumours and speculation in the world of Formula One

by The F1 Rumors Team


This week's Grapevine brings you
information fresh from the paddock on:

  • McLaren awaiting FIA go ahead
  • Update on BAR and Reynard
  • Wet/Dry Tyres on the cards
  • Picked from the Bunch

McLaren awaiting FIA go ahead

It appears that the FIA's new directive "The maximum amount of recoverable energy stored in the car is now limited to an amount which could not be used to increase performance" has put McLaren into a slightly tricky position. They are in the process of developing (rumours suggest it could even be on the car) a system which utilised the energy from braking... Putting it into "storage" for use under acceleration.

The McLarens leading the Australian GP StartThe "storage" system varies depending whose opinion you seek. Some pundits are claiming a battery-like system, that essentially then powers an electric motor to provide 'boost' under acceleration, whilst others think there could be a tie in with the clutch system - possibly utilising a flywheel.

With the change in rules to prevent "improved performance," it is thought McLaren are looking for clarification to determine if this applies to 'raw speed', 'ancilliary systems' or 'improved efficiency'.

Raw speed devices would utilise the stored energy to boost acceleration and power directly; other uses would take the braking energy to power systems around the engine (oil and water pumps, electronics and so on) tofree the engine to provide more power - breaking the spirit, if not the letter of the new ruling - and the last would be to feed the energy back into the system under acceleration, using it not to gain power, but to reduce fuel consumption. This last is quite clever - again, the letter of the law is adhered to as the power performance remains the same, but the engines overall fuel consumption efficiency could improve by around ten percent, according to one source.

Update on BAR and Reynard

Following up on the notable absentee from last week's Melbourne Grand Prix, we have heard speculation on Adrian Reynard - a BAR shareholder, and head of the company that provides the expertise to build the chassis. Whilst the team is playing down the absence, it is widely speculated that he missed the event because the car was never likely to win it...

Reynard and Pollock in better days?Every class of racing Reynard has entered to date has resulted in a first race win; and had BAR succeeded in making the magic happen in Melbourne, there is little doubt that Reynard would have been looking for a significant proportion of the credit. The car is not in fact a Reynard design - rather, it was designed mostly by BAR partner Malcolm Oastler. So the Reynard claim to debut greatness is still intact.

With the not-so-revealing news that the Supertec engine is underpowered, over priced and under resourced, the chances of BAR spending much time on the podium this year - let alone winning a race - are remote. Adrian Reynard is a busy man. Speculation has him working very hard to expand into the American market, and had his head down on a floatation deal over the Melbourne weekend. Business comes before pleasure - and watching cars that are not winning does not quite rate as either!

Wet/Dry tyres on the cards

With Eddie Irvine reporting that the visibility and grip in wet conditions is excellent, it is speculated that Max Mosley will continue pulling the strings that change the tyres. He plans to move from the current separate wet and dry specifications to the new single format that will work in both wet and dry conditions. The teams are expected to have little say in the matter, as this can clearly be brought in without their approval under the safety rules (it will, after all, be safer, even if no one wants it).

There are some potential positives. The indications from the FIA and at least one team is that other tyre manufacturers could be interested in taking up the challenge, given the reduced development costs of running a single tyre specification. It is expected manufacturers would be restricted to two tyres ('Prime' and 'Option', as now) per round of the championship... And the form of the tyre could be fixed for the season, ensuring that development is in the construction and compounds rather than devising and testing new treading.

It appears Mosley's plans could bring a few big players back to the sport - the names of Goodyear (using the Dunlop brand) and Michelin have both been bandied about. Whilst involvement is denied by both parties, only time will tell if they are really interested... No one is prepared to give away their position yet.

Picked from the Bunch

  • Forbes rate Schumacher as the 40th most influential celebrity figure in the world - he has more political clout back home than most members of the German parliament.

  • The Brazilian Grand Prix in danger according to rumours in Melbourne - it seems the unusually high flood levels this year have seriously increased the risk of disease. If taken to its extreme, then the Grand Prix might be cancelled by the government, who do not to risk the adverse effects of making a high percentage of tourists ill. On questioning by the F1 Rumours team about the chance of cancellation, a Brazilian official said 'highly unlikely, but not impossible.'

  • Grip Imbalance between tyres and aerodynamics were highlighted by the Australian Grand Prix. Teams and drivers expressed concern at the number of spins caused when drivers lost control of their cars for a moment, and were unable to regain control before taking a trip off the track.

  • Ford is pulling out the stops in an effort to make Stewart a top team by the end of the year. The engine development program has been accelerated, aiming to put the Ford power unit on a par with Mercedes by mid season. Reliability could slow the program, but is not expected to be a big issue.

  • Australian TV station Channel 9 is rumoured to have lodged a complaint with the FIA regarding the coverage of the Melbourne Grand Prix - alleging that holding the best shots back for Bernies digital pay channel was unfair, considering the amount of money they paid for TV rights.

  • F1 Rumors 1999 Atlas Formula One Journal.
    Send rumours and comments to: Terms & Conditions
    "The Grapevine", a weekly column covering the latest gossip in the paddock, is prepared for Atlas F1 by The F1 Rumors team