01.03.95F1:- Damon Hill will be on the starting grid for the first Grand Prix of the season in Brazil despite being banned for speeding. He was banned for a week and fined œ350 by Bicester magistrates after admitting driving on the M40 at 102.7 mph last December. The ban will only delay his application for a licence to drive in Formula One. Hill's solicitor said: "My feeling is that Damon will drive in the opening race. We don't forsee any problems."
David Coulthard set a fastest time of 1 min 22.6 secs during Formula One testing at Estoril on Wednesday, more than a second quicker than Mika Hakkinen.
HISTORIC RALLY:- Leeds will be the first overnight halt for this year's Network Q RAC Rally, which starts on November 19. The city will also host the Millers Oils RAC International Historic Rally, after agreeing to become co-sponsor of the event.
02.03.95F1:- Nigel Mansell survived a 150mph crash in testing at Estoril - then posted his fastest time of the day. The former world champion was rounding the bend before the pit straight when his car skidded off the track and hit a barrier. Mechanics changed a damaged front right suspension arm on the spot before pushing the car back to the pit lane. Mansell returned in the afternoon to clock 1 min 24.37 secs in the McLaren-Mercedes but Damon Hill was quickest (1:21.77) in the Williams.
RALLYING:- Francois Delecour is to drive for Michelin Pilot Team Ford in the opening round of the Mobil 1/Top Gear British Championship. The 32-year-old World Championship star will drive an Escort RS Cosworth in the Vauxhall Rally of Wales, starting on March 16. Delecour will be partnered by new co-driver Catherine Francois, the reigning French rally champion. "I like the Welsh forests a lot... they are tough, challenging stages and I think I can put on a good show for the spectators," he said.
03.03.95SPORTSCARS:- Porsche have withdrawn from the World Sportscar Series because of a change in the rules. The decision means Porsche will not enter cars in the Sebring 12-hour race on March 18 or the Le Mans 24- hour race on June 17-18. Porsche are unhappy with a rule change calling on them to reduce their air restrictors and increase vehicle weight to 45kgs.
F3:- Belgian Geoffroy Horion has been signed to drive for the Fortec Motorsport team in the British Formula Three Championship. He will team up with Brazilian duo Gualter Salles and Roberto Xavier.
NEWS:- Silverstone officials will restrict crowds at this year's British Grand Prix meeting to 90,000 per day to avoid a repeat of the overcrowding at the circuit in 1992. Saturday's BRDC Marshals Club meeting has, meanwhile, been cancelled due to snow.
04.03.95 - INDYCARSIndy Car rookie Gil de Ferran took provisional pole for Sunday's season-opening Miami Grand Prix with a lap of 1 min 63.773 secs. The Brazilian, driving a Reynard Mercedes, was 0.015 secs quicker than American Michael Andretti in a Lola Ford.
05.03.95 - INDYCARSCanadian Jacques Villeneuve took advantage of Michael Andretti's bad luck to win the season-opening Miami Grand Prix. Andretti looked poised to give the Newman-Haas team victory before his car's suspension broke 40 laps from the finish. Maurico Gugelmin took over in front but Villeneuve was faster out of a pit stop and held off the Brazilian for his second Indy triumph. Defending Al Unser junior was plagued by electrical and gearbox problems and finished only 15th.
MIAMI GRAND PRIX Result: laps completed 1 J Villeneuve Can Reynard Ford 90 (average speed 82.801 mph) 2 M Gugelmin Brz Reynard Ford 90 3 B Rahal US Lola Mer'des 90 4 S Pruett US Lola Ford 90 5 C Fittipaldi Brz Reynard Ford 90 6 R Boesel Brz Lola Mer'des 90 7 C Danner Ger Lola Ford 90 8 J Vasser US Reynard Ford 90 9 D Sullivan US Reynard Ford 90 10 B Herta US Reynard Ford 87 Margin of victory: 1.022 secs 06.03.95 F1: ESTORIL TEST (Wet) Sunday times: mins secs 1 M Schumacher Benetton 1:36.13 2 J Alesi Ferrari 1:37.25 3 D Hill Williams 1:38.37 4 G Berger Ferrari 1:38.92 5 J Herbert Benetton 1:41.88 6 P Diniz Forti 1:58.49PORTUGUESE RALLY:- Last year's winner Juha Kankkunen will be first away in his Toyota in the all-important third round of the FIA World Rally Championship. It is the teams' first chance to test their close-season work on the gravel roads, the surface on which most of the world events are run. "I think we have the best car for gravel stages," declared Monte Carlo Rally winner Carlos Sainz who drives one of three 555 Subarus. He and Colin McRae are joined for the three-day event by British rising star Richard Burns.
Scot Colin McRae hopes it will be third time lucky as he attempts to open his World Championship account after two non-finishes. "With no tarmac stages this year, it should not be a difficult event" said the 555 Subaru driver. "I've done the rally twice before and the new stages will be new to everyone." The team's engineers believe they have solved the problem which forced the cars to retire in Sweden. It appears small particles of debris caused the oil pressure relief valve to stick.
Frenchman Francois Delecour heads the RAS Ford Team as he chases a second victory on the event. Regular teammate Bruno Thiry is a gravel expert while Ford's line-up is bolstered by Italian Alex Fiorio who was second in Portugal in 1988. Toyota Castrol also enter a strong three-car team with Juha Kankkunen and world champion Didier Auriol joined by German Armin Schwarz. Auriol, three times runner-up in Portugal, will be anxious to establish his world title defence with only a fifth in Sweden so far.
Leading competitors: 1 J Kankkunen Fin Toyota Celica 2 C Sainz Sp Subaru Impreza 3 F Delecour Fr Ford Escort Cos 4 D Auriol Fr Toyota Celica 5 C McRae GB Subaru Impreza 6 B Thiry Bel Ford Escort Cos 7 A Schwarz Ger Toyota Celica 8 R Burns GB Subaru 9 A Fiorio It Ford Escort Cos 10 I Holderied Ger Mitsubishi Lancer 07.03.95 - F1Nigel Mansell and Mika Hakkinen have found the cockpit of their new McLaren too small and the design error may jeopardise the Formula One team's championship prospects. The team have struggled by more than two seconds to match the Williams team in testing in Estoril. "Driving it is like running the London Marathon in a pair of running shoes which are too small," claimed team-mate Hakkinen. Mansell is returning to McLaren's Woking headquarters to experiment with new cockpit lay-outs.
08.03.95F1:- The McLaren Formula One team have denied stories that their challenge for this season's championship may be hindered by cockpit problems. Reports stated that Nigel Mansell and Mika Hakkinen had complained about lack of space in the cars. But McLaren spokesman Norman Howell said: "It's nothing dramatic. "To be honest, I think a lot has been made out of very little." Howell added that Mansell had returned home and was not expected at the team's factory until Friday.
