January 1997 Motorsport Information

January 1997 Motorsport Information

02.01.97 - DAKAR RALLY

Dick Partridge is the only British entrant in the car section of the Rally which starts on Saturday. The 40-year-old Ipswich driver is determined to finish the event after four unsuccessful attempts which have seen him fail to pass the halfway mark. Ex-Formula One driver Patrick Tambay is another competitor but he has had problems with his car. The Rally covers over 8,500kms over 15 stages and passes through Mali, Niger and Mauritania.

03.01.97 - DAKAR RALLY

The Dakar Rally starts on Saturday as an all-African affair for the first time as the traditional Paris opening leg has been dropped. Organiser Hubert Auriol has limited the most popular category to cars built by amateurs and two-wheel drive buggies. Dick Partridge is the only British entrant in the car section. The 40-year-old Ipswich driver is determined to finish the event after four unsuccessful attempts which have seen him fail to pass the halfway mark.

Favourites led the way into the Dakar-Agades-Dakar rally - which started without veteran Belgian Jacky Ickx. Three Mitsubishi, led by Jean-Pierre Fontenay, took the top three spots in the 587-kms first stage through Senegal from Dakar to Tambacounda. Ickx, a regular of the race since it was launched in 1979, had to give up before the start because of a virus which has hampered him for months.


F1:- Frank Williams has said he will be in court next month when the Ayrton Senna case starts in Imola. "I will be there and I will be defending my company and myself," said the Williams team manager. Williams and his design and engineering bosses Adrian Newey and Patrick Head have been charged with manslaughter over Senna's death. The Brazilian was killed in a crash at Imola during the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994.

DAKAR RALLY:- The second stage was won by Frenchman Jean-Louis Schlesser, but was overshadowed by the death of motorcyclist Leduc, the rally's 34th fatality in its history.


F1:- Ferrari unveil their new car for the 1997 F1 season on Tuesday which is expected to be the last designed by British engineer John Barnard. His long spell with the team is likely to end later this year as he is tipped to be planning to join a possible new Alain Prost-led team. Barnard is being replaced at Ferrari by fellow Briton, Ross Brawn, who joined the team in December after a long and successful spell with Benetton.

DAKAR RALLY:- Japan's Kenjiro Shinozuka regained the lead from Jean-Louis Schlesser by winning the 552km third stage from Kayes to Nara in Mali. He overtook his French rival midway through the stage and finished with a lead of two mins 41 secs. "The first 150kms were really fast. Then the tracks became much narrower, sandier and twistier," he said.

Result of 552km third stage from Kayes
to Nara:       		 hrs mins secs
1 K Shinozuka  Jpn M'bishi  6:28.37
2 JL Schlesser Fr  Schles   6:32.20
3 JP Fontenay  Fr  M'bishi  6:32.39
4 B Saby       Fr  M'bishi  6:33.24
5 S Matsuoka   Jpn M'bishi  6:55.32

Overall standings:
1 K Shinozuka  Jpn M'bishi 14:46.18
2 JL Schlesser Fr  Schles  14:48.59
3 JP Fontenay  Fr  M'bishi 14:50.30


F1:- Michael Schumacher took a cautious view of Ferrari's chances for the 1997 Grand Prix season at the launch of their new F310B car in Maranello. The German said he hoped to be able to compete with Williams but stopped short of predicting title success. "I think this year we are looking for reliability...the real championship for us should come in 1998," he said. Schumacher and teammate Eddie Irvine will begin eight weeks of testing in the new car on Wednesday.

Jacques Villeneuve has ruled Damon Hill out of the race to be Formula One's next world champion. Villeneuve, second to former Williams teammate Hill in last season's championship, believes this time he will take the title. Villeneuve told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I don't think he's going to be an opponent but he is very good. "I don't think the whole package is ready to win ` although I'm sure they could surprise us once in a while."

