TOURING CARS:- Competitors in next year's Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship will land a £1m jackpot if they complete a clean sweep in the series. Series organiser TOCA will come up with the money - the biggest financial incentive ever offered in British motor sport - if anyone wins all 26 races. TOCA's cash incentives start at £700,000 to anyone winning 70% of the 1998 races, rising to £900,000 for 90%. This season Alain Menu dominated the championship to win 14 of the 27 races.
F1:- Formula One will see a new entrant on Tuesday with British American Tobacco (BAT) likely to announce they will contest the championship from 1999. World champion Jacques Villeneuve is expected to drive for the new team when his Williams contract ends next year. BAT's arrival could also involve a buy-out of the Tyrrell team, who have been struggling in recent seasons. Tyrrell are likely to carry on in 1998, before handing over to a consortium led by Villeneuve's manager Craig Pollock.
02.12.97 - F1
British American Tobacco have announced that they have completed the purchase of Formula One team Tyrrell. The new team, a joint venture between the company, Reynard Racing Cars and Jacques Villeneuve's manager Craig Pollock will make their debut in 1999. World champion Villeneuve is expected to drive for them with his Williams contract ending after next season. Tyrrell have confirmed they will not be changing their driver line-up for the 1998 campaign.
Formula One's newest team were finally launched today with the bold prediction that they will win their first race. BAR is a joint venture between Jacques Villeneuve's manager Craig Pollock, the cigarette giant BAT and top racing car manufacturer Reynard. Debuting in 1999, they believe they can buck the trend which has seen new entrants fail in recent seasons. "We will aim to put the car on pole position and win the first race," said Adrian Reynard.
Ken Tyrrell said he thought long and hard before selling his team to BAT. "This has probably been the most difficult decision I've ever had to take," said Tyrrell, whose team first entered Formula One in 1968. "It was a decision which I believe was the right one. The cost to compete in Formula One has escalated dramatically. Tyrrell Racing Organisation is not satisfied with being relegated to the back of the grid. Our competitive spirit is too high."
Jackie Stewart reacted quickly to quash rumours that his Formula One team was in financial trouble. Speculation began after the FIA asked him to confirm it could meet financial requirements needed for next season. But Stewart said he was surprised by the request, despite the loss of its $5million-a-year sponsorship deal with the Malaysian Government. "Our team has available to it financial resources considerably superior to those of the 1997 season," he said.
03.12.97 - F1
McLaren International have entered into a Formula One partnership with the Bridgestone Corporation for the 1998 World Championship.
04.12.97 - F3
Mario Haberfeld has signed a deal with Paul Stewart Racing to contest the 1998 British Formula Three Championship. He joins fellow Brazilian Luciano Burti in the Dallara Mugen-Hondas. Haberfeld had two British F3 wins in his debut season this year. British Touring Car Championship teams will be restricted to the provision of three specifications of slick tyres per event in 1998. The current quantity of six tyres per car for each race remains.
05.12.97 - F1
Stewart Grand Prix racing has been given the go-ahead to compete in the 1998 season. Formula One's ruling body the FIA said it had accepted the team's entry after receiving assurances that it had the necessary means to complete the season. They were under scrutiny after losing the Malaysian tourism board as sponsors But an FIA statement said it had "received confirmation from auditors to Stewart Grand Prix that it has the necessary means to complete the season."
06.12.97 - F.PALMER AUDI
Peter Clarke has signed up for the Formula Palmer Audi Championship in 1998 and is the second driver to be confirmed for next season. Clarke, 18, clinched the BARC Formula Renault title last month and joins Richard Tarling in Formula Palmer Audi.
F1:- Formula One organisers and regional authorities in Belgium are set to take court action over the country's ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship. The ban begins in 1999 but there are fears the Belgian race could be removed from the 1998 calendar as the FIA are set to confirm next year's dates soon. Spa-Francorchamps race organiser Andre Maes hopes the FIA will take the court action into consideration. The ban could also cost Belgium its 250cc motocross grands prix from 1999.
ICE RACING:- Britain's former Formula One champion Nigel Mansell is set to take to the ice next month - in the 24-Hour Chamonix saloon car endurance race. The race will be run in the French Alps on January 31. A spokesman for the organisers Said: "For five years we have dreamed of having Mansell take part. Now it is going to happen," Mansell himself meanwhile has until the end of this week to officially confirm that he will be taking part.
F.PALMER AUDI:- Topi Serjala has confirmed he will be driving in Formula Palmer Audi for the 1998 season. The 22-year-old Finn competed in several rounds of the British Formula Renault Championship this year and raced in the German series in 1996. Justin Keen from Beaulieu will also be competing on the FPA circuit. Keen, who has Formula Ford and Formula Vauxhall Junior experience, said: "I can further my career without the need for a budget that is unobtainable." Martyn Smith, son of ex-Formula 3000 and Touring Car driver Nigel Smith, is another competitor confirmed for next year's Formula Palmer Audi campaign.
SAFETY:- The Motor Racing Safety Fund has announced plans for an annual lecture on safety in motorsport. The first Watkins Lecture, named after Professor Sid Watkins, will be at the Birmingham NEC on January 9 and will be presented by Professor Watkins.
12.12.97 - F1
The FIA have turned down an appeal from the French government to have the Magny-Cours Grand Prix reinstated on the 1998 Formula One calendar. Motor sport's governing body left the race off their provisional list for next year after problems with television coverage surfaced. French race officials had hoped it would be put back on the list if a TV agreement could be reached. However, the FIA say they have not received the guarantees they demanded.
