Forumla One News 2000-01-05

VERSTAPPEN DEAL TO SECURE ZANARDI. Jos Verstappen's apparent failure to cement a deal with Williams for 2000 should mean that Alex Zanardi gets a reprieve with the Grove team. Verstappen appears, instead, to be heading back to his old ...

VERSTAPPEN DEAL TO SECURE ZANARDI. Jos Verstappen's apparent failure to cement a deal with Williams for 2000 should mean that Alex Zanardi gets a reprieve with the Grove team. Verstappen appears, instead, to be heading back to his old stamping ground at Arrows, where the involvement of Dutch IT company Baan looks set to secure him a race seat. Should the deal be confirmed, Williams are likely to revert to Zanardi as team-mate for Ralf Schumacher in the FW22-BMW next season. Verstappen was among the favourites to land the second seat at Williams following speculation that Zanardi had quit the team, although both JJ Lehto and former F3000 champion Jorg Muller had also been connected with a drive in recent weeks. Zanardi, meanwhile, has insisted that he had no intention of leaving F1 after just a single season back in the fold, despite receiving an offer to join Mo Nunn's new Champ Car outfit in America. Williams' final decision on its line-up will not now need to be taken until February, following the revelation its 10 January launch will be solely for its 2000 season livery. The new FW22 chassis and driver pairing is unlikely to be revealed until February. LAUNCH DATES CHANGED. Following the publication of an interim launch schedule prior to Christmas, two teams have since intimated that their annual unveilings will now take place on new dates. Williams today confirmed that its 10 January launch would be purely to reveal the new-for-2000 BMW-inspired livery and not, as originally thought, to unveil the FW22 chassis and driver line-up. This is now expected to be revealed on a second date, sometime in February. Ferrari, too, is believed to have rethought its launch plans, and is expected to switch to 28 January in order to avoid a clash of dates with British American Racing and Jaguar. Minardi, McLaren and Prost are still to confirm dates. BENETTON SETS SIGHTS ON 14TH. Benetton is expected to give its latest car a shakedown on 14 January, three days before its official launch in Barcelona. The Enstone team is among the few not to have run since the end of the 1999 season, concentrating instead of readying itself for a rejuvenated assault of the world championship in 2000. Drivers Alex Wurz and Giancarlo Fisichella both suffered with the recalcitrant B199 last time out, and are currently preparing themselves physically for the new campaign. Both drivers are now camped out in the Canary Island of Lanzarote, and undergoing a rigorous training programme in preparation for the new season. Benetton fitness and physio gurus Mike Chapman and Bernie Shrosbee are putting the pair through their paces, and Fisichella, for one, is already raring to go. "I am hungry to take the wheel again," the Italian said, "I agreed with the team to have a long break, and it is better to wait a little more and be able to count on a better car. I have seen the drawings of the new car and it appears both simpler and shorter than the old one. That car was to difficult to manage, and I was criticised for errors last season. This year I want to win races." Benetton is due to launch its 2000 challenger - codenamed the B200 - at the Museu Nacional d'Art in Barcelona on 17 January. GERMAN PRESS PREDICTS TROUBLE FOR MICHAEL. The German newspaper Bild believes that Michael Schumacher will be put under pressure by new team-mate Rubens Barrichello next season.

According to the title, Schumacher will find the Brazilian tougher than previous partner Eddie Irvine, and will struggle to break him psychologically. Barrichello has already spent more time behind the wheel of a Ferrari since the end of last season than his more illustrious team-mate, after Schumacher insisted that he would not test until the new car was ready to take to the track. This enabled Barrichello to take a mental advantage by beating Schumacher's best time at Fiorano, as well as topping the times at the group test in Jerez. Ferrari is refusing to confirm whether the Brazilian will be prevented from racing Schumacher in 2000. "It will be [Schumacher's] most difficult season since entering Formula One," said the newspaper, "Ferrari will put much more pressure on him and, unlike Irvine, Barrichello does not have a clause in his contract which indicates that he is a number two driver." FIORANO TEST - DAY TWO: 4 JANUARY. Luca Badoer continued to test for Ferrari at Fiorano yesterday, as the Italian team prepares itself for the launch of its year 2000 contender. Badoer again drove a 1998 F300 chassis fitted with development parts destined for the new car, and completed 36 laps of Ferrari's private circuit during the day. His best lap of 1min 02.637secs proved to be almost three seconds quicker than he had managed in a third as many laps on day one. A third test day is planned today [Wednesday]. Ferrari is considering putting back its launch by three days - to 28 January - in order to avoid a clash of dates with British American Racing and Jaguar, which launch on 24 and 25 January respectively. McLaren test driver Olivier Panis, meanwhile, has confirmed that he will be concentrating on his F1 role this year, and not contesting the revamped DTM as originally planned. Click here to see more F1 news... F1 News

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Giancarlo Fisichella , Ralf Schumacher , Jos Verstappen , Luca Badoer , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Olivier Panis , Alexander Wurz , Alex Zanardi , Jorg Muller , Mo Nunn
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , British American Racing , Minardi