DAKAR RALLY:- Bruno Saby seized the overall lead as Mitsubishi scored a 1-2-3 finish on the fourth leg to Timbuktu. He reached the finish 2 mins 58 secs ahead of Jean-Pierre Fontenay, with Kenjiro Shinozuka in third place. "These four days have made the cars and their drivers suffer, but that's how the Dakar should be," said Saby, who leads Shinozuka by 1 min 1 sec overall.

Result of 666km fourth stage from Nara
to Timbuktu:              hrs mins secs
1 B Saby        Fr  M'bishi  5:23.00
2 JP Fontenay   Fr  M'bishi  5:25.58
3 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'bishi  5:28.34
4 JL Schlesser  Fr  Schles   5:38.55
5 S Matsuoka    Jpn M'bishi  5:47.08
6 J Kleinschm't Fr  Buggy    5:50.29

Overall standings:
1 B Saby        Fr  M'bishi 20:13.51
2 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'bishi 20:14.52
3 JP Fontenay   Fr  M'bishi 20:16.28


F1:- Double world drivers' champion Michael Schumacher tested Ferrari's new car at the team's Fiorano circuit for the first time on Wednesday. "Schumacher has driven 12 laps without problem and he is very satisfied," a Ferrari spokesman said. Ferrari launched the new car, the F310B, on Tuesday in Fiorano, close to the team's Maranello headquarters. It will undergo eight weeks of initial testing and possible modifications before the season opens.

DAKAR-RALLY:- Jean-Pierre Fontenay became the first driver to win two stages of the car section when he took the fifth stage. The Frenchman, who also won the first stage in his Mitsubishi, finished ahead of teammates Kenjiro Shinozuka and Bruno Saby, who kept the overall lead. Only Jean-Louis Schlesser seems capable of upsetting the Mitsubishis, but lies 15 minutes 15 seconds behind Saby. The rally returns to Niger on Thursday after several years of avoiding the country for security reasons.

Result of 415km fifth stage from
Timbuktu to Gao:         hrs mins secs
1 JP Fontenay   Fr  M'bishi  3:42.40
2 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'bishi  @ 49 secs
3 B Saby        Fr  M'bishi  1:41
4 JL Schlesser  Fr  Schles   2:59
5 J Kleinschm't Fr  Buggy   15:50
6 S Matsuoka    Jpn M'bishi 16:45

Overall standings:
1 B Saby       Fr  M'bishi 23:58.12
2 K Shinozuka  Jpn M'bishi  @ 9 secs
3 JP Fontenay  Fr  M'bishi   56 secs


F1:- Damon Hill made a bold prediction as he saucily unveiled the Arrows car he will be racing in next season. Hill peeled back the cover on his blue and white Arrows Yamaha at Birmingham's NEC and said: "It's a sexy little number. Very slim, very impressive. I've got a great winning record and there's no reason I can't win a Grand Prix in this car." Weather permitting, he will start testing at Silverstone next week and then have a month's testing in Spain.

British veteran Martin Brundle may quit Formula One after losing his seat at Jordan to Italian Giancarlo Fisichella. Brundle, who had still hoped to agree terms for an extension with Jordan, said: "I am very, very disappointed. "It's a strange decision. They already had one inexperienced driver, now they have two." Fisichella partners Ralf Schumacher at Jordan after agreeing a two-year deal. He made his debut with Minardi at last year's Australian Grand Prix.

Michael Schumacher's first practice session with his new Ferrari was ruined by heavy snow in Fiorano, Italy. The new F310B car, unveiled on Tuesday, will now be kept in the pits for the rest of the week.

SILVERSTONE:- Silverstone is to undergo a programme of major improvements to make the circuit faster - and safer. Copse Corner will be re-shaped while the three-corner Priory, Brooklands and Luffield loop will be totally rebuilt. The entire 3.2-mile circuit will also be resurfaced for the new season. British Racing Drivers' Club president Lord Hesketh said the changes would cost £4.5m, adding to the £8m spent by the BRDC in the last three years.

