December 1998 Motorsport News

F1:- It has been confirmed that Formula One will return to the United States in the 2000 season. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host the grand prix in what is a multi- year agreement. A date for next year's race has yet to be decided but it will be the first grand prix in the United States since Ayrton Senna won at Phoenix in 1991. Indianapolis stages the Indy 500 and also the Brickyard 400, one of the big events in American stock car racing.

F3000:- Portman Arrows have been accepted as an entry in the International Formula 3000 Championship for 1999. Piers Portman is confident his team can mount a serious challenge. "I feel certain that with the experience we have gained in two years in Formula Three we will be in a strong position from the start," he said. South African Werner Lupberger is to continue his partnership with Edenbridge Racing for a third straight season of International Formula 3000.

F1:- Tax officials are to investigate the financing of the Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Belgium's special tax investigation unit is looking into the account of the company running the track and promotions to the company of the race. For 1993 alone, investigators are seeking over seven millions francs, but some reports have the figure higher. "We have had no contact with the FIA over this," circuit secretary Andre Maes said. "It goes over our head."

NEWS:- Teenager Jenson Button has been awarded the McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year title. Button won the Slick Formula Ford Championship this season and also the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch.

F1:- Honda's long-awaited return to Formula One will be in the year 2000, according to reports. The world-renowned car and motorcycle maker announced in March it would be returning to the sport it quit in 1992 as a full constructor and team. However it has so far refrained from stating the timing of the return. Business daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun quoted a senior official of the company as saying: "It is impossible in 1999. We are aiming at the year 2000."

March 7  Australia GP, Albert Park
March 21 China GP, Zhuhai *
April 11 Brazilian GP, Interlagos
May 2    San Marino GP, Imola
May 16   Monaco GP, Monte Carlo
May 30   Spanish GP, Barcelona
June 13  Canadian GP, Montreal
June 27  French GP, Magny Cours
July 11  British GP, Silverstone
July 25  Austrian GP, Spielberg
August 1 German GP, Hockenheim
Aug 15   Hungarian GP, Budapest
Aug 29   Belgian GP, Spa-Francorchamps
Sept 12  Italian GP, Monza
Sept 26  European GP, Nurburgring
Oct 17   Malaysian GP, Kuala Lumpur
Oct 31   Japanese GP, Suzuka
* may be Buenos Aires on Mar 28

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP - Provisional 1999 dates:
Jan 17-20 Monte Carlo Rally
Feb 12-14 Swedish Rally
Feb 26-28 Safari Rally
Mar 21-24 Portugal Rally
Apr 18-21 Spanish Rally
May  9-12 French Rally
May 23-26 Rally Argentina
June  6-9 Acropolis Rally
Jul 16-18 Rally New Zealand
Aug 20-22 Rally Finland
Sep 19-21 China Rally
Oct   3-6 San Remo Rally
Nov   4-6 Rally Australia
Nov 20-23 Rally of Great Britain

F3000: Provisional 1999 dates:
May 15 Monte Carlo
May 29 Catalunya, Spain
Jun 26 Magny-Cours, France
Jul 10 Silverstone, UK
Jul 24 A1-Ring, Austria
Jul 31 Hockenheim, Germany
Aug 14 Hungaroring, Hungary
Aug 28 Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Sep 11 Monza, Italy
Sep 26 Nurburgring, Germany

APRIL       4/5   Donington Park (National circuit)
            17/18 Silverstone (Int'nal circuit)                                             MAY         2/3   Thruxton
            15/16 Brands Hatch (Indy circuit)
            30/31 Oulton Park (Fosters circuit)
JUNE        19/20 Donington Park (National circuit)
JULY        3/4   Croft
            17/18 Snetterton
JULY/AUGUST 31/1  Thruxton
AUGUST      14/15 Knockhill
            29/30 Brands Hatch (Indy circuit)
SEPTEMBER   11/12 Oulton Park (Island circuit)
            18/19 Silverstone (Int'nal circuit)

1999 BATHURST 1000
OCTOBER     2/3   Bathurst (Australia)

F.FORD:- Alain Menu Motorsport will contest the 1999 Slick 50 Formula Ford Zetec Championship in the all new Van Diemen RF99 and begin testing in February.

F3:- Jenson Button has signed to drive for Renault UK's Formula Three team in 1999 and will be partnering Aluizio Coelho.

16.12.98 - F1
The Prost team have revealed that John Barnard, who designed cars which Alain Prost used to win two of his world titles, has joined thier team. Barnard has spent much of the subsequent time with Ferrari, and has also had spells with Benetton, Toyota and Arrows.

Damon Hill set the fastest time in his Jordan during testing in Barcelona. Hill pipped former Jordan teammate Ralf Schumacher while Jacques Villeneuve was only ninth for British American Racing.

23.12.98 - F1
British American Racing have challenged the FIA over its ruling that F1 teams must run their cars in similar liveries BAR, who are believed to want to field their two cars in colours representing different cigarette brands, believe the regulation inhibits commercial freedom. BAR managing director Craig Pollock said: "We have tried to explore every possible avenue to resolve the matter. The FIA did not give us any other option and we have therefore initiated formal legal proceedings."

30.12.98 - Granada-Dakar Rally Kenjiro Shinozuka and Henri Magne will be on a revenge mission for the event, which runs from January 1-17. The Mitsubishi duo won the crown in 1997 but lost out to the French pairing of Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Gilles Picard in the 1998 rally. Nissan look set to provide the main opposition to Mitsubishi. Their line-up includes France's Stephane Peterhansel, who has switched to cars after winning a record six rallies on a motorbike.

F1:- Formula One team supremo Frank Williams has been awarded a knighthood in the New Year Honours List. Since their first grand prix in Argentina in 1978, his Williams team have won nine contructors' crowns and seven driver titles. Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Alain Prost all triumphed under the guidance of Williams, who is known to be one of the toughest taskmasters in the sport. His team failed to win a race in 1998 but could be a force again next season.

Frank Williams was delighted after being handed a knighthood for his services to motorsport. "I am very surprised and very happy that I have received such an important honour," he said. "Additionally, I am truly delighted that the team's achievements in grand prix racing have been recognised in this way." He set up his Williams team in the 1970s and admitted: "At the beginning it was just me and the creditors."

First grand prix win: Britain 1979
Constructors' Championships: Nine - 1980, 1981, 1986, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997.
Driver crowns: Seven - 1980 (A Jones), 1982 (K Rosberg), 1987 (N Piquet), 1992 (N Mansell), 1993 (A Prost), 1996 (D Hill), 1997 (J Villeneuve).
Results: victories 103, second places 86, third places 54, fourth places 42, fifth places 45, sixth places 29.

Leading prologue results (Thurs):min sec
 1 K Shinozuka   Jpn Mitsubishi  05:11
 2 J-L Schlesser Fr  Schlesser    @:04
 = J-P Fontenay  Fr  Mitsubishi   same
 4 M Prieto      Sp  Mitsibishi   @:05
 5 JM Servia     Sp  Schlesser    @:06
 6 H Masuoka     Jpn Mitsubishi   @:16
 7 J Kl'nschmidt Ger Mitsubishi   @:18
 = C Souza       Por Mitsubishi   same
 9 T de Lavergne Fr  Nissan       @:19
10 G de Mevius   Bel Nissan       @:24