- 12 March 1997
Stewart taking on Formula One's big guys again
(Mar 12, 1997 - 14:02 EST) -- Jackie Stewart, auto racing's "Wee Scot," never has been afraid to take on the giants of his sport.
As a driver, Stewart was the greatest of his era and one of the greatest of all time. He won a then-record 27 races and three Formula One championships in only 99 starts.
When Stewart retired following the 1973 season, he was only 34.
After 23 years on the fringes of the sport -- among other things as a TV commentator and a spokesman for Ford -- Stewart is back fighting the giants.
Together with his son, Paul, who has run his own team for years at lower levels of the sport, he has started Stewart Grand Prix from scratch, putting the whole England-based operation together in less than one year.
Last Sunday, in Melbourne, Australia, the team debuted to mixed reviews.
Rubens Barrichello of Brazil ran much of the race with his oil warning light on before his engine blew and finished 11th, while Jan Magnussen of Denmark wound up 13th with a rear-suspension failure.
"We didn't expect miracles," the elder Stewart said. "We've been around long enough to know you just can't wake up a giant and beat him up. The McLarens, the Williams, the Benettons, the Ferraris, etc., have been at it for a long time."
It's certainly a daunting task, even for someone with Stewart's background.
"I would have never done this but for my son Paul," Stewart said. "I wouldn't be back in auto racing at this level. But I also must say that I couldn't have put together this Formula One team without my son. He's done a remarkable job.
"I'm the executive chairman and he's the managing director of the company and we've been working 18-19 hours a day at it. It's wonderful to be with my son. If I'd done this at an earlier age, he wouldn't have been ready for it and neither would I.
"This is the time to do it, and I'm enjoying the challenge," he added. "It's certainly the biggest undertaking I've ever taken on, but I wouldn't have done it without Paul and I couldn't have done it without the Ford Motor Co."
Stewart said the team's startup budget was $24 million, probably about half of what the top established teams are spending per year.
"It's a very expensive operation but, then again, it's a totally global activity and it reaches five continents and 17 races," Stewart said. "So I think the money side of it is very heavily capital intensified.
"The expense sounds large, but the exposure is enormous, and that's only corporate image-wise. But the networking opportunities in some cases, depending on the produce area, can be substantial."
Some people were surprised with the driver choices, but Stewart is convinced that they will be proved right eventually.
"Paul and I decided we wanted young drivers," he said. "That was a very important issue for us because we wanted drivers who could grow with the team."
Magnussen, 23, won the British Formula Three championship, beating the career-victory marks of racers such as the late Ayrton Senna and Stewart himself. Barrichello, 24, already has four years in Formula One.
If his guess is correct, Stewart said, the new team should be making its mark within 3-5 years.
"One has to have patience for us because we've got to crawl and walk before we run," Stewart said. "We'll try very hard to do it and we'll give 110 percent effort, but please have patience with us and don't expect miracles."
End Adv for Thursday March 13
First test for Morbidelli in the F 310 B
Maranello, 12th March - Ferrari's first day of testing since the Australian Grand Prix
Today at Fiorano, Gianni Morbidelli had his first drive in a F 310 B. Scuderia Ferrari - Marlboro's official test driver completed 42 laps with a best time of 1m 02.49s. In the morning Morbidelli concentrated on getting comfortable in the cockpit. Testing was halted at around 3pm because of a problem with the 046/2 specification engine.
Morbidelli will continue testing until the end of Friday.
Jury told Senna's car had problems
IMOLA, Italy (Mar 12, 1997 - 10:49 EST) - Ayrton Senna could only have gone off the Tamburello bend if there was a problem with his car, a court was told Wednesday, as the trial continued into the death of the Brazilian driver.
Six men face manslaughter charges after his fatal crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix -- team owner Frank Williams, his technical director Patrick Head and chief designer Adrian Newey, along with three race officials.
As the trial resumed, Italian Pierluigi Martini was called by state prosecutor Maurizio Passarini to testify as a former Formula One driver who knew the Imola circuit and its Tamburello curve well.
"A driver like Ayrton Senna didn't go off the track at that point unless there was a problem," Martini said.
"A lot of things can happen during a race, but in this particular case I don't know what the problem could have been."
Martini said drivers took the curve at 300km/h and that there was a small dip in the middle of the track which disturbed the cars.
"Myself, Senna and others were there two weeks before the race and the circuit officials were very efficient, and had the asphalt smoothed out -- which was the only thing they could do.
"But it only improved the situation slightly. The cars (still) touched the ground and were disturbed, and you just had to hold your line."
However he added that the bump effect was perfectly normal and common to every racing circuit in the world.
Martini went on to explain that cars are susceptible to bumps because of the extremely narrow gap between the bottom of a Formula One car and the ground -- a narrowness which greatly improves adherence.
The Italian felt he could not say that the Tamburello bump had caused Senna to veer off the track.
But he added: "Senna complained to me that his car was jumpy, and that the cockpit was narrow. He said it at Aida (Japan), three weeks before Imola.
"But the Tamburello could only have created problems for a car which had problems. The people at Imola did everything they could to give us drivers what we asked for."
Passarini's case is based on his conviction that Senna's modified steering column had failed under the stress, causing him to veer off the curve.
But Oreste Dominioni, the lawyer who is defending Williams and has denied the steering broke before the crash, has pointed to the track's asphalt surface and said it had not been fully investigated.
Apologies for Frentzen
Frank Williams has apologized to Heinz-Harald Frentzen after his retirement during the Grand Prix of Australia because of a failing brake disk.
Frentzen said "Team-chef Frank Williams has apologised immediately to me for the technical defect, he said I had done a good job."