RALLYING:- Renault UK have signed Martin Rowe and Nicky Beech to crew the Renault Maxi alongside Robbie Head and Bryan Thomas in the Mobil 1 British Rally Championship.

TOURING CARS:- Briton Jason Plato pipped two Formula One drivers for the second seat at Williams Renault for this year's Auto Trader RAC Touring Car Championship. He beat off challenges from Italian Gianni Morbidelli and Frenchman Jean Christophe Boullion for the Laguna drive alongside Swiss ace Alain Menu.

Result of 404km sixth stage from Gao
to Menaka:                hrs mins secs
1 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'bishi 3:14:35
2 JP Fontenay   Fr  M'bishi @ 1:48
3 B Saby        Fr  M'bishi @ 4:25
4 J Kleinschm't Fr  Buggy   @ 17:11
5 S Matsuoka    Jpn M'bishi @ 19:28
6 P S'watanakun Tha M'bishi @ 31:33

Overall standings:
1 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'bishi 27:12.56
2 JP Fontenay   Fr  M'bishi @ 2:30
3 B Saby        Fr  M'bishi @ 4:16


Mar 9   Australian GP  Melbourne
Mar 30  Brazilian GP   Interlagos
Apr 13  Argentinian GP Buenos Aires
Apr 27  San Marino GP  Imola
May 11  Monaco GP      Monte Carlo
May 25  Spanish GP     Barcelona
Jun 15  Canadian GP    Montreal
Jun 29  French GP      Magny Cours
Jul 13  British GP     Silverstone
Jul 27  German GP      Hockenheim
Aug 10  Hungarian GP   Budapest
Aug 24  Belgian GP     Spa
Sep 7   Italian GP     Monza
Sep 21  Austrian GP    Zeltweg
Sep 28  Luxembourg GP  Nurburgring
Oct 12  Japanese GP    Suzuka
Oct 26  Portuguese GP  Estoril

DAKAR RALLY:- Mitsubishi maintained their comfortable lead after Friday's seventh stage, which was cut to 381kms because of political unrest in Niger. Jean-Pierre Fontenay led a Mitsubishi convoy to the finish in three hours, 20 minutes, 31 secs with teammates Kenjiro Shinozuka and Bruno Saby close behind. Their main rival Jutta Kleinschmidt driving a Buggy lost another 20 minutes.

Result of 404km seventh stage from
Menaka to Tahoua:        hrs mins secs
1 JP Fontenay   Fr  M'bishi 3:20:31
2 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'bishi 3:22:40
3 B Saby        Fr  M'bishi 3:23:38
4 J Kleinschm't Fr  Buggy   3:41:18
5 S Matsuoka    Jpn M'bishi 3:46:42
6 P S'watanakun Tha M'bishi 3:49:44

Overall standings:
1 K Shinozuka   Jpn M'bishi 30:35.38
2 JP Fontenay   Fr M'bishi  30:35:57
3 B Saby        Fr M'bishi  30:40:

11.01.97 - DAKAR RALLY

Kenjiro Shinozuka increased his overall lead in the cars section by winning the 575km eighth stage to Agades. The Mitsubishi driver leads his French teammates Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Bruno Saby as they came second and third respectively.

Result of 575km eighth stage from
Tahoua to Agades:            hrs mins secs
1  K Shinozuka    Jpn  M'bishi   4:55:20
2  JP Fontenay    Fr   M'bishi   4:56:41
3  B Saby         Fr   M'bishi   5:01:44
4  H Matsuoka     Jpn  M'bishi   5:14:34
5  M Traglio      It   Nissan    5:36:59
6  J Kleinschmid  Ger  Buggy     5:37:26

Overall standings:
1  K Shinozuka    Jpn  M'bishi  35:30.58
2  JP Fontenay    Fr   M'bishi  35:32:38   
3  B Saby         Fr   M'bishi  35:42:34


F1:- Grand Prix veteran Martin Brundle has quickly found himself another drive following his departure from Jordan though it is not in Formula One. Brundle will be lead driver for Nissan GT in the Le Mans 24-hour race this year an event he won for Jaguar in 1990. He is also becoming a director of Arrows GP International, the team Damon Hill will drive for this season. "This is a great challenge and an opportunity for me to explore a management position," said Brundle.

