The Virtual Racing Career of Nathan van Dijk

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Re: The Virtual Racing Career of Nathan van Dijk

Postby BassTrombone » 14 Sep 2020, 20:38

GRAND PRIX NEWS
Your monthly source for racing news, stories and rumors | Wednesday 5th June, 1996

The Silly Season has Started

Although the current season is not even halfway done, much work in the paddock is already being done for 1997. And of course, the spread of rumors cannot be avoided, especially when speaking about one of the most asked questions: who drives where next year? With only eight drivers already under contract for next year and, if all the announced teams make it to the grid, 32 seats to fill, there is a lot to talk and gossip about. Furthermore, the teams will need an engine to power their cars as well. Grand Prix News tells you per team what we know and what we heard.

Ferrari
Ferrari is the only team where everything seems sure. Obviously they will keep Ferrari engines, but both Michael Schumacher (until '98) and Eddie Irvine ('97) have a contract for next year. The only way something might change, is if Schumacher is bought out of his contract by Williams or McLaren, but it seems more likely that he continues his Ferrari project.
Engine
Confirmed: Ferrari
Drivers
Confirmed: Michael Schumacher, Eddie Irvine

Williams
Both Renault and Jacques Villeneuve have a deal for 1997 with Williams. The biggest mystery is the other seat at the championship-leading team. Damon Hill is Williams' current lead driver, although he is behind his team mate in the standings. Hill does not have a contract for next year, though. Heinz-Harald Frentzen is strongly rumored to have already signed a contract with the team. A perhaps less likely story is that Williams is looking to buy Mika Hakkinen out of his contract with McLaren. Renault is said to desire a French driver, which would make Olivier Panis an outsider to snatch the seat as well.
Engine
Confirmed: Renault
Drivers
Confirmed: Jacques Villeneuve
Likely: Heinz-Harald Frentzen/Damon Hill
Rumored: Mika Hakkinen/Olivier Panis

Benetton
Benetton looks to have suffered from the departure of Michael Schumacher and Rory Byrne, although the Italo-British team seems to have recovered a little bit over the last few races. Renault still has a contract for one more year with them and Jean Alesi was recently rewarded with a contract extension for 1997 as well. Johnny Herbert's future is a little less certain at the moment. He was expected to lead Benetton's title charge this year, but so far, Alesi is the main candidate for it. Meanwhile, Italian youngster Giancarlo Fisichella is showing at Minardi that he deserves a better seat in F1.
Engine
Confirmed: Renault
Drivers
Confirmed: Jean Alesi
Likely: Giancarlo Fisichella/Johnny Herbert

Jordan
1996 should have been the year Jordan really closed the gap to the top, but it has been slightly disappointing so far. Peugeot will stay for 1997 nevertheless, although that may well be their final year together. Jordan has not signed any drivers for next year. Rubens Barrichello is performing maybe better than ever and he should be likely to stay. However, some say the Brazilian is not happy anymore at the Irish team and he is looking for new possibilities. Brundle looks unlikely to stay, unless he improves a lot in the second half of the season, while the team may have a golden opportunity to sign Damon Hill if he is dropped by Williams. Eddie Jordan is said to be looking for a new young talent. Ralf Schumacher, Michael's younger brother, has sparked Eddie's interest, while Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Nathan van Dijk may be possibilities as well. The wildest, yet still persisting rumor is that Nigel Mansell is plotting a comeback.
Engine
Confirmed: Peugeot
Drivers
Likely: Rubens Barrichello/Ralf Schumacher
Rumored: Nathan van Dijk/Heinz-Harald Frentzen/Damon Hill/Nigel Mansell

McLaren
Although McLaren hold a solid 3rd position in the constructors' championship, the gap with the top teams is disappointingly big. Mercedes is yet to confirm their plans in F1, although it is getting more and more likely that Ron Dennis can convince them to stay and invest. McLaren's drivers are already signed: Hakkinen has a contract until the end of 1997; Coulthard even until '98.
Engine
Likely: Mercedes
Drivers
Confirmed: Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard

Sauber
Things are still quite uncertain at Sauber at the moment. The Swiss team is trying to secure another deal with Ford for V10 engines, but DFC's money and the influence of Ford do Brasil may prevent that. Another possibility is that Sauber's sponsor Petronas rebadges V10 engines, which would then most likely come from Hart or Judd (the current Yamaha engines). Sauber did already sign their current driver Gerhard Berger for another year, rewarding the Austrian for a solid season so far. Heinz-Harald Frentzen is under consideration at teams higher up the grid and is likely to leave the team. His successor could almost be anyone at this moment, although the names of both Dutch F1 drivers are being mentioned, among some others.
Engine
Likely: Ford
Rumored: Hart/Judd (Yamaha)
Drivers
Confirmed: Gerhard Berger
Rumored: Nathan van Dijk/Tom Kristensen/Jörg Müller/Jos Verstappen

Ligier
The biggest uncertainty at Ligier is who will own the team next year. The French government would love to make the team all-French again, but they will still have Mugen-Honda engines next year. Olivier Panis is also already contracted for 1997, but his team mate is less certain. So far, Luca Badoer's performances have not been that impressive and Mugen, or rather Honda, is willing to pay to give a Japanese driver a seat. Several Formula Nippon stars' names have been dropped lately. A French youngster such as Laurent Redon could also be an option.
Engine
Confirmed: Mugen-Honda
Drivers
Confirmed: Olivier Panis
Likely: Luca Badoer
Rumored: Emmanuel Collard/Naoki Hattori/Shinji Nakano/Laurent Redon/Toranosuke Takagi

Minardi
The small Minardi team may currently be working more on surviving this year, than preparing for 1997. After the sponsor issues with Taki Inoue, it looks likely that the Italians will need to sign a pay driver to finish the season. A cheap V8 engine and at least one driver with deep pockets will be required next year.
Engine
Likely: Cosworth (Ford)/Hart
Drivers
Rumored: Norberto Fontana/Pedro Lamy/Andrea Montermini/Pedro de la Rosa/Ricardo Rosset

Simtek
The same applies to Simtek as to Minardi. The team is in serious financial trouble and they will need money. Strangely, Taki Inoue's name is still mentioned by several sources when talking about the small British team. Deals with drivers and an engine supplier will be highly dependant on a possible investor.
Engine
Likely: Cosworth (Ford)
Drivers
Likely: Andrea Montermini
Rumored: Naoki Hattori/Taki Inoue/Elton Julian

Tyrrell
Tyrrell's deal with Yamaha is uncertain at the moment. Mutual disappointment and lack of budget may force Yamaha out of the Surrey-based team. Hart or Cosworth customer V8s look like the only feasible alternative, even though both scenarios would be a step backwards. Mika Salo will stay at the team, looking to further improve his performances. Ukyo Katayama's season has been disappointing so far, as he has been largely outperformed by his young team mate. Tyrrell is most probably looking for a new young talent, although Ken Tyrrell also still holds his former test driver, Emmanuel Collard, in high regard.
Engine
Likely: Cosworth (Ford)/Hart/Yamaha
Drivers
Confirmed: Mika Salo
Rumored: Kenny Bräck/Emmanuel Collard/Tom Kristensen/Jan Magnussen/Gianni Morbidelli/Jörg Müller/Vincenzo Sospiri/Jos Verstappen

