More News From The Paddock - British GP
Saturday April 22nd, 2000
Eddie Irvine has helped Heinz-Harald Frentzen increase his English vocabulary, but the German driver revealed on Saturday he was not sure whether the word he had acquired was suitable for polite conversation. "The whole weekend was really dodgy from the weather," Frenten declared after qualifying his Jordan in the rain on the front row for Sunday's British Grand Prix. "Dodgy? Where did you learn that word," he was asked. "I think from Eddie. Eddie Irvine. Is that a bad word?" he replied, undoubtedly aware that some of the Jaguar driver's utterances are not always repeatable.
Nigel Mansell, Jack Brabham, Phil Hill, Damon Hill, Jody Scheckter were among the World Champions present at Silverstone on the Saturday of British Grand Prix qualifying. Among other Formula One personalities were both Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley, former Brabham owner Ron Tauranac, Onyx founder Mike Earle and former Honda president Nobuhiko Kawamoto.
While Jaguar and Williams have already signed for Michelin for 2001 - and Toyota will also be coming into Formula One with them - it has emerged that both McLaren and Ferrari will remain with Bridgestone next year, almost certainly because of existing contracts. For that reason, it is also well possible that both Prost - who are expected to get Mercedes engines in 2001 - and Sauber - who already have Ferrari engines - will go for Michelin so that their associated teams can also keep abreast of what is going on with the other tyre company.
British American Racing is suing Mika Salo and his management for some $350,000 after the Finn did three races for them last year before moving to Ferrari when Michael Schumacher was injured. He drove another six races for the Italian team. BAR claims that that it is owed money after releasing the Finn to Ferrari when Schumacher was injured. BAR claims to have had a contract that meant that Salo would pay $200,000 for the first three races Salo drove for Ferrari, plus $50,000 for each subsequent race. Amusingly, BAR contend that Salo could share BAR secrets with Ferrari, an unlikely situation given that Ferrari was a supremely experienced team, and BAR was in its first year. Furthermore, Salo actually drove for six teams in 1999: BAR and Ferrari in races, Arrows and Sauber in pre- and post-season tests, and Williams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
What happens to Gaydon, the Rover heritage test track not far from Silverstone? With Rover under siege from all sides, and owned by BMW, the test track and research workshops are the subject of speculation as they could well be of huge benefit to Ford if they were to relocate the Jaguar team from Milton Keynes, its current home. Gaydon is best known for its heritage centre which includes many older cars from the Rover and British Leyland range, but the extensive area, possibility for construction and exclusive and private position make it a prime site for development into a Maranello-Fiorano - type facility. Ford, of course are interested in buying part of the Rover empire, but BMW currently own it. BMW's facility is around 30 miles down the road at Grove, beside the Williams factory.
The on-going competition between teams to have the best hospitality set-up in Grand Prix racing took a further step at Silverstone when Jaguar's new motorhome was teamed up with its mate to produce an even better twin motorhome set-up than Benetton and Williams-BMW. Topping off the whole thing is a huge leaping cat in silver - made of carbon fibre. At first Formula One Administration workers objected to it, but it was still there days later.
The vicar of Silverstone, the Reverend Bridget Smith is commuting to three parishes on Easter Sunday by a helicopter laid on by Silverstone circuit. The vicar was worried about serving her three parishes on a day when the traffic would be very heavy around the circuit, so Silverstone came to the rescue by offering her a helicopter in order to escape the traffic.
Bernie Ecclestone said in an interview this weekend that the blame for moving the British Grand Prix to Easter Sunday lies with the French, but he also confirmed that the Grand Prix would be held in July next year. And was he joking when he suggested that the 2002 British Grand Prix would be held at Donington? He did, however, say that he hoped that Silverstone and Brands Hatch would come to an agreement - which would see the Grand Prix held at Silverstone.
Ross Brawn said that the FIA is currently studying the possibility of grooved planks under Formula One cars in order to limit aquaplaning. The problem is that the plank, which is the flat bottom on all Formula One cars, is being held responsible for acting as a kind of surfboard on soaking circuits, partly because teams are unwilling to raise their cars in wet conditions. When they are raised, they are less competitive. Brawn pointed out that one rarely hits a puddle square on, so that this can result in putting a car into a spin. The grooves are intended to make the cars more stable in an aquaplaning situation. They are still in the planning stage.
Herman Tilke, currently Formula One's favourite circuit architect, is currently working on Grand Prix circuits in a number of countries. He admits to working on tracks in Dubai, India(which has already reached a certain stage), Brands Hatch of course, while the Chinese development has now been finished. He denies that he is working on a Korean project, nor one in Moscow.
Weekend Milestones: The British Grand Prix marks the 20th Grand Prix of Spaniards Pedro de la Rosa and Marc Gene, and the 170th Grand Prix of Jean Alesi (depending on whose records you read).