The place for alternate championships that use real results as a base of forming alternative results, driver careers, and games in general
by tBone 22 Feb 2021, 07:45
Press Release - Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot

Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot announces that its first driver, Rubens Barrichello, will miss the German Grand Prix. Barrichello has torn his angle cruciate ligaments during fitness training after the British Grand Prix. Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot wishes Barrichello well and both driver and team expect that he will be back in the car for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Test driver Gianni Morbidelli will replace Barrichello in the German GP. Morbidelli (28) is an experienced F1 driver and has regularly tested for Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot during this season. Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot is confident that Morbidelli will do well in Germany and wishes him good luck.


Press Release - Minardi Team

Minardi Team announces a new second driver for the remainder of the 1996 Formula 1 season. Giovanni Lavaggi will be replacing Giancarlo Fisichella, who drove for the team on a loan race-by-race contract. Lavaggi already gathered experience in F1, when the now 38 year old Italian drove four Grands Prix in 1995. Team owner Giancarlo Minardi commented: "We are delighted to hire Giovanni and to have a second driver on a fixed basis again. We also really need to thank Giancarlo Fisichella, who did very well during the races he drove for us. The future of Minardi Team is now secured as well, because the deal with Giovanni Lavaggi includes lucrative sponsor deals."


Press Release - MTV Simtek Ford

MTV Simtek Ford confirms that it will not take part in the remaining six races of the 1996 Formula 1 season. Team principal Nick Wirth explained the situation, saying "We had to take the difficult decision to withdraw for the remainder of 1996, in order to be in a better financial position in the future. Talks with possible investors are ongoing and at Simtek, we are confident that we will be back stronger next year."

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by tBone 23 Feb 2021, 07:57
1996 German Grand Prix


The field has changed before the German GP: Simtek is missing in action and two Italians make their comeback on the grid: Gianni Morbidelli and Giovanni "Johnny Carwash" Lavaggi. They are re-entering F1 on a track with some very special characteristics: the Hockenheimring, the fastest circuit on the calendar. Those who can get their engine and their low downforce setup right, will be successful... As long as the car lasts an entire race distance. Damon Hill will once again be looking to strenghten his championship lead, while Jacques Villeneuve will look to bounce back. Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher finally finished on the podium in the British GP and more success in front of his home crowd may give a difficult season a silver lining.


Qualifying

Benetton had done their homework right, its low downforce setup clearly was very effective as Johnny Herbert took pole position by almost half a second. He was joined on the front row by the other Benetton of Jean Alesi. Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve fell just short of Alesi's time: less than two tenths separated the four drivers. Martin Brundle surprisingly showed how strong the Peugeot engine still is by qualifying 6th. His substitute teammate Gianni Morbidelli did a solid job too with a 9th place. Mercedes had something to think about on home soil, since the McLarens could only manage a 12th and 14th place. They were separated by another disappointing driver: Eddie Irvine, who was more than a second slower than Schumacher. At the back, Giovanni Lavaggi showed he has not significantly over last year.

Results

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Race

Michael Schumacher had a great start in front of his cheering fans, but the drivers of his former team, Johnny Herbert and Jean Alesi, worked well together to keep him behind. Martin Brundle brilliantly jumped both Williams to take 4th, with Damon Hill coming out of the Nordkurve in 5th and Jacques Villeneuve in 6th. After the first corner, the slipstreaming battle was on. Firstly, Schumacher passed Alesi at the Clark chicane and Villeneuve did the same to Hill. Alesi did not have the momentum out of Clark and lost even more on the second straight, on the way to the Ostkurve, when both Brundle and Villeneuve got past. Badoer moved himself into the top 6 at the same location by outbraking Hill. Even after two overtakes, Villeneuve was not done yet: he also got passed Brundle to take 3rd at the Senna chicane. At the front, Herbert and Schumacher had already gotten quite a comfortable position in 1st and 2nd. Villeneuve, Brundle, Alesi and Badoer completed the top six after the first lap.

Brundle's excellent start would not prove to be an omen for an excellent race. The Briton dropped back one place a lap in the laps 2-4. Firstly, Alesi passed him in the Senna Chicane, then Badoer at Clark and in lap 4, Hill got back into the points in the Ostkurve. Hill was recovering from a poor opening stage anyway and closed in on Badoer as well. In lap 7, he made again good use of the slipstream to pass the Italian in the Clark chicane. Badoer had to compromise his exit, enabling Brundle to set himself up for a pass in the Ostkurve. The Briton was doing a fine job in Barrichello's absence. Another driver on the move was Jean Alesi. The Frenchman had also lost out in the first lap, but he was hunting down Villeneuve and caught him in lap 11. A clean pass in the Clark chicane did the job to move Alesi back into the top three. The top six by this stage was made up by Herbert, Schumacher, Alesi, Villeneuve, Hill and Brundle. Alesi could unfortunately not enjoy his podium position for long: the transmission in his Benetton failed in lap 14 and the Frenchman had to retire for the fourth race in succession, promoting Heinz-Harald Frentzen to the points.

Frentzen was the first one to make a planned pit stop in lap 15. It became clear in the subsequent laps that he was the only front runner on a two stop strategy. Frentzen's stop had promoted Badoer back to 6th, where he was kept running until he had to slow down due to a puncture. The Italian struggled to get his car back into the pits, but when entering the Motodrom section, his race would end harshly. Gerhard Berger, running in 7th position, did not seem to notice that the Ligier was running slowly and drove into the back of it. The Sauber was launched in the air, landed again and came to a standstill in the wall on the outside of the Agip corner. Badoer got out of his car uninjured, but Berger was taken to the hospital for medical checks. Thankfully the news came in the evening that also the Austrian was not injured apart from some bruises.

Before the one stoppers had to come to the pits for tyres and fuel, Herbert was still leading the race, followed by Schumacher, Villeneuve, Hill, Brundle and Coulthard. Lap 20 saw Herbert, Schumacher and Brundle make their only stop. They would be followed by Villeneuve and Coulthard in lap 22 and Hill in lap 23. After those stops, the top six was unchanged, except for Frentzen who was running in 6th again until he made his second stop in lap 30 and Mika Hakkinen, who had inherited 6th place, in lap 31. Frentzen was now back in the points as he had stayed in front of Coulthard after his second stop. Not too much on-track action occurred in this phase, apart from one surprising and fierce battle in the midfield. Eddie Irvine was one of the last drivers to stop and when he got out of the pits, he came back on track right behind Nathan van Dijk, who had stopped a few laps earlier. Van Dijk had done well to stay in front of Irvine during his entire first stint, but the Ulsterman now had the pressure on him. The pair fought spectacularly for several laps until Irvine finally managed to pull a small gap and Van Dijk was defeated.

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Johnny Herbert cruises to his first victory of the year in Germany

Brundle was driving a somewhat anonymous, but very strong race and looked to be heading for a strong points finish. However, he had the misfortune of getting a puncture early in lap 33. The Briton was not able to reach the pits anymore and his race was over. This promoted Coulthard back into the top 6, but his teammate Hakkinen was catching him on fresher tyres. Hakkinen got past in lap 37, but the Finn was not able to close the gap to Frentzen in 5th anymore. With that move, the points scorers were decided and Herbert cruised home to his first win of the season. Schumacher finished 2nd again, with Villeneuve taking the final spot on the podium. Hill got an underwhelming 4th place, while Frentzen was happy he finally scored some points again. Hakkinen scored the final point for McLaren.

Results

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Post-Race Quotes

Johnny Herbert (1st): "We went all-in this weekend and we were rewarded in the best possible way. Everything went very well this weekend and I'm happy and relieved to finally win a race again. The championship is over for us this year, I think, but we definitely want to go for more successes like this one."
Michael Schumacher (2nd): "It was great to see all the grandstands here in red for the first time and it feels amazing that I could thank the fans from the podium. We were never really fast enough to challenge for the win today, but I am satisfied nonetheless."
Jacques Villeneuve (3rd): "We never really made the low downforce setup work this weekend. Both Damon and I suffered from that, but at least I could beat him today. The title battle is still on and if I can keep beating him, who knows what may happen."
Nathan van Dijk (9th): "The result was not the best of the year, but we knew already before the weekend that the car is draggy and a bit low on power. But I had a lot of fun during the race and I was able to show my best side in the battle with Irvine, I think."
Jos Verstappen (retired): "With the V8, there was only one thing we could do this weekend, because we simply lack the straight line speed. We wanted to stay out of trouble, keep running and hope for a race with a lot of attrition. Unfortunately, the opposite happened."


Drivers' Championship

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Constructors' Championship

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by tBone 24 Feb 2021, 09:07
GRAND PRIX NEWS
Your monthly source for racing news, stories and rumors | Wednesday 7th August, 1996


Who Will Take Bridgestones?

Formula 1 will again have a second tyre manufacturer in 1997, because Bridgestone will make its entry into the sport. The Japanese manufacturer has started testing a few weeks ago, when Brazilian Tarso Marques ran a TWR-owned Ligier on Bridgestone tyres on the Suzuka circuit. The choice of that car is no coincidence: Tom Walkinshaw's TWR is also the owner of the Arrows team, the only team that has an officially confirmed contract with Bridgestone for the 1997 season. The 1995-spec Ligier is of course an inheritance from the time that Walkinshaw managed the French team.

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The situation at Goodyear is rather different. The American supplier has already signed contracts with Williams, McLaren, Jordan, Ferrari and Sauber for next year. The only remaining team from the current constructors' top six, is Benetton, but they are also expected to confirm a deal with Goodyear soon. Goodyear is obliged to supply at least 40% of the grid with tyres if called upon to do so. Even if Simtek returns and the new Stewart, Lola and Dome teams all participate in 1997, Goodyear already fulfills that requirement as soon as Benetton signs. It seems unlikely that Goodyear wants to supply more teams, because it will add more costs than benefits. The only curious detail is that Dome is currently testing a car on Goodyear tyres, although the Japanese connection may move them to Bridgestone anyway.


Preparations at the New Teams

No less than three completely new teams are still planning to enter the F1 grid from 1997 onwards. That means that 30 cars will be competing in every qualifying session to make it to the 26-car grid, even if Simtek does not return next year. In other words, four cars will not qualify, so if a team arrives underprepared at the start of the season, there is a serious chance they will never start a race at all. Grand Prix News investigated what the current status of Dome, Lola and Stewart is and how they are going to avoid such a shameful fate.

Japanese constructor Dome has been testing at several Japanese circuits with the F105. Dome is an experienced manufacturer of race cars and reports from Japan indicate that the car is setting reasonably competitive lap times. Their team seemed to materialize over the past few weeks, as two important contracts have been signed. Engines will come from Mugen in 1997: after long negotiations it was decided that Dome can use 1996-spec engines in 1997. Furthermore, a first major sponsor has been signed to help the team prepare for next season: 7-Eleven logos have appeared on the test car, because the convenience store chain will financially support Dome's testing program for the rest of this year. An extension of this deal for 1997 seems very likely. It is also very probable that Japanese test driver Shinji Nakano will sign for the team. He has done the majority of the testing and will travel with the team to Europe to accumulate more mileage. For the second driver seat, Marco Apicella, who also already did some testing, Jörg Müller and Tom Kristensen are mentioned as candidates.

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Despite being the only constructor of the three with prior F1 experience, and a lot of that, Lola's 1997 entry remains a bit of a mistery so far. After the test mule that was run by the team last year, not too much news has surfaced. Lola's owner Eric Broadley has confirmed that the team is still looking to get a big enough budget in place. A major partner has not yet been found until now and the rumor mill has fallen quiet on that topic. An engine deal is also not yet in place, although whispers have been heard lately that Lola is actually looking to build its own engines in the near future. A combination of a sponsorship deal and an engine badging deal would be an interesting possibility for Lola, but developing an engine will not yet be possible for 1997. If the team decides to compete next year anyway, it will need a deal as a stopgap. A Ford or Hart V8 looks like the only option. Picking drivers looks loke a slightly lower priority for Lola so far.

Stewart Grand Prix, owned by F1 legend Jackie Stewart and his son Paul, is widely considered as the most convincing new team so far. Although a car will not be launched until December, the team has already acquired one important and strong weapon: a development deal with Ford will make Stewart a works team from the word go. They are also close to complete a healthy budget for 1997, since strong rumors suggest that a deal with HSBC will be agreed within the next few weeks. Drivers have not been confirmed yet, but it is likely that Stewart can come to some good deals right after the top teams finalize their line-ups.


Short but Sweet

Malaysia getting serious to organize GP • Ligier keeps Mugen engines in 1997 • Shannon said to buy Simtek assets • Alain Prost reportedly close to buy Ligier team • L'Oréal to remain title sponsor for Larrousse DAMS next year

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by tBone 27 Feb 2021, 23:04
Just a little heads up: the saga will be updated on a somewhat lower frequency now. I had continued writing during the forum shutdown, but I completely caught up now.

Anyway, to avoid you getting bored: here are some higher resolution pics of the custom liveries I made for the 1996 season. The template is a 1998 McLaren, made by Semic and available on International Motorsport Graphics.

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by tBone 02 May 2021, 14:39
OK guys, I hadn't expected a frequency this low from myself... But Nathan is back!


1996 Hungarian Grand Prix

Benetton celebrated their successes in the German GP, but the Hungaroring is a completely different challenge. The Williams team is the clear favourite to come back on top, but can Villeneuve again get closer in the championship battle or will Hill take a big step towards his first title? And what about Schumacher, who finished 2nd two races in a row: can he take his first win for Ferrari?


Qualifying

It was business as usual with Damon Hill on pole position, but Jacques Villeneuve once again struggled in qualifying and could only manage a 5th position. Jean Alesi, Johnny Herbert and Michael Schumacher filled in the positions between the two Williams cars, while Heinz-Harald Frentzen drove an excellent lap to take 6th. The DFCs were remarkably close together: only 1/1000 s split Nathan van Dijk and Pedro Diniz. All the way at the back, Ricardo Rosset and Giovanni Lavaggi made up the final row, as Hiro Matsushita managed to avoid that fate for the first time in his career.

Code: Select all
1  Damon Hill            Williams-Renault     1:17.928
2  Jean Alesi            Benetton-Renault       +0.134
3  Johnny Herbert        Benetton-Renault       +0.366
4  Michael Schumacher    Ferrari                +0.444
5  Jacques Villeneuve    Williams-Renault       +0.585
6  Heinz-Harald Frentzen Sauber-Ford            +0.650
7  Rubens Barrichello    Jordan-Peugeot         +1.033
8  Eddie Irvine          Ferrari                +1.103
9  Gerhard Berger        Sauber-Ford            +1.233
10 Olivier Panis         Ligier-Mugen Honda     +1.303
11 David Coulthard       McLaren-Mercedes       +1.433
12 Luca Badoer           Ligier-Mugen Honda     +1.457
13 Mika Hakkinen         McLaren-Mercedes       +1.538
14 Nathan van Dijk       DFC-Ford               +2.019
15 Pedro Diniz           DFC-Ford               +2.020
16 Jos Verstappen        Arrows-Hart            +2.036
17 Martin Brundle        Jordan-Peugeot         +2.217
18 Mika Salo             Tyrrell-Yamaha         +2.395
19 Ukyo Katayama         Tyrrell-Yamaha         +2.517
20 Emmanuel Collard      Larrousse DAMS-Ford    +3.244
21 Pedro Lamy            Minardi-Ford           +3.280
22 Hiro Matsushita       Larrousse DAMS-Ford    +4.066
23 Ricardo Rosset        Arrows-Hart            +4.357
24 Giovanni Lavaggi      Minardi-Ford           +4.758



Race

Both Ferraris had an excellent start, Michael Schumacher taking the lead and Eddie Irvine moving up to 6th. Damon Hill came out of the first corner in 2nd, followed by Johnny Herbert, Jean Alesi and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Jacques Villeneuve dropped back to 7th, having gotten stuck on the outside of turn 1. In the midfield, it was Nathan van Dijk who stood out: the Dutchman moved up to 10th, while his teammate Pedro Diniz clashed with Mika Salo. Both the Brazilian and the Finn dropped all the way to the back of the field.