Arrows
Tom Walkinshaw is highly ambitious with Arrows. According to some, he is even looking to start in-house engine development on the longer term. The easiest way to achieve that is to buy an existing engine program, such as Hart's or Yamaha's. The ambitions are no less on the driver front: a big budget is said to be available to sign one or two big names. Jos Verstappen may be a relatively cheap second driver; the Dutchman performing well with an underwhelming car so far. Several more or less realistic names are rumored for the first driver seat, with the wildest rumor probably being that Walkinshaw is in negotiations with Damon Hill. A paydriver would then be required to pay his salary, though.
Engine
Likely: Hart/Yamaha
Drivers
Likely: Jos Verstappen
Rumored: Rubens Barrichello/Mark Blundell/Martin Brundle/Gil de Ferran/Damon Hill/Pedro Lamy

DFC
DFC is yet another ambitious project. A deal for Ford V10s is all but signed, although Mugen-Honda and Yamaha rumors are persistent, as well as talks about a customer Mercedes deal. The owner's son Pedro Diniz has unsurprisingly extended his contract with the team for two more years. Nathan van Dijk is almost consistently outperforming Diniz in the races, but DFC's plan is to sign a big Brazilian star from F1, F3000 or CART. If that plan proves to be too ambitious at this moment, Van Dijk looks the most likely candidate.
Engine
Likely: Ford
Rumored: Mercedes/Mugen-Honda/Yamaha
Drivers
Confirmed: Pedro Diniz
Likely: Nathan van Dijk/Christian Fittipaldi
Rumored: Rubens Barrichello/Gil de Ferran/Marcos Gueiros

Larrousse DAMS
Things are rather quiet around Larrousse DAMS. The team is having a bit of a slow start on their return in F1 this year, but there seems to be no panic. A customer deal with Peugeot seems quite likely, otherwise the French team will keep the Cosworth V8s for another year. Hiro Matsushita has already a contract for next year and Emmanuel Collard looks likely to stay if he cannot find a better seat. The French sponsors will push another French talent forward if Collard leaves.
Engine
Likely: Cosworth (Ford)/Peugeot
Drivers
Confirmed: Hiro Matsushita
Likely: Emmanuel Collard
Rumored: Jean-Christophe Bouillon/Laurent Redon/Christophe Tinseau

Stewart
Jackie Stewart's new team looks like an interesting gamble for several drivers. Their long-term contract as a works partner of Ford gives them a good prospect, although their performance in their first year could be anything from surprisingly good to disastrous. Apart from Jordan, Stewart looks like the most likely new team for Damon Hill if he loses his seat. A driver with some years of F1 experience seems like a must for the team anyway, so Rubens Barrichello, Nathan van Dijk and Martin Brundle could be serious options. Former or current Paul Stewart Racing drivers like Ralph Firman and Jan Magnussen could join one of the experienced guys.
Engine
Confirmed: Ford
Drivers
Rumored: Rubens Barrichello/Martin Brundle/Nathan van Dijk/Ralph Firman/Dario Franchitti/Damon Hill/Jan Magnussen

Dome
Dome is another new F1 project with some significant backing. In this case, it is Mugen-Honda which will provide the team with engines and it is not unlikely that Honda will take over the project in the near future to transform it into a full works team. Dome is currently testing with Shinji Nakano and Marco Apicella; both seem likely to become the race drivers for 1997. Ukyo Katayama might be an interesting alternative if he is dropped by Tyrrell.
Engine
Confirmed: Mugen-Honda
Drivers
Likely: Marco Apicella/Shinji Nakano
Rumored: Ukyo Katayama

Lola
The third team aspiring to enter F1 in 1997, is Lola. Whether or not they will make it to the entry list, is highly dependant on their search for a main sponsor. At this moment, it is anyone's guess which engines and which drivers they will have. Allan McNish is an educated guess, as he tested for Lola last year. A paydriver to join him is in the line of expectations.
Engine
Rumored: Cosworth (Ford)/Judd (Yamaha)
Drivers
Rumored: Giovanni Lavaggi/Allan McNish/Ricardo Rosset


Short but Sweet

Australian GP will be season opener again in 1997 • First Bridgestone tests to be done by Verstappen this week • Shannon to buy Simtek already this year? • Designer Chris Murphy joins Lola
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Re: The Virtual Racing Career of Nathan van Dijk

Postby BassTrombone » 04 Oct 2020, 14:31

1996 Canadian Grand Prix

Qualifying

Damon Hill scored his third consecutive pole position in dominant fashion. Jean Alesi joined him on the front row, just like in Spain. Jacques Villeneuve and Johnny Herbert took the second row, with Michael Schumacher close behind. Rubens Barrichello had another impressive qualifying to take 6th. In the midfield Luca Badoer beat his team mate Olivier Panis for the first time, but it was business as usual for most others. Andrea Montermini had his best qualifying of the year by taking 22nd on his return after his one-race ban.

Results
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Race

Damon Hill kept the lead at the start, but Michael Schumacher showed his class by braking very late into the first corner, moving him up to 2nd. Jacques Villeneuve managed to keep 3rd, followed by Jean Alesi, Johnny Herbert and Rubens Barrichello. Alesi did manage to regain a provisional podium spot a couple of corners later when he outbraked Villeneuve into turn 6. The Canadian would lose another place to a Benetton in lap 2, when Herbert made a similar move in the same corner. Herbert was pushing hard, but it came at a big cost just a few corners later. Still in lap 2, the Briton crashed out of the race in the last corner: a costly mistake. Luckily, Herbert walked away from the heavy impact without injuries.

Villeneuve had briefly lost a place to Barrichello, because he lost time avoiding Herbert's crash, but the Williams rookie was quickly able to regain 4th position. Alesi was meanwhile still on the move and passed Schumacher in lap 4 with a clean manouever in turn 12. The top six settled after that moment and remained unchanged until several laps later, when Villeneuve made a mistake in turn 1. He spun and lost a place to Barrichello, but he was able to continue his race without further problems. Schumacher was less lucky in lap 17. Once again, the title defender retired from a good position in the race, through no fault of his own. This time, an oil leak ended his race which looked like a certain podium finish for the German.

A top six of Hill, Alesi, Barrichello, Villeneuve, Eddie Irvine and Gerhard Berger was now getting ready for the first round of pit stops. Barrichello and Berger looked to be the only ones on a two stop strategy, with stops in lap 22 and 21 respectively. Both of them dropped a couple of positions, but they looked set to move back up the order. Berger would not get the chance however, since he had to retire with a loose wheel. His team, Sauber, was heavily criticized for sending him out with an apparently unfixed wheel, but no further sanctions were given. Barrichello did get back into the top six within few laps when he passed Mika Hakkinen in lap 23.

