Formula one, 2001 season Austrian Grand Prix at the A1-Ring: Setting the scene the jpoc guide
The fun and games by which Pedro De la Rosa, Luciano Burti's and Gaston Mazzacane played musical chairs in the run up to the Spanish race were just the start of the who drives for whom rumour season. The UK tabloid press are touting a move to Ferrari by Jenson Button to replace Michael Schumacher. Oh yes that's about as close to a prediction of the future as the average election manifesto. Still, Jenson is the closest to a teeny boppers wet dream that F1 gets so it's no surprise that the tabloids are treating him like the latest spice boy. (Still, I suppose that's better than Nigel "Telly Tubby" Mansell.)
Of course, if there are rumours about Jenson going to Ferrari (and the same stories ar doing the rounds with regard to Kimi Raikkonen) there have to be rumous about Rubens Barrichello being for the chop. They are all of course denied but no doubt Rubens is thumbing through his address book.
Meanwhile, over at McLaren, just in case team boss Ron Dennis' "brain fade" comment hadn't done enough, McLaren stressed that DC will not get better treatment than Ron's favourite son. (Mikka's not your love child is he Mr Dennis?) That's despite the clearly unimportant fact that DC has outscored the Finn by a seven to one ratio so far this season. Ex McLaren driver John Watson got into the UK tabloids with some comments to the effect that Ron D. was stupid to say what he did. Well said Wattie. Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug waded in claiming that Ron never favoured Mika. All that jpoc can say is that if Nobbie only sees equal treatment, let's hope that Bernie Ecclestone sees fit to issue a pit lane pass to Hr Haug's seeing eye dog.
McLaren drivers Coulthard, Hakkinen and Wurz all had a busy time at the post race test at the Barcelona track. Mostly they were testing the lunch control system which was blamed not only for Coulthard's problems on the grid but also for Hakkinen's retirement as it was putting too much stress on the clutch after pit stops.. Everyone was busy testing somewhere with the teams split between Spain, Silverstone and Italy. The first official outing with traction control has clearly left many teams with a lot to do.
The men with the tape measures were crawling all over the Williams team diffuser. That's the key component in the rear aerodynamic set up. At first, nobody seemed to be sure if the new design was legal or not. It would have been easier if the problem was with the Ferrari then, whatever then men with the tape measures might have said, the lwyers would have agreed that it was legal and we would have known where we were standing. The final outcome was that the car car was deemed not to have been illegal and so Ralf kept his win at Imola but the car must be change for subsequent races because it would be illegal if raced again. All without the rules actually being changed. Consistant?
F1 became atypically sniffy and moralistic when Jaguar test driver Thomas Scheckter was dropped after a court found him guilty of kerb crawling. The team made clear that he was being dropped specifically because of this matter but it is worth noting that he had been a lot slower than the other Jaguar drivers in testing and had been given only a limited amount of car time so perhaps, he would have been retained had he been quick in an F1 car. Perhaps not though as F1 is all corporate and serious these days.
This left the team without a test driver as their other tester De la Rosa had been moved up to the race team and so the rumour mill began to hunt around for a new driver. As well as all of the available top runners in the single seater formulae, the name of ex Stewart driver Jan Magnussen was mentioned. This is a real problem for the team as they are hoping to complete a lot of testing in order to try to improve upon their dire form so far this year.
Still at Jaguar, a spat errupted over Eddie Irvine. John Watson, paid to be controversial in the tabloids, expressed criticism against Eddie over his lifestyle and commitment. Jaguar team boss Rahal stood by his man who defended himself with characteristic robustness. Niki Lauda, head of Ford Motorsport also defended Irvine saying that what mattered was what he did in the car and that there was no problem there.
Meanwhile, former Jaguar boss Jackie Stewart was sticking up for Barriachello and criticising Jenson Button who had been tipped to replace the Brazillian and Button was defending himself and his alleged playboy lifestyle.
As the teams set up shop in Austria, two of the more inexperienced F1 drivers were looking forward to a track that they already knew. Montoya raced at the A1-Ring in F3000 and Burti drove in the GP last year. Then, he was a test driver for Jaguar and he stood in for Eddie Irvine who was unwell.
|The whole 2001 season||All the races and the behind the scenes games|
|GP of Austria at the A1-Ring May 13th||Off track developments|
|GP of Austria at the A1-Ring May 13th||Practice and qualifying|
|GP of Austria at the A1-Ring May 13th||The starting grid|
|GP of Austria at the A1-Ring May 13th||Race report|
|GP of Austria at the A1-Ring May 13th||Results|
|GP of Austria at the A1-Ring May 13th||Championship standings after the race|