Wednesday's times from Estoril: M Schumacher Benetton Renault 1:21.30 E Irvine Jordan Peugeot 1:21.67 D Hill Williams Renault 1:21.74 D Coulthard Williams Renault 1:21.77 R Barrichello Jordan Peugeot 1:22.29 M Salo Tyrrell Yamaha 1:23.10 G Berger Ferrari 1:23.25 U Katayama Tyrrell Yamaha 1:23.37 M Hakkinen McLaren Mercedes 1:23.51 J Herbert Benetton Renault 1:23.78 P Lamy Tyrrell Yamaha 1:24.06 N Mansell McLaren Mercedes 1:24.27 P Diniz Forti Ford 1:28.72 PORTUGUESE RALLY Positions after 11 of 31 stages: hrs mins secs 1 C Sainz Sp Subaru 2:07:51 2 J Kankkunen Fin Toyota 2:07:57 3 D Auriol Fr Toyota 2:08:35 4 C McRae GB Subaru 2:09:02 5 A Schwarz Ger Toyota 2:10:05 6 B Thiry Fr Ford 2:11:35 7 M Gronholm Fin Toyota 2:12:29 8 R Burns GB Subaru 2:14:25 9 A Fiorio It Ford 2:16:29 10 R Madeira Por Mitsubishi 2:19:08 End of first daySpain's Carlos Sainz pushed his Subaru to an 11-second victory in the last stage of the first day to edge ahead of Finn Juha Kankkunen. Kankkunen, four-time world champion, won seven of the eleven stages but his Toyota slipped to six seconds behind Sainz. Kankkunen's Ford teammate Didier Auriol ended the day third, with Scotland's Colin McRae in fourth. Francois Delecour was forced out after he rolled his Ford during the morning session when only two seconds behind Kankkunen.
09.03.95F1:- Formula One drivers are in dispute with the sport's governing body, the FIA, over their super licences for the new Grand Prix season. Britain's Damon Hill said only six of the 28 drivers had accepted four new clauses on the licence application forms. "We had a meeting in Estoril during testing this week and most of the senior drivers agreed not to sign the forms as they stand," he said. Asked about a possible strike, Hill said: "We will have to cross that bridge when we get to it."
Simtek have been boosted by a sponsorship deal with Korean Air for the 1995 season - the team's second on the Grand Prix circuit.
PORTUGUESE RALLY Positions after 21 of 31 stages: hrs mins secs 1 J Kankkunen Fin Toyota 3:48:00 2 C Sainz Sp Subaru 3:48:22 3 C McRae GB Subaru 3:49:27 4 D Auriol Fr Toyota 3:49:52 5 A Schwarz Ger Toyota 3:51:03 6 B Thiry Fr Ford 3:54:01 7 M Gronholm Fin Toyota 3:54:50 8 R Burns GB Subaru 3:57:36 9 A Fiorio It Ford 4:00:28 10 R Madeira Por Mitsubishi 4:07:04 End of day twoJuha Kankkunen finished the second day with a 22-second lead over overnight leader Carlos Sainz. Kankkunen recaptured the lead half- way through the day after getting through badly rutted roads in the early stages. "I have not won anything in the last year and this car has never won anything, so I have to try," said Kankkunen. Britain's Colin McRae stayed third in his Subaru, one minute and 27 seconds behind the leader.
10.03.95 PORTUGUESE RALLY Positions after final stage:hrs mins secs 1 C Sainz Sp Subaru 5:32:37 2 J Kankkunen Fin Toyota 5:32:49 3 C McRae GB Subaru 5:35:51 4 A Schwarz Ger Toyota 5:37:36 5 D Auriol Fr Toyota 5:38:50 6 B Thiry Fr Ford 5:41:23 7 R Burns GB Subaru 5:46:58 8 A Fiorio It Ford 5:58:44 9 R Madeira Por Mitsubishi 6:03:36 10 J Recalde Arg Mitsubishi 6:07:22 Carlos Sainz won by 12 secondsSpaniard Carlos Sainz overcame brake failure on the last stage to win a thrilling Portuguese rally. The Subaru driver wrecked the braking system when he ran over a log and drove the final 8kms praying he could hold off Finland's Juha Kankkunen. Sainz now leads Kankkunen by three points in the championship after a three-day duel where the two were never more than 22 seconds apart. Britain's Colin McRae was third, his best ever result in this event.
13.03.95 - F1Damon Hill was quickest during testing in Estoril, clocking 1 min 22.10 secs in the Williams Renault. Mika Hakkinen was second fastest in 1:24.02 ahead of Johnny Herbert who went round in 1:25.75. Nigel Mansell will test a revised version of his McLaren Mercedes on Tuesday after complaining that the cockpit on his MP4/10 was too small.
14.03.95 - F1Damon Hill was again the quickest man on the track at Estoril on Tuesday with a lap of 1 min 21.66 secs in his Williams Renault. The Briton, runner-up in last year's drivers' championship, was 0.44 secs inside his best time set on Monday. Mika Hakkinen improved his best in the new McLaren Mercedes as he clocked 1:23.31. Arrows, meanwhile, unveiled their new FA16 car at Silverstone, which is powered by a V8 Hart engine.
15.03.95 - F1Tyrrell Yamaha have signed Finnish driver Mika Salo for the 1995 Formula One World Championship. Salo drove in the final two races of last season for Lotus, finishing tenth in Japan on his debut. Ken Tyrrell was delighted: "We invited Mika to Jerez in January where he ended with times that would have put him on pole last October for the European Grand Prix. "At Estoril he outperformed a number of established Formula One stars. It was not a difficult decision to ask him to join."
16.03.95F1:- Nigel Mansell may miss the opening two races of the 1995 Formula One season, a McLaren spokesman said. Mansell has not taken any part in this week's testing in Estoril because the cockpit of McLaren's new car is too cramped. A team spokesman said they hoped to modify the Mercedes-powered MP4/10 car to ease Mansell's discomfort, but admitted it was possible they would not. The season opens on Sunday week in Brazil, followed by the Argentine Grand Prix two weeks later.
Scotland's David Coulthard rounded off his pre-season Formula One testing with another fastest time at Estoril in Portugal. The 23-year-old Williams driver clocked a best lap of 1 minute 22.51 seconds to edge out Michael Schumacher's Benetton on 1:23.76. Finland's Mika Hakkinen was third quickest in his McLaren Mercedes on 1:23.86.
Later announcement:- Nigel Mansell's future in F1 racing will be decided in the next 48 hours, the McLaren team said. Mansell is set to miss the opening races of the season in Brazil and Argentina because he cannot fit comfortably into the cramped cockpit of the team's new car. Sources close to McLaren said that Briton Mark Blundell could replace Mansell for the first two races. Blundell flew to Lisbon on Wednesday and was seen at the Estoril track on Thursday.
BRITISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP:- Welshman David Llewellin knows he has a huge task ahead as he chases a third successive British Formula Two title in the five-round series. A total of seven manufacturers will be competing this season encouraged by new F2 rules which allow only 2-litre 2wd normally-aspirated cars. Among the highly-competitive field will be Nissan trio Alister McRae, Gregoire de Mevius and talented Finn Ari Mokkonen. Gwyndaf Evans drives the Ford Escort in which he won the F2 title in the Network Q RAC World Rally.