When the one-stoppers were getting ready to pit, Hill was leading Alesi, Villeneuve, Irvine, Barrichello and Hakkinen. The top three remained unchanged after those stops, but Irvine dropped behind Barrichello again. Mika Hakkinen's stop also made him drop out of the top six, as the surprisingly fast Luca Badoer, who was also on a two-stopper, moved up to 6th. We would never get a realistic outcome of the comparison of the two strategies, though. Barrichello retired from the race in lap 43 with a blown engine. Badoer was forced to pit just one lap later as he was suffering from electrical problems. It looked like the Italian saw another shot at points slip through his fingers.

A top six of Hill, Alesi, Villeneuve, Irvine, Hakkinen and Coulthard was now heading for the finish, but the race proved to be too long for some of them. Firstly, Hakkinen was forced to make an unplanned extra pit stop. Hydraulic issues were the issue, as explained by McLaren after the race. The Finn dropped behind his team mate, but remained in the points. In lap 56, Alesi lost a certain 2nd place when his engine blew and just two laps later, Villeneuve suffered the same fate.

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Survival of the fittest: Hill avoids problems and wins in Canada

All problems for others had moved Irvine up into 2nd, even though he was a full lap down on race leader Hill. Behind them, Coulthard was quickly losing time to his team mate, who was determined to make up for his lost time. Hakkinen finally got past in lap 62, taking the final spot on the podium and Coulthard would finish in 4th. Badoer had passed Martin Brundle earlier and because of Alesi's and Villeneuve's engine woes, he was able to score his first points of the season with a well-deserved 5th place. Brundle brought his car home in 6th.

Results
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Post-Race Quotes

Damon Hill (1st): "Of course, I'm satisfied. I think it was a perfect weekend all around, but I do realise I am very lucky to be the only title contender to finish today. Nevertheless, it is great to be back in the championship lead, lucky or not!"
Eddie Irvine (2nd): "Finally we're on the podium. As Damon said, it was a strange race and we're lucky to be here, but I really think the team deserves it. We have been very unlucky so far, with many car breakdowns and this makes up for it a little, at least. Although I do feel for Michael, he really deserved this one."
Mika Hakkinen (3rd): "Our car was only the fourth or fifth fastest this weekend and I hit trouble in the final stint. To then still be on the podium is strange, but I am proud of the race I drove. It was not easy to reel David back in, but I managed it."
Jos Verstappen (7th): "I always like this track and the car was not bad at all in the race. I saw on my pit board I was in 7th place all of a sudden. Of course you then hope for one more retirement in front of you, but it was my own car which broke down in the final lap. Thankfully it didn't cost me any places."
Nathan van Dijk (retired): "I think I was really good in the race today. I could match the pace of guys like Brundle and Badoer and I wasn't even that far off the McLarens. The way this race turned out, I'm not sure what would have been possible, but several points could have been on the table. Unfortunately, it was once again a case of what could have been."


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Constructors' Championship
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Re: The Virtual Racing Career of Nathan van Dijk

Postby BassTrombone » 06 Feb 2021, 16:40

1996 French Grand Prix

Last year's French Grand Prix only saw six cars cross the finish. Will this year's edition provide a similar race? Even if it does not, there is plenty to look for as the season passes its halfway point. How will the title battle between the Williams teammates develop? Can Benetton improve and will they still have an outside chance of the championship? And when will Ferrari start to really perform?


Qualifying

Damon Hill had not lost anything of the momentum on his flight back to Europe: the Briton secured a dominant pole position. Once again, he was joined by a Benetton on the front row, but this time it was Johnny Herbert to take 2nd place, in front of Jacques Villeneuve and Jean Alesi on the second row. Michael Schumacher could once again not make it onto the front two rows and just like in Canada, Rubens Barrichello impressively qualified the Jordan in the top six again. The biggest disappointment of qualifying was McLaren: Hakkinen and Coulthard could only manage respectively an 11th and 14th place.

Results

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Race

The field got underway safely with few changes at the front. Villeneuve did start better than Herbert and was briefly in front of him, but the Briton regained 2nd place at the Adelaide hairpin. More position changes would occur shortly thereafter at the same corner: Barrichello took 5th from Schumacher in lap 3 and Alesi passed Villeneuve for 3rd in lap 5.

Lap 13 was definitely an unlucky lap for Ferrari. Schumacher dropped out of the points when Gerhard Berger passed him, but things were even worse for Eddie Irvine. The Ulsterman, who was struggling down in 15th place, had to retire from the race due to a failed suspension. A couple of laps later, Schumacher's transmission was the cause of another race weekend which ended prematurely for Ferrari.

The first series of pitstops was kicked off by Alesi and Berger in lap 20. The rest of the top six followed soon and Villeneuve came out of it as a winner: the Canadian stayed in front of Alesi and retook 3rd. The Frenchman did not get a chance to challenge Villeneuve again, because just like Schumacher, he fell victim to transmission problems. Disaster struck for Alesi's team mate just 3 laps later, when Herbert retired with a similar issue. The competition's trouble put the Williams team in a comforbable position: Hill and Villeneuve were well ahead of the rest of the pack now, while Barrichello looked set for a certain 3rd place.

The top 3 would not remain unchanged for long, though. Barrichello had to retire from a race for the fourth time in a row, as yet another transmission did not survive the race on the Magny-Cours circuit. Yet another victim did not make it to the second series of pit stops: Olivier Panis, who had moved up to a brilliant 4th place, also had to retire with transmission problems. By the time the second pit stops came around, the top three consisted of Hill and Villeneuve, now followed on a long distance by Gerhard Berger. Behind him was Luca Badoer, who was just ahead of the McLaren duo of Hakkinen and Coulthard.

The second pit stops did not bring any position changes: Hill and Villeneuve were still cruising towards a Williams 1-2, Berger could drive safely to the podium as well, but Badoer was still under pressure from Hakkinen, who never let the gap grow above 2 seconds. One more driver would fall victim to the transmission issues which were so common in the French GP: Berger's hopes of scoring Sauber's first-ever podium in F1 ended in lap 57.

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Damon Hill cruises to a dominant win in France

Berger's misfortunes did not affect the Williams duo of Hill and Villeneuve, who finished the race in 1st and 2nd place respectively. They were joined on the podium by Badoer, who impressively held off Hakkinen to secure his maiden top-3 finish. Hakkinen and Coulthard followed in 4th and 5th and an unusual name appeared to take the final point: Pedro Lamy. The Portuguese stayed out of trouble, did a very solid job and scored his first point in Formula 1.