Well the rest of my report got lost when submitting it failed, so here's a lap-by-lap overview instead...

Lap 2 Hill passes Schumacher, turn 1, 1st
Alesi passes Herbert, turn 1, 3rd
Villeneuve passes Irvine, turn 1, 6th
Lap 4 Villeneuve passes Frentzen, turn 1, 5th
Lap 10 1. Hill
2. Schumacher
3. Alesi
4. Herbert
5. Villeneuve
6. Frentzen
Lap 14 Lavaggi retires from 24th
Lap 15 Villeneuve pits with electrical problem, drops to 15th
Lap 17 Frentzen retires from 5th
Lap 20 Coulthard pits, drops to 15th
1. Hill
2. Schumacher
3. Alesi
4. Herbert
5. Barrichello
6. Badoer
Lap 21 Schumacher pits, drops to 5th
Lap 22 Villeneuve passes Badoer, turn 1, 6th
Schumacher passes Barrichello, turn 14, 4th
Lap 25 Hill pits, drops to 4th right behind Schumacher
Lap 26 Collard retires from 19th
Lap 27 Hill passes Schumacher, turn 1, 3rd
Villeneuve pits, drops to 8th
Badoer retires from 6th
Lap 28 Salo retires from 13th
Lap 29 Herbert pits, drops to 4th
Barrichello pits, drops to 10th
Lap 30 1. Alesi
2. Hill
3. Schumacher
4. Herbert
5. Irvine
6. Villeneuve
Lap 31 Villeneuve passes Irvine, turn 1, 5th
Lap 32 Lamy retires from 16th
Lap 33 Alesi pits, drops to 4th
Irvine pits, drops to 12th
Lap 40 1. Hill
2. Schumacher
3. Herbert
4. Alesi
5. Villeneuve
6. Coulthard
Lap 41 Herbert passes Schumacher, turn 1, 3rd
Lap 42 Hakkinen passes Coulthard, turn 14, 6th
Lap 48 Schumacher pits, drops to 5th
Lap 50 Hill pits, drops to 2nd
Herbert pits, drops to 3rd
1. Alesi
2. Hill
3. Herbert
4. Villeneuve
5. Schumacher
6. Hakkinen
Panis retires from 10th
Lap 51 Hakkinen pits, drops to 9th
Herbert spins, drops to 5th
Van Dijk retires from 10th
Lap 52 Villeneuve pits, drops to 5th
Coulthard pits, drops to 9th
Lap 53 Hill passes Alesi, turn 8/9 chicane, 1st. Forces Alesi wide, Alesi spins, drops to 3rd
Lap 54 Villeneuve spins, but keeps 5th
Lap 57 Hakkinen passes Barrichello, turn 1, 6th
Lap 58 Herbert passes Alesi, turn 1, 3rd
Verstappen retires from 12th
Lap 60 1. Hill
2. Schumacher
3. Herbert
4. Alesi
5. Villeneuve
6. Hakkinen
Lap 62 Brundle retires from 11th
Lap 63 Alesi retires from 4th
Lap 64 Schumacher pits with puncture, drops to 4th right behind Villeneuve
Rosset retires from 12th
Lap 65 Schumacher passes Villeneuve, turn 1, 3rd
Lap 66 Herbert retires from 2nd
Lap 70 1. Hill
2. Schumacher
3. Villeneuve
4. Hakkinen
5. Coulthard
6. Barrichello

Results
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Drivers' Championship

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Constructors' Championship

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by tBone 05 May 2021, 08:11
Kinnikuniverse wrote:Welcome back! Can't wait for 97 with all the new teams!

Thanks! To be honest, I still haven't made my mind up about the silly season. It's going to be fun to place all those underdog drivers!

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by Bleu 05 May 2021, 18:45
Funny that Salo and Diniz actually clashed in 1996 Hungarian Grand Prix on the first lap, putting both of them out. Salo instantly, Diniz limped to the pits.
by tBone 06 May 2021, 18:21
Press Release - Rothmans Williams Renault

Rothmans Williams Renault is delighted to announce its driver line-up for the coming two years. First of all, Jacques Villeneuve's contract has been extended to the end of 1998. When asked about his contract extension, Villeneuve said: "It is fantastic to be rewarded with a new contract at such an early stage. The team has been incredible in guiding me in my first season and I am looking forward to fight for the championship in the following two years."

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The driver lineup of Rothmans Williams Renault will be completed by German Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Frentzen will join the team from 1997 on a two year contract. Team owner and principal Frank Williams commented: "We decided it would be a good decision if Heinz-Harald would join our team. He has been on our radar almost directly since his debut in 1994 and he has consistently impressed us. We are looking forward to work with him and Jacques in the next two seasons."


Press Release - Petrobras DFC Ford

Petrobras DFC Ford is proud to announce two new deals regarding the 1997 Formula One season. Firstly, the partnership with Ford will be extended for another year, ensuring the team of the powerful V10 engines in 1997. Team principal Guido Forti commented: "It is great news that we are able to continue our alliance with Ford. DFC has taken a big step forward this year and Ford has greatly contributed to our improvements."

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Furthermore, Petrobras DFC Ford has finalized negotiations for its driver line-up for next year. Joining Pedro Diniz, who had already extended his contract until the end of 1998, will be fellow Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi. Fittipaldi is no stranger to Formula One: he gained a vast amount of experience in the 1992, '93 and '94 seasons. Since then, he has driven in CART, where he secured several podium finishes, including an impressive 2nd place in his maiden entry in the Indianapolis 500.

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by tBone 07 May 2021, 19:06
1996 Belgian Grand Prix

Only days before the race where Damon Hill could mathematically secure the championship, his team Williams dropped a bomb: Hill will need to look elsewhere for a seat in 1997. To secure the title and take the number 1 with him next year, Hill will need to outscore Villeneuve by 8 points on the brilliant track of Spa-Francorchamps. An unlikely scenario, perhaps, but the Briton will definitely try to seal the deal at the earliest opportunity. Another driver who lost his place at his team for next year is Nathan van Dijk. The young Dutchman has had some impressive performances so far this year, but he too could use some more good results to attract attention from new teams. Summarised, we can say there is plenty to look for in this edition of the Belgian Grand Prix!


Qualifying

Damon Hill took another step towards the championship by taking his second pole position in a row, but Jacques Villeneuve was not too far off in 3rd. Jean Alesi split the two, while his teammate Johnny Herbert only managed to take 5th place, behind Michael Schumacher. Just like in Hungary, it was Heinz-Harald Frentzen showing why Williams sees a talent in him by completing the top 6. Another strong performer was Rubens Barrichello, who qualified in 7th and beat his teammate by more than a second.

Results
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Race

Jean Alesi had the best start and he was already leading before the braking zone for La Source. Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve joined in 2nd and 3rd. Michael Schumacher had not gotten away well, but he took a smart line around the outside of the hairpin to re-claim his 4th place, keeping Johnny Herbert and Heinz-Harald Frentzen behind again. The latter would lose his 6th place on the run to Les Combes, however, when Eddie Irvine passed him. The roles were reversed in the next lap on the same place and the German Sauber driver was back in the points. Irvine's race would soon be over, as the Ulsterman's transmission failed as early as lap 4.

The first stint was rather uneventful after those first few laps, until difficult track circumstances started to play a role. Frentzen was the first victim when he spun off at Malmedy in lap 10. The German could continue his race, but he had dropped to 17th, promoting Rubens Barrichello into the points. Alesi was showing an impressive pace in the first stint, but his speed was put into perspective when he had to refuel as early as lap 12. The Benetton driver came back in 5th place, but just one lap later he was the next one to spin off when he lost control at the top of Raidillon. Amazingly, he got away with an undamaged car, but the incident had cost him another two places. Schumacher was the next one to make his first stop in lap 14, while Villeneuve and Barrichello followed in lap 15. Hill and Herbert had chosen a longer first stint and stayed out until lap 18. After they had stopped as well, Hill had kept the lead. He was followed by Villeneuve, Schumacher, Herbert, Barrichello and Alesi.

As the race neared its halfway point, Barrichello saw an impressive race go to waste, his transmission failing in lap 22. The Brazilian's misfortune gave Mika Hakkinen a place in the top 6 now, but the Finn was chased by a quick Olivier Panis in the Ligier. Panis attacked Hakkinen in lap 28 and passed him in Les Combes, but the Finn fought back and tried to regain 6th in the Bus Stop chicane. However, he overshot the braking zone and touched the Frenchman, causing both of them to spin while Berger, who was close behind, also had an off trying to avoid the fighting duo. In the end, all three could continue, but they did lose a lot of time. Another driver who lost time was Villeneuve, who dropped to 5th behind Alesi after making a mistake in Rivage.

Hill made his second stop after a remarkably short middle stint in lap 29. Meanwhile, Herbert had closed the gap to Schumacher and was fighting his former teammate for what was now the lead in the race. At Les Combes, the Briton outbraked the German and gained the position. Herbert then had to make his stop in lap 31, while Schumacher could stay out for one more lap. He could not use that extra lap to his advantage, though: Herbert was still in front of him after the pitstops, while Hill was back in the lead. Herbert was driving absolutely on the limit to keep Schumacher behind in the final stint and the pressure proved too much when he spun at the Bus Stop chicane in lap 35. He recovered after dropping back to behind his teammate Alesi, who was now in 3rd place. The track was very tricky in the closing stages and Alesi once again fell victim in lap 38. The Frenchman had too much wheelspin out of La Source and spun. To make matters worse, Herbert could not avoid him and drove into his teammate's car. Both of them suffered too much damage to finish the race and the incident cost the Benetton team a valuable 3rd and 4th place.

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Damon Hill wins his 7th of the season in Belgium

Hill still led the race and headed for another dominant victory, but he would not be crowned champion yet, since the Benetton incident had promoted Villeneuve up to 3rd. Schumacher was splitting the two Williams on course for another 2nd place, while Panis occupied an excellent 4th place. The McLaren duo of Hakkinen and Coulthard completed the top six at that stage, but one change would take place in the final few laps. Panis was forced to visit the pits one more time with a puncture and had to drop to 5th. Despite a furious charge in the last three laps, he was not able to close the gap to Hakkinen again and had to settle for two points.

Results
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Post-Race Quotes

Damon Hill (1st): "Things are looking really good for the championship now. I think I once again got the maximum performance out of the car and everything went really well this weekend."
Michael Schumacher (2nd): "It was difficult out there today. Circumstances were really tricky, but I particularly enjoyed the battles with Johnny Herbert and of course, I'm glad I came out on top."
Jacques Villeneuve (3rd): "Not a great race for me unfortunately. It's a shame I lost so much time with that spin, but we got lucky to still salvage a podium. Let's see if I can keep stretching the title battle, who knows."
Nathan van Dijk (retired): "I think this was our most competitive race in quite a while. I was able to keep up with some guys who finished in the points, so who knows what would have been possible if my suspension had lasted until the end."
Jos Verstappen (retired): "This track is always a great place to be and the car felt quite good in the practise sessions. Qualifying wasn't particularly good, but not bad neither. The race was over after a lap and a half, so there's not too much to say about that."


Drivers' Championship

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Constructors' Championship

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by tBone 10 May 2021, 19:37
GRAND PRIX NEWS
Your monthly source for racing news, rumors and stories | Wednesday 4th September, 1996


Damon Hill: Where To Go?

The rumors had been spread for months, but the news became official mere days before the Belgian Grand Prix: Damon Hill will not drive for Williams next year. Hill will most probably win the championship this year, which means that F1 is facing the special situation where a reigning champion is a free agent very late in the year. The Briton is undoubtedly the hottest property available at this moment, but many seats have already been taken. These circumstances raise the question: where will Damon Hill go to next season? Grand Prix News analysed the options and their likelihood.

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The current constructors' championship has quite a clear top 4: Williams, Benetton, Ferrari and McLaren are the most consistently competitive teams. If Hill wants to have a good chance of defending his title in 1997, he will definitely need to join one of them. Chances of Hill joining Ferrari are very slim: Michael Schumacher is their certain #1 for the next years and it does neither seem likely that Hill wants to be a #2 driver, nor would it make sense for Ferrari to buy Eddie Irvine out of his contract. McLaren drivers Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard both have a contract for 1997 as well, but neither of them has the star status of Schumacher and Hill. It may not be likely, but Ron Dennis could consider buying one of them out of their contract to please Mercedes-Benz after an otherwise disappointing year. Benetton could be a realistic option, with Johnny Herbert's seat alongside Jean Alesi still open for next year. Sources close to the team suggest that Herbert is quite close to extending his contract by a year and Hill's salary would be a lot higher. The biggest question here is whether Briatore can find the extra budget and whether he thinks Hill is worth that.

Teams in the upper midfield could be a solid backup option for Hill. Sauber and Jordan in particular look like teams who are ambitious to challenge for the top positions in a few years' time and the same could apply for Ligier if the rumored buyout by Alain Prost goes ahead. Jordan - where no driver has been confirmed yet for 1997 - looks to be the most stable option of those three, with factory support from Peugeot and a healthy sponsorship budget secured for the next season. A star signing like Hill could be just what Jordan needs to convince those partners to continue and further increase their involvement in the further future. Sauber does not seem to have the budget to meet Hill's salary demands and they do not yet have an engine deal in place: two factors that make the signing of the Briton very unlikely. It looks like Ligier's future is even less certain at the moment, but if Hill's former teammate Prost leads a buyout and gives the team new impetus, it could become a place where the 35-year-old feels at home. The scenario would be nice, but it still involves a lot of ifs and buts and it is already quite late in the year.

Two other options are left, but both of them would be a big gamble for a world champion who will be 36 next year. Jackie Stewart's new team will enjoy tremendous support from Ford and an experienced lead driver like Hill would be perfect to help the team hit the ground running. Money will be no issue for Ford if they want to sign a star and the publicity will be attractive for the American giant. Still, it is an all-new team with little experience, so competitiveness is not guaranteed. The last possibilty for Hill would be Arrows. Taken over by the highly ambitous TWR operation, Arrows is heavily investing to move to the front in the next few years. Tom Walkinshaw's "wheeler dealer" mentality is a guarantee to scrape the budget together, although some sacrifices would need to be made. A second driver with a big sponsor budget would be necessary, but Arrows' current paydriver Ricardo Rosset is not considered to be fast enough. Jos Verstappen does not bring a big enough budget, so Walkinshaw needs to look at other options. Kenny Brack - currently test driver at the team - is currently doing very well in F3000 and brings a reasonable budget, sponsored by Swedish companies Ericsson and H&M. Nathan van Dijk, sponsored by Aegon, and Ukyo Katayama with his Mild Seven sponsorship could also fit that mould.


And What About Nathan and Jos?