DAKAR RALLY:- Jutta Kleinschmidt has made history by becoming the first woman to score a stage victory, finishing four minutes ahead of Bruno Saby. The result brings Kleinschmidt to within nine minutes of fifth place.

Result of 315km ninth stage from
Agadez to Oclan:              hrs mins secs
1  J Kleinschmid  Ger  Buggy     2:29:56
2  B Saby         Fr   M'bishi   2:34:32
3  JP Fontenay    Fr   M'bishi   2:36:22
4  K Shinozuka    Jpn  M'bishi   2:38:21
5  H Masuoka      Jpn  M'bishi   2:41:29
6  S Servia       Sp   Nissan    2:46:02

Overall standings:
1  JP Fontenay    Fr   M'bishi  38:09:00
2  K Shinozuka    Jpn  M'bishi  38:09.17
3  B Saby         Fr   M'bishi  38:17:06


F1:- Michael Schumacher had a troubled test with his new Ferrari F310B when he tested it in public for the first time. The two-times world champion had completed ten laps when flames shot out of the rear of the car. Mechanics spent most of the rest of the day trying to fix the problem which was believed to an engine or gearbox one. "Reliability will be a key factor this year," said Schumacher. "It's not possible to know whether we can start winning right away."

Michael Schumacher has said he will help Ferrari teammate Eddie Irvine win this season's world championship if he has no chance of doing so himself. Irvine suffered eight retirements in a row in last year's event but the new improved Ferrari is expected to give both men a chance of the 1997 title. "If Eddie has a better chance for the title, I'll try to help him. He will do the same for me," said Schumacher.

Damon Hill will test his new TWR Arrows car at Silverstone on Friday as he prepares to launch the defence of his world championship crown. Hill will put the car through its paces in a full day of testing in preparation for the new F1 season which begins in Melbourne on March 9. The 36-year-old world champion sat in the car for the first time last week. Hill said: "I've got a great winning record and there's no reason I can't win a Grand Prix in this car."

TOURING CARS:- The best-known saloon car race in the world - Australia's Bathurst 1000 - is to adopt the Super Touring Formula. This will bring it into line with the Auto Trader RAC Touring Car event in Britain and with most of the top championships in the world. The move to the two-litre touring car formula will take effect from this year's running of the race on October 5. TOCA chief executive Alan Gow said: "As an expatriate Aussie it's great news that Super Touring is at Bathurst."

DAKAR RALLY:- Kenjiro Shinozuka seems certain to win the car section after team manager Ulrich Brehmer applied team orders. With the top three cars surviving the toughest stage of the rally, Brehmer has decided they will stop their battle, allowing Shinozuka to win. "The most important thing is Mitsubishi has a 1-2-3 in Dakar," he said. "We have three fantastic crews and three great cars but have decided that Kenjiro will be our crown prince and the whole team will support him."

Result of 585km 12th stage from
Timbuktu to Nema:            hrs mins secs
1  JP Fontenay    Fr   M'bishi   6:50:40
2  K Shinozuka    Jpn  M'bishi   6:51:02
3  B Saby         Fr   M'bishi   6:52:56
4  J Kleinschmid  Ger  Buggy     6:56:27
5  H Masuoka      Jpn  M'bishi   7:08:41
6  J Strugo       Fr   M'bishi   7:09:12

Overall standings:
1  K Shinozuka    Jpn  M'bishi  55:36.37
2  JP Fontenay    Fr   M'bishi  55:37:00
3  B Saby         Fr   M'bishi  55:48:06


F1:- Italian oil giants Agip have said they are returning to Formula One this season with Benetton. Agip's fire-breathing six-legged dragon emblem was a familiar sight to grand prix fans for 20 years with Ferrari. They pulled out in 1995, the same year Ferrari signed German Michael Schumacher on a huge contract. Last year, Benetton, whose drivers are Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger, were sponsored by French oil company ELF.