Results

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Post-Race Quotes

Damon Hill (1st): "This was just about the perfect race weekend for me. The car was great, I never got into trouble and I nicely extended my championship lead."
Jacques Villeneuve (2nd): "I'm pretty satisfied. I don't really know why I never was on Damon's pace here, but at least we managed to maximise our result."
Luca Badoer (3rd): "I am extremely happy today! The car was very good this weekend and that promises a lot for the second half of the season. To be rewarded with my first podium is an amazing feeling."
Nathan van Dijk (retired): "Like a lot of drivers, I'm going to say that today was a big opportunity to finish in the points, but nobody had such a small reason to retire like me. It's really a shame that wheel nut failed, because the car felt very good and I was really on my way to score well."
Jos Verstappen (retired): "In Canada I was pretty satisfied with the car, but this weekend, we just couldn't really get it together. I should have been able to beat Lamy for the final point, though, but it was not to be. It's a pity."


Drivers' Championship

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Constructors' Championship

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Re: The Virtual Racing Career of Nathan van Dijk

Postby BassTrombone » 07 Feb 2021, 15:14

GRAND PRIX NEWS
Your monthly source for racing news, stories and rumors | Wednesday 3rd July, 1996

Mid-season Report Cards

Time flies when you are having fun! The year is halfway done and the 1996 Formula One season is already more than that, with 9 of the 16 races completed. It is time to take stock of the situation: who is doing well and who really need to take their grade back up?

Ferrari | 3
In our season preview, we already talked about Ferrari's reliability issues in pre-season testing. The team have so far not been able to solve them at all. The F310 seems to be reasonably quick: especially Schumacher is almost always in the top 6 before he retires, which unfortunately happened in all but one race so far.
Michael Schumacher | 8
To be honest, it is rather difficult to judge Schumacher's race performances of 1996. He did show an impressive pace and he has dominated his team mate so far. The only thing that is missing is some results: the double world champion really needs to finish some races in the second half of the year to avoid 1996 becoming his first full season without podiums in F1.
Eddie Irvine | 6
Irvine has been slightly more lucky with reliability than his superstar teammate. The Ulsterman salvaged Ferrari's only podium so far and he deserves some praise for that. His speed so far is somewhat questionable, though: he has rarely been close to Schumacher in either qualifying or in the races.
Nicola Larini | 6
Larini's time to shine was very short in Argentina: his race was over after just two laps. He did an adequate job in qualifying, placing his Ferrari well in the top 10; something Irvine did not manage on every occasion.

Benetton-Renault | 6
The Benetton team is definitely in a different position than the past two years, since they already look out of contention for the world championship fight. The car is occasionally good enough to challenge the Williams, as proven by Alesi's two race wins, but the team seem to be lacking consistancy. On top of that, the two double DNFs in the last two races further worsened their position significantly.
Jean Alesi | 8.5
Jean Alesi finally had his breakthrough win in Imola this year and he did not have to wait long for his second one, which came in Spain. The Frenchman usually is slightly faster than his teammate and has taken the best possible result in most of the races he finished. After Spain, he still looked to be in title contention, but he had to retire from the two subsequent races through no fault of his own.
Johnny Herbert | 7
Last year, Johnny Herbert was leading the championship at the halfway point. His fortunes definitely have changed in 1996. Alesi seems to be having the upper hand over Herbert, but the Briton had been quite consistent so far and has collected several important podium finishes.

Williams-Renault | 9.5
Williams are dominating the standings in both the drivers' and the constructors' championship. Seven race wins in the first nine races is an impressive statistic, while they took pole position in all nine. The only disappointing weekend was in the San Marino GP, where both cars had to retire with mechanical issues.
Damon Hill | 8,5
Hill is looking better and better to get his first championship. The Hill-Williams package is the fastest one on the grid and the Briton has won the most races so far. He did lose the opening race by his own mistake, however. Mistakes like those could be costly, as long as Villeneuve is on his tail. Hill also still does not have a contract for next year, so the pressure is on his shoulders.
Jacques Villeneuve | 9
The hype around Villeneuve was huge, but he proved himself from the word go. The Canadian won his first race on his first try and backed it up with two more wins and three other podium finishes. As mentioned above, Hill still slightly has the upper hand over him, but Villeneuve has an extremely impressive rookie season so far.

Jordan-Peugeot | 6,5
Eddie Jordan's team is once again challenging F1's top 4 teams, but it has to be said: many were expecting a next step from them. In our season preview, we were speculating about race wins, but the golden cars have never looked even close to challenging for that. However, they did quite consistently pick up points and the occasional podium, which is a proof of their improved reliability and consistency.
Rubens Barrichello | 8
Barrichello is on another strong season: he is "best of the rest" in the championship behind the drivers of Williams, Benetton and McLaren by quite a margin. The Brazilian also is making his experienced teammate look like a novice every now and then; Brundle cannot keep up with Barrichello's pace so far. He could even have been a lot higher up in the championship if he had not retired from the last four races. Barrichello needs to be careful not to get too frustrated over those issues.
Martin Brundle | 5,5
The second most experienced driver in the field has scored points on several occasions, but Barrichello is showing that the car can do more than Brundle gets out of it so far. Brundle will need to show he has still got it very soon, or his Formula 1 career may be all but over.

McLaren-Mercedes | 7
McLaren is not quite there yet, but they are on their way back for sure. Reliability was key for this season after all their trouble last year, but both cars finished in the last five races. However, it is somewhat disappointing that they do not seem to get close to the top on pure performance. In fact, they may need to worry more about Jordan and even Ligier if they cannot improve in the second half of the season.
Mika Hakkinen | 8
Hakkinen is further proving himself as a driver who is both fast and consistent. Furthermore, this year he is getting the results to back up his claim, less hindered by mechanical problems. Beating his team mate in all the races both of them finished gives him some bonus points in our rating.
David Coulthard | 7,5
Last year's revelation made a somewhat surprising move to McLaren and the car is definitely not an improvement this year. Coulthard seems to need a bit of time to get really used to the team and car and to get fully up to speed. So far, Hakkinen has an edge over him, but we also have not seen the Scot make any silly mistakes and he is a consistent points scorer.

Sauber-Ford | 7
Sauber is more or less meeting the expectations. Both drivers are picking up some good points when they get the chance to and both are usually among the better midfielders. Especially Frentzen has suffered from a lot of reliability issues, though. A bit more luck and a bit more development could still lead to some surprising results later this year.
Gerhard Berger | 7,5
F1's senior seems to feel more and more at home at the Swiss team. He even looked on course for a podium in the French GP, only for mechanical gremlins to strike his car. It does need to be said that the championship standings do flatter his performance a bit, especially relative to his teammate. Berger has had less bad luck than Frentzen.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen | 7,5
Frentzen is still considered as one of F1's biggest talents of this moment. He has a highly rated and experienced teammate, but he generally has the upper hand over him so far. Frentzen's points tally could have looked a lot better, if he could have finished as many races as Berger.

