December 11th, 2002

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Jordan & Frentzen settle dispute

Eddie Jordan and Heinz-Harald Frentzen have reportedly reached a friendly agreement in regard to legal action the German driver had undertaken after the Jordan team boss dismissed him from his team in 2001.

Just days before Frentzen's home grand prix in July 2001, Jordan was said to have sent a fax to his home telling his number one driver that his services were no longer needed. In doing so Jordan breached the long standing contract Frentzen had with the Silverstone based squad giving the driver reason to pursue the matter in the legal system.

Frentzen secured two wins for the team, making him their most successful driver, but since the unexpected sacking has failed to complete a full season. A drive with the now defunct Prost team followed in 2001 before he moved to the cash strapped Arrows squad. However he is still owed wages by Tom Walkinshaw and is seeking payment through the courts as he prepares for the 2003 season with the Swiss based Sauber Petronas outfit.

The exact details regarding Heinz-Harald's settlement with Jordan have not been released.
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Mild Seven banned

It looks as if the Mild Seven Renault F1 team is headed for a name change next season after the European Union Court of Justice threw out a challenge from two top cigarette makers over a tough new law that sees the banning of descriptions such as ‘Mild' or ‘Light' on cigarette brands in the EU. The court ruled on Tuesday that the ban was necessary in the best interests of public health.

So what does this mean for Renault? The French based team has already announced their double launch next January, the reason behind the second event being that they can't display their full livery at the Paul Ricard circuit due to their Mild Seven branding. But now that the ‘Mild' has been banned in the EU all together, it is extremely unlikely that they will be allowed to run advertising anywhere in Europe for a product that cannot be legally sold.

There are ways around the new ban, such as parent company, Japan Tobacco, bringing in colour schemes to differentiate between their different strengths, or the F1 team could be branded with other brands from the same company, for example, Camel or Winston. Whatever option they finally decide to take, it seems as if the ‘Mild Seven' won't be on the numbers 8 and 9 cars next year as previously expected.

The Tobacco issue is definitely a strong one, but despite this brands like Marlboro Lights and Mild Seven have enjoyed market exposure with no problems for many years. Even though the court took 2 years to finalise this new directive, these companies have continued to successfully sell their brands worldwide.

Teams in Motorsport that continue to run cigarette sponsorship, such as Renault and BAR, may even be forced to abide by livery amendments in the near future, such as "tobacco warnings" on certain or even all circuits on the calendar.
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Spa hopes - dashed

The Belgian House of Representatives has rejected the proposed new law deferring the ban of tobacco advertising on sports events with international coverage from 2003 to 2006, which could have saved the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix from extinction. With a winning margin of just six votes, (77 to 71) hopes of having the Spa- Francorchamps circuit reinstated to the F1 calendar went up in smoke.

The new law had been approved at the end of November by the Senate, the upper chamber of the Belgian Parliament, however, in order for it to become effective, the proposal, which also included the creation of a fund destined to the financing of programs preventing the use of tobacco, had to be approved by the representatives.

Over the past weeks, several politicians and economic leaders denounced the grave financial impact on the Spa region and the loss of image for Belgium that the departure of Formula One caused. As a result they fought a political battle mainly against the ecologist members of the governing coalition, in order to gain an exemption of the law banning tobacco advertising for the Formula One event until the European directive generalizing the overall ban for the whole EU in 2005 or 2006 takes effect.

The 2003 Belgian GP, which up until this year was held at the Spa- Francorchamps (south-east) circuit, had already been scratched from the 2003 calendar, due to the ban of all tobacco advertising in Belgium from next August.
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