Damon Hill managed just one lap in his new Arrows car today but still declared: "It was a bloody good start." The world champion completed one circuit of Silverstone before darkness descended to cut short the testing session of his Arrows Yamaha A18 F1 car. But Hill was more than happy with what he experienced despite visibility of just three to four car lengths. "I think it went perfectly. I was really pleased because there was a lot of tension before we started," he said.

DAKAR RALLY:- Hiroshi Masuoka took advantage of German Jutta Kleinschmidt getting "a bit lost" to win the 13th stage. The Japanese Mitsubishi driver, whose previous best was second in the second stage, beat Kleinschmidt's Buggy by 19 seconds after a tough 604-km stage. The top four places overall did not change while Kleinschmidt retained fifth place. Kenjiro Shinozuka increased his overall lead from 23 seconds to nearly five minutes over Jean-Pierre Fontenay.

Result of 604-km 13th stage from
Nema to Kiffa:  hrs mins secs
1  H Masuoka      Jpn  M'bishi    4:17.10
2  J Kleinschmid  Ger  Buggy     @    .19
3  B Saby         Fr   M'bishi   @   2.41
4  S Servia       Sp   Nissan    @   4.33
5  JP Fontenay    Fr   M'bishi   @   5.34

Overall standings:
1  K Shinozuka    Jpn  M'bishi   59:39.21
2  JP Fontenay    Fr   M'bishi  @    4.57
3  B Saby         Fr   M'bishi  @    8.36
4  H Masuoka      Jpn  M'bishi  @ 2:24.14


MONTE CARLO RALLY:- Competitors from 21 different countries in 19 different makes of cars will start the 65th running of the oldest Rally in the world on Sunday. The race is the first of the 14 rounds that make up the FIA World Championship and this year the first and last stages are run on the Formula One circuit. Two-times winner Carlos Sainz will be among the favourites to triumph again. Former world champion Didier Auriol is his main rival with rising Belgian star Freddy Loix a dangerous outsider.

DAKAR RALLY:- Japan's Kenjiro Shinozuka virtually sealed their Rally victories on Saturday. Shinozuka looks set for his first win in the cars category despite teammate Jean-Pierre Fontenay winning the stage. The Frenchman only reduced Shinozuka's lead to three minutes, 15 seconds, which seems too much to overhaul.

Result of 751-km 14th stage from
Kiffa to Saint Louis:          hrs mins secs
1  JP Fontenay    Fr   M'bishi    1:31.50
2  B Saby         Fr   M'bishi    1:33.08
3  K Shinozuka    Jpn  M'bishi    1:33.32
4  H Masuoka      Jpn  M'bishi    1:34.42
5  Kleinschmid    Ger  Schles     1:38.24

Overall standings:
1  K Shinozuka    Jpn  M'bishi   61:32.53
2  JP Fontenay    Fr   M'bishi   61:36.08
3  B Saby         Fr   M'bishi   61:41.05
4  H Masuoka      Jpn  M'bishi   63:58.17


F1:- World champion Damon Hill will be called as a witness in the court case arising from the death of Ayrton Senna, according to newspaper reports. Frank Williams, team boss of the Williams GP team, has been charged with manslaughter following Senna's fatal crash at San Marino in 1994. The News of The World quotes a court official, who said: "Hill will be here when the trial starts." The trial is scheduled to begin in Italy on February 20.

MONTE CARLO RALLY:- Colin McRae finished three seconds off the lead at the start of the new world championship campaign to lead after theopening stage. McRae shared third spot with Piero Liatti in 2.08 after Belgium's Freddy Loix took a surprise lead. The 26-year-old debutant covered the course in 2.05 minutes. Drivers raced in pairs on the 2.8-km timed stage, starting at each end of a course using the lower part of the famed track along the Monaco harbour.