Ligier-Mugen Honda | 6
Ligier's fortunes changed massively in the last two races. The French team had been somewhat disappointing up until that moment, but both performance and results seem to have improved. The car is reliabile, the engine and the chassis seem decent, but Ligier seems to lack that little bit extra to do anything more than picking up the crumbs dropped by the big guys.
Olivier Panis | 6,5
Panis' season is just like the performance of his car: solid, but not spectacular. He has the edge over Badoer in qualifying and he scored Ligier's first point of the year, but Panis has not been in the position to really surprise yet.
Luca Badoer | 6,5
Badoer has been solid as well. He is usually slightly slower than Panis, but in the Italian's defense it could be said that he is still new to the team. Of course, he deservingly caught a lot of attention with his 5th place in Canada and in particular with 3rd in France. It does need to be said that Panis would most likely have finished ahead of him in the latter, though.

Minardi-Ford | 6
Minardi is again on a shoestring budget, but again they already scored a point. They seem to be absolutely maximising their resources by having a pretty reliable car which is usually not too far off the pace of the lower midfielders.
Pedro Lamy | 7
Lamy is proving to be an F1-worthy driver and he now belongs to the club of point scorers. We have not seen him make any terrible mistakes anymore, too. It does need to be said that Fisichella is beating him significantly in most qualifyings.
Giancarlo Fisichella | 7,5
Fisichella is an interesting talent. He has been consistently strong, especially in qualifying, despite his very limited season preparation with Minardi. It is difficult for him to shine with limited machinery, but the paddock does notice his occasional battles with the likes of Verstappen and Katayama.
Tarso Marques | 6,5
Like Fisichella, Marques was rather ill-prepared for his F1 debut. He did not make a fool out of himself though: he qualified near Lamy and he finished both races he started.

Simtek-Ford | 5,5
Our pre-season worries proved to be justified: Simtek's lack of resources has led to a lack of improvements on the car. Where they could occasionally move ahead of the bottom 3 rows of the grid last year, they are properly back at the bottom this year. Rumor has it they are not even sure they will make it to the end of the year, such is the severity of Simtek's financial troubles.
Andrea Montermini | 6
Montermini is showing nothing new in 1996: just like last year, he is solid, but not spectacular. He brings the car home, keeps it usually off the back row of the grid and that is all that really can be said to be honest.
David Brabham | 6
Brabham did an adequate job when he had to replace Montermini in Spain. The Australian did what the Italian probably would have done: qualify on the 12th row, no mistakes, but an unfortunate early retirement with engine issues.
Tom Kristensen | 7
Kristensen does not have the material to really catch attention, but it is a shame the Dane flies a bit under the radar. He only had two race starts under his belt before the season, but his lack of experience has not shown once. He generally has the edge over Montermini and we have even seen him fight with Minardis and Arrows on several occasions.

Tyrrell-Yamaha | 4
Last year was a disappointment for Tyrrell, but so far, they have not improved at all. Katayama has not even finished a race yet, while Salo is quick, but also finished far outside the points when he saw the checkered flag. The pace is there to score an occasional point though, if they finish more often.
Ukyo Katayama | 5,5
Katayama was always quite an interesting driver to keep an eye on, but this year he has not been able to impress yet. The Japanese is slipping behind his teammate in the qualifying battle and, as far as we have been able to judge it, his race pace does not seem too much better too.
Mika Salo | 7,5
Salo is usually well ahead of his teammate this year. Due to his poor material, it remains largely unnoticed, but the Finn may be the most improved driver of 1996 so far. If any driver comes in the position to score points for Tyrrell this year, it is most likely going to be Mika Salo.

Arrows-Hart | 5
Arrows is more or less in the same boat as Tyrrell. Arrows' focus seems to have gone to next year quite a while ago, so their hopes for the rest of 1996 will be low. Reliability is not that bad yet, but they will need to get lucky to score points.
Ricardo Rosset | 4
Rosset is in F1 for his money, that is clear now. He is way off the pace of Verstappen and didn't even manage to get off the last row of the grid on five occasions. At least he brought the car home several times, but the A17 is way better than the Brazilian makes it look.
Jos Verstappen | 6,5
Verstappen is usually in a bit of a no man's land in the races: somewhere between the midfield and the Minardis. He will hope for an opportunity to really show his talent, like he occasionally could in the Simtek last year.

DFC-Ford | 8
By no means has the season of the team formally known as Forti been flawless, but who could expect that? DFC has vastly improved compared to last year and they snatched some points already. The team closed the gap to the midfield and they can be expected to seize more opportunities in the second half of 1996.
Pedro Diniz | 6,5
Diniz entered F1 with low expectations, perhaps even lower than Rosset's. However, he has definitely exceeded those. Diniz is doing a solid job so far and even scored a point in the San Marino GP. Especially in the race, he is not always on the pace of his teammate, but Diniz proves to be a worthy F1 driver.
Nathan van Dijk | 7
Van Dijk scored a point in the first race. It could have been more, but DFC does not have its reliability completely in order yet. The young Dutchman needs to improve his qualifyings, but he has definitely shown himself in the races so far.

Larrousse DAMS-Ford | 5
Larrousse DAMS had an extensive testing program before the season, but a lot of work still needs to be done. The car is neither reliable nor fast, although one could wonder what a more proven driver could get out of it.
Emmanuel Collard | 6
We can only compare Collard to one other driver: Matsushita. He easily beat him in all races and qualifyings so far. Other than that, Collard has not really made an impression yet, but that is probably down to the disappointing car.
Hiro Matsushita | 4
Matsushita has not done anything yet to prove he belongs in F1. The Japanese has not been off the back row of the grid yet and the only times he is seen in the race is when he is the first car to get lapped.


Short but Sweet

TWR wins Le Mans 24 Hours • Confirmed: Renault to leave F1 after 1997 • Hill says he will retire before 2000 • Minardi wants to buy old Ferrari V12s • Rumor: Williams will need to take option on Frentzen for '97 before end of this month
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Re: The Virtual Racing Career of Nathan van Dijk

Postby BassTrombone » 13 Feb 2021, 15:35

1996 British Grand Prix


Damon Hill is the man to beat at the moment; the Briton has the momentum going into his home race. After Benetton's reliability woes, only Hill's teammate, Jacques Villeneuve, seems to be a serious competitor for the championship. Will the Canadian rookie be able to turn the situation around and get the upper hand over Hill again? More drivers and teams will be looking to impress close to home: Herbert wants to bounce back, Irvine wants to snatch another podium, just like Coulthard. Williams, McLaren, Jordan and many others would also love to do well in front of many regional sponsors.


