Formula one, 2001 season Belgian Grand Prix at Spa: Who drives what in 2002? the jpoc report

The Benetton/Jordan, Fisichella/Trulli situation was finally resolved in the aftermath of the Hungarian race. Benetton held an option on Fisichella for the 2002 season but they allowed this to lapse despite still being interested in the driver's services. The reason was that the option was for the final year of a five year deal and the terms were that Fisichella would be paid a sum somewhere between seven and fifteen million dollars if the option was exercised. Of course, Fisichella was worth barely a tenth of the higher of those figures and there was no way that the team would pay that much money. After all, for such a sum, they could probably have their pick of any driver bar Schumacher. In the end, the anticipated deal with Jordan was struck and Trulli and Fisichella changed places.

Jordan had little control over that arrangement. Benetton-Renault had an option on Trulli and, when they decided to exercise it, there was nothing that Jordan could do other than to pay a sum rumoured to be five million to his rivals for Trulli's contract. He was not going to do that and, having sacked Frentzen and made clear that test driver Zonta was not getting a full time race drive, Eddie Jordan had rather painted himself into a corner that contained few options other than taking Fisichella. At least he gained some stability by signing him up for a three year term. Trulli was on a firm one year deal with an option, on Renault's side, for a further two.

That meant that, if Jordan retained the services of Jean Alesi in 2002, he would be running two drivers who were Briatore cast offs.

After that affair, the longest running "will he won't he" question concerned Mika Hakkinen. Would Mika drive for McLaren in 2002? Would he drive at all or retire to family life? At the Hungaroring, McLaren boss Ron Dennis announced that he would make an announcement about his 2002 driver line up when the time was right. For Ron, that was almost unprecidentedly open and forthcoming but the message between the lines was that Mika had still not agreed terms for 2002. Hakkinen's manager, former world champion Keke Rosberg said that he was certain that Mika would continue to drive for McLaren but nobody was waving contracts about in public so doubt remained. Oddly, given that Coulthard was expressing a considerable degree of enthusiasm for a 2002 drive at McLaren, there was still no contract for him either.

Meanwhile, over at Prost, the team's eponymous boss Alain was expressing his hopes that Heinz-Harald Frentzen would continue to drive for the team in 2002. Of course, that depended on the teram being able to come up with the sponsorship money to pay for a decent engine and to fund a proper development and test programme for the 2002 car let alone pay Frentzen's retainer.

Malaysian Alex Yoong was given his superlicence just before the Spa race. Minardi decided to retain the services of Tarso Marques for that race though and so Yoong would make his debut two weeks later at Monza. The team announced that Yoong would drive for them in 2002 as well and that they would retain Marques as a test driver.

The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
Ken Tyrrell Sadly missed
Belgian GP at Spa September 2nd Which engine goes where?
Belgian GP at Spa September 2nd Business and politics
Belgian GP at Spa September 2nd Teams and personnel
Belgian GP at Spa September 2nd Circuit news
Belgian GP at Spa September 2nd Setting the scene
Belgian GP at Spa September 2nd Prospects for the race
Belgian GP at Spa September 2nd Practice and qualifying
Belgian GP at Spa September 2nd The starting grid
Belgian GP at Spa September 2nd Race report
Belgian GP at Spa September 2nd Results
Belgian GP at Spa September 2nd Championship standings after the race
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