Damon Hill's release from Williams was the biggest news in Formula 1 in the past weeks, but Nathan van Dijk also was suddenly left without a seat for next year. Van Dijk has had a decent season so far, but this year's DFC is not competitive enough to consistently compete for points. Despite the Dutchman's solid performances in several races, the Italo-Brazilian team opted to poach Christian Fittipaldi from CART, leaving Van Dijk to look for a new job. As we mentioned in the Damon Hill article, he could go to Arrows, which might be at the expense of fellow Dutchman Jos Verstappen. What are the options for the Dutchies?

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Van Dijk's stocks have definitely risen this year as he has occasionally shown signs of great promise. His sponsor budget is rumored to be around $5 million, which further improves his chances of a race seat in 1997. His management is said to be in talks with Jordan, Sauber, Ligier and Arrows at the moment. Jordan may be the preferred option, but the competition for those two seats is big: from young talents like Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella to experienced stars like Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert and even Nigel Mansell: just about every available driver is linked to the Silverstone-based team. At Sauber, Van Dijk would join Gerhard Berger as second driver. The deal would make sense from both parties: Sauber could use a financial boost and Van Dijk could join a stable, competitive midfield team and he could learn a lot from an experienced, high quality teammate. Ligier seems an unlikely option: Luca Badoer has done well there after a difficult start to the season and Damon Hill would be a way more established alternative for the Italian. Arrows could be a good match as well, as we explained in the article on Damon Hill. From the Dutchman's perspective however, that deal may be less preferred: all resources would be focused on Hill and the team has not been too competitive for quite a while.

Jos Verstappen looked set to stay at Arrows for a long time, but the Damon Hill scenario has cast a cloud over his future. Verstappen may well need to move elsewhere, but his 1996 has been rather unremarkable, although he definitely was not helped by his car. Verstappen is also under consideration at Sauber, but he brings less sponsorship than Van Dijk or other candidates like Norberto Fontana. Leading the new Stewart team could be a possibility as well. The team is looking for a fast driver with as much experience in F1 as possible; Verstappen now has three full seasons under his belt and has shown he can be quick. If Sauber and Stewart do not work out, the Dutchman will probably need to look at the less desired teams like Tyrrell, Minardi or even the new Dome or Lola teams.


Short but Sweet

West is McLaren's new title sponsor • VW/Audi rumored to join forces with Benetton or DFC in the future • Adrian Newey to join McLaren after gardening leave • Yamaha likely to supply Arrows with engines in 1997 • Dome, DFC, Stewart confirm '97 tyre deals with Bridgestone • Ricardo Rosset in negotiations with Minardi, Lola

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by Kinnikuniverse 13 May 2021, 14:55
Here's my predictions for the 1997 drivers line-up

Ferrari
Michael Schumacher
Eddie Irvine

Williams
Jacques Villeneuve
Heinz-harald Frentzen

Benetton
Jean alesi
Johnny Herbert

Mclaren
Mika hakkinen
David coulthard

Jordan
Giancarlo Fisichella
Damon Hill

Ligier
Olivier Panis
Luca Badoer

Arrows
Ukyo Katayama
Kenny Brack

Tyrell
Mika salo
Ralf Schumacher

Larrousse-DAMS
Emmanuel Collard
Tom Kristensen

Stewart
Rubens barrichello
Jos verstappen

Sauber
Gerhard berger
Nathan Van dijk

DFC
Pedro diniz
Christian Fittipaldi

Minardi
Jarno Trulli
Norberto Fontana

Dome
Marco Apicella
Shinji Nakano

Lola
Vicenzo Sospiri
Ricardo rosset
by tBone 14 May 2021, 17:20
1996 Italian Grand Prix

As F1 arrives at the legendary circuit of Monza, Damon Hill only needs one more point to be a world champion. A championship celebration for a Williams driver in front of the Italian crowd would be an interesting occasion, but the tifosi will have high hopes of Ferrari's new star: Michael Schumacher. His recent results have been rather good and his first win for Ferrari cannot be far away anymore. For the neutral spectator, perhaps the most interesting thing to watch is all the new upgrades that teams have brought to give their season a final boost. How will they handle one of the fastest tracks on the calendar?


Qualifying

Damon Hill took another pole position with a fine lap, but the tifosi were the most excited about the man joining him on the front row: Michael Schumacher. The German pulled out an excellent tour of the Monza track to narrowly beat Alesi, Villeneuve and Herbert. Barrichello and Brundle had a good qualifying for Jordan as well, taking 6th and 8th on the grid and showing how powerful Peugeot's engine is. DFC also did well, with both Diniz and Van Dijk on the seventh row.

Results
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Race

The first thing that was obvious was how bad Michael Schumacher's start was in comparison to Damon Hill's. Schumacher's teammate, Eddie Irvine, did have a terrific getaway, but the Ulsterman was a bit too optimistic when braking for the Variante del Rettifilo. He was on the inside, braked too late, touched Hill and both ended up in the gravel and would have to catch up from the back of the field. Because everyone on the outside had to slow down to avoid getting wiped off the track, two midfielders profited and surprisingly led the race: Olivier Panis was in 1st position after the first chicane, followed by Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Johnny Herbert had taken 3rd, but he would already in the first lap be passed by Jean Alesi and Michael Schumacher, while Jacques Villeneuve completed the top 6.

Villeneuve needed to win to keep his title hopes alive, but he would even drop out of the top 6 when Barrichello passed him in lap 2. After a tough fight for a couple of laps, the Canadian rookie did come out on top in lap 5, giving the Brazilian no chance to counter his overtaking manoeuver anymore. Meanwhile at the front, Panis and Frentzen saw their lead margin reduce at a rapid pace. Frentzen was the first victim: Alesi and Schumacher got past in lap 3 and Herbert followed in the next lap. Panis was also passed by the faster trio in the subsequent laps. Even after all those position changes, the top 6 was not settled at all. Schumacher chased Alesi for the lead and overtook him in lap 7 with a brilliant move along the outside of the Parabolica corner, while the crowds on the grandstand got extatic. A bit further back, Villeneuve had caught Frentzen and moved up to 5th position.

The party on the grandstands was getting started when Schumacher started pulling away in the lead, but it would not last for long. The reigning world champion, who was still likely to lose that title in this race anyway, slowed down in lap 9. He had to park his car with a failed transmission and all Italian hopes were gone. It was not Alesi who inherited the lead though, because his teammate Herbert had just overtaken him. Villeneuve was in the meantime still working his way up through the field: the Canadian gained another position by outbraking Panis ina lap 11. He now only had the two Benettons in front of him, while Frentzen and Barrichello completed the top 6.

Herbert was the first driver to make a pitstop in lap 13, promoting Hill back into the points as he just overtook Martin Brundle. Both Barrichello and Hill gained further places by passing Frentzen, before the Williams driver had to make his first stop in lap 15. It appeared that Herbert and Hill were the only frontrunners on a two stop strategy, as the others went for a longer first stint. Alesi was now leading the race by a big margin and if he could make his one-stopper work, he looked good for the win, or at least for his first points since the French GP. Unfortunately it was again not meant to be for the fast French driver: a transmission failure ended another leading driver's hopes. Mere seconds later, Barrichello, who had moved up into 4th by then, also was forced to retire. Jordan declared after the race that an oil leak was the cause of the Brazilian's retirement. More bad luck struck the Silverstone-based team just one lap later, when Brundle - now in 6th place - had to make an unplanned stop due to a loose wheel. At this stage, it was Villeneuve who was leading the race, followed by Panis - again all the way up to 2nd - Frentzen, Gerhard Berger, Herbert and David Coulthard.

Herbert and Hill, the two-stoppers, were making their way back up through the field around the halfway point of the race. They were helped on their resurgence by Berger's misfortunes, the Austrian's Ford engine failing in lap 23. In a chaotic phase the one-stoppers all made their pit stops, starting with Coulthard in lap 25 and ending with Frentzen in lap 31. After the German's stop Herbert was back in the lead, followed by Hill, Villeneuve, Panis, Coulthard, and Hakkinen. Coulthard was having a bad second stint, though, and he was quickly passed by Hakkinen after the latter's stop. Irvine would follow a couple of laps later and Brundle would also beat him in a wheel-to-wheel fight. Meanwhile, Villeneuve would get back in the lead when Hill and Herbert made their second stops. Hill dropped to 5th place, but he drove like a champion and breezed past both Frentzen and Panis in just a few laps after his stop. Herbert had rejoined in 2nd place and was again closing in on Villeneuve.

The anticipation for another battle for the lead was great, but it ended with an anti-climax in lap 39. Herbert's car overheated as a result of a water leak and Benetton recorded their third consecutive race with 0 points. Lighting again struck twice: Frentzen, who was on his way to an excellent 4th place, came into the pits in the same lap. The German had a throttle problem, but Sauber's pit crew were able to get him back on track. He had dropped all the way to 9th place, however, and although he fought back to 7th, he lacked the pace to reel in Brundle for the final point.

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Jacques Villeneuve is victorious in Monza

Villeneuve was not bothered by any trouble: the Canadian took his fourth win in what was still only his rookie season. His teammate Hill followed him to the finish, scoring more than enough points to really step into his father's shoes by becoming Formula One world champion. An excited Panis joined the Williams duo on the podium, after an excellent drive to 3rd. Hakkinen finished 4th after a relatively quiet, but solid race, while Irvine behind him had recovered from the shenanigans at the start to take 5th. Brundle did well to complete the top 6 after a race which was compromised by his unplanned pitstop.

Results

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Post-Race Quotes

Jacques Villeneuve (1st): "It's great to be on the highest step of the podium again. I felt strong in the race today, maybe stronger than I had felt earlier in the weekend. And of course congratulations to Damon for winning the championship. There was nothing more I could have done about it today, but my ambition is definitely to challenge for it again next year."
Damon Hill (2nd): "This is of course the best moment of my career. Finally we have done it and although I don't even fully realise it yet, I can already tell you that it's a wonderful feeling. Just one thing about the race: I really wasn't happy with what Irvine did at the start, it made no sense at all. Anyway, it's time to stop complaining and start celebrating!"
Olivier Panis (3rd): "Well what a race that was! I led a race, that was new for me, but it was a nice experience. I think we were very strong in general this weekend and the race pace was excellent. It's great that we got rewarded with a nice podium finish in the end."
Jos Verstappen (retired): "Just like in Hockenheim, we knew this was going to be a tough race for us here. Nevertheless, I had an interesting strategic battle with the Tyrrells and the car was pretty solid. It's just very disappointing that we couldn't finish again."
Nathan van Dijk (retired): "It's a real shame I retired, because I was very close to Hakkinen during the first stint and I was on a very similar strategy. The team had brought quite a big upgrade package for the last races and it worked very well. I am more confident than ever in the car and I genuinely think we can still score some points in Portugal or Japan."


Drivers' Championship

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Constructors' Championship

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by tBone 16 May 2021, 11:50
1996 Portuguese Grand Prix

Both the constructors' and the drivers' championships have been decided, but that does not mean that the Portuguese GP at Estoril will not be worth watching. The battle for 3rd in the drivers' and 2nd in the constructors' championship is still on and the fight in the midfield is perhaps even more intense. All teams will try to grasp every opportunity they can get in one of the last races of 1996!


Qualifying

Jean Alesi claimed pole position with a very good lap, beating Damon Hill - having driven an amazing lap himself and beating his teammate by 7 tenths - by only 0.017s. Johnny Herbert and Michael Schumacher were on the second row, while Jacques Villeneuve qualified in a slightly disappointing 5th place. McLaren's latest upgrade package seemed to be working rather well, as Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard took 6th and 7th. The biggest surprise in the midfield was a negative one: Martin Brundle only managed the 15th time, despite the fact that his teammate Rubens Barrichello qualified in a solid 8th position.

Results
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Race

Damon Hill had a great start and took the lead, while Jean Alesi struggled to even hang on to 2nd place. He did manage to do so, with Johnny Herbert closely behind him. Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve went side-by-side into the first corner and neither of the two yielded for the next four corners until the German came out on top of that battle, while Mika Hakkinen completed the top 6 after the start. Villeneuve had lost the battle but not the war with Schumacher: the Canadian claimed 4th just a single lap later by passing the double world champion in lap 2. Hakkinen would do the same a couple of laps later, but Alesi drew the most attention when he took the lead in lap 4 with an excellent manoeuver into the first corner.

A top 6 of Alesi, Hill, Herbert, Villeneuve, Hakkinen and Schumacher was settled after those position changes and not too much action occured for several laps. In fact, Alesi was steadily building a lead of a couple of seconds and the French Benetton driver once again looked good for a race win at that stage. However, his excellent drive only lasted 16 laps, until he had to park his car once again with a mechanical failure. This time an oil leak was the cause of his retirement. Rubens Barrichello moved up into the points as a result, but not for long. The Brazilian spun in Parabolica Interior, causing a lot of chaos. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, David Coulthard, Gerhard Berger, Eddie Irvine and Martin Brundle all could not avoid the Jordan, which was facing backwards on the racing line, and had to take a trip through the gravel. In fact, the first one to keep it on the tarmac was Nathan van Dijk, who had been recovering a couple of places after a bad start. The young Dutchman all of a sudden found himself in 6th place, with an excellent prospect of scoring some points if he could keep the pace.

A few laps later, the drivers on a two stop strategy were coming into the pits for their first planned stops. Hakkinen was the first one in lap 20, with Van Dijk following one lap later. Hakkinen was quickly back up to 5th place when he passed Olivier Panis in his out lap, but Van Dijk had dropped all the way to 11th place. Hill and Herbert made their stops in lap 25, while Villeneuve stayed out for two more laps. Their relative positions did not change as a result, but Schumacher - on a one stop strategy - had taken the lead. Hill was fast to close the gap to the German and the new world champion did not take long to overtake his predecessor too: with a clean move in Parabolica Interior, the Williams was back in the lead, relegating Schumacher to 2nd. Herbert followed in 3rd, with Villeneuve, Hakkinen and Coulthard completing the top 6. The Scottish McLaren driver was the other one in the top 6 on a one-stopper.

Herbert was faster than Hill in the second stint and he had no trouble passing Schumacher as well. The Benetton driver closed the gap to the Williams and although Hill managed to defend his position for a short amount of time, Herbert took the lead in lap 33. Schumacher had held on to 3rd place in the meantime, until he had to make his only stop of the race in lap 36. He came back in 5th place, behind Villeneuve and Hakkinen. Coulthard was the last driver in the top 6 to make his pit stop, coming in in the 38th lap and rejoining in 7th place, behind Van Dijk. The Dutchman was once again back in the points and his 6th place would even become a 5th after a big cloud of smoke hung over the track. It came from Herbert's Benetton, or better said: of his Renault engine which had blown. Yet another promising weekend ended with 0 points for the team which had won the championship a year ago.

With not too much battling going on, the most interesting thing was to watch strategies. Both the fight for the podium places and for the final points positions looked to be decided in that way, with one-stoppers and two-stoppers competing. Schumacher had made his only stop and although Hill could get tyres and fuel without losing the lead, Villeneuve and Hakkinen did come back behind the German again. Villeneuve was not too far off, though, and the Canadian was significantly faster on fresher tyres. Van Dijk was fighting Coulthard and Barrichello for 5th and 6th place, the Dutchman being the only one to make a second stop and coming back on track in 7th. Similar to Villeneuve ahead of him, Van Dijk also had a strong pace on fresh tyres.