Qualifying

Damon Hill kept his excellent form in qualifying; he secured his sixth consecutive pole position. Just like in France, he was joined on the front row by his compatriot Johnny Herbert, with Jean Alesi just behind him in 3rd. Michael Schumacher showed he can still be very close to the top with a 4th place, while Jacques Villeneuve again somewhat disappointed in qualifying with only a 5th place. Gerhard Berger did surprisingly well to close off the top six. The biggest disappointment of the midfield was probably young Dutchman Nathan van Dijk. The DFC driver only managed a 17th place, well behind his rookie teammate Pedro Diniz.

Results
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Race

Both Ferraris rocketed off their starting positions: Michael Schumacher took the lead and Eddie Irvine jumped from 8th to 4th. Hill and Herbert dropped to 2nd and 3rd as a result, while Alesi and Villeneuve completed the top six. As the field rushed over the Hangar Straight, it was clear that more position changes were coming up. Herbert took a good slipstream behind Hill and outbraked him into Stowe. Alesi followed his teammate's example to take 4th from Irvine. The latter clearly could not really capitalise from his excellent start, because going into lap 2, Villeneuve also found a way past in Copse corner. Meanwhile, Hill's race went in a similar direction as Irvine's, when Alesi got past in Stowe and Villeneuve made it two passes in one lap as he passed his British teammate in Abbey. After all the position changes in the first two laps, Schumacher led the pack. The German was followed by Herbert, Alesi, Villeneuve, Hill and Irvine.

While Hill was able to settle in 5th, Irvine would drop back even further during the first stint. In lap 5, Heinz-Harald Frentzen entered the top six when he overtook Irvine in Copse with a bold move. A bit further ahead, Alesi had closed the gap to his teammate and got past in Stowe. The Frenchman was the fastest driver on track at this stage and started slowly closing the gap to Schumacher. Villeneuve was quick as well and closed the gap to Herbert in the next laps. The Canadian found a way past the Briton in lap 9, when he benefitted from a good slipstream and braked extremely late for Stowe. By that time, Alesi had closed the gap to Schumacher, although the German defended his position well. It took the Frenchman until lap 11 to make a successful move in Stowe to conquer the lead. The top six at that moment: Alesi, Schumacher, Villeneuve, Herbert, Hill and Frentzen.

An explanation for Alesi's and Villeneuve's superior pace came in lap 16, when both drivers were the first ones to make a pit stop for fuel. Herbert had already had to retire from the race at that moment due to a suspension failure. Coulthard, who was 6th after Herbert's retirement, was the next one to stop in lap 17, followed by Frentzen a lap later. The German came back on track in 6th position, but Mika Hakkinen was right on his tail and passed him into Stowe. Frentzen would stay in the top 6, however, because Alesi's engine failed just moments later. The Frenchman saw a big chance of a win go up into smoke. Gerhard Berger and Irvine had moved up into 4th and 5th position as a result of all the retirements and pit stops, but problems struck both of them in lap 19. Irvine saw his one stop strategy being compromised because he had to pit early with electrical problems, while Berger's race ended altogether when his engine blew up. The last 2-stoppers to come in for tyres and fuel were Hakkinen in lap 20 and Schumacher in lap 22. After the German's stop, Hill led the race, followed by Schumacher, Villeneuve, Frentzen, Barrichello and Coulthard. Hill and Barrichello still had to make their only pit stop, though.

That moment came for both the Briton and the Brazilian in lap 26, with Hill coming back on track in 3rd and Barrichello all the way down in 11th. As the field seemed to settle into these positions, Hill's championship position suddenly massively improved when Villeneuve pulled over to the side of the track with engine issues. The Canadian was robbed from a certain podium position, with serious chances of more than just that. A new name entered the top six as a result: Nathan van Dijk was on the longest first stint of the field and it had brought him into 6th by this stage. The talented Dutchman drove an impressively solid race, but he dropped back into the lower midfield after his stop in lap 31. Before the second series of stops came up, some on-track action was anticipated as Irvine closed in on Coulthard in the battle for 4th place. Just when the Ulsterman was within a second of the Scot, a curious incident occurred. Both drivers closed in on Simtek's Tom Kristensen to lap him. The Dane moved out of the way nicely for Coulthard, but immediately cut back onto the racing line when the McLaren was past. Irvine could not avoid a touche, although both cars could continue undamaged. It did cost Irvine some time, though, and he had to close the gap once again.

The second round of stops began in lap 39, when Schumacher was the first one to come in. The German came back on track behind Hill, although the gap was small. Frentzen and Hakkinen followed a lap later. Both Coulthard and Irvine stopped in lap 41, when the Ulsterman had closed the gap once again. Ferrari did a remarkably good job, because Irvine's stop was so much faster than Coulthard's that he passed him in the pits. It looked like Ferrari's best weekend of the year by a mile and this excellent stop on a crucial moment was the icing on the cake for the Italians, who were visibly satisfied. After all stops were done, the top six was Hill, Schumacher, Frentzen, Irvine, Coulthard and Hakkinen, who had stayed well in front of Panis and Van Dijk after his second stop.

At the front, Schumacher made good use of his fresher tyres to creep towards Hill again. A tense battle would follow, but the key moment looked to happen in lap 45. Schumacher positioned his Ferrari well on the Hangar Straight and got alongside Hill in the braking zone for Stowe. The German was on the inside and was able to get out of the corner in the lead. He could extend the gap slightly over the next few laps up to 3 seconds, before his tyres also seemed to suffer. His compatriot Frentzen suffered more, though, when his engine failed just 14 laps before the finish. Another strong race would not be rewarded for the German, who could not avoid looking very frustrated with his unreliable car.

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Damon Hill takes a hard fought and controversial home win

The backmarkers would once again play a controversial role in this race in lap 53. This time, it was Hiro Matsushita who had to be lapped by the front runners. Schumacher was severely held up by the Japanese Larrousse DAMS driver, enabling Hill to close the gap to less than a second again. The pressure was back on, as Schumacher clearly could not raise the pace anymore. Hill was right on his gearbox for several laps, but the German once again defended his position fiercely. Hakkinen caused some extra consternation in lap 55 by spinning and having to go through the gravel trap, but the Finn was lucky enough not to lose any places. The leaders had still not settled for the final result, however, and just three laps before the end, Hill pulled a similar move on Schumacher as the latter had done a while before on him to take the lead again. Schumacher did not have an answer to that anymore and had to settle for 2nd behind Hill. Irvine completed a double podium for Ferrari with 3rd place, while Coulthard and Hakkinen once again managed a double points finish for McLaren and Panis took the final point for Ligier.

