BERNIE ECCLESTONE has finally launched his Eurobond issue and announced last Friday that the deal is the first step towards the future flotation of his Formula One Holdings company. The Eurobond plan has taken nearly eight months to come to fruition but it has gone ahead despite the fact that the European Commission's Competition Directorate is still continuing its investigation into the way F1 is run. This is a major coup for Ecclestone who has obviously been able to convince his underwriters that Europe is not a threat to the bond issue.
THE Grand Prix team chiefs were due to meet this week for a two-day session of brain-storming as to how to improve the spectacle of Formula 1 racing by changes to the technical and sporting regulations.
THE Malaysian government has announced that it is going to support the career of 22-year-old racer Alex Yoong in the hope that he will be ready for a Formula 1 drive in 2001.
FURTHER details are now beginning to emerge about the massive deal which has been struck between Honda and BritishÊAmericanÊTobacco for the supply of Formula 1 engines to British American Racing. Although BAR bosses are trying hard to convince everyone in the F1 paddock that no money is changing hands and that BAR will be the factory team there is no doubt that BAT is paying Honda $50m a year, although the deal will probably include BAT sponsorship of Honda's other motorsport activities, such the World 500cc Motorcycling Championship and touring car racing.
ALTHOUGH it has been announced that Jordan will have Mugen-prepared Honda V10 engines for the 2000 and 2001 Formula 1 seasons, there is still some mystery as to exactly what engines these will be.
BRITISH AMERICAN RACING has dropped its team manager Greg Field and two of its top mechanics as part of its latest reshuffle. In Barcelona Field was replaced by former Formula 3000 team owner Robert Synge, who has been running the BAR test team in recent months. Synge has no experience in F1 and had a less-than-successful record in F3000. He is, however, a close associate of Adrian Reynard.
THE Stewart-Ford of Rubens Barrichello was excluded from the results after the Spanish Grand Prix for failing to meet technical checks relating to how the "planks" or wooden composite skid blocks are fitted to the underside of the Formula 1 cars. While the exclusion is an embarrassment for Stewart, it makes little difference to the result as Barrichello finished only eighth, And in the paddock the FIA's action was being seen as a quiet warning to teams which have been exploiting loopholes in the regulations to lower the weight in their cars.
THERE has been much talk in recent days about the future of the team which was to have been called HondaÊRacingÊDevelopments. This had secured the twelfth and final F1 entry but with Honda deciding to join forces with BAR, either a new 12th entrant will be found or the whole HRD operation will be taken over by a new owner.
THE BMW test team was back in action last week at Miramas while the rest of the Formula 1 circus was running in Barcelona. The driving work was once again being done by Jorg Muller and the engine showed itself to be reliable, although it is still somewhat lacking in horsepower. We understand that there are also problems associated with intense vibration - a common problem with the top F1 engines these days.
NICOLA FOULSTON, the chief executive of Brands Hatch, has withdrawn her offer to buy Silverstone from the BritishÊRacingÊDrivers' Club and is now concentrating all her efforts on getting Brands Hatch ready for a Grand Prix in 2002.
MIKA HAKKINEN recorded the fastest time of last week's three-day test in Barcelona, which featured not only the 11 current F1 teams but also Honda Racing Developments, continuing its development program. In total there were 25 different drivers in action: the usual 22 plus Honda's Jos Verstappen, Minardi test driver Gaston Mazzacane and BritishÊAmericanÊRacing's Patrick Lemarie.
THE HONDA MOTOR COMPANY has burned its bridges and announced that it will supply its exciting new factory V10 engines to British American Racing for the next three seasons. The controversial decision means that the planned HondaÊRacing Developments operation - which employs 90 people at its factory in Bracknell, Berkshire - will be scrapped.
JORDAN GRAND PRIX last week confirmed that it will continue to use Mugen-Honda engines in 2000 and 2001. The team says that it will receive engines on what it calls an "equal specification basis". It is not clear exactly what this means although the implication is that the engines will be the same as those being supplied to British American Racing.
WITH Williams and British American racing both planning to dump Supertec next year, the company is looking for new business. Benetton - which uses the engines under the Playlife name - would get another engine deal if one were available but it looks as though the team is going to be stuck with the old Renault engines for another season.
HONDA's decision to go back on its commitment to running its own Formula 1 team may have a dramatic effect on rival Toyota's plans in Grand Prix racing. Toyota is planning to enter its own operation on F1 but with Honda having decided to revert to being simply an engine manufacturer, it is quite possible that Toyota may adopt a similar approach, particularly if one the F1 teams was able to offer the Japanese giant a large sum of money for its engines.
THERE has been a lot of talk about the planned Formula 1 movie but there is no sign that it is ever going to be made. Shooting for the film was supposed to begin this year but there have long been rumors that Sylvester Stallone was having trouble raising the money necessary to fund the project.
FORMULA 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has bought the Circuit Paul Ricard from the Ricard Family for a rumored $11m and we hear that he now intends to completely revamp the facility, leaving only the buildings as they are. One rumor we hear says that the plan is to build an oval circuit with a road track in the infield. The work should be finished by 2002 when it is expected that the French Grand Prix will be transferred to Ricard when the current contract with Magny-Cours expires.
BRANDS HATCH is to host the British Grand Prix in 2002 - and could go on holding the event until at least 2012. The Kent circuit's chief executive Nicola Foulston signed a deal with Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone last week after he was unable to reach agreement with the British Racing Drivers' Club to extend the deal with Silverstone after the 2001 race. Silverstone is controlled by the BRDC but the club and Ecclestone have been unable to agree over money. The issue has been complicated by a bid for Silverstone - supported by Ecclestone - from Foulston. She offered to keep the Grand Prix at Silverstone if the BRDC members agreed to sell her the Silverstone company. This was rejected.
