USGP Notebook 99-01-15

UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX AT INDIANAPOLIS NOTEBOOK Zanardi searching for speed during preseason testing INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 15, 1999 - Alex Zanardi has admitted that it's taking him a while to adapt to Formula One as the cars are vastly ...

UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX AT INDIANAPOLIS NOTEBOOK Zanardi searching for speed during preseason testing

INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 15, 1999 - Alex Zanardi has admitted that it's taking him a while to adapt to Formula One as the cars are vastly different compared to the CART cars he drove the last three years and to the F1 cars he drove up until 1994.

"These F1 cars have changed mainly due to the changes the FIA has introduced in terms of new rules in the name of safety," Zanardi said.

"These cars with the grooved tires and the narrow track are different. They are a little bit tricky and difficult to drive.

"They require a different driving style. You don't need to try to carry speed around the corner because the car doesn't want to go around fast around the corner. So it's much better to brake really late, turn around the corner somehow, and then rush to go on the power as soon as you can. This is against my instinct.

"I knew it would take a little bit of time for me to set my new limits because right now I'm flat out. I'm driving the best that I can, and I'm not fast enough. So it's a little bit frustrating, but I'm sure that along the way my limit will move further -- I hope so! -- and certainly Frank (Williams) hopes so! Hopefully I will get there sometime soon, possible before the first race. It's something I am working on."

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Fire and humor: Asked why he hired two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi, Frank Williams said: "Primarily because of his success in American racing. He clearly excelled there and demonstrated a very skillful and aggressive approach to racing, and his ability to overtake is quite remarkable.

"Above all, we liked his spirit and his determination, his fire in the belly. So we went out and got him. He tells more jokes than any man I've ever come across! He is utterly charming, and everybody here is fond of him already. I have no doubt that he will deliver for us."

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Team Williams to keep sharp: After going winless last season for the first time since 1988, Frank Williams is predicting yet another tough year for his F1 team and its new drivers, Alex Zanardi and Ralf Schumacher.

The cars are fitted with a customer engine (the Renault-based Supertec V10) and probably won't be able to match the horsepower of the engines backed by a major manufacturer. When Williams comes to the Brickyard in 2000, it will have started its exclusive partnership with BMW. For now, the team that has won so many championships, still refuses to stand still.

"Clearly winning (in 1999) is very, very difficult," Williams said. "We will never adopt a holding pattern because if you stand still in racing you are in fact going backward very fast indeed. We will be seeking to always be on the podium and snatch a race or two when others make mistakes or stumble.

"This can happen, not frequently, but you must be ready. Keeping our team very sharp and aggressively focused is our main chance in the future."

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Sir Frank coming to Indy: Sir Frank Williams will attend the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2000.

Frank Williams, managing director of the Williams Grand Prix Engineering F1 team, is now Sir Frank. His name was on Great Britain's New Year Honors List, which grants Williams a Knighthood and recognizes his efforts in F1 in which his team has won nine Constructors Championships, seven Drivers Championships and scored 103 Grand Prix victories. Williams joins a small group of racers to be knighted--Sir Jack Brabham and pre-WWII racer Sir Henry Seagrave are among the few.

Brabham, who won the Formula One World Championship three times, including once in a car of his own manufacture, is well known to Brickyard fans. He started the rear-engine revolution at Indy when he brought his tiny Cooper Climax to the Speedway in 1961. Brabham completed all 200 laps of that year's 500 and placed ninth. He raced at the Speedway three more times with his best finish of 13th in 1970.

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Mattel strikes deal with Ferrari: Mattel has been granted exclusive worldwide rights to produce toys, apparel and accessories and adult collectable products based on Ferrari's road and racing cars and heritage.

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Jenkins leaves Stewart team: Alan Jenkins has left his post as technical director of Stewart Grand Prix by mutual agreement with the team. He had been with the team since it entered F1 in 1997. Team Jordan's former technical director, Gary Anderson, who joined Stewart in November, has taken over Jenkins' responsibilities.

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Nortel signs with Williams: Nortel Networks, a Canadian-based global company that builds telecommunications hardware, has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Team Williams.

Nortel also is a technical consultant and provides advanced Internet solutions for the Indy Racing League.

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BAR lands another sponsor: British American Racing has signed a five-year sponsorship agreement with the Canadian-based Teleglobe Inc, a world leader in telecommunications.

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BAR in colorful dispute: British American Racing has taken formal proceedings to try to protect its desire to run its two cars in separate sponsorship colors.

Unlike NASCAR where multi-car teams have different sponsorship and color schemes for each car, F1 considers itself to be a "team sport," and teams have traditionally had both their cars painted the same. A majority of the F1 teams even agreed to put that into the bylaws last year.

BAR, however, wants to have one of its cars in red and white Lucky Strike colors and one in blue and yellow 555 colors. Both are cigarette brands owned by chief sponsor British American Tobacco. The new BAR cars appeared in those different sponsorship liveries at their official unveiling Jan. 6. BAR's managing director, Craig Pollock, has gone to arbitration with F1's ruling body, the FIA, to try to settle the dispute.

"We have tried to explore every possible avenue to resolve this matter and avoid taking this course of action," said Pollock. "Unfortunately, the FIA did not give us any other option and we therefore have initiated formal proceedings.

"It's very risky but I didn't have any choice," Pollock said when asked if he was worried about incurring the wrath of the FIA. "I don't intend to come in running a team of over 200 people and just step back on the first day. If I don't fight for my commercial rights then I won't be able to pay my staff. We get paid by sponsors, and we have to protect our sponsors. This is not just a question of dual branding. It's a question of commercial rights."

Three arbitrators will decide the issue--one from BAR, one from the FIA and a neutral party.

Team owner Jackie Stewart believes that a ruling in BAR's favor could lead to confusion and controversy.

"When we entered F1 it was clearly stated that our livery would have to be consistent on both cars," Stewart said.

"If BAR wins," Stewart said, "we might even have two Ferraris in different colors. There could be commercial advantages if, for instance, Kellogg's came into F1 and branded one car Rice Krispies and the other All-Bran ... and we know which one would be fastest! (Dual branding) would allow companies to split their costs."

Stewart also pointed out that if a driver lets his teammate win due to team orders, the team could be accused of setting up the win for purely commercial reasons.

Source: IRL/IMS

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Alex Zanardi , Jackie Stewart , Jack Brabham , Frank Williams , Gary Anderson
Teams Ferrari , Williams , British American Racing , Stewart Grand Prix , Jordan