Entry list - top ten 1 F Delecour Fr Ford Escort 2 G De Mevius Bel Nissan 3 G Evans GB Ford Escort 4 A McRae GB Nissan 5 C Mellors GB Ford Escort 6 J Kytolehto Fin Vauxhall Astra 7 R Head GB Renault Clio 8 M Rowe GB Peugeot 306 9 J Milner GB Nissan 10 D Llewellin GB Vauxhall Astra 17.03.95F1:- Mark Blundell will replace Nigel Mansell in the McLaren team for the opening two races of the new Formula One season. He will partner Mika Hakkinen for the Brazilian GP on March 26 and also in Argentina on April 9. Mansell misses the races because he is unable to fit comfortably into the cockpit of McLaren's new Mercedes-powered MP4/10 car. The team announced that they will be developing a new chassis for the 41-year-old former world champion.
David Coulthard is disappointed that he will not be competing against Nigel Mansell in the first two races of the new season. Coulthard, who took Mansell's seat at Williams alongside Damon Hill, said: "I'm sorry I won't have the chance of racing against Nigel. "I have always had great respect for him because he is someone who always gives everything. "I'm disappointed we will not be able to race wheel to wheel against each other in Brazil as the outcome would have been very interesting."
INDYCAR Provisional grid for Sunday's race at Surfers Paradise in Australia: mins:secs 1 M Andretti US Lola Ford 1:37.010 (104.055mph) 2 G de Ferran Brz Reynard Mrc 1:37.611 3 P Tracy Can Lola Ford 1:37.956 4 M Gugelmin Brz Reynard Fd 1:37.802 5 J Vil'neuve Can Reynard Fd 1:37.855 6 T Fabi It Reynard Fd 1:38.078 7 E Fit'paldi Brz Penske Merc 1:38.106 8 B Rahal US Lola Merc 1:38.113 9 A Unser jr US Penske Merc 1:38.173 10 E Cheever US Lola Ford 1:38.539 11 S Johansson Swe Penske Merc 1:38.552 12 S Pruett US Lola Ford 1:38.577VAUXHALL RALLY OF WALES:- Welshman David Llewellin knows he has a huge task ahead as he chases a third successive British Formula Two title in the five-round series. A total of seven manufacturers will be competing this season encouraged by new F2 rules which allow only 2-litre 2wd normally-aspirated cars. Among the highly-competitive field will be Nissan trio Alister McRae, Gregoire de Mevius and talented Finn Ari Mokkonen. Gwyndaf Evans drives the Ford Escort in which he won the F2 title in the Network Q RAC World Rally.
Defending British Open F2 champion David Llewellin is joined by Finn Jarmo Kytolehto in Vauxhall's two-car bid for the 1995 title. Former Group N world champion Alain Oreille of France and young Scot Robbie Head drive the nimble Clio Williams in Renault UK's challenge. Peugeot, continuing to back young talent, have signed last year's British Group N winner Martin Rowe. Scots ace Dom Buckley leads Volkswagen's assault while Julian Reynolds and Stephanie Simmonite drive the semi-works Honda Civics.
Ford star Gwyndaf Evans bids for Mobil1/Top Gear British Rally Championship outright after winning the Group N title three times. Evans competes in the Rapid Fit Group A Escort RS2000 in which he clinched victory in the F2 class on the Network Q RAC Rally last year. "We've done a lot of development over the winter months but we will not know if it is enough until we see how much improvement everyone else has made," said the Welshman. "We will find out when we go to Chester for the first round."
Gwyndaf Evans starts among the favourites but knows he faces tough competition over the five rounds. "There are 14 semi works cars with semi works support," said Evans. "David Llewellin has won twice and is experienced and wise enough to handle the extra pressure. Alister McRae and Gregoire de Mevius will be tough to beat in the Nissans... Then there are many drivers who I don't really know. There are a number of Finns and there is bound to be a really good one among them," commented the Welshman.
Double British F2 champion David Llewellin said competition will be so fierce this season, the title could eventually be down to luck. "It's going to be very tough, there is no question about that," he said. "The Astra is very reliable - that saw us through last year. We have as good a chance as anyone but there are half a dozen drivers who could win so we need a bit of luck." He names his new Vauxhall teammate Jarmo Kytolehto among his rivals. "He went very quickly in Sweden," said Llewellin.
Peugeot's young star Martin Rowe will not be letting former success go to his head as he prepares for his biggest challenge so far. Rowe, 23, drives the Total Team Group A 306 S16 but admits he will have a lot to learn in his first year as a professional driver. "I have little experience compared to the others but everyone at Peugeot Sport is very enthusiastic. We've done a lot of testing with the car and it feels okay but it's difficult to assess its performance until you start competing," he said.
Frenchman Francois Delecour heads the entry for round one of the Mobil1/Top Gear British series. Delecour, one of the world's top drivers, has been seeded number one in his Ford Escort RS Cosworth for the Vauxhall Rally of Wales which starts in Chester today, although he is not able to score points. He will be driving a Malcolm Wilson Group A Ford Escort, which is entitled to win the event, but is barred from scoring points. Britain's Roger Clark comes out of retirement to drive a brand new Subaru Legacy prepared by his son Matthew who drives a similar car. Drivers compete over 15 stages with the first car due back in Chester at around 6.30pm on Saturday.
VAUXHALL RALLY OF WALES Positions after 8 of 15 stages: hr mins secs 1 A McRae GB Nissan 1:02.24 2 O Harkki Fin Mitsubishi 1:02.56 3 G de Mevius Bel Nissan 1:03.04 4 D Llewellin GB Vauxhall 1:03.09 5 J Kytolehto Fin Vauxhall 1:03.18 6 M Rowe GB Peugeot 1:03.26 7 G Evans GB Ford 1:03.48 8 T Abrahamsson Fin Ford 1:04.08 9 C Mellors GB Ford 1:04.20 10 R Head GB Renault 1:04.35 18.03.95 VAUXHALL RALLY OF WALES Final result after 15 stages: hr mins secs 1 A McRae GB Nissan 2:43.35 2 O Harkki Fin Mitsubishi 2:44.30 3 J Kytolehto Fin Vauxhall 2:44.39 4 G Evans GB Ford 2:44.49 5 D Llewellin GB Vauxhall 2:45.06 6 C Mellors GB Ford 2:46.07 7 P Young GB Ford 2:49.42 8 M Jones GB Mitsubishi 2:50.49 9 A Oreille Fr Renault 2:51.32 10 M Lawn GB Vauxhall 2:53.40Scotland's Alister McRae showed that driving skills run in the family with a convincing win in the Vauxhall Rally of Wales. McRae, the younger brother of RAC Rally winner Colin, reached the finish of the 15-stage event in his Nissan Sunny with 55 secs in hand. "Obviously I'm delighted - all went well and the car ran great," said the 24-year-old from Lanark. Finland's Olli Harkki chased him all the way but his challenge was hampered by oil pressure problems with his Group N Mitsubishi.