Results

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Post-Race Quotes

Damon Hill (1st): "I definitely enjoyed this win; it was a hard fought one. It's great to maximize my championship lead and as I said, I really enjoyed the fight with Schumacher. I'm very happy to have been the best one here today."
Michael Schumacher (2nd): "Let me start by giving Ferrari a big compliment. The car is getting better and better and, perhaps more importantly, more reliable. But I really should have won today. I absolutely don't understand what Matsushita was doing, but I know for sure that's what made me lose this race. I could have managed the gap, I'm sure of it."
Eddie Irvine (3rd): "Like Michael, I need to thank the team. That pit stop was amazing and it was just what I needed to pass Coulthard. I'm glad I could reward the guys with a podium finish."
Nathan van Dijk (7th): "7th is of course never a fun place to finish, but we need to look on the bright side. I was able to keep in front of cars that were way lighter on fuel in the first stint, even though I perhaps lost a bit too much time trying to defend my position from them. I ran 6th in the race for a while, the car felt stable and we beat both Jordans at the finish."
Jos Verstappen (retired): "Another race, another difficult weekend to be honest. I know the team has been fully focusing on next year for a while now and it shows on track this year. The fact that I had to retire from a race once again didn't exactly cheer me up too, as you can probably imagine."


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Re: The Virtual Racing Career of Nathan van Dijk

Postby BassTrombone » 13 Feb 2021, 16:14

Press Release - Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot

Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot announces that its first driver, Rubens Barrichello, will miss the German Grand Prix. Barrichello has torn his angle cruciate ligaments during fitness training after the British Grand Prix. Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot wishes Barrichello well and both driver and team expect that he will be back in the car for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Test driver Gianni Morbidelli will replace Barrichello in the German GP. Morbidelli (28) is an experienced F1 driver and has regularly tested for Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot during this season. Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot is confident that Morbidelli will do well in Germany and wishes him good luck.


Press Release - Minardi Team

Minardi Team announces a new second driver for the remainder of the 1996 Formula 1 season. Giovanni Lavaggi will be replacing Giancarlo Fisichella, who drove for the team on a loan race-by-race contract. Lavaggi already gathered experience in F1, when the now 38 year old Italian drove four Grands Prix in 1995. Team owner Giancarlo Minardi commented: "We are delighted to hire Giovanni and to have a second driver on a fixed basis again. We also really need to thank Giancarlo Fisichella, who did very well during the races he drove for us. The future of Minardi Team is now secured as well, because the deal with Giovanni Lavaggi includes lucrative sponsor deals."


Press Release - MTV Simtek Ford

MTV Simtek Ford confirms that it will not take part in the remaining six races of the 1996 Formula 1 season. Team principal Nick Wirth explained the situation, saying "We had to take the difficult decision to withdraw for the remainder of 1996, in order to be in a better financial position in the future. Talks with possible investors are ongoing and at Simtek, we are confident that we will be back stronger next year."
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Re: The Virtual Racing Career of Nathan van Dijk

Postby BassTrombone » 14 Feb 2021, 20:21

1996 German Grand Prix


The field has changed before the German GP: Simtek is missing in action and two Italians make their comeback on the grid: Gianni Morbidelli and Giovanni "Johnny Carwash" Lavaggi. They are re-entering F1 on a track with some very special characteristics: the Hockenheimring, the fastest circuit on the calendar. Those who can get their engine and their low downforce setup right, will be successful... As long as the car lasts an entire race distance. Damon Hill will once again be looking to strenghten his championship lead, while Jacques Villeneuve will look to bounce back. Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher finally finished on the podium in the British GP and more success in front of his home crowd may give a difficult season a silver lining.


Qualifying

Benetton had done their homework right, its low downforce setup clearly was very effective as Johnny Herbert took pole position by almost half a second. He was joined on the front row by the other Benetton of Jean Alesi. Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve fell just short of Alesi's time: less than two tenths separated the four drivers. Martin Brundle surprisingly showed how strong the Peugeot engine still is by qualifying 6th. His substitute teammate Gianni Morbidelli did a solid job too with a 9th place. Mercedes had something to think about on home soil, since the McLarens could only manage a 12th and 14th place. They were separated by another disappointing driver: Eddie Irvine, who was more than a second slower than Schumacher. At the back, Giovanni Lavaggi showed he has not significantly over last year.

Results

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Race

Michael Schumacher had a great start in front of his cheering fans, but the drivers of his former team, Johnny Herbert and Jean Alesi, worked well together to keep him behind. Martin Brundle brilliantly jumped both Williams to take 4th, with Damon Hill coming out of the Nordkurve in 5th and Jacques Villeneuve in 6th. After the first corner, the slipstreaming battle was on. Firstly, Schumacher passed Alesi at the Clark chicane and Villeneuve did the same to Hill. Alesi did not have the momentum out of Clark and lost even more on the second straight, on the way to the Ostkurve, when both Brundle and Villeneuve got past. Badoer moved himself into the top 6 at the same location by outbraking Hill. Even after two overtakes, Villeneuve was not done yet: he also got passed Brundle to take 3rd at the Senna chicane. At the front, Herbert and Schumacher had already gotten quite a comfortable position in 1st and 2nd. Villeneuve, Brundle, Alesi and Badoer completed the top six after the first lap.

Brundle's excellent start would not prove to be an omen for an excellent race. The Briton dropped back one place a lap in the laps 2-4. Firstly, Alesi passed him in the Senna Chicane, then Badoer at Clark and in lap 4, Hill got back into the points in the Ostkurve. Hill was recovering from a poor opening stage anyway and closed in on Badoer as well. In lap 7, he made again good use of the slipstream to pass the Italian in the Clark chicane. Badoer had to compromise his exit, enabling Brundle to set himself up for a pass in the Ostkurve. The Briton was doing a fine job in Barrichello's absence. Another driver on the move was Jean Alesi. The Frenchman had also lost out in the first lap, but he was hunting down Villeneuve and caught him in lap 11. A clean pass in the Clark chicane did the job to move Alesi back into the top three. The top six by this stage was made up by Herbert, Schumacher, Alesi, Villeneuve, Hill and Brundle. Alesi could unfortunately not enjoy his podium position for long: the transmission in his Benetton failed in lap 14 and the Frenchman had to retire for the fourth race in succession, promoting Heinz-Harald Frentzen to the points.

Frentzen was the first one to make a planned pit stop in lap 15. It became clear in the subsequent laps that he was the only front runner on a two stop strategy. Frentzen's stop had promoted Badoer back to 6th, where he was kept running until he had to slow down due to a puncture. The Italian struggled to get his car back into the pits, but when entering the Motodrom section, his race would end harshly. Gerhard Berger, running in 7th position, did not seem to notice that the Ligier was running slowly and drove into the back of it. The Sauber was launched in the air, landed again and came to a standstill in the wall on the outside of the Agip corner. Badoer got out of his car uninjured, but Berger was taken to the hospital for medical checks. Thankfully the news came in the evening that also the Austrian was not injured apart from some bruises.