The battle for 2nd place was tense and Schumacher managed to keep Villeneuve behind for several laps with some excellent defensive driving. The Canadian did show his skills in lap 56 to decide the battle: with a clever late move, he caught Schumacher off guard in Parabolica Interior and conquered 2nd place. Almost a lap behind them, Van Dijk was catching Barrichello. Just when the Dutch talent had almost closed the gap, that battle ended in an anti-climax with Barrichello's transmission failing. Coulthard was Van Dijk's next target, but as his tyres got older, his advantage over the Scot got smaller and it seemed like Coulthard would be able to manage the gap.

Managing the gap was also what Schumacher was doing to hang on to 3rd place and he succeeded: Hakkinen could not get close enough anymore and Schumacher was even able to stay rather close to Villeneuve, albeit never within shooting distance. Hakkinen's teammate was even less lucky: although he looked able to keep his 5th place, his car decided otherwise. McLaren had not suffered a retirement since the European GP, but Coulthard's transmission ended the team's reliability streak 10 laps before the finish. Van Dijk was the lucky one to get promoted to 5th place, while Irvine now completed the top 6.

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Another victory for the new world champion

The final 10 laps were uneventful for the top 5, but Irvine had to be careful for Berger in 7th, who was gaining ground with more than half a second per lap. However, the race was one or two laps too short for the Austrian to get in a position where he could attempt an overtake; he finished just under a second behind Irvine. None of that bothered the new world champion, though. Damon Hill cruised through the final laps and won his eighth race of the year. Jacques Villeneuve finished 2nd to make it the fourth Williams 1-2 of 1996, while Michael Schumacher added a fifth podium to his strong second half of the season. Mika Hakkinen moved up to 3rd in the championship by finishing 4th and scoring three points, while Nathan van Dijk got the best result of his career with an excellent 5th place. The Dutch DFC driver had a clinical drive at a time when he needed to be in the spotlights for a seat for 1997, even beating Eddie Irvine's Ferrari to the finish.

Results
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Post-Race Quotes

Damon Hill (1st): "This was an interesting race, with some challenging battles with the Benettons and the different strategy of Schumacher. We were probably a bit lucky with the issues Benetton had, but in general it was a good weekend anyway. I hope I can close this amazing part of my career with another good result in Japan."
Jacques Villeneuve (2nd): "I couldn't really get it together in qualifying; definitely something to improve for next year. In the race I felt pretty strong, especially in the wheel-to-wheel battles. It was good to win all of those and to bring home a second place."
Michael Schumacher (3rd): "We tried something different with the one stop strategy and the gamble almost paid off. I couldn't keep Villeneuve behind after all, but I don't think we would have done any better on a 2-stopper. Third is still a pretty good result and I'm still looking to get third in the championship too."
Nathan van Dijk (5th): "We chose a very aggressive strategy with two early stops, which meant I would need to gain a lot of positions on the track. The start was not really good unfortunately, but with the chaos in the first stint, I got out a bit lucky. We could show the pace after that and proved that the car is seriously good in the race."
Jos Verstappen (9th): "After the problems and the very early stop, I had to come from the back. It was pretty fun to overtake a couple of guys and I'm glad we could finally finish a race again."


Drivers' Championship

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Constructors' Championship

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Last edited by tBone on 17 May 2021, 17:41, edited 1 time in total.

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by dr-baker 17 May 2021, 17:10
tBone wrote:
Image
Jacques Villeneuve is victorious in Monza

What happened to the chequered flag marshal's legs? I blame the crocodile that he brought onto the track with him.

watka wrote:I find it amusing that whilst you're one of the more openly Christian guys here, you are still first and foremost associated with an eye for the ladies!
dinizintheoven wrote:GOOD CHRISTIANS do not go to jail. EVERYONE ON FORMULA ONE REJECTS should be in jail.
MCard LOLA
by tBone 17 May 2021, 17:44
dr-baker wrote:
tBone wrote:
Image
Jacques Villeneuve is victorious in Monza

What happened to the chequered flag marshal's legs? I blame the crocodile that he brought onto the track with him.

Oh dear, that's not good. Looking at that image again, I'm also wondering who Andy is and why his name is on that sign...

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by dr-baker 18 May 2021, 06:47
tBone wrote:
dr-baker wrote:
tBone wrote:
Image
Jacques Villeneuve is victorious in Monza

What happened to the chequered flag marshal's legs? I blame the crocodile that he brought onto the track with him.

Oh dear, that's not good. Looking at that image again, I'm also wondering who Andy is and why his name is on that sign...

I now think it's obvious that Andy is the name of the crocodile.

watka wrote:I find it amusing that whilst you're one of the more openly Christian guys here, you are still first and foremost associated with an eye for the ladies!
dinizintheoven wrote:GOOD CHRISTIANS do not go to jail. EVERYONE ON FORMULA ONE REJECTS should be in jail.
MCard LOLA
by tBone 21 May 2021, 08:13
Press Release - Mild Seven Benetton Renault

Mild Seven Benetton Renault confirms that it will keep the same driver duo in 1997. Jean Alesi had already signed a 2-year deal, which will continue next year. Johnny Herbert has extended his contract by another year to start his third full season with the team. Herbert said "It is great to be able to stay another year with Benetton. Although we have had a challenging season this year, I think it is good that we maintain stability and I am sure we can bounce back and maybe even challenge for the championship next year."


Press Release - Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot

A new, talented driver will be joining Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot in the next years. German driver Ralf Schumacher will make his Formula 1 debut with the team in 1997 and he has signed a contract until the end of 1999. Schumacher, brother of former Jordan driver Michael, is currently active in Formula Nippon, where he is leading the championship with one race to go, and in the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship, where he has won three races this year. The team's second driver will be announced in due course.


Press Release - Ligier Gauloises Blondes

After Olivier Panis had already been confirmed, Ligier Gauloises Blondes is glad to announce the contract extension of Luca Badoer as well. Badoer has had a satisfying season with the team in 1996 so far and has been rewarded with a race seat for 1997. Both the team and the driver look forward to working together again next year and both hope to further improve their performance.

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by tBone 05 Jun 2021, 13:01
GRAND PRIX NEWS
Your monthly source for racing news, stories and rumors | Wednesday 2nd October, 1996


Life After Williams

Damon Hill is the 1996 Formula One world champion, that is a fact now. It is also a fact that he will leave the Williams team, despite that success. It is not the first time that a champion leaves Williams right after winning the title, it is quite the opposite actually: their previous three champions also did not defend their championship with the team. Grand Prix News refreshes your memory, looking back at how they fared after their title-winning year and assessing whether Hill should really be worried about his future, or he will be alright.

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The last driver before Damon Hill to win a championship for Williams, was Alain Prost. The Frenchman was already 38 years old at the time and he had been in F1 for 13 years and he had won four championships. Prost decided to retire at the end of the year, partly because of the fact that Senna would join the team in 1994. He did test several times for McLaren, but never raced again, neither in Formula One, nor in another class. It is highly unlikely that Hill will follow the same scenario as his former teammate: although he is already 36, Hill has only been in F1 for five years and he seems eager for more success before he retires.

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The year before Prost's fourth title, it was Nigel Mansell who won it with Frank Williams' team. Mansell was 39 in 1992 and he left in similar fashion to the Frenchman after him. Prost had been signed and Mansell did not want to be together in a team with him, nor did Williams want to pay for the high financial demands Mansell had raised. He decided to retire from F1 and moved to IndyCar, where he won the championship in 1993, but had a difficult 1994. At the end of that year, he did come back to F1 and even to Williams, supporting Hill's title bid and winning the final race of the season. An adventure with McLaren in 1995 was far less successful and ended prematurely. The IndyCar route is theoretically a possibility for the man who got number 0 as a result of Mansell's retirement, but it is not the most probable one. Hill does have a strong desire to stay in Formula One, but what he can learn from Mansell is that a switch to another team could hurt his reputation.

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A Williams driver also won the championship during Mansell's first stint with the team, but it wasn't the driver from Worcestershire himself. Nelson Piquet - aged 35 at the time - won the title in 1987, but he too was dissatifsied about Williams' driver policy. He chose to leave the team and move to Lotus, where he was promised a number one status. He would never equal the successes of his Brabham and Williams days, though: during his two year stint at Lotus, he did not manage to win a single race. Some redemption came when he joined Benetton for 1990 and 1991, the Brazilian winning three more races, but he never really challenged for a championship again. Piquet's post-Williams career is another example of life not getting better after leaving the team from Didcot. However, it does also show that multiple race wins are still possible and that is something that both Damon Hill and the team he will be driving for, can definitely hope for.


An Update from Nathan

In 1996 Nathan van Dijk was the highest ranked Dutch driver in Formula One and he became only one of only four Dutchmen to ever score points, but despite those achievements he is still without a seat for next year. In a Grand Prix News exclusive feature, Nathan himself has written a monologue, reflecting on his career so far, discussing this season and looking forward to 1997 and beyond.

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"First of all, I would like to mention that it is great that so many people are following my career with interest. It is quite a special feeling to sit in a Formula One car, but it is even more special to look into the grandstands at those moments and to see people cheering for you. It seems like the banners with my name are slowly getting more and more common, which is amazing. I hope I can give those fans more to cheer for next year!"

"Grand Prix News asked me to look back at this season in particular. It was an entirely different season from my rookie year in 1995: I am now the more experienced driver in the team, but especially the vastly increased resources of DFC made a difference. We were very happy to have closed the gap to the midfield right at the first race and scoring a point was a terrific reward. The car was good, but developing it proved to be quite tough and the car for 1997 was prioritized at a pretty early point in time. We did get one very good upgrade just a few weeks ago and our performance improved significantly. That upgrade is the main reason I was fast in Portugal and finished fifth, but more importantly it is the main reason why I think this team is going to improve further in 1997."

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"Many questions have been asked about DFC's decision to drop me and to hire Christian Fittipaldi for next year. I am personally trying not to focus too much on the situation as long as there are races to go. The only thing I can do now to prove that I deserve a seat in F1, is to perform well. Having said that, of course I do need to admit that it was a disappointment to not have my contract extended. I still think that DFC would have been the best place to be for me in 1997, but they chose someone else. I think I did a good job nevertheless, but DFC had the opportunity to hire a more experienced driver and they went for it. You just need to accept that those things can happen and at least the team told me quite early in the year, so there is plenty of time to look for another seat. I do also really want to say that whatever happened, I am still incredibly grateful that this team gave me an amazing chance to drive in F1 with the very limited experience I had at the time."

"As I already said: I think I have proven this year that I really belong in Formula 1. I am capable to battle for the points and especially my race pace has been consistently strong. My major weakness this year was qualifying: Pedro Diniz beat me a couple of times too often for my liking. For some reason, I occasionally struggled to get a good qualifying setup. Hopefully I can improve that next year. About next year: I am pretty confident that I will still have a seat in Formula 1. I am basically in talks with all the teams who still have seats available and things do not look too bad. Unfortunately I am not able to tell anything more than that at this moment, but it seems likely that something for 1997 can be announced still this year. I hope to see all of you again then, but let's first enjoy the Japanese GP with hopefully a good result!"


Short but Sweet

Ford V8s in '97 again for Larrousse DAMS • Strong rumor: Hill to be presented by Arrows after Japanese GP • 7-Eleven will be Dome's main sponsor next year • Fisichella fast, testing Benetton at Estoril • Stewart signed deal with HSBC as main sponsor for 5 years • Morbidelli reportedly close to race seat with Dome

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by tBone 06 Jun 2021, 19:24
1996 Japanese Grand Prix

The Williams team are already celebrating an incredibly successful season, but there is still plenty to look for behind them in the last race of the season. The battle for third in the drivers' championship is very interesting, with Mika Hakkinen, Johnny Herbert, Jean Alesi and Michael Schumacher all within 2 points of one another. Several teams and drivers will still be looking for a day success too: Ferrari and McLaren would love to win at least one race this year, drivers like Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Gerhard Berger and Martin Brundle would do anything for a podium and teams at the bottom of the table are eager for one last chance to score a point.


Qualifying

Williams' 1996 success was also continued in the last qualifying of 1996 as they locked out the front row. Damon Hill beat Jacques Villeneuve to pole position by mere hundredths of a second. Three of the four protagonists in the battle for 3rd in the championship qualified closely together: Johnny Herbert and Michael Schumacher found a place on the 2nd row, with Jean Alesi just behind them. Mika Hakkinen and McLaren had a less impressive qualifying, the Finn only managing and 8th place while his teammate had to settle for 10th. The Sauber team was also a bit disappointing, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen in 12th and Gerhard Berger 13th.

Results
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Race

Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert, both starting from the left side of the grid, got off the line the fastest and took 1st and 2nd place out of the first corner. Rubens Barrichello, coming from the opposite side, also gained a lot of ground to take 3rd while Mika Hakkinen moved up from 8th to 4th. Jean Alesi kept 5th, while Jacques Villeneuve had dropped to 6th after a poor start, which also got Michael Schumacher stuck in the field. The German would need to come from 8th place after the first corner. Still in the first lap, Villeneuve made up a bit for his difficult getaway, passing Alesi in the Casio Triangle. The French Benetton driver did not give up in his battle with the Canadian rookie: he regained his position in a similar way just one lap later. Alesi showed one lap later that he is one of the best wheel-to-wheel fighters in the field with a daring move on Hakkinen going into 130R. Hakkinen lost momentum as a result and Villeneuve also passed him in the Casio Triangle.

Another driver with a lot of ground to gain after the first lap, was Schumacher. The man who carried the number 1 for the last race efficiently sliced through the field in the first stint, taking 6th from Hakkinen in lap 4, 5th from Villeneuve in lap 7, 4th from Alesi one lap later and in lap 9 he was the first of a long train of cars who actually managed to overtake Barrichello. The Brazilian had driven another impressive race up until that point, managing to hold onto a podium position for way longer than the pace of the Jordan should have allowed. In the chasing train, Villeneuve had passed Alesi and after Schumacher's move, the Canadian was the next one to finally beat Barrichello in lap 10. Alesi followed suit as Barrichello had lost some speed trying to defend from Villeneuve. After those position changes, a top 6 of Hill, Herbert, Schumacher, Villeneuve, Alesi and Barrichello settled.

Barrichello's strong race was ended way too soon in lap 14, the Brazilian needing to stop his car due to a water leak. Another strong race went unrewarded for the talented Brazilian. Meanwhile, Herbert was pushing hard to stay close to Hill, but he never was able to really attack his compatriot. Villeneuve was trying to do at least the same to Schumacher, but the Canadian tried too much and ran wide in the first turn in lap 17. He had to go through the gravel and dropped to 7th place - behind Eddie Irvine and Hakkinen - as a result. He recovered by closing the gap to Hakkinen and after a good overtaking manoeuver he was back in the points in lap 21. Villeneuve's problems were not over yet, though: he spun off once more a lap later and he had to retire in lap 23 with a loose wheel. The Canadian commented after the race that he suspected that the issue had bothered him for the entire race.