19.03.95F1:- Gabriele Tarquini has signed for the Nokia Tyrrell Yamaha Formula One team as test and reserve driver for the 1995 season. The 33-year-old Italian, current British touring car champion, impressed during testing at Jerez last week. Team boss Ken Tyrrell said: "He will be a significant asset to the team and his input for the development of the 023 will be tremendous." Tarquini said: "It will be fantastic to be involved."
INDYCARS:- Canadian Paul Tracy responded to recent criticism of his driving style with an excellent win in the Australian GP at Surfers Paradise. He trailed Newman Haas teammate Michael Andretti for much of the race but took over in front with eight laps to go. Andretti slowed after his car lost second gear and the luckless American failed to finish after hitting the wall on the final lap. Tracy completed the 65 laps almost seven seconds clear of runner-up Bobby Rahal.
Result of Australian Indy Grand Prix at Surfers Paradise after 65 laps: hrs:mins:secs 1 P Tracy Can Lola Ford 1:58.26 (average speed 92.3mph) 2 B Rahal US Lola Merc 1:58.33 3 S Pruett US Lola Ford 1:58.37 4 M Gugelmin Brz Reynard Ford 1:58.39 5 D Sullivan US Reynard Ford 1:58.45 6 A Unser jr US Penske Merc 1:59.01 7 E Cheever US Lola Ford 1:59.03 8 R Boesel Brz Lola Merc 1:59.10 9 M Andretti US Lola Ford rtd lap 65 10 E Salazar Chi Lola Ford rtd lap 64 20.03.95 - F1Brazilian Roberto Moreno will drive the second car of the new Forti Corse Formula One team for the first two races of the season. He will partner compatriot Pedro Diniz for the South American races but a team spokesman said they may sign another driver for the European races.
21.03.95 - F1JOHN WATSON ON THE 1995 FORMULA ONE SEASON
Benetton Renault start favourites for 1995 in many people's minds. Now enjoying Renault V10 power, the combination of that engine, Michael Schumacher and Benetton Formula technology, looks blue chip. The only likely cause for concern is unreliablity, following the change of engine and the resultant problem of installation. Johnny Herbert comes in as support for Schumacher, helping ensure both cars score points. Initially he should stick to this task until his feet are firmly under the table.
Tyrrell Yamaha are a team most certainly on the way forwards. They have a good chassis, reliable engines and two drivers who will no doubt find themselves regularly in the points or even on the podium. Ukyo Katayama remains with the team for a third year while the highly sought-after Mika Salo makes his debut with Tyrrell at the start of a three-year deal with the team. The new hydro-link suspension pioneered by the team will have a good workout on the bumpy Interlagos race track.
Williams Renault are favourites to win in Brazil, thanks to continuity between the car, engine and drivers plus a good winter test programme and near-perfect reliability. Remember there are no points for pole position or fastest race laps but victories in early season are like having a healthy bank account. Jordan Peugeot have also had a very good winter test programme and are ready to steal the limelight. Two fast, hungry drivers and a very good car will ensure they push the leaders all the way.
The McLaren Mercedes partnership has had an inauspicious debut. Problems with driver comfort have been solved for Mika Hakkinen but Nigel Mansell's car needs some carbon fibre surgery. The Cinderella of F1 Mark Blundell has been presented with the glass slipper - and it fits perfectly. Simtek Ford face the prospect of going to Brazil without having run their 1995 challengers. Not ideal. Jos Verstappen, leased from Benetton, should be a great asset.
Footwork Hart are long-established but tight on budget and late in appearing - as are so many of the Formula One teams this season. Gianni Morbidelli and Taki Inoue will face Brazil with precious little testing of their new package. However this year the Footwork is powered by a Faberge Easter egg - a small piece of mechanical jewellery - Brian Hart's new 3-litre V8. Many teams will find the wide-ranging rule changes sap their meagre budgets and, as ever, must rely on a large amount of good luck.
In the course of last season's many downs, I came to admire Keith Wiggins and his Pacific team. They suffered pain but were never once heard to complain. The reward is a customer Ford engine deal. This year, with a car that is totally their own design and one that looks very pretty indeed, I see Pacific climbing from the back of the grid to mid-field. Bertrand Gachot will have Andrea Montermini for a teammate. The party after their first points have been won will be memorable.
Forti Ford are Formula One's new team and graduates from F3000. Pedro Diniz is one of their drivers - thanks to his extremely wealthy father - and F1 journeyman Roberto Moreno brings valuable experience. The Forti Corse team may end up as the two non-qualifiers in the early rounds but will learn quickly. Minardi, the fourth team using Ford's customer engine, have proved they can compete with more senior teams. Luca Badoer is back in F1 and this team ought to battle it out in the tough midfield.
Ligier Mugen-Honda could prove to be a real pain to the top four teams this season. They have a car which appears to be a facsimile of this year's Benetton plus an exceptionally strong Honda V10 engine and the expertise that Tom Walkinshaw brings to a team. It is easy to understand why so much is expected of this Magny Cours based outfit. Sadly Martin Brundle must sit out the first four GPs in favour of Aguri Suzuki. Meanwhile Olivier Panis will grow in stature.
Ferrari - a real curate's egg! As for so many years, the promise is there but the delivery is not... They suffered a fragmented winter test programme but Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger will always drag out a performance. I just wish Ferrari could stop being so bureaucratic. Sauber Ford are surprise recipients of Ford's full works engine. I doubt Heinz-Harald Frentzen or Karl Wendlinger will be able to emulate Michael Schumacher and Benetton's performance of '94 - and that will not be the engine's fault.
JOHN WATSON ON THE BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX
Brazil hosts the opening round of the 1995 FIA World Formula One Championship on the demanding and very bumpy Interlagos race track. Everyone will be eager to know how the technical regulation changes and reduced engine capacity - from 3.5 to 3-litre - will affect racing. For some teams nothing is going to change and, most notably, Williams Renault must be approaching this weekend in a very confident mood. But the mix and match of chassis, engines and drivers, promises a truly classic year for most teams.
Traditionally the first GP sees many teams turn up in what is, in effect, an updated version of theirprevious year's car. Not this time. Everyone has had to construct new cars for 1995 with much improved structural integrity. A further major cut in aerodynamic downforce and a new smaller engine has been very costly for teams less well-funded and will reflect in their race reliability. All-in-all, Brazil is the nearest thing to a national lottery F1 will experience for many years.
Re-fuelling and tyre changes are the norm for every team this season. The new cars can only carry about 120 litres of fuel. Most teams generally dislike having to re-fuel but now no longer have a choice. However fans enjoy the activity. From a safety standpoint, the FIA president Max Moseley has assured me that new refuelling equipment will prevent any repeat of the appalling incident at Hockenheim. The FIA are acutely aware that a second incident would be totally unacceptable and must be avoided.