Positions after  1  of 18 stages: mins secs
1  F Loix       Bel  Toyota          2.05
2  C Sainz      Sp   Ford            2.07
3  P Liatti     It   Subaru          2.08
=  C McRae      GB   Subaru          2.08
=  D Depping    Ger  Ford            2.08
6  A Schwarz    Ger  Ford            2.10
=  H Lundgaard  Den  Toyota          2.10
=  T Makinen    Fin  Mitsubishi      2.11
=  D Auriol     Fr   Ford            2.11
=  G Trelles    Sp   Mitsubishi      2.11
Event resumes 9.00am Monday

DAKAR RALLY:- Kenjiro Shinozuka became the first Japanese driver to win the Dakar rally. Shinozuka was second in the days stage, 55 seconds behind Germany's Jutta Kleinscmhidt, and overall was 4 mins 16 secs ahead of French team-mate Jean-Pierre Fontenay.

Result of 255-km 15th stage from
Saint Louis to Dakar: hrs mins secs
1  J Kl'schmidt   Ger  Buggy     22:43.00
2  K Shinozuka    Jpn  M'bishi   @ 0:55
3  H Masuoka      Jpn  M'bishi   @ 0:58
4  G Vismara      It   Vismar    @ 1:43
5  D Pollini      It   Rover     @ 1:46

Final overall standings:
1  K Shinozuka    Jpn  M'bishi   61:56.31
2  JP Fontenay    Fr   M'bishi   @ 4:16
3  B Saby         Fr   M'bishi   @ 9:12
4  H Masuoka      Jpn  M'bishi   @ 2:25:27

20.01.97 - F1

The new Stewart grand prix team made an impressive start to Formula One on Monday by producing the fastest times in testing at the Jerez circuit. Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello set the pace ahead of his Stewart team mate Jan Magnussen of Denmark. The pair left other teams behind, including world champion Damon Hill, who was hoping for a full day's work with his new Arrows car. Hill managed only a few laps before he was sidelined by clutch problems.


F1:- Ken Tyrrell considered the implications of a guilty verdict in the Ayrton Senna manslaughter trial and admitted: "I don't want to think about it." Frank Williams and five others go on trial next month accused of negligence leading to the death of Senna. "I think it will be necessary for the teams to get together to decide what they want to do," said Tyrrell. "I believe the Williams team will be acquitted. But if they are not I don't want to think about that," he added.

Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher both endured a frustrating time on Tuesday when mechanical problems cut short their Formula One testing. Hill had been hoping for the first serious run in his new TWR Arrows car. He managed to complete only a few laps before being sidelined in the pits by a suspected gearbox problem. Schumacher's Ferrari suffered the fourth major engine failure since the launch of the new F310B at Fiorano earlier this month.

MONTE CARLO RALLY:- Colin McRae has been forced to retire from the event with damage to his car's rear left suspension and steering. McRae, who had dropped to fourth place overall after hitting a snowdrift, went off the road again in the third day's opening timed stage. He finished the stage despite a badly damaged rear left wheel and as no technical assistance was allowed, McRae was forced to pull out. "The steering was so badly damaged it became impossible to continue," he said.

Positions after 11 of 18 stages: mins secs
 1 T Makinen   Fin Mitsubishi 2:57:25
 2 C Sainz     Sp  Ford       2:57:34
 3 P Liatti    It  Subaru     2:57:35
 4 A Schwarz   Ger Ford       3:00:41
 5 U Nittel    Ger Mitsubishi 3:05:25
 6 D Depping   Ger Ford       3:06:21
 7 H Lundgaard Den Toyota     3:10:56
 8 O Burri     Swi Subaru     3:11:10
 9 G Trelles   Uru Mitsubishi 3:13:23
10 I Holderied Ger Toyota     3:13:48


Piero Liatto took a chance with the tyres on his Subaru and clinched victory in the Monte Carlo Rally. The Italian fitted dry asphalt tyres, while his rivals expected wet terrain. And he admitted: "It really paid off. The sun had melted the remaining ice and dried out the wet sections." Liatto clocked the best time in half of the 18 timed stages and finished 55 seconds ahead of Spaniard Carlos Sainz. World champion Tommi Makinen was third.