The entire top 6 was on a one stop strategy, but there was some remarkable variation in the moment when drivers chose to make their stops. Irvine was the first one in lap 27, followed two laps later by his teammate Schumacher. Alesi and Hakkinen followed in lap 33, while Herbert and Hill both stayed out until lap 36 and 37 respectively. Herbert had been very close to Hill before the stops, even attempting an attack into the Casio Triangle, but Hill kept his lead. The pitstops themselves had also not led to any position changes, although the gap between Irvine and Hakkinen was a lot smaller than it had been. The Finn fully closed the gap on track, but Irvine proved to be a tough nut to crack. Hakkinen was right on his tail for almost the whole second half of the race, attacking more and more aggressively, but Irvine kept him behind until lap 51. Just two laps before the finish, Hakkinen finally managed to surprise Irvine with a successfull dummy overtake into the Casio Triangle.

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Damon Hill adds one more win to his brilliant season

Hill had extended the gap to Herbert - who secured 3rd in the championship - and Schumacher in the second stint and won the race unthreatendly. Alesi brought his Benetton home in 4th after an uneventful race, but the season ended with a bang after the top 4 had finished. With two bangs, rather: Hakkinen's engine blew and the Finn had to park his car in a big cloud of smoke, mere corners before he would cross the finish line. Irvine inherited 5th and the only other driver in the lead lap was Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Amazingly, also the Sauber's engine smoked heavily as the German came around the 130R corner, but Frentzen managed to roll across the finish line to take the final point of the season.

Results
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Post-Race Quotes

Damon Hill (1st): "I led every lap today, but that doesn't mean it was always easy. Herbert really put me under pressure here, but I was able to manage a gap, especially in the second stint. I'm glad to have ended a successful season in style."
Johnny Herbert (2nd): "It's good to end the season with a good weekend. We were close to a win, but I fell just short of really challenging Hill today. Anyway, this result gives us some good hopes for next year, despite some difficult times prior to this race."
Michael Schumacher (3rd): "A solid end to an interesting season. I have to admit that I had hoped to win a race this year, but let's now save that for next year. The car has improved a lot during this season, as we could also see today, but again we were close, but not yet close enough to really challenge the Williams."
Nathan van Dijk (retired): "I have to admit that this weekend was a bit underwhelming. I really expected us to be a bit higher up the field, but it was not to be. I did have quite a nice fight with Panis in the race and I was winning it, but my engine decided it was time to end the season earlier than I hoped."
Jos Verstappen (retired): "The last weekend was more of the same for me. Qualifying went pretty well, I was in the race around the positions where I usually was this year and like in so many races, the car didn't make it to the finish. Today's race wouldn't have given us any opportunities to score points anyway, so let's hope for more of those opportunities in 1997."


Drivers' Championship

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Constructors' Championship

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by tBone 13 Jun 2021, 18:33
Press Release - Arrows Hart

Arrows Hart is officially announcing its driver duo for 1997. In the second seat will be the team's current test driver and multiple F3000 race winner Kenny Bräck from Sweden. Kenny has impressed the team in the tests he performed during 1996, which is the main reason he has been given the chance to prove himself on a one-year contract.

Furthermore, Arrows Hart is very proud to confirm the signing of its first driver for next year. 1996 Formula One world champion Damon Hill will join the team on its ambitious path to success. Team principal Tom Walkinshaw commented: "It goes without saying that I am delighted that Damon has agreed to join TWR Arrows. The team's goal is to be F1 world champions in the shortest possible time. Damon's recruitment brings the day when we achieve that goal considerably closer and considering the other attractive options available to him, by joining TWR Damon obviously recognizes the enormous potential of our team."


Press Release - Red Bull Sauber Ford

Red Bull Sauber Ford is happy to announce both its engine partner and its second driver for the future. A new engine project will be set up from 1997 onwards, with the engines being branded as Petronas. For 1997 and 1998, the engines will be based on Ferrari technology. Sauber is confident that this secures a competitive engine for the near future and an ambitious, prosperous new engine for the longer term.

Gerhard Berger, who has enjoyed a satisfying 1996 season, had already been confirmed to stay with the team for another year. Joining him will be one of Formula One's most talented young drivers of the moment: Nathan van Dijk. Van Dijk has shown a lot of promise in especially the last season and in his first test with the Sauber C15 he fully convinced the team of his qualities.

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by tBone 06 Aug 2021, 10:11
GRAND PRIX NEWS
Your monthly source for racing news, stories and rumors | Wednesday 6th November, 1996

1996 Season Review

The 1996 Formula One season has come to an end and teams and drivers are either relaxing or already preparing for yet another exciting new season. Grand Prix News takes one last look at the previous season, presenting you all the facts you need to know and our interpretation of them.


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Remarkable fact
Only McLaren scored more points in 1988 than Williams did this year.

GPN's opinions
Williams had an absolutely dominant season in 1996. Although the Benetton was sometimes close on pace, the FW18 was the fastest car over a full season. What was at least as important, is that this year's Williams was a lot more reliable than the Benettons and the Ferraris.
Damon Hill enjoyed an extremely successful year. Although his rookie teammate drew quite a lot of attention, the Briton usually had the measure of him. It all resulted in nine race wins, equalling Nigel Mansell's record for most wins in a season.
Jacques Villeneuve was expected to become rookie of the year and he did not disappoint from the word go. He was in a dominant car, but the numbers of his maiden F1 season are impressive nonetheless: he never qualified outside the top 5 and he never finished outside the top 3. Especially in the races he was usually close to Hill or he even beat him.


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Remarkable fact
Benetton was the only team other than Williams to claim pole position or to win a race in 1996.

GPN's opinions
Benetton was the reigning constructors' champion going into this season, but it was always going to be a difficult season after the departure of Michael Schumacher and Rory Byrne. Nevertheless, the team showed flashed of speed and still won three races, but they wasted a lot of points by driver errors and many mechanical failures.
Jean Alesi had a decent season, winning his first two races and coming out on top in the qualifying battle with his teammate. However, it was once again a year with high highs and low lows. If the Frenchman wants to really challenge for the championship at some point, he will need to become more consistent.
Johnny Herbert once again was pretty evenly matched to his teammate. Some silly mistakes did not make him look any better, but much like Alesi, Herbert did also have some very strong showings. His weekend at the Hockenheimring was excellent and showed what the Briton can do when he feels good in a car.


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Remarkable fact
Together with Williams, McLaren had the most reliable car of 1996, only retiring from a race seven times.

GPN's opinions
McLaren had a bit of an unremarkable season. The car was a lot more reliable than in 1995, but it was not fast enough to ever challenge for race wins. In the end it did bring the Woking-based team a lot more points, but they will need to take big steps forward to really get back at the front.
Mika Hakkinen truly was McLaren's leader this year, despite the arrival of a talented teammate. The Finn's run of 11 consecutive races in the points was very impressive and that kind of consistency made the difference for his team's third place in the championship.
David Coulthard's 1996 was perhaps a little bit underwhelming. He had been very close to Hill last year and was a genuine title contender, but he did not finish on the podium even once this year. Hakkinen clearly beat him in both qualifyings and races, so DC will need to improve - just like his car - if he wants to fight for the championship again.


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Remarkable fact
Ferrari saw a car finish only three times in the first half of the season, while they only retired from a race four times in the second half.

GPN's opinions
Ferrari had a disastrous start to the season, which meant they would never be able to really challenge for the championship. The team did improve the reliability in particular, for which they deserve a lot of credit. Only Williams scored more points in the second half of the season, but the improvements came just too late to give them 3rd in the constructors' championship. Race wins were the target, but the Williams dominance meant they simply did not yet stand a chance this year.
Michael Schumacher lost his world title in 1996, but he did show he is still arguably the best driver in the field. Some aggressive battles with drivers in superior cars made him stand out and he deserved to win in Silverstone. If Ferrari can make the promised steps forward in the next years, it seems certain that the German can win more championships.
Eddie Irvine was destined to be in Schumacher's shadow this year. Nevertheless, the Ulsterman had some solid and sensible drives to score a decent haul of points. Although he rarely even came close to his teammate, he stayed out of trouble and contributed to his team's championship position. Irvine might be an ideal number 2 for the next years.


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Remarkable fact
Jordan scored less points in 1996 than they did in 1995, when they already fell a point short of their 1994 tally.

GPN's opinions
Jordan have been one of F1's most ambitious teams in recent years, making it no secret that they want to make the step towards a world championship challenge. Despite having one of the best engines in the field, they once again fell significantly short, despite Barrichello's excellent podium finishes early in the season. Something will need to change at Jordan, or they may lose their works engine and lucrative sponsorships.
Rubens Barrichello seemed to once again extract the absolute maximum from the car. The Brazilian was often able to mix it with the top teams, unlike his teammate. Barrichello is rumored to move to the new Stewart team next year, which will be interesting to see. If Sir Jackie gives him a good package, Rubens may well be the surprise of 1997.
Gianni Morbidelli drove only one race this year, but his performance was more than solid. It might just have put him back into the picture for a race seat next year.
Martin Brundle's season was not as impressive as the experienced Briton would have hoped. Brundle did occasionally score points, but he was often outqualified and outraced by his younger teammate. It seems unlikely that Jordan will extend his contract and other options are very limited.


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Remarkable fact
Both Panis and Badoer finished on the podium once in 1996.

GPN's opinions
Ligier had a rather solid season on track, despite the uncertainties about its ownership behind the scenes. Through a combination of reliability, a surprisingly strong Mugen engine and a bit of luck, they even managed to improve their ranking in the constructors' championship compared to 1995. The team will likely be sold this winter and it does not look too senseless to buy it.
Olivier Panis had another characteristically consistent, but largely unnoticed season. The Frenchman is one of the most reliable drivers and always manages to secure some good results. He generally had the measure of Badoer, although the margins were quite small.
Luca Badoer's season was his most successful in F1 so far. The Italian finally got a relatively competitive machine and showed what he can do with it. Rumor has it that he will lose his personal Roces sponsorship though, so he will need to keep performing well to remain an interesting option for midfield teams.


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Remarkable fact
1996 was Sauber's fourth season in F1 without finishing on the podium.

GPN's opinions
Sauber was rather unlucky in 1996. Although their reliability was not much worse than Ligier's, Sauber's retirements usually came just at the moments when they could have scored a lot of points. The new Ford V10 engine proved to be a good engine and Frentzen in particular was able to compete close to the front. All in all it was a season of what could have been, but the result again was unspectacular.
Gerhard Berger was solid and consistent this year. He proved he can still be of good value for a team, but he never finished in the points in the second half of the season anymore. The experienced Austrian will probably continue to prove his worth next year, but after that it might be time for fresh blood.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen's championship ranking does not tell the whole story. Again the German managed to occasionally surprise with strong qualifyings and races, until his car failed. He will have big shoes to fill when his big break comes in 1997 at Williams, but it is not unlikely that he will be able to do so.


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Remarkable fact
DFC qualified with both cars in the top 20 in every race, while they never managed to do so last year.

GPN's opinions
DFC was arguably the most improved team of 1996. The new car and the better engine proved themselves from the first race, in which Van Dijk already scored a point. Occasional points finishes followed, proving that they did not get outdeveloped by the competition, but also proving that they could not really catch up further. Another step forward is needed to become a consistent points scorer in 1997.
Pedro Diniz exceeded many expectations in his rookie season. He was particularly strong in qualifying, but in the races he had a tendency to drop slightly back, unlike his teammate. It remains to be seen how much he can progress in the future, but at least his maiden F1 season was better than his maiden F3000 season was.
Nathan van Dijk showed he can be a decent driver in the midfield. He did get outqualified by Diniz, which is disappointing, but in the races he was usually the better driver. Van Dijk took some chances to shine in nice battles on track and he had an excellent race in Portugal, just when a deal with a new team had to be found.


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Remarkable fact
Minardi scored the only point with a V8 engine in 1996.

GPN's opinions
Minardi once again made the most of their minimal resources this year. A crucial point in the French GP meant they could finish 9th in the constructors' championship, which may have saved their very existence for another while. It has to be admired how they managed to build a pretty reliable and stable car with probably the smallest budget in the paddock.
Pedro Lamy was the one who scored the point, but that does not tell the whole story. Fisichella was consistently faster in the first half of the season, even though he had barely even tested the car and he was a rookie. Minardi might be looking for drivers who either are faster or bring a bigger sponsor budget in 1997.
Tarso Marques was a cheap option to do a couple of races and he did an adequate job. He was close to the more experienced Lamy and if he can arrange some sponsorship, he might be a good option for a race seat next year.
Giovanni Lavaggi brought some much needed money to the team, but that was about his only contribution. He consistently qualified last and drove in the back. It made sense for Minardi to give him some races and to enable the team's survival, but the risk will probably be too big next year, with 30 cars competing for only 26 grid slots in the race.


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Remarkable fact
1996 was Arrows' second consecutive season without scoring points.

GPN's opinions
Arrows' focus shifted to 1997 very early in the year, which meant that this season was given up rather quickly. The car arguably had the potential to score points, but not enough effort was put in to fulfill that potential. A very disappointing debut season for Rosset also did not help to improve their chances.
Ricardo Rosset had a tough start to his F1 career. The 1995 F3000 runner-up barely ever showed why he had been reasonably good in the junior categories. He was usually worryingly close to the back of the field, while his teammate did not drop out of the midfield.
Jos Verstappen had probably expected more of 1996. As it was, his season was unremarkable. He convincingly beat another teammate, but his car lacked the speed and reliability and Verstappen himself lacked the luck to score any points. He is still looking for a seat for next year, which proves to be quite a challenge.


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Remarkable fact
Despite missing the last six races, Simtek is still ranked above Tyrrell and Larrousse DAMS on countback.

GPN's opinions
Simtek's story ended halfway through the 1996 season. Financial troubles proved to be too big for Nick Wirth's team and after the Irish Shannon Group bought their assets, it has gone quiet. It is quite a shame, because once again Simtek performed actually pretty well. Through all issues behind the scenes, they kept on beating the occasional Larrousse DAMS, Minardi and Arrows and the potential was there to grow to a decent team.
Andrea Montermini was going to be the experienced leader of the team, but his teammate actually had a slight edge on him in terms of performance. His most remarkable moment was probably the reason he received a race ban after blocking the leaders in Monaco. Montermini was the one to finish 7th in France though: very close to the points once again.
David Brabham was Montermini's stand in during the latter's race ban. He stayed off the back row, which was impressive given his very limited preparation.
Tom Kristensen showed some flashes of promise in 1996. His excellent qualifying in Monaco of all places was a particular highlight. Had Simtek continued to exist, than he would have probably been certain of another season in F1. Now, he is one of many drivers fighting for those precious few remaining seats.


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Remarkable fact
Katayama did not finish a single race in the first half of the season, Salo did not finish once in the second half.

GPN's opinions
Tyrrell was the biggest disappointment of 1996. The car was not even that slow: usually both Salo and Katayama qualified in the midfield. Reliability was the issue that robbed the team of any opportunity to score points. More and more sponsors are leaving the team, putting them in a difficult situation for next year.
Ukyo Katayama used to be a bit of a rising star quite recently, but he looked stale this year. He was convincingly outqualified by his younger teammate and there were very few opportunities to shine in the races. His Japanese sponsor money still might make him an interesting candidate for some teams, though.
Mika Salo is still a promise for the future. He was strong in both qualifying and races this year, but he does not have the results to back it up. Another year at Tyrrell in 1997 might put him in a better position on the driver market, but the car will need to be better than this year.


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Remarkable fact
Larrousse DAMS had the worst reliability in 1996: they only recorded six race finishes.