THE Honda Motor Company seems to have gotten itself into a tangle over its involvement in F1 racing. The company had committed itself to entering Grand Prix racing next year with its own team - called Honda Racing Developments - but BritishÊAmerican Racing arrived with a bid for the factory engines which is believed to be in the region of $50m a year for three years. In addition to the $150m on offer Honda would save around $500m in the same period by not having to invest in its own program. A deal was struck for BAR to have "factory" engines.
THE United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis will take place on September 24 next year. The deal, which has to be ratified by the FIA, was announced by the Speedway and Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Administration. The announcement is bad news for the Nurburgring which has had the September date in recent years for its European and Luxembourg GrandsÊPrix. We expect the Germans to bid for another date earlier in the year.
WE hear that the McDonalds hamburger company will shortly announce a sponsorship deal with Michael Schumacher to have its famous yellow M logo on Michael's cap at races. This is expected to cost the vast American corporation around $3m a year, which is rather more than Schumacher is currently receiving from Dekra.
HONDA's inability to decide on its Formula 1 program has led to considerable manoeuvring in the Grand Prix world as different groups try to secure the twelfth entry, which had been guaranteed to Honda. With Honda now wanting to renounce the commitment made last year, the twelfth entry - the last F1 "franchise" available - is up for grabs.
TOM WALKINSHAW of the Arrows team and British American Racing's Craig Pollock spent a lot of time talking at Monaco and there is little doubt that the talks involved the supply of Supertec engines to Arrows next year.
IT may be unrelated to Formula 1 but the recent moves by American racing magnate Roger Penske have led to rumors that he is up to something in Grand Prix racing.Ê
ALTHOUGH both Benetton and Formula 1 Race Director Charlie Whiting remain tight-lipped on the subject we expect him to leave the FIA within the next few months to take up an appointment as team director at Enstone, responsible for all aspects of the team's operations. We believe that Whiting will report directly to Rocco Benetton but will otherwise be in charge of decisions in both the technical and operations departments.
FORMULA 1 engineers often dream about running their cars in full-scale windtunnels but such ideas are enormously expensive and to date only Ferrari has the capability to do that - although there is expected to be a 100% rolling road windtunnel at the new McLaren factory.
IN the last few days we have heard increasing whispers of big changes coming at Benetton Formula. The Enstone team has won only one race in the last three years and is not looking likely to win this season. The young drivers - GiancarloÊFisichella and Alexander Wurz - are becoming frustrated and the team has lost a lot of personnel to British American Racing. In addition the team looks likely to be stuck without a factory engine until the end of the year 2000 - and maybe longer.
ALAIN PROST has asked the investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston to develop the team's international financial strategy. What this means is that Prost is looking at ways of raising money - either from an initial public offering or from the sale of a minority shareholding in the team to a financial institution or venture capitalist.
RENAULT's top management may be busy trying to sort out the problems of Nissan but there is no doubt that at RenaultÊSport in Viry-Chatillon there is a strong desire among the remaining staff to return to Grand Prix racing. The danger is that if Renault does nothing the entire F1 team of the early 1990s will be broken up. Already BMW and Toyota have picked up disgruntled members of the Renault Sport team and more are likely to follow in the months ahead.
THE Formula 1 teams split up last week and went off to prepare for Monaco at a variety of different circuits around Europe. Ferrari and Minardi were in action at Fiorano; McLaren and Prost ran at Magny-Cours; Benetton tested at Barcelona, although the track was modified with some traffic cone chicanes; Jordan shared Lurcy-Levis with the Honda F1 operation and Williams, Stewart, BAR and Sauber went to the Circuit Paul Armagnac at Nogaro, in south-west France. Only the Arrows team did no testing at all, the cars running only at a shakedown test at the Santa Pod drag strip in England.
THE outgoing European Union Competition Commissioner Karel Van Miert says that he is coming to the end of his investigation into Formula 1 racing and that the Commission will be ruling on the matter shortly. Van Miert is due to leave office in September but intends to settle the battle with F1 before he goes.
Arrows team boss Prince Malik promised "a big surprise" from the team at Imola with the countdown on the side of the car coming to an end, but the announcement sent few ripples of interest through the F1 paddock.
British American Racing could pull off one of the biggest coups in Formula 1 in recent years if the board of directors at the Honda Motor Corporation in Japan gives its blessing to a proposed engine supply deal for the 2000, 2001 and 2002 seasons.
BMW Motorsport has hired one of the top engine designers from Cosworth Racing's team at Northampton. Alan Cowell was one of the team working on the exciting Ford CR-1 V10 engine under chief designer Nick Hayes and while the men at Cosworth are keen to play down just how important Cowell was in the program, there is no doubt that he is a key figure.
There have been some interesting rumors circulating in recent days which suggest that BAR shareholder Jerry Forsythe is casting around the F1 paddock looking to buy a shareholding in a second Grand Prix team.
The Ford Motor Company has announced that it will not be supplying engines to other teams next year, which means that Minardi is going to have to look elsewhere for an engine deal. "We are in racing to win, not just to compete," said Ford's Martin Whitaker, who also announced that Ford will be giving Cosworth more support next year to concentrate everything on Stewart Grand Prix.
Finland's Mika Salo is expected to drive for BAR at Monaco as Ricardo Zonta is unlikely to be able to test for the team this week and so it is wiser that the F1 rookie waits another couple of weeks before making a proper comeback and leaves Salo to tackle Monaco with the team.
A year ago Sauber came close to doing an engine deal with Supertec, with the intention of running the French engines badged as Sauber Petronas V10s. In the end the deal was not signed as Supertec agreed deals with Williams, Benetton and British American Racing.