This week's Grapevine brings you
information fresh from the paddock on:
- Team feedback session for FIA
- McLaren's shiny new hope for Canada
- Picked from the Bunch
- Spain Tidbits
Team Feedback Session for the FIA
The much anticipated team get-together to discuss the future of Formula One was postponed again this week, with some team leaders trying to avoid the event altogether.
There are reasons for some of the teams to delay proceedings - they are in the process of pre-planning the designs of their cars for 2000 and want to be aware of the implications of decisions made on their plans for next season. It would place them in a position to veto changes that would be deleterious to intended programs.
An example of this, is the BAR team's alleged intention to capitalise on the head-start Honda have with V12 technology next year. The last thing the team would need - having signed an expensive five year deal with the Japanese manufacturer for just that purpose - is to have the rules changed at this stage.
However, the meeting is intended to be far wider reaching than just to cover the short term changes for 2000. On the cards, apparently, are a number of issues that need to be addressed, if Formula One is to survive as a viable product against the increasing popularity of CART, NASCAR, GT and BTCC series. High on the agenda is the sport's apparent difficulty in overtaking,
and the measures that might be worth considering to redress the balance.
Known to be included in these discussions are:
However one looks at it, there's a chance that the teams will put together a package that's acceptable to the FIA and themselves, which could see improved racing without compromising safety - or advertising revenue.
- return to slicks for 2000
- reduction of wing area
- move to single and duel element front and rear wings
- removal of diffuser
- restriction to V10 engines
- restriction to fixed maximum (suggested: 18,000 rpm) on an engine
McLaren's shiny New Hope for Canada
The McLaren team see the Barcelona result as a watershed in this season's program and are now planning to unleash a number of the performance enhancing developments that have been waiting until the reliability issue was resolved.
Michael Schumacher stated after the Spanish Grand Prix that he felt happier going to Canada, knowing that Ferrari performed better than expected in Barcelona. Performance at the Montreal track is currently believed to be sufficiently close to McLaren that the Ferrari team leader hopes to split the drivers by the finish. Furthermore, should their strategist par excellence Ross Brawn be able to exert any influence, the result could shock McLaren.
However, the Ferrari hope reckons without McLaren's new-found sense of purpose... and the extra parts waiting in the wings. With the cars due to travel by the end of the week, there's precious little time to try anything new, but the team hopes to get a new front wing online, and have plans to revise the rear suspension to improve traction pulling away from corners after riding the curbs.
All told, it's a close battle at the front, and Ferrari are certainly up against it to maintain their initiative in the Championships.
Picked from the Bunch
BAR are looking forward to Canada where Jacques Villeneuve will be running on his "home" ground. With the recent performance of the car, they believe the additional boost of fans shouting him on will give Jacques the edge he needs to finally bring home the team's first points. They believe the gearbox problems have been identified, and should not recur in Montreal.
Marc Webber keeps popping up in the rumour mill as his efforts to become part of the Formula One circus bring him in contact with Australian business magnates, and Bernie Ecclestone. The talented Australian's determination might generate the luck he needs to find at least a testing place - Ecclestone is adding his weight to the cause.
Ferrari's new V10 development direction follows tests on the new engine, originally due for Spain, that was more powerful than it's predecessor, but resulted in slower lap times as a result of increased mass. The team aims to remove several kilograms from the mass of the engine in three months, without compromising reliability.
Penske is still rumoured to be making a move into Formula One after news that he has sold most of his CART shares. Speculation is rife, and no-one actually knows the truth of the matter, but it would be no surprise to discover the enormously successful motor-racing entrepreneur return to the Formula One arena, to lay a bug-bear to rest.
King Juan Carlos of Spain took a spin in the McLaren two seater Formula One car this weekend, driven by ITV commentator and former McLaren driver Martin Brundle. Jordan looked on at the scene, and was heard to remark on the marketing opportunities the car presents. This seems to have sparked rumours the team now plans to build one of their own.
BAR driver Jacques Villeneuve seems to have a thing about Australian soap stars. The Canadian was spotted with Danni Minogue on his arm on Saturday, after the two met at a BAR organised disco during last weeks Barcelona test session.
VIP guests at the Barcelona track included soccer legend Eric Cantona, who was invited by the Arrows team, and singer Danni Minogue, apparently a BAR guest. Barry Sheene was also in Spain, and helped ITV out with their coverage, whilst lending moral support to his old pal Damon Hill.