GPN's opinions
Larrousse DAMS had a difficult return to Formula One in 1996. It was soon apparent that the Reynard chassis was nothing more than a stopgap solution to at least enable them to compete this year. A newly developed chassis could bring them improvements in 1997.
Emmanuel Collard had to make his debut in tricky circumstances, but he proved capable. He was a solid qualifier in 1996 and his race pace was pretty decent too. He would have probably benefitted greatly from an experienced teammate but as it was, he did enough to be a good option for another year with the team.
Hiro Matsushita's season was rather similar to Giovanni Lavaggi's, albeit slightly better. The former IndyCar driver is at the French team for his money, that is no secret. He did slightly improve over the season and managed to get off the last row on the grid some times, so perhaps he might have a decent 1997 with Larrousse DAMS.


Short but Sweet

Arrows in advanced talks with Yamaha • Satoru Nakajima joins Tyrrell board of directors • F1 cars to get accident recorders • Ford V8s for Tyrrell in 1997 • Fisichella to Jordan? • Stewart to reveal car and line-up very soon

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by tBone 11 Aug 2021, 20:58
Press Release - HSBC Malaysia Stewart Ford

HSBC Malaysia Stewart Ford proudly revealed its first ever Formula One car, the Stewart SF1, at a presentation in London. It marked the first major milestone in the new team's existence: Stewart Grand Prix has shown to be ready to compete in F1 in 1997. Team principal Sir Jackie Stewart said "This is a great moment for us and expectations are very high. I do need to be realistic, though, so what we are hoping for is to score at least one championship point in 1997. Top-10 finishes and top-10 qualifying in our first year would be pretty impressive. Not many teams have ever done that. We are financially sound, fully equipped and ready to go."

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Not only the car, but also the driver line-up was revealed during the presentation. Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, who despite his young age has already accumulated a lot of F1 experience, and Danish talent Jan Magnussen will drive for Stewart in 1997. Both drivers drove their first miles in the SF1 during a shakedown at the Silverstone circuit.

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Press Release - 7-Eleven Dome Formula 1

7-Eleven Dome Formula 1 has revealed its Formula One chassis for 1997, the Dome F106. The team has used the testing experiences with its previous car, the F105, to ensure a competitive machine for its maiden F1 season. Team manager Tadashi Sasaki commented "We are very proud to have made it this far with the team and the car. We have reached a point where we are confident we can qualify for Formula 1 Grands Prix and we are looking to keep improving ourselves from there."

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Drivers for the 1997 season will be Gianni Morbidelli and Shinji Nakano. Morbidelli is a driver with vast experience in both Formula One and other classes and has already finished on the podium in an F1 Grand Prix. Nakano has worked with Dome before in Formula Nippon and has proved himself as a quick and reliable driver. With this driver duo, 7-Eleven Dome Formula 1 is confident to make a strong entry in the 1997 season.

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by tBone 13 Aug 2021, 18:41
GRAND PRIX NEWS
Your monthly source for racing news, stories and rumors | Wednesday 4th December, 1996


A Lot of Rumored Interest for Engine Supply

1997 will be Renault's last season as an engine supplier and it seems uncertain that Ford will continue its V8 engine programme any longer. Meanwhile, the field has been expanded to 14 or, if Lola makes it to the start of the season, even 15 teams, all looking to get enough power to be competitive. It seems likely that Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot and Ford will continue to supply engines in the foreseeable future, while smaller suppliers like Hart, Cosworth and Judd keep working hard to stay close to the top. In addition to those parties, there have lately been several rumors about other companies who may be interested in supplying F1 engines in the next few years.

A brand new engine which may already be seen within a few months, will be constructed by Al Melling. Reliable sources in the paddock tell us that Melling is close to a deal with the new Lola team, which will use old Ford V8s as a stopgap solution. Melling has already been a consultant for Leyton House and Benetton in the past and has announced this project earlier this year. Rebadging the engine seems likely to provide some extra finances: either Lola's name itself or the name of Reynolds Metal Co. could appear on the V10 when it will be available.

One of F1's most recurring rumors is a full works return of Honda. The Japanese giant has enjoyed tremendous successes as an engine supplier in quite a recent past. There is also still a link to F1, albeit an unofficial one: Mugen-Honda is still supplying Ligier with engines. Honda Motor Company's president, Nobuhiko Kawamoto, did recently comment that Honda is not ready for a Formula One comeback in 1998, but that does leave the door wide open for the years after that. Honda's R&D department has been working on a Honda chassis, which has even been tested. All in all a Honda return to the pinnacle of motorsport seems pretty likely, either as a full team or as an engine supplier.

Other engine manufacturers who are linked to a comeback every now and then, are BMW and Porsche, who were both very successful during Formula One's turbo era. Of the two, BMW seems to be the most likely to make a return in the short term. The company is currently putting a lot of its motorsports efforts into Le Mans by supplying the V12 engines in the McLaren F1, but they may shift their attention once they feel there is nothing left to win there. Porsche's last F1 effort with Footwork was a big failure, but the German company has won just about everything in every other racing category. DFC in particular is said to have talks with the legendary sports car company. Neither BMW nor Porsche seems ready for a return within two years from now, though, unless they could buy an existing engine program like Yamaha's or Hart's.

New kids on the block are always a possibility as well. The Volkswagen concern has been linked to F1 for years now, either through the VW brand, or through Audi or Seat. Once again, it seems to be DFC who are currently rumored to negotiate with the German concern, but Benetton's name is also sometimes mentioned. Honda's Japanese archrival Toyota is another candidate. In fact, Toyota is said to be making an official announcement very soon. It is not sure what the plan exactly will be: engine supplier or constructor. Collaborations with Yamaha or TOM's are likely though.


Short but Sweet

Mansell to test Jordan next week • Mastercard will be Lola's title sponsor in 1997, enabling the team to move ahead • Minardi secures Hart engines • Fisichella close to race for Minardi again • Marlboro will be Ferrari's first title sponsor in history

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by tBone 05 Dec 2021, 15:41
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Grand Prix News is Back!
Posted Friday 1st March, 1997

After a long and difficult winter, the Grand Prix News team owes its faithful readers an explanation. The magazine you were used to, does not exist anymore. Just before Christmas eve, a big fire destroyed our premises, including the printing office and our archives. This was a big blow for Grand Prix News, but the team decided an opportunity was there to rise like a phoenix.

The magazine cannot be reinstated anymore, but Grand Prix News is convinced that the world wide web is the future! Hence why you are now reading from a brand new website, http://www.grand-prix-news.com. This way, Grand Prix News will again become your source for racing news, stories and rumors, but not on a daily basis instead of a monthly one.

Stay tuned for a lot of content from a team which is more motivated than ever! We are on the eve of a new exciting Formula 1 season, but we do have time to provide you an extensive season preview, starting as soon as tomorrow!

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by tBone 05 Dec 2021, 18:52
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1997 Season Preview - Part 1: The New Teams
Posted Saturday 2nd March, 1997

In the first part of Grand Prix News' season preview, the bottom three teams on the official entry list are being discussed. Lola, Dome and Stewart have one thing in common: they are all brand new entries. Apart from that, the differences are big in terms of driver pairings, amount of pre-season testing, engine suppliers and more. Grand Prix News assesses in this article whether the newbies are more likely to become another Jordan, or another Pacific...


MasterCard Lola Formula One Racing Team

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Chassis: Lola T97/30
Engine: Ford ECA Zetec-R 3.0 V8
Tyres: Bridgestone
Driver #30: Vincenzo Sospiri (0 races)
Driver #31: Ricardo Rosset (16 races / best qualifying: 20th / best race: 10th)
Test driver: Andrea Montermini

After many years of rumors and several aborted attempts, Lola will finally enter as an independent constructor in 1997. Once again, the road to F1 was a bumpy one for Eric Broadley's team. At the last moment, a deal for old Ford V8s had to be made, because Al Melling's in-house developed Lola V10 engine is not available in time. It seems most likely that this engine will not be racing until 1998. Lola will have to compensate for an underpowered engine instead, but the chassis development did suffer as well. Because of the late change of engine supplier, the car was not ready for testing until just a week ago. Only a quick shakedown was possible before the team had to travel to the Australian Grand Prix.

Vincenzo Sospiri is one of the five rookies this season. The Italian finally gets a well-deserved shot at F1, after winning the F3000 championship in 1995 and after testing for Simtek, Ligier and Benetton in the past. His team-mate will be Ricardo Rosset, who became vice-champion in F3000 as Sospiri's teammate. Rosset did make his debut last year, but it was a struggling season in a difficult environment at Arrows.

All in all, Lola is a big unknown, because we have barely seen anything of the team yet. The omens are dark: underpowered engine, underdeveloped chassis and an inexperienced driver duo to develop the car. With 30 cars fighting for only 26 spots on every starting grid, the colourful Lolas may be a rare sight on Sundays.


7-Eleven Dome Formula 1

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Chassis: Dome F106
Engine: Mugen-Honda MF-301HB 3.0 V10
Tyres: Bridgestone
Driver #28: Gianni Morbidelli (61 races / best qualifying: 6th / best race: 3rd)
Driver #29: Shinji Nakano (0 races)
Test driver: Marco Apicella

Japanese outfit Dome made a lot of miles with F1 cars in the past: they tested with the F105 for more than a year before their chassis for 1997 - the F106 - was presented in November of last year. It is not the most innovative car, with Dome reportedly focusing on consistency and reliability. The Mugen-Honda engine deal may help them a lot; the engines performed surprisingly well with Ligier in 1996.

Dome spent a long time looking for a lead driver and they found an experienced one with Gianni Morbidelli. The Italian only drove one race last year - adequately so - but he will start his seventh Formula 1 season in 1997. Dome has high hopes of his input to further develop the car. Shinji Nakano is the team's second driver: a rookie who is quite unknown in Europe. He spent 1996 testing the Dome F105 and driving for the team in Formula Nippon, where he finished 6th in the championship. It will be interesting to see if he can stay close to Morbidelli.

An interesting newcomer, Dome looks up for the job to at least regularly qualify for races and maybe even more. They have a good engine and at least one solid driver. Being fully based in Japan, the team is a bit of an enigma so far, but the passion for motorsport can be felt nonetheless.

HSBC Malaysia Stewart Ford

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Chassis: Stewart SF01
Engine: Ford VJ Zetec-R 3.0 V10
Tyres: Bridgestone
Driver #26: Rubens Barrichello (63 races / 1 pole position / best race: 2nd)
Driver #27: Jan Magnussen (0 races)
Test driver: -

Two big names from Formula 1 history join forces for a new entry in 1997: Stewart and Ford. This would always lead to high expectations, although Jackie and Paul Stewart try hard to temper them. It cannot be denied that their resources are more than sufficient, though. Works support from Ford guarantees a powerful and well-integrated engine and the team has a large budget thanks to some big sponsors.

Rubens Barrichello was up for a new challenge after four years at Jordan. The Brazilian might have hoped for a seat with a top team - and one could argue he deserved it after several impressive performances - but he settled for a promising new project where he is the undisputed lead driver. He is joined by another rookie: Jan Magnussen, who dominated the 1994 British Formula 3 season with Paul Stewart Racing. The Dane spent the following two years as a test driver for McLaren, where he accumulated a lot of F1 mileage. His talent is undeniable, but will he be able to shine in a new team, alongside a very quick lead driver?

Stewart Grand Prix looks like at least the most promising new team on paper. However, races are not won on paper. The SF01 was occasionally quick in pre-season testing, but Stewart missed a lot of crucial time due to reliability issues. It means that the team should easily be able to qualify for most races, but it is a lot less certain they will finish many of them. Midfield pace and multiple points finished should be possible, though.

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by tBone 06 Dec 2021, 21:08
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1997 Season Preview - Part 2: Back Of The Grid Again, Or Not On The Grid At All?
Posted Sunday 3rd March, 1997

Just above the new teams, three existing constructors are firmly in the bottom half of the entry list for the 1997 Formula One Season. An analysis on those four teams is given in the second part of Grand Prix News' season preview. Larrousse DAMS, Tyrrell and Minardi all struggled last year. Will they be able to break the status quo, is improvement going to be too difficult or could they even struggle to qualify for races in 1997?


L'Oréal Larrousse DAMS GP

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Chassis: Larrousse DAMS LD-II
Engine: Ford ED4 3.0 V8
Tyres: Goodyear
Driver #24: Tom Kristensen (12 races / best qualifying: 21st / best race: 10th)
Driver #25: Hiro Matsushita (16 races / best qualifying: 22nd / best race: 11th)
Test driver: Laurent Redon

Larrousse DAMS had a difficult return to Formula 1 in 1996, where it more and more looked like its only mission was to get the cars onto the grid. The chassis - bought from Reynard - was never really developed to reach its potential, the French team choosing to focus in the LD-II at an early stage. The new chassis was available early in the winter and a lot of testing has been done since. With a light, but underpowered Ford V8, Larrousse DAMS will especially be looking to impress on the slower circuits.

It was quite a surprise that Tom Kristensen was signed by Larrousse DAMS for the 1997 season. The Dane was occasionally impressive with Simtek last year and he apparently brings in more cash than the decently performing Collard did. If the car is good enough, Kristensen has to be the one to seize every opportunity to score points, because it cannot be expected from his teammate. Hiro Matsushita did not do anything in 1996 to prove he is fast, but he does bring in plenty of Japanese yens. Whether he will be able to qualify for any races, remains to be seen.

A dark horse, that is probably the best way to describe Larrousse DAMS this year. The team looks a lot more motivated to maximize the performance of its chassis and they have one talented driver with Kristensen. It is a pity that the other car will not be competitive, though: the best Matsushita can do is qualify on the last row, perhaps. Nevertheless, if the French team manages to snatch some points, a brighter future may lie ahead.


PIAA Tyrrell Ford

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Chassis: Tyrrell 025
Engine: Ford ED4 3.0 V8
Tyres: Goodyear
Driver #22: Jos Verstappen (43 races / best qualifying: 6th / best race: 3rd)
Driver #23: Mika Salo (35 races / best qualifying: 13th / best race: 9th)
Test driver: Toranosuke Takagi

Ken Tyrrell's plucky team faces some new challenges in 1997. They will have to pay for their engines for the first time in a while, having lost the Yamaha V10s and having to settle for Ford V8s instead. The chassis is a thorough evolution of last year's, which was promising, but unreliable. That will be the key for 1997: reliability. If Tyrrell manages to improve that, they might get back on the way up.

Jos Verstappen's career has taken an unfortunate turn after his chaotic debut season with Benetton. The Dutchman has shown flashes of speed in the last two years, but he definitely needs a good season to get his career back on track. Consistency will be key for Verstappen, especially with a highly rated teammate like Mika Salo. The Finn is another promising driver, but he too is looking for a place in the spotlights. Salo impressed particularly in several qualifying sessions in 1996, but a lack of reliability prevented him from fighting for points.

Points have to be the objective for Tyrrell after scoring none in 1995 and 1996. They have the drivers to maximize every small chance, but will they have both the speed and the reliability? Team members are hopeful as always, but they will really have to get it right this time, or the team will end up like Brabham and Lotus a few years ago.


Minardi Team

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Chassis: Minardi M197
Engine: Hart 830 AV7 3.0 V8
Tyres: Bridgestone
Driver #20: Ukyo Katayama (79 races / best qualifying: 5th / best race: 5th)
Driver #21: Jarno Trulli (0 races)
Test driver: Tarso Marques

Minardi has been one of Formula 1's smallest teams for years, but their budget for 1997 was sooner completed than in previous years. Engines will be supplied by Brian Hart this year, even though he is again not able to fulfil his dream of further developing his V10 project. The V8s are a development of last year's units in the Arrows and should be decent powerplants. As always, the chassis looks promising, light and efficient, which is a remarkable achievement given the team's limited resources.

