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Barrichello undergoes minor surgery
RIO DE JANEIRO, - Brazilian Rubens Barrichello has undergone minor surgery and is expected to be ready for testing with Ferrari next month. Sao Paulo's Alberto Einstein hospital said in a statement on Sunday that Barrichello, who will race for the Italian Formula One team next season after leaving Stewart, had a scheduled operation to correct a problem with his ribs. Barrichello's surgeon Moises Cohen told Brazilian media the Ferrari driver would recover in time for testing in Barcelona on January 8. The Brazilian suffered a huge accident in practice at Imola in 1994 when he flipped his Jordan at speed, two days before compatriot Ayrton Senna was killed in the San Marino Grand Prix. The rib problem is believed to date from that crash.
Schumacher turns Santa for Ferrari party
Michael Schumacher donned a Santa Claus outfit on Sunday to hand out Christmas gifts to the children of staff at his Ferrari team. Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and sporting director Jean Todt had clown faces painted on to the delight of the 300 youngsters at the annual party. ``I'd rather have a helmet to a fake beard,'' said Schumacher, who is hoping to put a disastrous season behind him. The German crashed at the British Grand Prix in July and missed most of the subsequent races. ``I'll be perfectly fit for the first grand prix of the season in Australia and I'll have completely forgotten the accident,'' he said. The Australian world championship opener is scheduled for Melbourne in March.
Toyota gets F1 racing green flag from FIA
TOKYO, Dec 22 - Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday that the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) has certified Toyota to fill the 12th slot of Formula One World Championship Racing (F1) teams. Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG), the Japanese automaker's Cologne-based motorsports subsidiary, and FIA completed a contract that opens the way for TMG's participation in the world's premier motorsports competition, it said. ``The timing is right, the feel is right, and we are ready to go,'' TMG president Ove Andersson said in a statement. Honda Motor Co Ltd is also scheduled to enter F1 racing with the British American Racing (BAR) team, and the German automaker BMW with the Williams team, beginning next year. Toyota officials said earlier this month that the world's third-largest automaker's entry into Formula One racing would not occur before 2002 at the earliest, and by 2003 at the lastest, because of the time needed to pull together an F1 team. Toyota said it would immediately boost its research and development efforts, boost investment in various facilities including a wind-tunnel test site, and sharpen its motorsports management acumen. Toyota has not disclosed details of those investments. Toyota has said its F1 race cars will be fitted with tyres made by Michelin, as Toyota has long cooperated with the French tyre maker in motorsports. That collaboration spans the World Rally Championship (WRC), Le Mans 24-hour endurance race and the All-Japan GT Champsionship. Bridgestone Corp, which started supplying F1 racing tyres from the beginning of 1997, is now the only tyre maker providing F1 racing tyres to all eleven racing teams after Goodyear pulled out F1 racing activities at the end of 1998. Toyota previously announced it is withdrawing from the WRC and Le Mans events after this year.
Zanardi seems set to stay put as BAR sign Manning

LONDON, Dec 22 - Alex Zanardi, the former Indycar champion, looked virtually certain to stay with Williams following the announcement on Wednesday by British American Racing Honda (BAR) that they had signed talented young Briton Darren Manning as a test and development driver. Manning, 24, winner of the Japanese Formula Three title and the prestigious season-ending Macau and Korea 'Grand Prix' events, had been expected to join the BMW-backed Williams team as a replacement for Zanardi. Manning said: ``As a result of a recent test in Jerez, I now know I can handle Formula One power. I am confident I can do a good job for the team.'' Recent widespread speculation had suggested that Zanardi was at loggerheads with Williams after a poor season in Formula One where he failed to score a single point. But reports in Europe on Wednesday claimed that Zanardi will now stay on with Williams for a second year, to the satisfaction of his German team mate Ralf Schumacher who spoke out in support of the Italian this week. Schumacher said: ``When I hear the names being mentioned as possibles for the second seat, I have come to the conclusion that Zanardi might be by far the best solution.''
Arrows confirm De La Rosa for 2000