Brazil will not represent a clear view of the 1995 season - it will be little more than a tease. By the time the folk turn up for the San Marino GP, I expect to be revelling in something lacking for so long in F1, that is motor racing throughout the field. You will see fierce battles and possibly some off-the-wall technical innovations in an effort to interpret the regulations, as well as the prospect of different winners during the year.
The McLaren team have denied suggestions that Nigel Mansell is considering calling off his return to Formula One racing. Mark Blundell is replacing him for the first two GPs with Mansell too big for the cockpit of his MP4/10. It is thought his enthusiasm may also have been hit by the car's disappointing first test. However McLaren are reported to have already made a new buck for Mansell who may still drive the current car in a test programme.
Damon Hill heads for the opening F1race in Brazil this weekend boosted by impressive pre-season test times. He lapped in 1 min 20.95 secs in his Williams in Estoril, 0.35s faster than 1994 world champion Michael Schumacher in a Benetton. Former Team Lotus managing director Peter Collins is sueing the team rescuer David Hunt's new company for alleged wrongful dismissal. Collins, who is also claiming breach of contract, is seeking compensation of about œ2 million.
23.03.95 - F1Two disputes between Formula One's ruling body and the drivers and teams could disrupt the start of the new season. Some members of the drivers' and teams' associations have refused to sign paperwork, including waivers which protect the FIA, from legal action after accidents. Gerhard Berger, who represents the drivers, is planning talks with FIA chief Max Mosley. Berger said he felt confident that "all would be okay" although teams are unhappy with the new clauses.
Nigel Mansell may miss the first three races of the new Formula One season due to problems with the cockpit of his McLaren. It was thought Mansell would only miss the opening two Grands Prix and would return at Imola on April 30 - but it could now be in Spain on May 14. Team boss Ron Dennis said: "We made ourselves look pretty foolish once and we don't want to do it again by committing to the Imola date. We hope to meet the target date but it's very tight."
24.03.95 - F1: THE BRAZILIAN GPDamon Hill claimed provisional pole for the opening round of the season as chief rival Michael Schumacher crashed out. The Williams driver clocked 1 min 20.081 secs on the bumpy Interlagos circuit with Ferrari's Gerhard Berger in second place. Schumacher crashed his Benetton into the tyre wall midway through the session and although the German was unhurt the car was damaged, so the reigning champion stayed sixth. Scot David Coulthard was third fastest in the second Williams.
Michael Schumacher said that the Benetton team may have to pull out of the race if the cause of his crash in practice was not solved. Teammate Johnny Herbert could not drive after the crash and Schumamcher said: "I lost the steering and the car ran wide. We have had nothing like this in testing and we have to consider what to do very carefully." But Benetton team boss Flavio Briatore said: "I am sure we can solve this problem and carry on. There's not a lot to worry about."
Friday's practice times: mins secs 1 D Hill GB Williams 1:20.081 2 G Berger Aut Ferrari 1:21.015 3 D Coulthard GB Williams 1:21.343 4 J Alesi It Ferrari 1:21.655 5 M Hakinnen Fin McLaren 1:22.017 6 M Schumacher Ger Benetton 1:22.131 7 O Panis Fr Ligier 1:22.208 8 E Irvine GB Jordan 1:22.370 9 M Blundell GB McLaren 1:22.821 10 A Suzuki Jpn Ligier 1:23.251 11 R Bar'chello Brz Jordan 1:23.350 12 G Morbidelli It Footwork 1:23.403 13 M Salo Fin Tyrrell 1:23.470 14 H Frentzen Ger Sauber 1:24.065 15 U Katayama Jpn Tyrrell 1:24.165 16 L Badoer It Minardi 1:24.443 17 K W'linger Aut Sauber 1:24.723 18 B Gachot Fr Pacific 1:25.819 19 T Inoue Jpn Footwork 1:27.036 20 R Moreno Brz Forti 1:27.204 21 A Mont'mini It Pacific 1:27.440 22 P Diniz Por Forti 1:27.876 23 P Martini It Minardi 1:56.532 24 J Verstappen Hol Simtek 2:01.610 25 J Herbert GB Benetton DN RUN 26 D Sch'rella It Simtek DN RUN 25.03.95F1: THE BRAZILIAN GP
Damon Hill claimed the fifth pole position of his Formula One career in an exciting finish to the final qualifying session. Hill's time of 1 min 20.081 secs on Friday in his Williams could not be matched although defending champion Michael Schumacher came within 3/10ths of a second in his Benetton. Schumacher put two nasty crashes behind him as he set his fastest lap while, equally impressive, was his teammate Johnny Herbert. Herbert, still new to the car, will start on the second row of the grid.
Damon Hill was far from complacent despite taking pole position in his Williams Renault for Sunday's GP. He said he was impressed with the way rival Michael Schumacher had recovered from serious setbacks. "I learned last year never to underestimate the guy," he said. Hill said he was happy with his car despite failing to improve on his Friday qualifying time. "We made a few changes and perhaps they were not the right way to go," he said. "It is a subtle difference but these cars are very sensitive."
Britain's David Coulthard, the new hot prospect of this year's circuit, held on to third in his Williams-Renault. Coulthard shaved almost a full second off his Friday time, setting a best lap of 1:20.422. "I knew I'd improve a lot just by being a bit more sensible on my following runs," he said. "But I was disappointed I didn't beat Michael Schumacher and get closer to Damon (Hill)."
World champion Michael Schumacher predicted a tough race on Sunday, with six cars covered by just a second in overall qualifying times. "Since I have been in Formula One I don't think it has ever been as close as this," said the German. "It looks like being a good show." He said the steering problem which caused Friday's crash had been cured while his Saturday mishap was the result of the wet weather and difficult circuit conditions. He said his car was being improved and he was optimistic for the race.
Final qualifying was briefly halted when Italian Domenico Schiattarella crashed in his Simtek. The driver was unhurt but the car was damaged. Brazilian Rubens Barrichello went off part-way through the session after losing control of his Jordan. Britain's Mark Blundell, who sat out part of free practice after trouble with his McLaren, missed some of final qualifying. He finally managed to complete 10 of his alloted 12 laps to claim an impressive ninth place on the grid.
Gerhard Berger stopped with engine failure one lap after setting his best time in the Ferrari. "It had started to go off on my quickest lap but I pressed on," he explained. Mika Hakkinen (McLaren) was a bit disappointed with his seventh place and admitted: "It was not the result I wanted but the engine is very consistent." Eddie Irvine was the quickest of the Jordan drivers in eighth despite a spin during the session. Aguri Suzuki (Ligier) had another spin and finished 15th fastest.
Mika Salo struggled with the balance of his Tyrrell Yamaha in both Saturday's sessions but was finally happy with his set-up. "The race will be very hard physically," said the Finn. "The track is so bumpy. It is not a circuit for Formula One cars, it is for moto cross!" Gianni Morbidelli (Footwork) struggled with excessive oversteer caused by a damper problem. Pedro Diniz (Forti) spun at the end of qualifying and collided with teammate Roberto Moreno.
