December 2000 Motorsport News


F1:- Kimi Raikkonen has been confirmed as a Sauber driver after being granted an F1 super licence by the International Automobile Federation (FIA). The 21-year-old Finnish driver has competed in just 23 single-seater races but the FIA decided he was ready to race in F1. "This is a fantastic opportunity for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the Formula One testing," said Raikkonen. His new boss Peter Sauber said the Finn showed "clear promise for the future".

Takuma Sato became the youngest Japanese driver to test in Formula One when he was invited to drive for Jordan on Thursday. Sato, 23, clinched third place in the British Formula 3 Championship earlier this year. BAR's new signing Olivier Panis was fastest in the F1 testing at a rain-swept Jerez on Thursday. The Frenchman clocked one minute 23.54 seconds, just ahead of Rubens Barrichello and David Coulthard.

CART:- Alex Zanardi is heading back to the CART series next year after just one series in Formula One. The 34-year-old Italian drove for the Williams Formula One team in 1999 but sat out this season after Williams replaced him with Briton Jenson Button. Zanardi, CART champion in 1997 and 1998, will now join the Mo Nunn Racing Team for the 2001 CART season. "The opportunity is so good that I cannot continue with my 'vacation,'" said Zanardi.


BRITISH GTs:- Reigning TVR Tuscan Challenge champion Michael Caine will drive for Cerbera Speed 12 in 2001 - having just won the Autosport Club Driver of the Year award.

F1:- The Prost Formula One team have signed a three-year deal to use Michelin tyres.

Legendary TV commentator Murray Walker has announced that he will retire at the end of next season. The popular 77-year-old has been the voice of F1 for 51 years, but missed his first Grand Prix for half a century last season after dislocating a hip. "My love for the sport and my privileged place in it is undiminished. I have a purely gut feeling that now is the time to wind down," he said. "I don't want to but I've said I will while still ahead with the viewers."


F1:- A spokesman for the Prost Formula One team has confirmed they will give try-outs to Brazilian Enrique Bernoldi and Spaniard Oriol Servia this week. The team have yet to name a second driver to partner Jean Alesi next season, following the departure of Nick Heiefeld to the Sauber team. Bernoldi was expected to join Sauber next term if newcomer Kimi Raikkonen's licence application had failed. Former CART driver Servia won the Indy Lights title the season before last.

SPORTSCARS:- Lola Cars International have unveiled the first image of their new Le Mans 24-Hour challenger for 2001. The car will be powered by a new AER-developed two-litre turbo-charged MG Rover engine and will have a shakedown test in March next year.

Donington will host the British round of next year's American Le Mans Series on April 14.

21.12.2000 - F1

Bernie Ecclestone has written to the management company responsible for the Monza circuit in a bid to push through improvements at the venue. Formula One Construction Association president Ecclestone wants a new paddock for Formula 3000 and Porsche races in alignment with other tracks. He has also asked for better security measures and increased parking. It is hoped that some of the proposals wil completed in time for the next Italian Grand Prix in September 2001.

Prost have clinched a marketing and sponsorship deal with Miami-based TV company PanAmerican Sports Network. The team have been looking for a backer following the decision by Gauloises Blondes to withdraw their sponsorship. Team boss Alain Prost said: "It was soon clear to us that an alliance between PSN and Prost Grand Prix was a good match with hugh potential." It strengthens the rumours that Minardi driver Gaston Mazzacane, who is backed by PSN, will switch to Prost in 2001.

The December 21 test session at Estoril was called off because of persistent rain in Portugal. Jenson Button wil open the last day of the Autosport International Show at the NEC in Birmingham on January 14. Button, who made his Formula One debut with Williams this year, will show up following a number of test sessions with his new Benetton team.

26.12.2000 - ALMS

Allan McNish jarred his back taking off his kilt for a photoshoot just moments before the warm-up trials for this weekend's endurance race. The Scotsman had just set the fastest practice time around the 2.4-mile street circuit when intense pain forced him back into the pits. McNish, who has had a pain-killing injection to enable him to race, pulled his back lifting a suitcase last week. "Taking off my kilt for a photoshoot aggravated it again," said McNish.

Allan McNish is already looking forward to the 2002 season ` when he is being tipped to move into Formula One. The Scot, who is set to take the American Le Mans Series title on Sunday, is a test driver for Toyota and they will enter Formula One in 2002. McNish has a chance to impress Toyota on the streets of Adelaide this weekend and also during the 2001 campaign. "My best finish in a street race was second at Pau in 1995 but hopefully I can go one better on Sunday," he said.

28.12.2000 - F1

Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo has said he would like to take a year off from the sport but realised it would probably be impossible. Di Montezemolo's wife is expecting a baby in May and he told the Financial Times: "I really would like to take a year's sabbatical. However I am resigned to the fact that I will not be allowed to do so. The head hunters are swirling around Ferrari making offers for our best people and we've already lost two."


F1:- Narain Karthikeuan has revealed that he expects to test for Jaguar next month and is hoping to join the grand prix circuit in 2002. The 24-year-old, who wants to become the first Indian to drive in Formula One, said: "The test should be in the second or third week of January." Karthikeyan finished fourth for Stewart in the British Formula Three Championship last season. And he wants to secure a Formula One test driving berth for 2001.

ALMS (Adelaide):- Allan McNish has opted for a day of rest to try and ensure he is not denied the American Le Mans Series drivers title by a freak back injury. The Scot only needs to start Sunday's race to clinch the title but spent Friday night in hospital to improve his chances of making the grid. "That was a formality, it was just for a second opinion. Thankfully nothing serious was found," he said. A decision on his fitness will be made on Sunday morning.

PARIS-DAKAR RALLY:- This year's Paris-Dakar rally sees the event go back to its roots as a caravan of some 360 cars, motorbikes and trucks embark on a gruelling 10,739km course. The race breaks recent tradition in that there is no mass detour of the kind which saw it finish at the Giza pyramids in Cairo last year. Instead the 23rd race will open at the Trocadero Centre on Monday and close at Lake Rose exactly three weeks later. Organiser Hubert Auriol said: "It was time to go back to our roots."