The Arrows Formula One team have officially confirmed Spanish driver Pedro De la Rosa for next season but the second slot remains open. A team spokeswoman said on Thursday that De La Rosa was staying after a new sponsorship deal was agreed. The British-based team, who scored just one point in 1999 with the Spaniard finishing sixth in Australia, had no number two confirmed as yet although Dutchman Jos Verstappen has been linked to the drive. Japan's Tora Takagi, who replaced Finland's Mika Salo just before the start of last season, was the second driver in 1999. Arrows have also yet to name an official test driver although Australian Mark Webber could be in the frame. Webber, whose works Mercedes sportscar spectacularly somersaulted twice before this year's Le Mans 24 Hours race, tested with the team in Spain recently. He has already signed to race in the Formula 3000 championship next season with the European team, the official Arrows Junior Formula One team for 2000. Australian newspapers have reported that Webber needs to raise around $2.0 million to secure the test driver's job.
New Williams to be unveiled on January 10

MUNICH, Dec 28 Williams will unveil their car for next year's Formula One world championship on January 10, BMW, the team's new engine suppliers, said on Tuesday. The car will be shown at the Munich headquarters of BMW AG (BMWG.F). The British-based team, which will run under the name of BMW WilliamsF1, will have German Ralf Schumacher as number one driver. The team said earlier this month that reports that Italy's Alex Zanardi had lost his place as second driver were pure speculation.
Formula One ready to take the wraps off

LONDON, Jan 3 - The latest Formula One cars and drivers will be appearing in unfamiliar surroundings in the next few weeks as teams gear up for the new season with attention-seeking launches around Europe. An art museum in Barcelona, a conference centre near London's Houses of Parliament and the calm of Lord's cricket ground figure among the more unusual backdrops. With the start to the 2000 season a little more than two months away in Australia on March 12, most teams are ready to present their new cars, drivers and liveries. Champion constructors Ferrari, with German Michael Schumacher joined by Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, have yet to name a date but their new car is sure to be unveiled at their Maranello headquarters at the end of the month. ``Any time between January 25 and 30 is possible,'' said a Ferrari spokesman last week. Newcomers Jaguar, previously the Stewart team, have reserved January 25 for the launch of their R1 car at Lord's, a venue soaked in British sporting history and tradition. Briton Eddie Irvine, championship runner-up last season at Ferrari before joining Jaguar, may feel at home there despite his otherwise irreverent nature. The Northern Irishman described life with Schumacher at the Italian team as ``like being hit over the head with a cricket bat four days in a row.''
The car is expected to be painted in traditional British racing green, as displayed at last year's Frankfurt motor show, but it could appear more yellowy to the armchair viewer because television distorts some colours. But even the weight of the paint could be a worry in a sport where little is ever straightforward. ``It might sound ridiculous but paint can really make a difference to the car's chances of winning races next season,'' newspapers have quoted a team source as saying. ``Green is still the favoured colour but it may have to be another shade. We are playing with fractions here.'' British American Racing, whose debut season in 1999 started confidently with a flamboyant light and sound show and ended with no points, are also appearing in London. The launch of the new BAR, first fruit of a partnership with carmakers Honda, will be on January 24 at a conference centre opposite the ancient Westminster Abbey and a short stroll from the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. The car has already been tested, the first new model in action, but the livery remains secret. Jordan complete the London launches on January 31 with the unveiling of their Mugen-Honda powered EJ10 -- so named because Eddie Jordan is celebrating his 10th season as a team owner.
Italian Jarno Trulli is their new driver, replacing the retired Damon Hill alongside German Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Before that, Benetton will be at the Catalan National Art Museum in Barcelona on January 17. Sauber -- with Finland's Mika Salo now on board -- are putting their new C19 on stage at the Zurich Hallenstadion, a popular venue for rock concerts, on February 2. German carmakers BMW, returning to Formula One as engine providers to Williams, take the limelight first with their team launch at their Munich headquarters on January 10. German Ralf Schumacher and Italian Alex Zanardi, whose future appears more secure after reports that he would lose his job following a dismal season, should be present. Prost have yet to finalise their launch date although Frenchman Jean Alesi and German Nick Heidfeld should be testing the new car later this month. McLaren, usually first on the grid, are likely to be among the tail-enders in showing off their new cars and are not expected to launch before February. Arrows have yet to name their second driver alongside Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa while securing an engine deal has been the Minardi team's priority since November.