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Atlas F1 News Service

News from the Paddock - European GP

Saturday May 20th, 2000

  • The FIA will not pursue the teams it suspected of cheating last year, officials revealed this weekend. Earlier this season, FIA president Max Mosley said that a manufacturer had been found to be cheating last year. But the governing body has now decided against continuing its investigations because the matter is more complex than had originally been thought, and the FIA's case will be almost impossible to prove - insiders said.

  • The FIA could use the entry of Michelin into Formula One to lever through new tyre regulations. Strictly speaking, the governing body can only introduce new regulations on safety grounds, unless they are unanimously agreed upon by all teams. But tyre regulations can be used to slow the cars down, and that is regarded as a safety issue. There are several possibilities: one is the use of an all-weather tyre, or at least a heavily treaded tyre. They may also decided to introduce a bigger tyre to increase drag and therefore slow the cars, but that would also increase cornering speeds which is hardly safe. Michelin are happy for the tyre regulations to change; it would mean that both they and Bridgestone would start Michelin's debut season on a level footing. Incidentally, Michelin now has one of last year's Stewarts as a test car, alongside the 1998 Williams, which it is already using as a development car.

  • Ron Dennis revealed that McLaren and Mercedes have lost out more than Ferrari in the recent clarification of electronic regulations, introduced for the British Grand Prix. He says that the team has lost around 0.2s per lap in qualifying. Ferrari claimed pole at Silverstone and at Barcelona. Dennis says that the rule changes have affected fuel consumption and driveability, but he expects to claw back the disadvantage within the next two or three races.

  • Rubens Barrichello admitted this weekend to having trouble fitting into his Ferrari, in spite of making several changes. The seat position and steering wheel have been modified in an attempt to make him comfortable. The problem appears to stem from the fact that the F1-2000 was initially designed around Michael Schumacher who left-foot brakes, while Rubens uses his right foot.

  • Jordan has released its own interactive CD ROM which fully explains the 2000 World Championship campaign. It contains more than two hours of video footage, with interviews from all the principal members of the team. The CD ROM costs 24.99 in England, and is available on the team's web site.

  • The Italian press have been getting excited about a new specification Ferrari engine which has so far been used for qualifying but has still to be used in a race. Jean Todt played down the role of the 'new' engine, saying that they are constantly being changed. But both Rubens Barrichello and Luca Badoer have done endurance tests with the new unit with encouraging results. The engine has yet to be raced, but a late decision could be made to use it at the Nurburgring tomorrow.

  • Australia's Mark Webber, who drives for Arrows' Junior Team European Arrows in the Formula 3000 championship, could have a future test with Benetton. Flavio Briatore's team has already attempted to test Brazil's Antonio Pizzonia and has tested Giorgio Pantano, but they are also keen to give Webber, a former member of the Mercedes-Benz GT team, a test.

  • There have been inaccurate rumours that the Nurburgring layout is to be changed. While building work is to continue after the European Grand Prix - particularly in the winter - the actual shape of the circuit will stay as it is.

  • Minardi signed Italian F3000 champion Giorgio Vinella as its test driver. He starts his job at Vairano where he will carry out development work on the M02 with technical programmes prepared by the team's engineers.

  • Pedro Diniz was fined not once but twice for speeding in the Nurburgring pit lane on the Saturday of the European Grand Prix. The first time was in the morning when he was docked $500, but then, in qualifying, he drove at just over 61 kph for the second time and this time he was fined $1000, for his second offence in the same day. The stewards fortunately seemed to have forgotten that he had also been fined for speeding at the Spanish Grand Prix, when he was relieved of $1500.

  • Bridgestone brought some extra soft tyres to the European Grand Prix, which were used by the majority of the competitors. They were intended to help overcome understeer, an inherent problem at this circuit, and could last just as well as harder tyres due to the lower temperatures in Germany. All drivers used them apart from Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve.

  • Nigel Stepney, the Ferrari chief mechanic injured in the Spanish Grand Prix when Michael Schumacher was signalled to leave the pits early, will be back running pitstops at the Canadian Grand Prix. Stepney actually returned to work on Tuesday, two days after the accident, explaining: "I came in just to help out with the new refuelling guy and the organisation for the next few races." Ferrari practised around 40 pit stops in testing at Fiorano and Mugello since Spain.

  • Sauber tested in Switzerland last week, the second time that a Formula One car has run in anger in the country since motor racing was banned following the Le Mans disaster. Brazilian F3000 driver Enrique Bernoldi conducted straightline aerodynamic data logging work at the Buochs military airfield, near Luzern. Sauber also tested new aerodynamics at Jerez, Spain.

  • There will be testing at Estoril in Portugal for the first time in nearly four years when Formula One cars go there in July for a three day test. The circuit has been updated since it held its last Grand Prix, in 1996, and wants to run an event again. This test, and another in August, could be the first steps towards that aim. Jordan, Williams, BAR, Benetton and Sauber will run there in July, joined in August by McLaren. Meanwhile testing after the European Grand Prix will be at the twisty Spanish track of Valencia, ideal, it is said, to replicate the twists and turns of Monaco.

  • Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is getting married. The former team boss and now president of the company is to marry 28-year old Roman Ludovica Andreoni in July when one of the witnesses will be former Fiat president Gianni Agnelli, a long time Montezemolo supporter.

  • Reports emerged at the Nurburgring that Erja Hakkinen is three months pregnant. Mika Hakkinen, however, refused to comment, saying it's "a private matter."

  • Minardi are now talking to two potential investors following the collapse of take-over talks with Telefonica, the Spanish-owned telecommunications company. Telefonica remains a sponsor of Minardi, but a merger with the Dutch company KPN Telecom is taking up its resources. Instead, Minardi is talking to one consortium led by US automotive parts magnate Tony Johnson, and another led by former Tyrrell commercial director Rupert Manwaring, reportedly with funding from Asia. The latter attempted to buy Arrows during the winter. There are, apparently, three different prices when it comes to buying Minardi, depending on what the purchaser wants to do with it. If you buy it and leave it, the price is US$45. If the purchaser wishes to get rid of chief shareholder Gabriele Rumi, the price is $60m, and if it wants to kill off all contacts with Minardi, then the price is 50m...

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