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GP Week : Issue 98
GPWEEK OPINION >> an Bellof elp Rossi to win next year? effort to get from 20th up to third place. He stormed past Teo Fabi, Jacques Laffite, Manfred Winklehock and Keke Rosberg. Then, at Mirabeau, he elegantly slipped his Tyrrell between the guardrail and Rene Arnoux's Ferrari. Suddenly, on lap 31, the race was red-flagged as a result of the conditions. Prost was awarded victory, and half the championship points. Senna was spitting with rage and Bellof, too, was bitterly disappointed; both drivers had been catching the Frenchman fast, and Bellof was the quickest man on the track. That race was the highlight of the German's short F1 career, as Tyrrell was never again able to supply him with a competitive machine. Nonetheless, 1984 wasn't all doom and gloom, as Bellof took the drivers' crown in the World Endurance Championship. In 1985 things weren't any better at Tyrrell, but the future was looking good with an offer from Enzo Ferrari landing on Stefan's desk. Racing a Brun-Porsche on September 1 at the Spa 1000km race that year, the 27-year-old was killed attempting to wrestle the lead from Jackie Ickx through Eau Rouge. His death was German motorsport's loss, but his life inspired many young men in his homeland to put on racing overalls, including Michael Schumacher. The teutonic modern grid is largely credited to Michael's success, but had it not been for Bellof, we might not have Schumi. at Indy last week about how he was confident Yamaha would make the right decision and let him test, after everything he had done for the company. And you can see his point -- two months start on getting the Ducati right for him would be hugely valuable. There is irony too: on the one hand Rossi is insisting that Yamaha honour his contract and give him full support for the rest of this season (there was a tiny hint at Brno tests that they might possibly not); on the other he is asking that he be released early from that same contract. When he quit Honda for Yamaha, HRC was unequivocal. No, he could not test early . . . his contract was until December 31, and that's how it would stay. He went out and won the first race for Yamaha anyway. Things are a little different now. Testing is more restricted. And Rossi's stature is even greater now than it was back in 2004. Some think that Yamaha should stand up for their rights, stick to the contract, and make it as hard as possible for Ducati to beat them. That's why they are here. And if they get a lot of bad Press . . . well, Honda managed to survive it, and Yamaha would have acted with integrity, if not generosity. The other is that the PR downside of refusal would far outweigh anything else. Even at the risk of getting beaten, Yamaha would do themselves more good by showing kindness and humanity to the rider who has brought them so much success. My own view wavers between the two .. . but here is an idea. Why doesn't Yamaha say this: Win three (or four) more races for us this year, and you can go test. Don't win, and you don't test. That way, everybody has a sporting chance. 21