Head expects protests over Benetton's new FTT
Patrick Head has said that he expects other teams to protest the legality of Benetton's Front Torque Transfer system. Pat Symonds of Benetton is convinced of the legality of the system, saying the FIA have given it clearance - much the same as McLaren's breaks were declared legal by the FIA and illegal by the stewards. Head went on to say that Williams have their own system under preparation should it prove to be legal.
Wurz has good feeling
Alexander wurz has said he has a "good feeling" about the new Benetton. This is is even after the car set the slowest times at Jerez at the weekend. He says the car is well balanced. The team are more worried about how reliable the car will be, due to the very large number of new parts on the car.
Arrows favouring de la Rosa?
Pedro de la Rosa is looking more likely for the remaining drive at Arrows, after being invited to test at Barcelona alongside Mika Salo. Other rumours suggest that the team are on the verge of selling Salo to Honda in return for Takagi getting running in 1999.
MP4/14 delayed by major advance
McLaren have said the new car - the MP4/14 - has been delayed as the team has recently found a major advance at the front of the car, and wants it to appear at the start of the season. This could be bad news for other teams who hoped they had made enough progress over the winter. The team is expected to test the car on 8th February for the first time.
Toyota sets 2003 as target
Toyota have set a target of 2003 as the deadline for entering F1, according to their president - Hiroshi Okuda. The project is set to be run from Toyota Motorsport in Cologne. The company wants to boost its staid image in Japan. The team will face the problem of having to either buy and existing team, or persuade the other teams to let it enter according to the current rules.
FW21 has first run
The new Williams FW21 has had its first run in the hands of Alex Zanardi. Ralf Schumacher ran last years FW20. They are due to swap over tomorrow.
BAR confirms Lemarie as test driver
British American Racing have confirmed that 30 year old Patrick Lemarie is to be their test driver this season. He will initially concentrate on reliability and systems checks.
Coulthard buys mobile home
David Coulthard has joined Jacques Villeneuve in buying a £130,000 mobile home to use during testing and European races. In an interview with Sporting Life, he says "Now I've got one I don't know why more drivers have not done it in the past. We do so much testing now, last year I must have done 90 days, which works out at three months in hotel rooms. If you think if takes me about 30 minutes to get from the hotel to the track in the morn ing I can get from the McLaren motor home to my own in 30 seconds. That gives me an extra hour each day to do my own thing, listen to my own music, watch my own videos. You can get so caught up in the grand prix world som etimes you need to get away."
His only complaint about it it is the internal decoration, which according to him comes in "not very nice, downright ugly and what your granny would like".
Wing failures for Benetton and BAR
British American Racing and Benetton both suffered rear wing failures during testing at Jerez. Both cars use the new lower Supertec engine, and have lower engine covers. This may have been the reason, according to Adrian Reynard, or it could have been due to vibrations.
Head hits out at 'cost aspect' Ferrari
Patrick Head has hit out at Ferrari's call for bans on beryllium in F1. "There is a cost aspect but Ferrari always appears to be the team to spend the most money, pay their driver the most money and then try to get everything banned on the basis of cost."
Hakkinen to give nothing away
Mika Hakkinen has said that he isn't set to pay back Coulthard for the support given in 1998. He said 'I think the only thing I owe David is one dinner'.
Arrows aims for podium in three years
The new boss of Arrows has his feet firmly on the ground, and is aiming for the team to be regularly on the podium within three years. Malik Ado Ibrahim sees 1999 as a 'foundation year'.
Arrows appoint technical chief
Tom Walkinshaw has confirmed that Mike Coughlan is now technical director at Arrows. He was previously in charge of Technical Development under John Barnard.
Prost unveil new AP02
Prost have unveiled their 1999 challenger - the AP02 - which the team claim is a quantum leap over the 1998 car.
Williams launch challenger
Williams have launched their 1999 GP challenger - the FW21. The team hopes to have made a big improvement over their 1998 car, which failed to win a single race - the first Williams to do so since 1988. The car also featu res a new colour scheme for the sponsors.
Is Argentina on or off?
There is much questioning of whether the Argentine GP is on or off. There are financial problems surrounding the race, which has moved it off the calendar - at least temporarily. The powers that be in F1, however, feel th at a 5 week gap between the first two races is far too much, and a bad start to the season. China would not be ready to fill the gap, and the Argentine GP may yet go ahead, problems or no problems.
Honda tops testing
The Dallara-Honda hack being tested by Jos Verstappen continues to top testing at Jerez in Spain. It ended the day 0.5 seconds ahead of Ricardo Zonta's BAR, wjth Jacques Villeneuve 8/1000th behind. Barrichello for Stewart was fourth 0.05s further adrift, with the Benettons about 2 seconds adrift.
Tuero's unexpected departure
Esteban Tuero, who had a contract with Minardi until the end of 99, has quit F1 with immediate effect due to "irrevocable personal grounds". The team now has two empty seats. One is expected to be filled by Shinji Nakano, and the other is being linked with Marc Gene.
-- Stephen M Baines email@example.com