Michael Schumacher made an amazing recovery from his second crash in two days to set the fastest time of the morning's free practice session. Schumacher was on his fifth lap and pushing hard when the back of his car broke away on a fast left-hand corner. It snapped back, sending him careering on to the grass. The defending champion, who crashed in first qualifying, damaged a wing but later clocked a 1:23.607 lap. It is believed Friday's crash was caused by a damaged universal joint on the steering column.
Final qualifying times: mins secs 1 D Hill GB Williams 1:20.081 2 M Schumacher Ger Benetton 1:20.382 3 D Coulthard GB Williams 1:20.422 4 J Herbert GB Benetton 1:20.888 5 G Berger Aut Ferrari 1:20.906 6 J Alesi It Ferrari 1:21.041 7 M Hakkinen Fin McLaren 1:21.399 8 E Irvine GB Jordan 1:21.749 9 M Blundell GB McLaren 1:21.779 10 O Panis Fr Ligier 1:21.914 11 U Katayama Jpn Tyrrell 1:22.325 12 M Salo Fin Tyrrell 1:22.416 13 G Morbidelli It Footwork 1:22.468 14 H Frentzen Ger Sauber 1:22.468 15 A Suzuki Jpn Ligier 1:22.971 16 R Barrichello Brz Jordan 1:22.975 17 P Martini It Minardi 1:24.383 18 L Badoer It Minardi 1:24.443 19 K Wendlinger Aut Sauber 1:24.723 20 B Gachot Fr Pacific 1:25.127 21 T Inoue Jpn Footwork 1:25.225 22 A Montermini It Pacific 1:25.886 23 R Moreno Brz Forti 1:26.269 24 J Verstappen Hol Simtek 1:26.323 25 P Diniz Por Forti 1:27.792 26 D Sch'rella It Simtek 1:28.106 Conditions: dry and very warm, humidF3:- Ralph Firman Junior dominated qualifying for the opening rounds of the British F3 Championship at Silverstone on Sunday. The 19-year-old Paul Stewart Racing team driver was unbeatable as he edged out team-mate Helio Castro Neves in the first session and Briton James Mattews in the second. "I'm just really happy," said Firman. "It was difficult out there, but it all came together at the right time." Stroud's Steve Arnold was third in both sessions in his Edenbridge.
26.03.95F1: THE BRAZILIAN GP
World champion Michael Schumacher held off a brilliant challenge from young Scot David Coulthard to take the honours in the season opener. Schumacher was rewarded for three days of hard work on the Benetton with a second successive victory on the difficult Interlagos circuit. Coulthard, in only his ninth GP, kept a cool head to take the runner-up spot while teammate Damon Hill was sidelined after a spin, the result of gearbox failure. The results must be confirmed after earlier fuel problems.
Michael Schumacher snatched the lead from Damon Hill in pole spot as the talking stopped and the first race of the year got underway. The two rivals were less than a second apart as they traded fastest laps until the first round of pit stops for fuel and new tyres. Schumacher stopped first and Hill took a few seconds longer in the pits but, surprisingly, it was the Williams driver in the lead when the dust finally settled. At one-third distance, Hill had the edge with Gerhard Berger third.
Damon Hill spun out of the race after apparently suffering gearbox trouble on the Williams Renault. His car whipped round as he exited a left-hander on the 30th lap and he went on to the grass and stopped. World champion Michael Schumacher re-took the lead he had held at the start of the race before pit stops, with David Coulthard now second driving a magnificent race. Hill said he had been struggling with a gearbox problem half a lap earlier. "Something just went," he said of the incident.
Pit crews were noticeably cautious with new regulations having changed the refuelling gear and introduced locking pins for all wheels. Several delays occurred as teams struggled to get the pins in place. Michael Schumacher, whose race strategy was to stop three times to most drivers' two, was quickly in and out of the pits but Benetton teammate Johnny Herbert lost time. McLaren, who had suffered a fuel rig problem in testing, also lost time on the car of Mika Hakkinen but he eventually finished fourth.
Michael Schumacher called for changes to the Interlagos circuit following his victory in the race. "I feel like I need a new spine and a new neck," said the German. "As the tyres got older, it got to the point where you are not seeing the circuit any more. It's dangerous." Runner-up David Coulthard, who had only just overcome tonsillitis and was still not fit, said there were times he feared he would crash out. "I was being shaken about so much my feet were coming off the pedals" complained the Scottish star.
Result after 71 laps: 1 M Schumacher Ger Benetton 1 hr 38 mins 34.154 secs 2 D Coulthard GB Williams 1:38:42.214 3 G Berger Aut Ferrari 1 lap 4 M Hakkinen Fin McLaren 1 lap 5 J Alesi Fr Ferrari 1 lap 6 M Blundell GB McLaren 1 lap 7 M Salo Fin Tyrrell 2 laps 8 A Suzuki Jpn Ligier 2 laps 9 A Montermini It Pacific 6 laps 10 P Diniz Brz Forti 7 laps No other finishers World drivers championship standings: 1 M Schumacher Ger 10 2 D Coulthard GB 6 3 G Berger Aut 4 4 M Hakkinen Fin 3 5 J Alesi Fr 2 6 M Blundell GB 1 Constructors' championship standings: 1 Benetton 10 2 Williams 6 = Ferrari 6 4 McLaren 4The Williams and Benetton teams have both been fined œ20,000 after breaking strict fuel regulations. A statement said samples taken from the cars of David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher showed "distinct differences from fuel previously submitted for approval". Schumacher's win remains to be confirmed with the German being warned that further fuel samples would be taken after the race. Coulthard's runner-up spot is also being treated as provisional.
RETIREMENTS Olivier Panis (Ligier) out after collision at start of race Pierluigi Martini (Minardi) no laps completed Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Sauber) stopped after 10 laps Bertrand Gachot (Pacific) lap 24 Eddie Irvine (Jordan) after 11 laps Jos Verstappen (Simtek) Damon Hill (Williams) spun off while leading on lap 30 after earlier suffering gearbox trouble Johnny Herbert (Benetton) stopped with apparent mechanical failure Ukyo Katayama (Tyrrell) 15 laps Domenico Schiattarella (Simtek) Rubens Barrichello (Jordan) Taki Inoue (Arrows) Karl Wendlinger (Sauber) lap 38 Roberto Moreno (Forti) lap 47 Luca Badoer (Minardi) lap 47 Gianni Morbidelli (Footwork) lap 62Later:- World champion Michael Schumacher has been disqualified after coming first in the opening Grand Prix of the season in Sao Paulo. David Coulthard, who came second, was also disqualifed after race officials ruled that both men had used illegal fuel. The third placed driver, Gerhard Berger, has now been declared the winner. Schumacher's chief rival, Damon Hill, failed to finish after spinning off with gearbox problems after 31 laps of the 71-lap race.
