Formula one, 2001 season German Grand Prix at Hockenheim: Who Drives What? the jpoc report

Speculation continued around the McLaren driver line up. Still Mika Hakkinen had not agreed to drive for McLaren in 2002 and team boss Ron Dennis was also having to turn his thoughts to the team's test driver line up. It was too early for Alex Wurz to have won a race spot with another team but Dennis could not be certain that he would stay on. McLaren would be happy to retain his services but probably not to promote him to the race team should Hakkinen not continue. Additionally, Dennis said that he wanted two full time test drivers for the team. So, if Hakkinen and Wurz both went, the team might find itself in the market for three drivers with F1 experience.

German newspaper Bild ran a story to the effect that Mika Hakkinen was in discussion with Jaguar about a drive in 2002. Apart from the fact that Jaguar already had their line up for 2002 signed and sealed, there is little prospect that Mika would quit McLaren to drive for another team. Mika and team boss Ron Dennis have a very special relationship and while a Hakkinen retirement is certainly on the cards a switch to another team is not. It all smacked of a re-run of the "Button to Jag in 2001" fiction that went round before the Silvertson race. Good story, boosts sales of the paper but it's not true.

Another piece in the McLaren puzzle finally fell into place when the BAR team made its formal announcement that Panis and Villeneuve would both drive for the team in 2002. Both drivers had been tipped for a McLaren drive should Hakkinen not agree another year and the delay in Panis' signing for BAR in 2002 was almost certainly linked to residual hopes of a McLaren drive.

Rumours surfaced that Benetton Renault Boss Flavio "four drivers" Briatore was considering a swap deal in which he would claim Jarno Trulli from Jordan for 2002 and shunt Giancarlo Fisichella off to be his replacement. Perhaps he really was thinking that or perhaps he wanted to spur on Fisichella while at the same time destabilise a rival team. Nice one Flavio.

Toyota almost confirmed their driver line up for 2002. While not making a formal "ink-on-contract" announcement they did say that it was pretty well certain that Salo and McNeish, their current test drivers, would line up in the race seats in the team's first racing season.


The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Which engine goes where?
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Circuit developments
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Business and politics
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Teams and personnel
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Setting the scene
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Practice and qualifying
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th The starting grid
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Race report
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Results
German GP at Hockenheim July 29th Championship standings after the race
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