DAMON HILL was expected to win the 1996 World Championship - andÊheÊdid. From the start of the season it was very clear that the Williams-Renault FW18 was the quickest car in Formula 1 and as Benetton - the only other team using Renault V10 engines - seemed to have gone off the technical rails after the departure of Michael Schumacher, it was left to Williams to dominate, winning 12 of the 16 races, finishing 1-2 in the Drivers' Championship and completely dominating the Constructors' title.
GIANCARLO FISICHELLA spent two days last week testing for the Jordan-Peugeot team at Jerez de la Frontera.
THE Benetton Formula 1 team may not have won a Grand Prix in 1996 but the Enstone-based team has emerged as the winner of the race to build the first 1997 chassis.
DANKA BUSINESS SYSTEMS has agreed to become the title sponsor of Tom Walkinshaw's Arrows team for at least the next two years.
THE Mastercard Lola F1 team has signed Ricardo Rosset and Vincenzo Sospiri for the coming season.
THE 1992 Formula 1 World Champion Nigel Mansell has decided that he is not going to make another Formula 1 comeback - and that is bad news for Eddie Jordan.
UKYO KATAYAMA is to drive for Minardi in 1997.
THE last of the Team Lotus companies is to be wound-up by the High Court in London on January 15, when Team Lotus Holdings Ltd. - which owns all the assets of the team - will be declared insolvent.
THERE have been legal actions against American tobacco companies since the first links were established between smoking and cancer.
FRANK WILLIAMS and five others have been charged with the manslaughter of Ayrton Senna at Imola in May 1994. Court proceedings are due to begin before a local magistrate in Imola on February 20, although Italian law does not insist on the five being present at that hearing.
SIX Grand Prix teams were in action last week at the Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona, conducting tire testing and working on parts which will appear on the 1997 cars.
THE wave of anti-tobacco legislation around the world continues to cause problems for Formula 1 racing and now Canada looks like joining the crusade.
THE Ford Motor Company has just appointed a new Director of Special Vehicle Operations and he made his first European appearance at the launch of Stewart Grand Prix.
THE Mastercard Lola Formula 1 team is rumored to be planning to nominate Ricardo Rosset and Vincenzo Sospiri for the 1997 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
NIGEL MANSELL returned to F1 in Barcelona last week, completing a day and a half of testing with Jordan.
THREE different sources are telling us that Rothmans has decided not to continue its sponsorship of the Williams team when the contract comes up for renewal later this year.
THE Sauber Formula 1 team is hard at work in Hinwil, Switzerland, in an effort to produce the Sauber-Petronas C16 chassis by the middle of February.
THE new Stewart Grand Prix became the first F1 team to launch its 1997 car at a presentation in London last week.
BRITAIN's Department of Trade and Industry is rumored to be about to bring legal action against five of the directors of Team Lotus Ltd.
AT Bologna last weekend Benetton's managing-director Flavio Briatore let it be known that if members of the Williams team are convicted of the manslaughter of Ayrton Senna he will not consider taking the team to race in Italy.
ANDRE DE CORTANZE is officially "on holiday" at the moment, which is a strange time for a technical director to be taking a break and is usually a sign that all is not well inside a team.
TOM WALKINSHAW has entered into legal action in London to stop Ross Brawn joining Ferrari.
DENIS JENKINSON - probably the most famous Formula 1 journalist - has died after a long illness.
NIGEL MANSELL's fourth Formula 1 comeback continues apace with the unsurprising news that the 43-year-old Englishman will test for Jordan-Peugeot at this week's Barcelona testing.
THERE were no great surprises last week in Tokyo when Shinji Nakano was named as Ligier's second driver for the 1997 season.
THE brain drain at Renault Sport - which has been predicted for some time - has begun with the departure from Viry-Chatillon of one of Renault Sport technical director Bernard Dudot's brightest young engineers - 32-year-old VincentÊGaillardot - who is to join Tom Walkinshaw Racing.
THE International Automobile Federation has finally managed to produce a Formula 1 calendar for next season.
THE FIA World Council meeting in Monaco on December 6 voted in favor of making Grand Prix racing more interesting to watch with specific technical measures designed to improve the chances of a driver being able to overtake his rivals.
THE FIA entry list also revealed that Ferrari wants to be known in the future as "Scuderia Ferrari-Marlboro".
THE FIA Formula 1 World Championship entry list revealed that Tom Walkinshaw's Arrows team did not nominate a title sponsor.
FORMER Benetton designer Ross Brawn starts as technical director of the Ferrari competition department.
FRANK WILLIAMS has signed Castrol to replace his fuel sponsor Elf.
THE San Marino and Italian Grands Prix could be dropped from the 1997 Formula 1 calendar if Italian magistrates push ahead with legal action resulting from the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994.
THE Sauber and Ferrari teams have, as expected, finally managed to sort out the details of their engine supply deal for 1997 and 1998 and the Swiss team will thus run 1996-spec Ferrari V10 engines - although these will probably be rebadged "Sauber Petronas".
JACKIE STEWART has signed a deal with the Malaysian government to promote the country's tourism industry. The deal - which we predicted in September (Week 39) - will see "Visit Malaysia" written on the front and rear wings of the Stewart-Fords.
FORMULA 3000 CHAMPION Jorg Muller has signed a deal to become test driver for Tom Walkinshaw's TWR Arrows F1 team.
GIANCARLO MINARDI has finally announced the new structure of the Grand Prix team which bears his name, revealing that he now controls only 14.5% of the shares.
THE Williams team's chief designer Adrian Newey is "on leave" and we understand that legal action has begun between the team and Newey.
ALAIN PROST and some of his backers met with Adrian Reynard and Reynard Racing Cars managing-director Rick Gorne at the Sheraton Hotel in Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport last Tuesday morning.
THE Toyota Motor Corporation is planning to enter Grand Prix racing in the near future.
LATE last Thursday night Jos Verstappen signed to drive for Tyrrell in 1997.
JOS VERSTAPPEN's precipitous signing with Tyrrell suggests that the Dutchman had been made aware of the fact that there was no drive available for him elsewhere.
THE performance of the McLaren team - or rather the lack of it - in the last 12 months has been mystifying when one compares the results to the team's successes in the late 1980s when McLaren won 13 World Championships in eight seasons. In those days winning seemed to be easy. Between 1988 and 1992 McLaren and Honda - with drivers Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Gerhard Berger won 41 victories in the 74 races. Team boss Ron Dennis said it was all down to good planning and even went as far as to say that everything at McLaren was planned five years ahead. At the time no-one had any reason to disbelieve him.