Result following disqualifications: 1 G Berger Aut Ferrari 1 hr 38 mins 44.141 secs 2 M Hakkinen Fin McLaren 6.844 secs 3 J Alesi Fr Ferrari 50.517 secs 4 M Blundell GB McLaren 1 min 00.309 5 M Salo Fin Tyrrell 1 lap 6 A Suzuki Jpn Ligier 1 lap 7 A Montermini It Pacific 5 laps 8 P Diniz Brz Forti 6 laps No other finishers World drivers championship standings: 1 G Berger Aut 10 2 M Hakkinen Fin 6 3 J Alesi Fr 4 4 M Blundell GB 3 5 M Salo Fin 2 6 A Suzuki Jap 1 Constructors' championship standings: 1 Ferrari 14 2 McLaren 9 3 Tyrrell 2 4 Ligier 1F3:- Ralph Firman Junior won both rounds of the British F3 Championship at Silverstone. The 19-year-old Paul Stewart Racing team driver was unbeatable as he edged out Cristian da Matta in the first round and Steve Arnold in the second round. Arnold took third place in round one, while Warren Hughes was third in the second.
GT CARS (Monza):- Dane John Nielsen and Swiss partner Thomas Bscher powered their West McLaren to a hard-fought win in the third round of the sportscar series. They clinched a 16-second victory over the Porsche 911 turbo of all-French crew Jean-Pierre Jarier, Bob Wollek and Christophe Bouchot, with a time of 4 hrs 01 min 29.60 secs. They have now been runner-up in all three Global Endurance races. Swede Anders Olofsson and Luciano della Noce of Italy lost a long held lead with a lengthy brake change and finished in third place.
Dane John Nielsen enjoyed his first major sportscar success since Le Mans in 1989 with his win in Monza with teammate Thomas Bscher. Bscher, a banker, enjoyed his first ever international success, and Nielsen commented: "Monza is something special. It is wonderful to have won here." Gulf McLaren, winner of the first two races, lost both cars before the halfway mark. Briton Ray Bellm ran out of fuel on the circuit and compatriot Lindsey Owen-Jones spun his car into gravel.
Result after 125 laps: 1 Nielsen/Bscher McLaren (4 hrs, 1 min, 29.60 secs) 2 Jarier/Wollek/Bouchot Porsche 1 lap 3 Olofsson/Noce Ferrari 1 laps 4 Konrad/Ploeg Porsche 3 laps 5 Keegan/Kaufmann/Fe'ro Porsche 3 laps 6 Calderari/Bryner Porsche 3 laps 7 Gartzen/Angelastrio Porsche 4 laps 8 Fabre/L'biere/Lecuyer McLaren 4 laps 9 Rossi/Mastropietro Porsche 7 laps 10 Wallace/Thyrring DeTomaso 8 laps 27.03.95 - F1Both Benetton and Williams are to appeal after Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard were disqualified in a row over irregular fuel. They had already been fined œ20,000 for breaking fuel regulations in practice before the drivers were later punished in the race. A spokesman for the German star said: "I don't think he will be too worried as the team are confident this will be quickly overturned." A Williams spokesman said they had given notice of appeal and had a week to decide what to do.
The fuel company which supplies Benetton and Williams said samples of the fuel to be used in Brazil were according to regulation. "The samples were handed to the FIA in time and they were agreed by the FIA," said a spokesman for French firm Elf. Williams said there were three issues to be considered. "After its technical approval by the FIA, an incorrect batch of fuel was sent to Brazil, or the testing equipment in Brazil malfunctioned or it was incorrectly operated."
28.03.95F1:- World champion Michael Schumacher is involved in a new row over claims that some drivers are taking advantage of new weight rules. Under Formula One regulations, the combined weight of a driver and car in a race must be a minimum of 595 kgs. It has been alleged that Schumacher and other drivers manipulated their weight to gain an advantage. But the German, disqualified for fuel irregularities after winning in Brazil, said his weight loss was due to a good training regime.
Fuel giant Elf has reacted angrily to the disqualification of Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard from the Brazilian Grand Prix. They blame the FIA, suggesting that the analysis of the fuel they took from the Benetton and Williams Renault teams was flawed. "Can you imagine we would be stupid enough to wait for the agreement of Fuel A and then send Fuel B to the race?" said Elf's Valerie Jorquera. Both teams intend to appeal at a hearing to be held on April 9.
McLaren are aiming to have Nigel Mansell's enlarged MP4/10 chassis ready for the San Marino Grand Prix on April 30. Team boss Ron Dennis warned however that Mansell's return may have to wait until the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks later.
The Hungarian Grand Prix, first reserve on the F1 calendar on August 13, may well replace the Pacific Grand Prix at Japan's TI circuit, which was rescheduled from April 16 to October 22 following the Kobe earthquake.
Formula One inspectors have given approval to changes at the Imola track where Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger died last year. FIA inspectors Roland Bruynseraede and Jean Brown surveyed the circuit to see it that safety requirements had been met for this year's race. The SAGIS company which runs the circuit said Bruynseraede had indicated the work had been carried out "exactly as specified." The Tamburello, Villeneuve and Variante curves have been modified and 50% of the track reconstructed.
TOURING CARS:- Snow forced the abandonment of Tuesday's official test session for the opening round of the British Touring Car Championship. A special four-hour test has been arranged for Wednesday morning if conditions at Donington improve.
29.03.95F1:- Benetton and Williams will appeal against the disqualification of their drivers at the Brazilian GP at a hearing on April 13. The date has been set by Formula One's governing body, the FIA, after the result of the race at Interlagos was overturned. Benetton's Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard of Williams finished first and second. But they were disqualified five hours later after their cars were found to be using irregular fuel.
The FIA have clarified their position over fuel samples after a date was set for Benetton's and Williams' appeal. They said in a statement that they did not believe the teams or fuel suppliers Elf were trying to cheat. "Assuming the FIA's technical equipment functioned perfectly, the most probable explanation is that an incorrect batch of fuel was sent to Brazil by mistake," they said. An independent laboratory will examine an unopened sample of fuel from both cars before the appeal.
TOURING CARS: Wednesday testing for Sunday's opening BTCC round: mins secs 1 R Rydell Volvo 850 1:37.95 2 T Harvey Volvo 850 1:38.00 3 P Radisich Ford Mondeo 1:38.12 4 J Cleland Vauxhall Cav 1:38.43 5 J Bailey Toyota Carina 1:38.83 6 W Hoy Renault Laguna 1:38.99 7 T Sugden Toyota Carina 1:39.05 8 G Simoni Alfa Romeo 1:39.08 9 J Cecotto BMW 318 1:39.09 10 J Thompson Vauxhall Cav 1:39.11 11 A Menu Renault Laguna 1:39.17 12 S Harrison Peugeot 405 1:39.39 13 D Brabham BMW 318 1:39.40 14 P Watts Peugeot 405 1:39.48 15 K Burt Ford Mondeo 1:39.74 16 D Leslie Honda Accord 1:40.06 17 R Kaye Ford Mondeo 1:40.80 18 D Warwick Alfa Romeo 1:40.86 19 C Cox Ford Mondeo 1:42.40All eyes will be on Derek Warwick when the 1995 Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship gets underway at Donington Park. Warwick has made the switch after many years in Formula One and takes over from the '94 champion Gabriele Tarquini in the Alfa Romeo Old Spice team, with Giampiero Simoni. He is under no illusion about the size of the task before him this weekend while regular competitors say the series is tougher than ever. Here are some driver comments:
DEREK WARWICK (Alfa Romeo 155): This is a great series and I hope I will fit in. F1 has been my life but this is my future - perhaps for the next five, even 10, years. The racing is fantastic. There is a lot of door-banging and mirrors flying off. I know my car will have a target on the back and I'm sure I'll end up in a few gravel traps. I have no problem taking over from the champion. I have had pressure all my life and can cope with it. I just know I have a great team and a great car.
