In 1998, the grooved tyres, with three grooves, were introduced in the Formula One. Mika Häkkinen was too strong for Michael Schumacher and became world Champion that year. It would also be the last year for the Tyrrell Racing team. In addition, did you know that Zakspeed was seriously working on a comeback on the grid?
During the season it became known that Dome was working on an all-new F1 style gearbox. Rumours directly assumed that the team was eventually gearing up for another assault on Formula One. Their previous attempt with the Dome F105 never appeared on the grid, while the car appeared many times on the track to be tested. Later the news came that Dome was working on the Dome F106. After some research and contact Dome self, they told me that the Dome F106 was an Formula 3 car. Another option is the Dome ML Prototype, this car was constructed in 1998 and frequently tested on Montegi in 1999. This was a test hack for Oval Racing. Read the story here.
Ferrari safety study
In 1998 some pictures appeared of an radical Ferrari F1 car. This was study to make Formula One more safer. The German/Italian Vito Ianniello created the design during his study, the model was presented shortly after the German Grand prix. Vito told the media that he tried to design a car, with new regulations for safety, in the near future. The cockpit was wider, and the so called “safety-blocks” on the side and the bumpers in front and behind the tyres.
Former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi told Auto, Motor und Sport that he had a plan of a new Fittipaldi F1 Team. He already was in contact with Bernie Ecclestone and Jacky Stewart to have this plan materialized.
Lotus Cars USA
In 1998, again, the rumours appeared of Team Lotus, or in this case Lotus Cars, would return to the grid. David Hunt was already working on a comeback of the team, while Lotus Cars USA was working on a plan to bring the team back. During the grand prix weekend at Hockenheim Lotus Cars USA chief executive James Selwa had been spotted in the paddock, meeting with Bernie Eccelstone. Also Don Panoz was involved with the meeting. Previously Panoz already shown his interest in running an United States Grand Prix at Road Atlanta In Georgia.
Nigerian F1 Team
With support of Lamborghini Prince Malik Ado Ibrahim was considered to set up an Nigerian F1 Team. It is not known for me how serious the plans were this team as we all know how he talked himself into the Arrows F1 Team and promised golden mountains with his T-Minus company, but never gave a single penny to Arrows. How Lamborghini got involved with the Nigerian plans I’m not sure. Probably he promised the company as well golden mountains. When Ibrahim talked himself into the Arrows F1 Team, his plans were to re-form the Arrows team into the Nigerian F1 Team.
Read the full story here.
Prost – Peugeot AP01B
During the free practice of the Japanese Grand Prix in 1998 Prost Grand Prix debuted the Prost – Peugeot AP01B. This new car, an so called hybrid car, was also used during the qualification sessions. After the Grand Prix in Magny-Cours the Prost team tested more with the Prost AP01B. The car had a more advanced Peugeot engine. Olivier Panis and Jarno Trulli tested with the car.
Proton – Lotus
Speculations appeared in 1998 that Malaysia’s Proton Car company was working on a return of the Lotus name in the Formula One. Proton purchased 64% of the stakes in Lotus Group. Proton told that they would double the production of their Elise sportscar. Proton’s sister company Petronas was working on a brand new V10 engine sponsored by the Malaysian government at that time.
Shannon Racing Team
The Shannon Racing Team ,which was once competing in the Formula 3 and Formula 3000 in Europe, and destroyed the Forti Corse F1 team by promising to invest in the team, but never did, announced their interest to debut in 1998 in the Formula One with their own team. It was rumoured first that Shannon was to take over the Minardi team in 1997, to accomplish the goal, before they ruined the Forti Corse team (thank god Gian Carlo Minardi did not fall for their lies). How they managed to finance their teams is still unknown. It was only know that Shannon was an Irish company owned by Italians and run out of offices in Milan, linked with some Swiss financial institutions. Read the full story here.
Stefan Grand Prix
Zoran Stefanovic the father behind Stefan Grand Prix tries to enter the Formula One for at least 20 years, sadly he does not manage the financial base for it. During the ’97 season Zoran bought the assets of the Lola Mastercard team, after the team withdrew from Formula one earlier. The plan was to use the car as some base for the Stefan GP01 for 1998, probably powered by Mecachrome V10 engines. Zoran wasn’t able to get the finance together. There were more attempts in later years by Zoran to bring Stefan Grand Prix on the grid. Read the full story here.
In late November 1998 reports suggested that Zakspeed had carried out an audit of the Arrows team. Zakowski together with a delegation of German businessmen had a series of meetings with Arrows and an offer of $44 million was made to buy the team. Zakspeed itself had $14-18 million and the rest was guaranteed by the government of North-Rhine Westphalia.
However there was one big issue. Tom Walkinshaw was only interested in selling the team’s “franchise”, or in other words, he would only sell the team’s place in the Concorde Agreement, their entry – no equipment, cars or premises. Read the full story here.
In the early 1990s the first stories arrived in the media of an eventual come back of the Fittipaldi Automotive team in the paddock. In 1997 the rumour became stronger when Emerson Fittipaldi told Auto, Motor und Sport he wants to run an F1 team again. Quoted; “I have a new Fittipaldi F1 team in my head. I’ve already had long talks with Stewart and Ecclestone to have this materialize.” Read the story here.