UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX AT INDIANAPOLIS NOTEBOOK Garage construction starts at Speedway; Hakkinen fastest in testing By Dan Knutson and Dick Mittman indyf1.com INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 18, 1999 -- Falling temperatures Feb. 17 didn't halt the...
UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX AT INDIANAPOLIS NOTEBOOK Garage construction starts at Speedway; Hakkinen fastest in testing
By Dan Knutson and Dick Mittman indyf1.com
INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 18, 1999 -- Falling temperatures Feb. 17 didn't halt the initial pouring of the concrete for the new Formula One garages at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The concrete footing, electrical and plumbing work on the garages should be done by April 1, according to IMS Engineering. The temporary stands then will be installed for the Indianapolis 500 scheduled for May 30. South Tower Terrace stands were removed to make room for the F1 trackside garages required for debut of the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis in 2000.
Hakkinen cruising at Barcelona test: Mika Hakkinen and West McLaren-Mercedes won the "Preview Grand Prix" recently at Barcelona recently.
Eight of the 11 F1 teams plus Honda, which will enter the series in 2000, tested at Barcelona, Spain, from Feb. 8-11. Each team except Arrows had at least one 1999 car on hand, and reigning World Champion Hakkinen turned in the fastest time of the 17 drivers present. Ferrari began its testing program in Italy, but snow at the Mugello circuit forced the team to head to Barcelona. Ferrari, Benetton and McLaren tested Feb. 13-14 at Barcelona, and McLaren continued to set the pace. The top five test times from Barcelona (Feb. 8-11):
1. Mika Hakkinen West McLaren-Mercedes (99) 1:21.141 2. Alexander Wurz Mild Seven Benetton-Supertec 1:21.560 3. David Coulthard West McLaren-Mercedes (98) 1:21.562 4. Giancarlo Fisichella Mild Seven Benetton-Supertec 1:21.899 5. Jean Alesi Red Bull Sauber-Petronas 1:22.214
Feeling the heat: Missing from the Barcelona test were British American Racing and Winfield Williams, which headed to South Africa's Kyalami circuit for hot weather testing. It's the first time F1 has been back to the country since the last Grand Prix there in 1993, and more than 27,000 people turned out to watch Ralf Schumacher and Alex Zanardi in the Williams cars and Jacques Villeneuve in the BAR.
"It's good to feel some sun and heat," Villeneuve said. "It's so cold in Europe that it's difficult to check on possible overheating problems, for example, and coming here is helpful."
Big staffs: Question: How many people does it take to build a modern F1 car?
Answer: As many people as you have.
Even the smallest F1 teams employ more than 100 people, while medium-size teams such at Prost-Peugeot and Stewart-Ford have staffs from 200 to 250. Ferrari, which builds engine and chassis, numbers more than 450. McLaren has about 350 people on its F1 team, and this figure does not include those who work for Mercedes, which supplies the V10 engine.
The TAG McLaren Group of companies actually employs more than 825 people who work in several different companies under the McLaren banner, including TAG McLaren Marketing, Tag Electronic Systems, McLaren Cars (which built the exotic McLaren F1 road car), and, of course, McLaren International, which fields the F1 team.
In the all-out effort to build the 1999 West McLaren-Mercedes MP4/14, McLaren was able to draw on the expertise of its other companies to get the new car completed on time.
"There is not a resource in the group that is not available to the team," said director Ron Dennis. "So if we need to increase the resource out of our electronics company, we do. If we need to increase the production out of our composite company, we do.
"Most people see the diversification out of the Grand Prix team into other companies as a dilution of our efforts. I've never seen it that way. I've seen it as a way to justify capital investment into specific technologies and to have that reservoir of capacity to bring into play when we build the car. I would say (just before the new car's debut) we probably had, not just working on the car but supplying the parts, probably nearly 600.
"In one month it will drop to 350," Dennis said. "That is why we've developed the group as we've developed it."
Stamp of approval: Max Mosley, the president of the FIA -- the Federation de l'Automobile which sanctions motorsports worldwide, including Formula One -- says the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the perfect home for the United States Grand Prix.
"I think it is the best place," Mosley said, "because they have all the facilities there for a big crowd - they've got the hotels, they've got the car parks and everything. They're prepared to build what looks as though it will be a very nice circuit. It's a permanent home.
"The single problem in the United States was that there was no permanent home, which builds up a tradition. One sees that all of these circuits where you have got 20 years or more of a Grand Prix, it starts to build a tradition, it becomes an annual event. It's very important to have stability in a permanent home, and I think Indianapolis will provide that."