Result after 18  stages:        mins secs
 1  P Liatti     It   Subaru      4:26:58
 2  C Sainz      Sp   Ford        4:27:53
 3  T Makinen    Fin  Mitsubishi  4:29:29
 4  A Schwarz    Ger  Ford        4:32:03
 5  U Nittel     Ger  Mitsubishi  4:42:42
 6  H Lundgaard  Den  Toyota      4:45:26
 7  O Burri      Swi  Subaru      4:45:35
 8  I Holderied  Ger  Toyota      4:50:39
 9  G Trelles    Uru  Mitsubishi  4:51:59
10  A Kremer     Ger  Mitsubishi  4:52:51

23.01.97 - F1

Damon Hill will be a major threat in this year's Formula One championship race, according to Gerhard Berger. Hill has just finished a difficult first testing session when his new TWR Arrows was hit by technical trouble. But Berger expects Hill's Bridgestone tyres to be an important factor and said: "I don't think we have seen Damon winning a race for the last time. Damon is a very good racing driver and I am sure he will win and be back on the front row of the grid again."

24.01.97 - F1

The Ferrari Formula One team has confirmed Gianni Morbidelli as their test driver for the 1997 season. He last raced in Formula One with the Arrows team in 1995, securing the best result of his career in his final GP in Australia where he finished third. The 29-year-old was recently linked with a drive with Williams Renault in the British Touring Car championship. He has driven in 60 GPs, including one for Ferrari when he stood in for Alain Prost in 1992.

27.01.96 - F1
Former Formula One world champion Alain Prost says he is confident he can reach agreement to take over Ligier. The Frenchman says he is optimistic he can agree terms with current owner Flavio Briatore to take over the constructors but nothing is signed. "Right now we are finalising our agreement with Flavio Briatore but the case is not over yet," he said. French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche reports that Ligier will be renamed Prost Grand Prix is he is successful.

Veteran British driver Martin Brundle has given up hope of a late seat with a Formula One team and he will spend the season in a television commentary box. Brundle recently lost his drive with Jordan and he has now agreed to join BBC legend Murray Walker when ITV begin broadcasting in Melbourne on March 9. ITV won this year's grand prix rights for £70m, 10 times what the BBC paid. Jim Rosenthal will front ITV's coverage after speculation that Grandstand's Steve Rider would switch channels.

31.01.97 - F1
Heinz-Harald Frentzen has admitted he has a hard act to follow after taking Damon Hill's seat in the Williams Grand Prix team. The German said: "It's going to be very difficult to fill Damon's shoes as he was world champion. "People expect a lot of me and they are right because I am sitting in one of the best cars in Formula One." He was speaking at the launch of the team's FW19 car and acknowledged: "This is my big chance."

Jacques Villeneuve has slammed the new safety changes being brought into the sport for the forthcoming season. The Canadian title favourite said: "I think it's gone a little overboard on the safety side. Formula One is safe enough. I'd like to see us go faster. "If it had been anyone else (other than Ayrton Senna) who died, there wouldn't have been as much done." The comments will not have pleased team manager Frank Williams who is in court over Senna's death on February 20.

Tyrell completed three days of trouble-free testing with its' Formula One challenger, the 200mph Tyrrell Ford 0.25, near Barcelona on Friday. Mika Salo took the wheel and covered 54 laps, with a fastest lap time of one minute, 23,3 seconds. "It was my first dry run in an F1 car since Suzuka so it took a few laps to get adjusted to the grip and pace," the Finnish driver said. The team's second Ford 0.25 car will b in Spain next week.