I have no doubt I have the ability to be quick in the Alfa but it will be a steep learning curve. These cars are difficult to drive but I have prepared as I always do with a lot of physical training. There are some very talented drivers in this series and a lot of dedicated manufacturers. At least 14 drivers could be on pole and win the first round at Donington, including Alain Menu, Johnny Cecotto, Paul Radisich and my teammate Giampiero Simoni.
DAVID BRABHAM (BMW 318): It has been very hard getting used to the car and I have needed to adopt a different driving style. You have to enter a corner fast in these cars. You cannot keep braking or you end up losing momentum. It was hard to find the money to continue in Formula One so I am delighted to be with BMW and hope that it will be a long term thing.
JOHNNY CECOTTO (BMW 318): There are far too many good drivers in this Championship.
PAUL RADISICH (Ford Mondeo): Andy Rouse has come up with another fine piece of engineering and, at this stage, after one dry day testing, it looks very good indeed. Last year we did not have the downforce we needed and I believe we have benefitted more than anyone by this year's change in the rules. There are a lot of cars which did not show true form last year but who will be there this time.
KELVIN BURT (Ford Mondeo): It will be down to what teams and drivers can make of their packages.
DAVID LESLIE (Honda Accord): The car was only finished recently and we do not expect to start at the front for the first few races. The aim of Honda Team MSD will be for a podium finish by the end of the season.
JAMES KAYE (Honda Accord): I have had three years of hard work as a privateer and I am now hoping to be able to prove myself as a works driver. I have only just sat in the car - but it feels quick!
PATRICK WATTS (Peugeot 405): We have made lots of theoretical improvements, with new suspension and new aerodynamic bits among other changes. I believe it will be very good and we will definitely achieve a victory at least this season.
SIMON HARRISON (Peugeot 405): "The cars are very difficult to drive - this is double the power I am used to from last season but the technique is quite similar." Harrison was winner of the 1994 National Saloon Car Cup.
ALAIN MENU (Renault Laguna): It has all been a bit of a rush with Williams not becoming involved until November but I am confident the car will be better than in '94. Last year's car was good but needed to be quicker on the slow corners. We might need a couple of meetings to get things right on the new car.
WILL HOY (Renault Laguna): Williams, with their F1 expertise, bring a level of professionalism to the team as enjoyed for some time by Alfa Romeo and BMW. There should also be advantages on the technical side, legal ones of course.
JULIAN BAILEY (Toyota Carina): Contrary to popular belief, we have benefitted a lot from the new aerodynamic rule changes and have gained a couple of seconds a lap. I am looking forward to a great season even though we are underdogs. With the technical backing of Team Toyota GB and real money from Japan we will be hoping to surprise a few.
TIM SUGDEN (Toyota Carina): The car has felt superb during the little bit of testing I have done and at last I have got the right tyres, in my Michelins.
TIM HARVEY (Volvo 850): All the lessons learnt by the team last year have helped them build a very competitive car for this year. We will be looking for victories and a shot at the Championship but will need luck and reliability, not just raw speed, to achieve that.
RICKARD RYDELL (Volvo 850): We have a completely new car and it is better in a great many areas. The car was ready by early February and we have been able to spend a lot of time at circuits so we have done enough testing.
JOHN CLELAND (Vauxhall Cavalier): We are using our old car but there is still a lot of life left in it. The new wings will help us and make the Championship more competitive. Everyone has lifted their game and I do not believe we will see one manufacturer dominate this year. This is definitely a growth area in motor sport and it is good to see people like Derek (Warwick) coming into the series from Formula One. I look forward to seeing a lot more of Derek - in the rear view mirror!"
Privateers contesting the Total Cup are racing for four end of season prizes worth a total of œ55,000 - and a test drive in a works car. The winner will receive œ25,000 and a track test with Total Team Peugeot; the runner-up wins œ15,000. Robb Gravett makes a return to the series in a Cavalier. "It is a '93 car so it will not be easy, cars have gone on a pace," he said. Charlie Cox makes his BTCC debut in a Mondeo entered by Thames Ford Dealers and says: "I'm always happy when I'm learning so I'm ecstatic!"
30.03.95F1:- The Hungarian Grand Prix has been added to this season's Formula One championship, the FIA confirmed. It had previously been listed as a reserve event on the original calendar, but the FIA confirmed it would take place on August 13. The championship will now consist of 17 events, providing the Monza track - venue for the Italian Grand Prix - meets FIA safety regulations. The Hungaroring race will slot in during a one-month gap between the German GP on July 30 and the Belgian GP on August 27.
An unexploded World War II bomb has been safely removed by workers modifying the Imola circuit for the San Marino Grand Prix. Earlier this week safety inspectors said they were satisfied with the changes at Imola and the race can go ahead as planned on April 30. Sagis, the company that runs the track, has modified three of the curves and reconstructed about half the circuit.
F.RENAULT, F.VAUXHALL/Junior, FF1600:- Britain's top young drivers get the chance to shine at Donington Park this weekend as they compete in the TOCA support package. Two-litre Formula Renault Sport has attracted manufacturer interest as it runs in league with the BTCC. Martini, Mygale, Swift, Stryx and Van Diemen are all signed up, with more expected in the near future. British youngster Guy Smith of the Manor Motorsports Van Diemen team starts favourite but Russell Ingham and Duncan Vercoe should feature.
Ulsterman Jonny Kane bids for Paul Stewart Racing's title hat-trick in the 2-litre Formula Vauxhall series. Close in testing has been Martin Donnelly Racing's Peter Dumbreck and SpeedSport's Darren Manning. Swedish karting superstar Milton Ryttarbris makes his debut for Jim Russell Racing in Formula Vauxhall Junior with teammates Alex Deighton and Darren Malkin among his rivals. The Slick 50 Formula Ford series will again be about Vector, Van Diemen and Swift.
31.03.95F1:- Aguri Suzuki has been retained by Ligier for the Argentine Grand Prix on April 9. The Japanese driver made his debut for the team last Sunday and was promoted to sixth place following the disqualification of Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard.
SPORTSCARS:- The International GT Endurance sportscar series has been given world status, the FIA have said. This year's 14-race series will replace the proposed FIA World Cup of Sports and GT cars. The move creates the first global title since the world sportscar championship ended after 40 years in 1992. FIA said that points will now be awarded for the first three races already held this season at Jerez (Spain), Paul Ricard (France) and Monza (Italy).