Before the one stoppers had to come to the pits for tyres and fuel, Herbert was still leading the race, followed by Schumacher, Villeneuve, Hill, Brundle and Coulthard. Lap 20 saw Herbert, Schumacher and Brundle make their only stop. They would be followed by Villeneuve and Coulthard in lap 22 and Hill in lap 23. After those stops, the top six was unchanged, except for Frentzen who was running in 6th again until he made his second stop in lap 30 and Mika Hakkinen, who had inherited 6th place, in lap 31. Frentzen was now back in the points as he had stayed in front of Coulthard after his second stop. Not too much on-track action occurred in this phase, apart from one surprising and fierce battle in the midfield. Eddie Irvine was one of the last drivers to stop and when he got out of the pits, he came back on track right behind Nathan van Dijk, who had stopped a few laps earlier. Van Dijk had done well to stay in front of Irvine during his entire first stint, but the Ulsterman now had the pressure on him. The pair fought spectacularly for several laps until Irvine finally managed to pull a small gap and Van Dijk was defeated.

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Johnny Herbert cruises to his first victory of the year in Germany

Brundle was driving a somewhat anonymous, but very strong race and looked to be heading for a strong points finish. However, he had the misfortune of getting a puncture early in lap 33. The Briton was not able to reach the pits anymore and his race was over. This promoted Coulthard back into the top 6, but his teammate Hakkinen was catching him on fresher tyres. Hakkinen got past in lap 37, but the Finn was not able to close the gap to Frentzen in 5th anymore. With that move, the points scorers were decided and Herbert cruised home to his first win of the season. Schumacher finished 2nd again, with Villeneuve taking the final spot on the podium. Hill got an underwhelming 4th place, while Frentzen was happy he finally scored some points again. Hakkinen scored the final point for McLaren.

Results

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Post-Race Quotes

Johnny Herbert (1st): "We went all-in this weekend and we were rewarded in the best possible way. Everything went very well this weekend and I'm happy and relieved to finally win a race again. The championship is over for us this year, I think, but we definitely want to go for more successes like this one."
Michael Schumacher (2nd): "It was great to see all the grandstands here in red for the first time and it feels amazing that I could thank the fans from the podium. We were never really fast enough to challenge for the win today, but I am satisfied nonetheless."
Jacques Villeneuve (3rd): "We never really made the low downforce setup work this weekend. Both Damon and I suffered from that, but at least I could beat him today. The title battle is still on and if I can keep beating him, who knows what may happen."
Nathan van Dijk (9th): "The result was not the best of the year, but we knew already before the weekend that the car is draggy and a bit low on power. But I had a lot of fun during the race and I was able to show my best side in the battle with Irvine, I think."
Jos Verstappen (retired): "With the V8, there was only one thing we could do this weekend, because we simply lack the straight line speed. We wanted to stay out of trouble, keep running and hope for a race with a lot of attrition. Unfortunately, the opposite happened."


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Re: The Virtual Racing Career of Nathan van Dijk

Postby BassTrombone » 16 Feb 2021, 19:53

GRAND PRIX NEWS
Your monthly source for racing news, stories and rumors | Wednesday 7th August, 1996


Who Will Take Bridgestones?

Formula 1 will again have a second tyre manufacturer in 1997, because Bridgestone will make its entry into the sport. The Japanese manufacturer has started testing a few weeks ago, when Brazilian Tarso Marques ran a TWR-owned Ligier on Bridgestone tyres on the Suzuka circuit. The choice of that car is no coincidence: Tom Walkinshaw's TWR is also the owner of the Arrows team, the only team that has an officially confirmed contract with Bridgestone for the 1997 season. The 1995-spec Ligier is of course an inheritance from the time that Walkinshaw managed the French team.

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The situation at Goodyear is rather different. The American supplier has already signed contracts with Williams, McLaren, Jordan, Ferrari and Sauber for next year. The only remaining team from the current constructors' top six, is Benetton, but they are also expected to confirm a deal with Goodyear soon. Goodyear is obliged to supply at least 40% of the grid with tyres if called upon to do so. Even if Simtek returns and the new Stewart, Lola and Dome teams all participate in 1997, Goodyear already fulfills that requirement as soon as Benetton signs. It seems unlikely that Goodyear wants to supply more teams, because it will add more costs than benefits. The only curious detail is that Dome is currently testing a car on Goodyear tyres, although the Japanese connection may move them to Bridgestone anyway.


Preparations at the New Teams

No less than three completely new teams are still planning to enter the F1 grid from 1997 onwards. That means that 30 cars will be competing in every qualifying session to make it to the 26-car grid, even if Simtek does not return next year. In other words, four cars will not qualify, so if a team arrives underprepared at the start of the season, there is a serious chance they will never start a race at all. Grand Prix News investigated what the current status of Dome, Lola and Stewart is and how they are going to avoid such a shameful fate.

Japanese constructor Dome has been testing at several Japanese circuits with the F105. Dome is an experienced manufacturer of race cars and reports from Japan indicate that the car is setting reasonably competitive lap times. Their team seemed to materialize over the past few weeks, as two important contracts have been signed. Engines will come from Mugen in 1997: after long negotiations it was decided that Dome can use 1996-spec engines in 1997. Furthermore, a first major sponsor has been signed to help the team prepare for next season: 7-Eleven logos have appeared on the test car, because the convenience store chain will financially support Dome's testing program for the rest of this year. An extension of this deal for 1997 seems very likely. It is also very probable that Japanese test driver Shinji Nakano will sign for the team. He has done the majority of the testing and will travel with the team to Europe to accumulate more mileage. For the second driver seat, Marco Apicella, who also already did some testing, Jörg Müller and Tom Kristensen are mentioned as candidates.

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Despite being the only constructor of the three with prior F1 experience, and a lot of that, Lola's 1997 entry remains a bit of a mistery so far. After the test mule that was run by the team last year, not too much news has surfaced. Lola's owner Eric Broadley has confirmed that the team is still looking to get a big enough budget in place. A major partner has not yet been found until now and the rumor mill has fallen quiet on that topic. An engine deal is also not yet in place, although whispers have been heard lately that Lola is actually looking to build its own engines in the near future. A combination of a sponsorship deal and an engine badging deal would be an interesting possibility for Lola, but developing an engine will not yet be possible for 1997. If the team decides to compete next year anyway, it will need a deal as a stopgap. A Ford or Hart V8 looks like the only option. Picking drivers looks loke a slightly lower priority for Lola so far.

Stewart Grand Prix, owned by F1 legend Jackie Stewart and his son Paul, is widely considered as the most convincing new team so far. Although a car will not be launched until December, the team has already acquired one important and strong weapon: a development deal with Ford will make Stewart a works team from the word go. They are also close to complete a healthy budget for 1997, since strong rumors suggest that a deal with HSBC will be agreed within the next few weeks. Drivers have not been confirmed yet, but it is likely that Stewart can come to some good deals right after the top teams finalize their line-ups.


Short but Sweet

Malaysia getting serious to organize GP • Ligier keeps Mugen engines in 1997 • Shannon said to buy Simtek assets • Alain Prost reportedly close to buy Ligier team • L'Oréal to remain title sponsor for Larrousse DAMS next year
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