Ukyo Katayama brings both experience and money to the Italian team. The Japanese driver did not have a strong season last year, so he will be looking to improve. Nevertheless, a solid job can be expected from him. He will be accompanied by an Italian rookie: Jarno Trulli. Trulli has been a promising talent ever since becoming karting world champion in 1991. Last year, he showed his speed in tests with Benetton and by dominantly winning the German Formula Three championship. Keep an eye out for him, because he could become one of the surprises of the season.

One has to admire Giancarlo Minardi's team for again making it onto the entry list, with good drivers and a well-designed car. In the past years, they were occasionally able to end up in the points and there is no reason to assume they will do any worse in 1997. It is as improbable as it was in those years, though.

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by tBone 10 Dec 2021, 20:36
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1997 Season Preview - Part 3: Average, but not Anonymous
Posted Monday 4th March, 1997

The teams in part 3 of this season preview were all capable of scoring points on multiple occasions, but none of them really managed to regularly break through to the top. A new year brings new opportunities, though, and it is almost certain that one of these teams will be the surprise of the season. On the other hand, it is also not unlikely that one of them will become the disappointment of 1997.

Petrobras DFC Ford

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Chassis: DFC FG04
Engine: Ford VJ Zetec-R 3.0 V10
Tyres: Bridgestone
Driver #18: Christian Fittipaldi (40 races / best qualifying: 6th / best race: 4th)
Driver #19: Pedro Diniz (16 races / best qualifying: 13th / best race: 6th)
Test driver: Domenico Schiattarella

DFC is one of those teams who are eager to surprise in 1997. They took a giant leap forward in 1996 after a struggling debut season in '95. The Brazilian influence in the team is very clear: not only did they sign a Brazilian driver to replace the Dutch Van Dijk, but also Ford do Brasil once again arranged a competitive V10 engine for the team. The FG04 chassis is the team's first chassis which has been completely developed with a bigger team and a larger budget, so expectations are quite high.

Christian Fittipaldi makes his return to Formula 1 after two years in CART. He has plenty of experience in the F1 midfield, with three solid seasons for Minardi and Footwork and after that, he became Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. Fittipaldi should be a very solid, consistent driver for DFC. He will be joined by the man whose seat was probably the most secure one in F1: Pedro Diniz. The team owner's son did prove his worth in 1996 by scoring a point as soon as his fifth race. It will be interesting to keep an eye on him now he has a more established teammate.

The half-Italian, half-Brazilian DFC team looks set for a season firmly in the midfield. Both car and engine look pretty promising and they have an interesting driver duo. However, the team may still lack the experience to really maximize their results, so another improvement is not guaranteed at all. Regular points finishes should be the objective nevertheless.


Red Bull Sauber Petronas

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Chassis: Sauber C16
Engine: Petronas SPE-01 3.0 V10
Tyres: Goodyear
Driver #16: Gerhard Berger (196 races / 10 pole positions / 10 race wins)
Driver #17: Nathan van Dijk (33 races / best qualifying: 14th / best race: 5th)
Test driver: Norberto Fontana

Sauber's engine deal was the hottest topic for the Swiss team over the winter. It took a long time to secure Petronas-badged, 1996 spec Ferrari engines, which has compromised chassis development and testing. Sauber have only been able to test the new car for a few days, but they did remain free of problems in those days.

F1's most experienced driver has a seat at Sauber this year. Gerhard Berger was a very consistent force in 1996, but the outstanding drives did not come from him anymore. 1997 may be the Austrian's last season in the pinnacle of motorsport, but there is no reason to assume he will go out on a low. Nathan van Dijk is a new face at the Swiss team. The young Dutch driver is getting a nice chance to prove how good a driver he really is, in a team that should be competitive and alongside one of F1's most established drivers.

For Sauber, a lot of this season's outcome is depending on whether the design team got it first time right, without too many early reliability issues. A second challenge will be to keep developing the car to remain competitive. The latter has proven to be difficult for the Swiss team in the past seasons. If both conditions are met, both Berger and Van Dijk may be drivers who can finally reel in Sauber's first podium. If they are not met, it could be a long season for Peter Sauber and his team.


Prost Gauloises Blondes

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Chassis: Prost JS45
Engine: Mugen-Honda MF-301HB 3.0 V10
Tyres: Bridgestone
Driver #14: Olivier Panis (49 races / best qualifying: 6th / best race: 2nd)
Driver #15: Luca Badoer (45 races / best qualifying: 8th / best race: 3rd)
Test driver: Emmanuel Collard

Alain Prost makes a second comeback to Formula 1, but this time he is not driving himself. Instead, Prost has bought the team formerly known as Ligier and is aiming to make it the French motorsports pride. The JS45, still developed and named as a Ligier, is Prost's weapon of choice for 1997. The car is an evolution of last year's JS43, but many aerodynamic details have been revised.

There have been many changes at the team, but the driver pairing of Olivier Panis and Luca Badoer remained the same. The Frenchman had the edge over the Italian for most of 1996, but both drivers had a good season. If the car for 1997 is good, Panis in particular might be able to challenge for top positions.

The chaos at the former Ligier team may finally have come to an end. Under the Prost name, the team's future looks bright, but that does not give any guarantees yet for 1997. However, even the short term may be positive for the French team: the Mugen-Honda engine was surprisingly strong last year and they could be Bridgestone's best-performing team. We would not be surprised to see an occasional podium finish from both Panis and Badoer.


Benson & Hedges Jordan Peugeot

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Chassis: Jordan 197
Engine: Peugeot A14 3.0 V10
Tyres: Goodyear
Driver #11: Ralf Schumacher (0 races)
Driver #12: Giancarlo Fisichella (8 races / best qualifying: 19th / best race: 8th)
Test driver: Pedro de la Rosa

The Jordan team has been waiting for its breakthrough into the F1 top for some years now, but they fell short once again in 1996. Despite those disappointments, technical director Mike Gascoyne did make some bold claims at the launch of the new Jordan 197. He mentioned that the car has been improved in every area, to such an extend that it should be around two seconds a lap quicker at each track.

Remarkably, Jordan has the least experienced driver duo of the entire grid, with a mere two race starts between Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella. The former has a famous name: he is Michael's younger brother, but that is not the only reason he is getting a shot at F1. Ralf Schumacher is the reigning Formula Nippon champion and he impressed in tests for McLaren and Jordan last year, making him one of the most desired young talents in the sport. Fisichella got an unexpected debut in 1996 with Minardi, where he immediately was on the pace, despite barely testing the car before the start of the season. It is a promising duo, but their lack of experience could hurt Jordan's ambitions.

This year has to be the year where Jordan closes the gap to the front, or they risk losing both the Benson & Hedges sponsorship and the Peugeot engines. Those engines are again expected to be better than last year's, so if the car is as good as Jordan claims, they have all chances to actually make it work this year. At least one race win is the objective and it would be spectacular if Eddie Jordan's team pulls it off, but by the looks of it, it is far from impossible.







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1997 Season Preview - Part 4: Champions and Top Teams
Posted Tuesday 5th March, 1997

In the fourth and final part of the Grand Prix News 1997 Season Preview, the reigning champions and the potential regular race winners take the stage. If our crystal ball is right, the teams in this part of the preview will divide the majority of race wins. The top four of last season is in this preview, with Arrows as a notable exception. The team will run with the number 1, after Damon Hill was signed for them. What to expect from them? And who will be the championship contenders this year?

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro

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Chassis: Ferrari F310B
Engine: Ferrari 046/2 3.0 V10
Tyres: Goodyear
Driver #9: Michael Schumacher (85 races / 9 pole positions / 16 race wins)
Driver #10: Eddie Irvine (46 races / best qualifying: 2nd / best race: 2nd)
Test driver: Nicola Larini

The prancing horse did not have the best season of its history in 1996. Even double world champion Michael Schumacher was not able to win a race with the F310, although he got close a couple of times. The Italians have focused on improving the car's reliability, but several features of the F310 have been significantly improved with the F310B as well.

Michael Schumacher eagerly wants to win races again, after a year of drought. The German is good enough to win more world titles, there is no doubt about that. 1997 might be too early for that, but multiple race wins could be on the cards. Once again, he is joined by Eddie Irvine as his second driver. Irvine was convincingly beaten by Schumacher last year, but there is no shame in that. He did prove to be a reliable driver who is able to bring in a good points tally.

Ferrari is destined for success and it looks like a matter of time before the team really gets it right. On the other hand, a lot is depending on their progress in this season. If Schumacher is not satisfied, he may be looking for a way out. Pre-season testing has been pretty hopeful, although it is uncertain whether the Italian team is already able to break Williams' dominance. Another fourth place in the championship is very unlikely, though.


West McLaren Mercedes

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Chassis: McLaren MP4/12
Engine: Mercedes FO110E 3.0 V10
Tyres: Goodyear
Driver #7: Mika Hakkinen (81 races / 7 pole positions / best race: 2nd)
Driver #8: David Coulthard (25 races / best qualifying: 2nd / 4 race wins)
Test driver: Nick Heidfeld

McLaren has an all-new look for 1997, which was launched in spectacular fashion in the Alexandra Palace. The team undoubtedly had the most impressive car reveal, but car performance will be more important of course. McLaren's engineers have spent a lot of effort in optimizing the design, while the Mercedes engine is claimed to be closing the gap to Renault.

Hakkinen and Coulthard will once more be McLaren's drivers. Both had a solid season in 1996 and few doubt that both drivers could win races for McLaren, if given the right car for the job. It is remarkable that Hakkinen is still waiting for his first race win, while Coulthard has never qualified on pole position yet. The duo will be looking to break their respective ducks in 1997.

Like many teams, McLaren is looking to do better this year. The car has been quite good in tests, although Williams and maybe Ferrari are quicker. Nevertheless, reliability and strong drivers could deliver them a win or two in 1997. A real championship challenge is probably another year away.


Mild Seven Benetton Renault

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Chassis: Benetton B197
Engine: Renault RS9 3.0 V10
Tyres: Goodyear
Driver #5: Johnny Herbert (96 races / 9 pole positions / 5 race wins)
Driver #6: Jean Alesi (118 races / 3 pole positions / 2 race wins)
Test driver: Alexander Wurz

After two very successful years, Benetton landed back on earth in 1996. Although they won three races, the season in general was rather disappointing. A restructured team has developed the new B197, which is an evolution of last year's car with significant changes to mainly the rear of the car. Renault has developed a completely new V10 for their last year in F1, which has already been praised by Benetton's drivers.

No changes for 1997 at Benetton, even though their drivers were rather prone to mistakes last year. Johnny Herbert was the surprise of 1995 and his talent occasionally shone through in 1996, but he needs a car to suit his driving style to really stand out. The same applies to Jean Alesi, whose highs were even higher and his lows even lower. Both drivers look confident that the car is a better match for them in 1997, so the results should be more consistent.

Benetton has gone through a lot last year, but the first signs of recovery could already be visible in 1997. They still have a strong engine and a competent technical team. Their main issue is that the competition has been improving too; with Williams expectedly still ahead and Ferrari, McLaren and potentially Jordan closing in, the Enstone-based team will need to be careful not to drop further down the order.


Rothmans Williams Renault

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Chassis: Williams FW19
Engine: Renault RS9 3.0 V10
Tyres: Goodyear
Driver #3: Jacques Villeneuve (16 races / 1 pole position / 4 race wins)
Driver #4: Heinz-Harald Frentzen (48 races / best qualifying: 3rd / best race: 4th)
Test driver: Jean-Christophe Boullion

Williams is the team to beat in 1997, there is no way of denying that. Frank Williams and his team may need to enjoy it while it lasts, though, because some crucial changes have happened, are about to happen, or are strongly rumored to happen. Their champion driver, Damon Hill, left the team in the most shocking transfer of the year, the team may not have a works engine after Renault leaves the sport by the end of this year and their genius designer, Adrian Newey, has been on fully-paid leave since November last year. Newey is strongly rumored to join either McLaren in 1998. This year's car still has a Newey design and a Renault engine, however, and it looked strong in testing once more.

Jacques Villeneuve stormed onto the scene with four wins and a pole position in 1996, proving that Williams was right in poaching him from CART. This year may be his opportunity to take the role of lead driver in the strongest team, but another promising driver will be in the same car. Heinz-Harald Frentzen has spent three seasons with Sauber, in which he proved to be stronger than his experienced teammates De Cesaris, Wendlinger and Berger. Before that, he was in the same Mercedes junior programme as Michael Schumacher and he was often quicker. Could the double world champion be beaten by his junior rival once more, now Frentzen probably has the car for the job?

The dominant force of 1996 looks set to extend the status quo for another year. Even though the competition has improved, Williams still has an extremely strong package. Their biggest concern lies in the future, but the Didcot-based team also took a risk with their choice of drivers. Villeneuve is still inexperienced and the pressure is now on him instead of on Hill, while Frentzen may have to get used to competing for a top team, instead of in the midfield.


Danka Arrows Yamaha

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Chassis: Arrows A18
Engine: Yamaha OX11C 3.0 V10
Tyres: Bridgestone
Driver #1: Damon Hill (67 races / 18 pole positions / 20 race wins)
Driver #2: Kenny Brack (0 races)
Test driver: Jorg Muller

Arrows provided the biggest news on the driver transfer market for this year: despite not scoring a single point in 1996, they ensured the #1 on their car by signing the reigning world champion, Damon Hill. It shows the ambitions of Tom Walkinshaw, whose TWR operation now runs the Arrows team. Walkinshaw also poached the Yamaha engines from Tyrrell and a lot of work has been carried out over the last months to improve their reliability. Furthermore, Arrows has an excellent deal with Bridgestone and they carried out most of the development work on those tyres, which may give them an advantage, particularly if the Goodyears are less effective on certain tracks. The car itself is fairly conventional, but big upgrades have been planned throughout the year.

Damon Hill is joining the team after his strongest season yet in F1. Of course, he was helped by Schumacher's troublesome year at Ferrari and numerous issues within the Benetton team, but the Briton absolutely dominated the 1996 season. He has taken a gamble by joining Arrows - although a seat at an established top team was never a real possibility - and it remains to be seen whether it will pay off. At least the gamble is said to be lucrative, with Hill's salary effectively being paid by the sponsorship money of Danka, H&M and Ericsson. The latter two sponsors are brought in by Arrows' second driver: Kenny Brack. The Swede had a long and sometimes struggling career in the junior categories, before becoming test driver for Arrows last year and finishing runner-up in F3000. He clearly is quick, but he is up for a difficult task at a team which is not fully stable yet, and with one of the strongest teammates in the sport.

Tom Walkinshaw is expecting Arrows to contend for podiums and potentially race wins in the second half of the year, but the team has a long way to go before then. The A18 was ready for testing early in the winter, but despite that it has not accumulated too much mileage. Many reliability issues hampered the team's preparation and that could show during the first races of the season. If they manage to get those solved soon, some successes may still be possible. Arrows does have at least one driver to capitalize when the opportunity arises.

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by tBone 10 Dec 2021, 21:22
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Australian GP: Villeneuve Shines in Close Qualifying
Posted Saturday 8th March, 1997

The first qualifying of 1997 has taken place at Albert Park, Melbourne! It was the moment of truth for all teams and drivers. Those at the front tried to maximise their chances for the race, while those at the rear at least tried to qualify. Even after two days, the differences were remarkably small.

