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Atlas F1 News Service

News from the Paddock - European GP

Friday May 19th, 2000

  • Teleglobe are reported to be interested in terminating their sponsorship contract with BAR. The Canadian company signed in 1999 a 5-year deal with BAR, estimated at 12 million USD a year. However, new Teleglobe Communications president, Terry Jarman, said yesterday that the contract "will have to be renegotiated." The Canadian group BCE, which purchased Teleglobe in three months ago, wants to rectify the poor financial standing of the company, Jarman explained at a presentation day to financial analysts. "Our priority is the development of our telecommunications network and becoming a world leader of the data transmission and principal links of Internet, and not to finance a Formula One team," Jarman was quoted as saying.

  • The first stage of a 30 million mark redevelopment of the Nurburgring was in evidence at the European Grand Prix. These were 30 new pit garages, taking up 64 metres more than the old buildings. Each garage is seven metres wide, 19 metres long with a height of five metres. Above the block of garages are new VIP lounges and, above that, a terrace where the Paddock Club may be situated in the future. The second part of the pit garage development will be completed in time for the 2001 event, and this is to include a new start/finish control tower and media centre.

  • Michael Schumacher had a busy pre-Grand Prix week before Nurburgring, with a game of football for Kaiserslautern FC and a kart evening with the Ferrari team at his home. The game with Kaiserslautern - described as under-rated and not in the Bundesliga (first division) - came about because Schumacher and the team share a common sponsor. The team was apparently instructed by their coach not to push their celebrity player too hard! That was perhaps why he was able to score a goal! The kart event is a regular fixture on the Ferrari programme and takes place at the Schumacher family track to the north of Nurburgring. Ralf also hosted a party for Williams-BMW there.

  • Jenson Button's future in Formula One is safe, even if Juan-Pablo Montoya does come back from the States to drive for the English team. A spokesman for Williams said that the team would honour Button's multi-year rolling contract and release him to drive for another team even if the ChampCar ace did return and race for them. Montoya has a three-year contract with Chip Ganassi but a long term contract with Williams. The Formula One team has asked for Montoya to be released, but as yet nothing has been confirmed. Meanwhile, BMW says it is unconcerned about the recent publicity in British newspapers concerning Button's private life. "He's a young man, and I think he will be quite a character," said Mario Theissen, BMW's technical director.

  • It has been rumoured for some time that Donington has entered the arena as a possible host of the British Grand Prix after 2001. There was confirmation today that the new owner, the leisure group SFX Entertainment, is in talks with its opposite number at Brands Hatch, with a view to perhaps hosting the 2002 British Grand Prix. Brands Hatch has the contract to run the race in 2002, but a considerable amount of work needs to be done on the Kent circuit before it is ready. It has yet to receive the necessary planning permission and also faces objections from local residents. Donington, which hosted the 1993 European Grand Prix, has fewer restrictions and, therefore, does seem a potential rival to Silverstone, the current host circuit.

  • McLaren's reserve driver, Oliver Panis, spent the early part of this week at the 5.4-km Masaryk Circuit at Brno in the Czech Republic where he drove the two-seater McLaren during a West Adrenaline event. During the two days, Panis gave passenger rides to 12 lucky guests, mostly world class sportsmen including ice hockey players, a skier and several sports and TV presenters. The Grand Prix regulars were surprised at the high standard of the 13-year-old circuit. "It is nice, but technically pretty demanding," said Panis. "In some places, it's very hard to pass but otherwise it is good and the facilities are high standard."

  • Alain Prost has broken his wrist. The Prost team owner, who raced in 199 Grands Prix and won 51 of them, had a fall down the stairs at his home in the South of France and appeared at the Nurburgring with his wrist in plaster.

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