There will be 16 races on the 1998 Formula One schedule. The Belgian and Portuguese Grands Prix are listed but they may follow France and be dropped. The FIA will make a final decision on December 31. Spa-Francorchamps is under threat because of a tobacco ban being enforced by the Belgian government in 1999. Estoril, home of the Portuguese race, was scrapped from the 1997 list because of problems with work at the circuit and it could still be in doubt for '98.
China and South Africa could feature on the circuit next year after France was dropped from the list and Belgium and Portugal were told they could follow. France was left off the official list for the first time since 1955 and a final decision on Spa and Estoril will be made at the end of the year. China and South Africa have been named as reserve races for next season. No further races will be held in Jerez, Spain. Last year's podium ceremony was disrupted by local government chiefs.
PROVISIONAL 1998 CALENDAR
March 8 Australia GP, Albert Park March 29 Brazilian GP, Interlagos April 12 Argentine GP, Buenos Aires April 26 San Marino GP, Imola May 10 Spanish GP, Barcelona May 24 Monaco GP, Monte Carlo June 7 Canadian GP, Montreal July 12 British GP, Silverstone July 26 Austrian GP, Spielberg August 2 German GP, Hockenheim Aug 16 Hungarian GP, Budapest Aug 30 * Belgian GP, Spa-Francorchamps Sept 13 Italian GP, Monza Sept 27 Luxembourg GP, Nurburgring Oct 11 * Portuguese GP, Estoril Nov 1 Japanese GP, Suzuka * Provisional - subject to tobacco ban/circuit completion - decision on Dec 31
Jean Todt has revealed that he will accept nothing less than the world title for his Ferrari team in 1998. The team chief saw Ferrari's 1997 bid go down to the wire, Michael Schumacher losing out to Jacques Villeneuve. "It was disappointing to lose out 25 minutes from the end but at the start of the season we would not have dreamed of being in that position," said Todt. "We're no longer going to say we want to do better than last year but that we want to win the world championship."
F1:- Frank Williams and five others have been cleared of manslaughter in the trial over the death of Ayrton Senna. Team boss Williams, technical director Patrick Head and former chief designer Adrian Newey were acquitted by Judge Antonio Costanzo in Imola. Three track officials were also cleared at the trial which had lasted for more than a year. The prosecution is considering an appeal. Senna died after an accident at the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in 1994.
Damon Hill welcomed the acquittal of Frank Williams and the five other defendants in the Ayrton Senna case. He said: "I've always felt that Williams produced safe and competitive cars and if I didn't think that I would not have driven for them. "I know this trial has been hanging over them and this vindication expresses a feeling about the utter integrity of Williams. "It's very good for the sport. It's the right decision."
Ken Tyrrell hailed the decision to clear Frank Williams in the Ayrton Senna manslaughter trial in Imola as "tremendous news." He said: "The fact that Frank and the rest of the team have coped with this during a championship year says something about the Williams team." Former Formula One driver Derek Warwick also felt the decision was right. He said: "Every driver knows he's taking risks but we're prepared to take those risks."
F3:- Swan National Formula Renault Sport champion Marc Hynes will drive for Renault UK in the 1998 British Formula 3 Championship.
F1:- Jackie Stewart has revealed two new long-term sponsorship deals to boost the financial strength of his team. He has agreed packages with MCI and the Lear Corporation for his side who made their F1 debut last season. The news comes after the loss of a sponsorship agreement with the Malaysian government which saw the FIA ask for guarantees for next season. Stewart said: "The partnerships are indicative of Stewart-Ford's growth as we enter our second Championship year."
RALLYING:- Colin McRae has said he may leave Subaru at the end of next season. The former world rally champion, who finished second in this year's event, has a one-year deal with the team. "I'm in a very good position where I am." he said. "I'm number one in the team with probably the best car and I have Subaru's full support. It would be tough to go but I'd have to consider a move if the right offer came along. A change is sometimes a good thing," he told Autosport.
Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone faces a possible inquiry by the European Commission (EC) into his monopoly of grand prix racing. European Commissioner Karel Van Miert of Belgium is quoted in a Brussels newspaper saying that he was concerned about Ecclestone's power. He said: "For 15 years Mr Ecclestone has had Formula One all to himself. It is a real problem." A commission source claimed he would receive a warning letter from the EC.
24.12.97 - CHAMPIONSHIP CARS (INDYCAR)
CART have announced plans to go public - by selling 4.6 million shares of common stock. It comes after a sponsorship deal was announced that will rename the 1998 series the FedEx Championship Series for the PPG Cup.
F1:- The International Automobile Federation have delayed a decision on scrapping the Belgian Grand Prix for a week. The Spa-Francorchamps race is under threat because the Belgium government have passed a law banning tobacco advertising from 1999. FIA spokesman Francesco Longansei said: "After the New Year, either on January 6 or 7, we wil examine a demand from the race organisers to delay the ban." China and South Africa are on standby to hold the August 30 race.
Jacques Villeneuve suffered concussion in a ski accident in France. The 1997 Formula One world champion was flown by helicopter to hospital from the Praloup resort. He was detained for several hours as he was feeling groggy. A hospital spokesman revealed: "He was slightly concussed and required several hours of rest." The 26-year-old Williams driver was released from hospital after checks.
NEW UK SERIES:- The British Racing and Sports Car Club is launching an initiative designed to allow drivers from 12 to 18 to compete in a new racing saloon car series. They have a three-year agreement with the RAC Motor Sports Association and the new class has been given the working title of Scorchers.