Jacques Villeneuve scored pole position in impressive fashion, although Michael Schumacher showed that the Ferrari has a lot of potential this year. The German was the only one who stayed within two tenths of Villeneuve, with the rest of the grid more than half a second behind them. Mika Hakkinen looked strong as well, taking 3rd - something McLaren had not been able to do last year. Heinz-Harald Frentzen took a decent 4th place in his first race for Williams, while Jean Alesi and Johnny Herbert completed the top 6 for Benetton.

Olivier Panis was one of the biggest surprises with an 8th time for Prost, but the new Stewart team performed perhaps even more admirably. Rubens Barrichello qualified as high as 11th, while his rookie teammate Jan Magnussen made it easily to the starting grid in 19th. The Arrows team on the other hand was somewhat disappointing after the big pre-season expectations: Damon Hill will start from 15th - something he is not used to at all anymore - and Kenny Brack qualfied pretty close to the reigining champion in 18th.

Two very different stories will be told by the other two new teams, Dome and Lola. Dome did a very respectable job, making it to the race with both cars: Gianni Morbidelli in 21st and Shinji Nakano taking the final spot on te starting grid. Lola on the other hand was nothing short of a disgrace. Both Vincenzo Sospiri and Ricardo Rosset were multiple seconds off the pace of the rest of the field. Eric Broadley's team has a lot of work to do to become competitive this year.

Both Dutch drivers had a vastly different qualifying as well. Nathan van Dijk did a solid job in his first weekend for Sauber. He had two problem-free days, finally coming within a tenth of his teammate Gerhard Berger. He will occupy the 14th slot on the starting grid tomorrow. Jos Verstappen's weekend is already done, though. He struggled with the setup on Friday, only setting the 26th time on the day, but his pace seemed to improve in Saturday morning's Free Practice. It was all over on his first outlap of the Saturday Qualifying, however, when his transmission failed. In the end, he dropped to 27th, falling short of making the grid by half a second.

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Australian GP: Williams Deals a First Blow
Posted Sunday 9th March, 1997

Today was the day: the first Grand Prix of the year! The first points of 1997 would be scored and all teams and drivers had a first chance to show how strong they really will be this season. Jacques Villeneuve had qualified on pole position, but Michael Schumacher could keep up pretty well with him. Would they be just as close in the race?

Villeneuve's start was not the greatest, but he was able to block off Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen. The top three of qualifying would drop to 3rd, 5th and 6th respectively, while Villeneuve's teammate Heinz-Harald Frentzen took the lead in his first race for Williams. Jean Alesi benefitted from the space on the inside: the Frenchman braked very late and climbed up to 2nd place. Johnny Herbert also started well and came out of the first corners in 4th place.

The top three of the starting grid would soon recover. Villeneuve worked his way back into the lead by passing Alesi in lap 2, and his Williams teammate in lap 5. Michael Schumacher got back into the top 3 as well with clean passes on both Benetton drivers in laps 2 and 8 respectively. Hakkinen and Eddie Irvine even managed to relegate Herbert outside the points within the first six laps. However, Irvine's hopes of scoring points would soon end, as he had a puncture in lap 8 and could not manage to get back to the pits. This would have promoted Ralf Schumacher into the top 6, but the German rookie spun when he tried to avoid the stranded Ferrari. It was his teammate Giancarlo Fisichella instead who climbed to 6th. Just two laps later, that would become 5th position when Hakkinen was forced to make an unplanned pitstop. It later occured that he had an issue with the brakes. A top 6 of Villeneuve, Frentzen, Michael Schumacher, Alesi, Fisichella and Herbert was now settling until the first pitstops.

Herbert was still struggling for pace in the subsequent laps and Nathan van Dijk, who had done well to climb through the field in the opening laps, started to apply pressure. The young Dutchman found a gap in lap 11 and passed Herbert in the Brabham corner. Herbert's race would go from bad to worse when his engine failed in lap 15. Apparently the Briton had suffered power loss ever since the start of the race before the Renault engine completely gave up. The next big event was the first series of pit stops, with Villeneuve, Alesi and Fisichella being the first front runners to come in in lap 20. Frentzen and Michael Schumacher followed a lap later, with Schumacher being very close behind his compatriot when the two entered the pits. Ferrari's pit crew was faster, sending their lead driver out just in front of Frentzen, keeping 2nd place on track. In terms of track position, Frentzen was even more unlucky, because Olivier Panis - on a one-stop strategy - just managed to get ahead in 3rd place of the German. Frentzen's frustration showed, when he pulled an aggressive move on the Prost driver right away in turn 6. The two touched, sending Panis into the gravel. He could rejoin in 6th. By this stage, the top 4 - Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher, Frentzen and Alesi - had all made their stops, while David Coulthard and Panis completed the top 6. The latter two were on a one-stop strategy, as Fisichella and Van Dijk had dropped out of the points scoring positions when they made their first stops.

A rather uneventful phase in the race followed, only interrupted by Panis' and Coulthard's pit stops and the second Benetton retirement: Alesi's suspension failed in lap 38. The two-stoppers made their second visit to the pits shortly after, with Villeneuve leading Michael Schumacher, Frentzen, Coulthard, Fisichella and Panis when all stops were made. Van Dijk had dropped to 7th, just outside the points, but still in front of Hakkinen, who was recovering from an early-compromised strategy. Fisichella was on the move too and he attacked Coulthard for 4th in lap 43. The young Italian passed the Scot in Brabham, but Coulthard regained the position at Whiteford. Fisichella once again took the inside going into turn 6, but Coulthard turned in bluntly. It resulted in the second turn 6 incident of the race, with this time Coulthard having to go through the gravel. He could rejoin in 6th, but Van Dijk immediately capitalized by passing him in the Clark chicane.

Fisichella was denied his first ever points finish a mere 10 laps before the finish. Just like Irvine, one of his Goodyears punctured with devastating consequences for his race. This promoted Panis and Van Dijk up to 4th and 5th, but Van Dijk's plans were to change that order and he succeeded in lap 49 with another clean overtake into Brabham. Another driver on the move in the closing stages was Hakkinen. Firstly he denied his teammate Coulthard a point by taking 6th in lap 55, followed by a charge up to Panis' gearbox and an impressive manoeuver in the Clark chicane, in the penultimate lap.

The scrambles for the final points went all unnoticed for Jacques Villeneuve, who won the first race of the year without a threat. Michael Schumacher had driven strongly to take 2nd, with some help of the Ferrari pit crew, while Heinz-Harald Frentzen finished on the podium for the first time in his career. Nathan van Dijk also secured a career-best with an impressive race to 4th place, while Mika Hakkinen finished his recovery drive in 5th. Olivier Panis scored the final point of the race, as the only top 6 finisher on a one stop strategy.

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by tBone 20 Dec 2021, 17:03
Kinnikuniverse wrote:Good to see you back, my friend! I missed this.

And a top 10 finish in Dome's first F1 race! They're off to a decent start!


I'll take that as a compliment! :)
And indeed, so far Dome is the most impressive new team! Who would have expected that?





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Nathan's Notes: Australian GP
Posted Wednesday 12th March, 1997

Surprise, surprise... and hopefully a nice one for you! Grand Prix News and I, Nathan van Dijk, are starting a unique cooperation where I will be telling you about races and other big events from my perspective. For those of you who do not really know me yet, allow me to introduce myself. I just turned 22 one day ago and like most F1 drivers, I started karting at a young age; 8 years old in my case. I won several championships, but I got the chance to make the switch to Dutch Formula Ford as soon as 1992, finishing 2nd in the championship. A year in the Formula Opel Euroseries followed, but it was perhaps the most difficult year of my career. I did get a surprising chance in the All-Japan F3 championship in 1994, though, and it went a lot better: I finished 2nd in the standings, just ahead of Shinji Nakano who now has an F1 seat at Dome.

I spent the next winter negotiating with teams in Formula Nippon and F3000, before a very unexpected phone call took place. It was early February when Guido Forti invited me to test his new F1 car, since Pedro Diniz had decided to stay in F3000 for one more year. Ironically, the seat he took was the one I thought to have a pretty good chance of taking! The test went well and with the help of Aegon, the budget was arranged quickly, so all of a sudden I made my F1 debut two years ago. My and Forti's first season was difficult, with a car that was honestly too slow to be competitive. I did convince Guido Forti to extend my contract, though, and as you all know, 1996 was a lot better for the team now called DFC. I scored my first point in Australia and I had many enjoyable races fighting in the midfield. Luck was not always on our side unfortunately, but in Portugal I had both my luckiest and my best race of the season with that nice 5th place finish. It was a pity I had to look for another team for 1997 despite those results, but I am glad I found a seat at Sauber.

So that is where we are now: the year is 1997 and my car is a Sauber - Petronas. I have to say, I think I am very lucky to be here at a team which is giving me so many opportunities. I already enjoyed my time in both last and this year's cars in the winter, but you know it gets real when you arrive at the first GP of the year. After some press moments and preparations on the Thursday, last Friday was finally the first time the gloves went off. I have to admit that our side of the garage struggled to get a good car set-up. We gradually improved, but still in qualifying I was not fully satisfied. On the other hand, I really should not complain that I qualified less than a tenth off Gerhard Berger's time. After all Gerhard is - apart from a very nice and funny guy - one of F1's most established drivers if you ask me.

Together with my engineer, we decided to make some changes to the set-up for Sunday's warm-up. It proved to be an inspiring choice; I immediately felt a lot better in the car. With my newly gained confidence, it was time to line up on the starting grid for the first time this year. My start was pretty good and I was very happy with how I chose position for the first corners; two positions gained. Passing Panis and my teammate also did not cost too much time and when I saw Coulthard coming from the gravel, I knew I had to act quickly. I was actually surprised he left the door open, but I never hesitated and to my own surprise, I could open up a gap after that. The two-stop strategy I was on meant that I would have to regain some track positions and that particularly showed on my last stint. I was once again behind Panis and Coulthard, but gained ground on them and just like before, I actually managed to get past quite easily. Fisichella was never out of sight as well, but I also could not really shorten the gap until he pulled aside just before the finish.

All in all it was a very satistfying race, but there is still plenty of work to do, for myself and for the team. We are only beginning to understand how the car behaves, although we took some good steps in Australia. This should lead to an improved performance, particularly in qualifying. And please do not expect me to finish in the top 4 every race from now, I am well aware that some problems for other drivers like Hakkinen, Irvine, Ralf Schumacher, Berger and Alesi massively helped me. Nonetheless, the first three points are in the bag and I am not expecting them to be my last of 1997!

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by tBone 21 Dec 2021, 14:53
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No Big Revelations From Silverstone Testing
Posted Wednesday 26th March, 1997

Several teams managed to put in some testing miles on the Silverstone circuit last Monday and Tuesday, as part of their preparation of this weekend's Brazilian GP. The Goodyear teams used the first day to test tyres, while the second day was almost fully hampered by rain. Furthermore, as far as our reporters could assess it, it looked like teams were running very different fuel loads. The icing on the cake was the new track surface: Silverstone is smoother than ever before, making quite a contrast with the upcoming race on the bumpy Interlagos circuit.

While it is difficult to draw any clear conclusions from these two days of testing, some things stood out anyway. Both Jordans were reasonably quick, although Giancarlo Fisichella suffered a big crash at Stowe corner. The Italian did get away unhurt and he will be back in the car on Friday in Brazil. Both new teams that were present again faced reliability issues. Stewart's Jan Magnussen saw a chance of accumulating much-needed mileage in the SF1 go to waste with a rear wing failure after only 13 laps. Things were not much better at Lola, where both Vincenzo Sospiri and Ricardo Rosset only ran a few laps. Slow lap times and a fire in the pit lane will surely not have raised the team's morale.

FASTEST LAP TIMES
Code: Select all
 1. Ralf Schumacher       Jordan - Peugeot     1:21.44
 2. Olivier Panis         Prost - Mugen-Honda  1:22.93
 3. Giancarlo Fisichella  Jordan - Peugeot     1:23.30
 4. Johnny Herbert        Benetton - Renault   1:23.53
 5. David Coulthard       McLaren - Mercedes   1:23.56
 6. Mika Salo             Tyrrell - Ford       1:25.31
 7. Nick Heidfeld         McLaren - Mercedes   1:26.16
 8. Jan Magnussen         Stewart - Ford       1:26.91
 9. Toranosuke Takagi     Tyrrell - Ford       1:26.99
10. Ricardo Rosset        Lola - Ford          1:32.11
11. Vincenzo Sospiri      Lola - Ford          1:37.55

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by tBone 22 Dec 2021, 12:43
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Lola Withdraws
Posted Friday 28th March, 1997

The first shock of the Brazilian GP weekend came early today: one of the teams was missing. It appeared that, despite arriving as early as Tuesday, the Lola team would not participate and the cars were already on their way back. The withdrawal was, according to a spokesperson, caused by "financial and technical" problems and it looks like the MasterCard-colored T97/30s will not be seen again this year.

Sources told Grand Prix News that the financial problems have been caused by an underestimation of the initial costs of the F1 programme, before the MasterCard money could materialize. Lola Cars itself would be in danger if no additional funds could be raised; a situation which has lead Eric Broadley to take the painful decision to abort the F1 project. The technical problems were a lot more clear for the general audience: both cars had been multiple seconds too slow to qualify for the race.

Lola's spokesperson mentioned that the company does not rule out a Formula 1 comeback in the future: "F1 is the pinnacle of the sport and we have vowed to participate in it." This can however only happen if the package is right, which may take multiple years to materialize once more. Meanwhile, two decent drivers with a decent sponsorship budget have become free agents all of a sudden. Both Ricardo Rosset and Vincenzo Sospiri have already been linked with testing roles at various teams, or perhaps even to replace Larrousse DAMS' Hiro Matsushita if his pace stays insufficient to qualify for races.

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by tBone 23 Dec 2021, 21:47
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Brazilian GP: Déjà Vu in Qualifying?
Posted Saturday 29th March, 1997

Spectators are already getting used to a Jacques Villeneuve - Michael Schumacher front row. Once again, the Canadian was narrowly faster than the German in qualifying, with the rest of the field at a bigger distance. Jean Alesi did give Benetton more hopes of a good result this time, by qualifying 3rd. His teammate Johnny Herbert was not too far off as well, taking 5th on the grid, just behind Heinz-Harald Frentzen in the second Williams.

Olivier Panis once again showed that the Prost - and the Bridgestone tyres - can be a very competitive package. The Frenchman did even better than in Melbourne by getting a spot on the third row for tomorrow's race. His teammate fared a lot less well, though: Luca Badoer was more than a second of Panis' pace and will start 18th. The difference was smaller between the Saubers, but still significant. Gerhard Berger managed to get an excellent 8th on the grid, while Nathan van Dijk could not manage any better than 14th. Another negative surprise was Jordan's performance, Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher only starting in 13th and 15th respectively.

At the back, Tom Kristensen did another great job by claiming a spot on the 11th row. Tyrrell did this time qualify both cars, just like Minardi. The three Japanese drivers were the slowest three: Ukyo Katayama took the final spot on the grid by just a tenth of a second over Shinji Nakano. Hiro Matsushita got closer to participating in a race than in Melbourne, but the Larrousse DAMS driver still fell three tenths short.

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