February

1 FIA boss Max Mosley reveals that "black box" recorders will be developed to allow extra insight into Fl accidents.

2 Renault Sport boss Patrick Faure commits the Regie to a continued F1 programme beyond the 1997 season. Thanks to a ruling by the French motor sport federation, though, the team's home GP will be hosted by Paul Ricard rather than Magny-Cours from that year onwards

4 Wayne Taylor/Scott Sharp/Jim Pace emerge victorious from a rather lacklustre Daytona 24 Hours, their Oldsmobile-engined Riley and Scott World Sports Car seeing off the Ferrari 333 SP of owner Gianpiero Moretti/Massimiliano Papis/Bob Wollek/Didier Theys by just over a minute The next-best finisher was a mere 48 laps down . .

5 Benetton launches its B196 F1 challenger at a highly-theatrical ceremony in Taormina, Sicily. An evolution of the car which took the team to drivers' and constructors' titles in 1995, it features Renault's latest RS8 V10 engine and a longitudinally-mounted seven-speed gearbox. Team chief Flavio Briatore is in cautious mood, however, stating that Ferrari armed with Michael Schumacher will be the team to beat.

5 On his first acquaintance with an F1 car since his horrific Australian GP qualifying shunt, Mika Hakkinen delights McLaren with a stunning performance in secret testing at Paul Ricard. The indomitable Finn laps faster than Michael Schumacher's Ferrari.

5 The FIA is rumoured to be considering a proposal to make all 14 rallies included in the unfeasibly complex rotation system for the World Championship and Two-Litre World Championship count for the "full" World Championship in 1997. The Tour of Corsica is already making hefty concessions, altering almost every one of its traditional stages for this year's event in a bid to increase its promotability.

5 Four-times World Rally Champion John Kankkunen is believed to be making a 1996 World Championship bid, even though the team, Toyota Team Europe, is banned for the season in the wake of its Catalan exclusion dramas. Instead, the experienced Finn is likely to drive under the aegis of a variety of importer teams.

5 Opel confirms British F3 champion Oliver Gavin, left, and Hans Joachim Stuck still smarting from a high profile court case over alleged tax irregularities as part of its eight-car ITC attack.

5 Nigel Mansell is linked to a Le Mans drive in Moody Fayed's Harrods McLaren Fl GTR. There is also a slim chance that Prodrive. the reigning World Rally Champion, will run a McLaren La Sarthe. Another distinguished rallyman of a slightly different vintage, former Lancia star Sandro Munari, joins Rocky Agusta's BPR Global Endurance set-up. He will drive a Callaway Corvette C6 GT2 car.

8 Having driven briefly at Donington four days earlier, James Thompson (left) has his first serious run in a Vauxhall Vectra touring car at Brands Hatch. The Yorkshire youngster had been out of the cockpit for six months after a massive testing accident at Knockhill

8 Ford's former touring car stalwart Andy Rouse has his first exploratory run in a Nissan Primera at Snetterton. The Binley preparation expert is rumoured to be gearing up for a two-car assault on the BTCC.

9 Weeks of speculation, rumour-mongering and seven-up driver shoot-outs come to an end with the announcement that Steve Robertson, top, will drive Ford's second West Surrey Racing run Mondeo in the BTCC. The former British F3 frontrunner and Indy Lights champion edges out Warren Hughes, who gets a testing role as his consolation prize.

9 On the eve of the Swedish Rally, Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone reveal their vision of rallying's future at a stormy Karlstad press conference. The calendar will be increased to an F1-rlvalling 16 events by the end of the decade - while the scoring system will also mirror that of F1 . Most controversially, broadcasters will be both charged and required to transmit reports from all of the events an announcement that sparked an instant brouhaha among both the assembled media corps and team personnel.

9 Mosley and last year's Swedish winner Kenneth Eriksson subsequently exchange heated words over the FIA's policy on radio coverage. Its approved broadcaster, Radio City AB, could not be heard outside of the Hagfors area, thus missing out around a third of the rally route.

9 Richard Burns, Mitsubishi's latest signing, finally gets his hands on a works Lancer E3, handling the car for some 50 miles with teammate Tommi Makinen alongside.

11 Having spoiled last year's Mitsubishi 1-2 with a petulant (and public) tantrum about team orders, Makinen redeems himself by taking his Lancer to a nail-biting Swedish Rally triumph. The Finn and Seppo Harjanne hold off a rally-long challenge from the excellent Carlos Sainz/Luis Moya in the rejuvenated Ford Escort Cosworth, having entered the final leg just 15s in front of the Spanish pair. Colin McRae/Derek Ringer recover from tyre and transmission troubles to post a worthy third place for Subaru, overhauling the Toyota Celica of Juha Kankkunen/Nicky Grist when the latter pair suffer a crucial and timeconsuming spin during the final leg.

11 McLaren unveils its new F1 car, the MP4/11, at Estoril, but much of the limelight is stolen by Alain Prost (who gives the car its first shakedown run) and Mika Hakkinen, below. The latter is now likely to return to Grand Prix racing where he left off, in Australia. Team chief Ron Dennis notes that only 7.5% of the MP4/11 is carried over from its unloved (and ugly) predecessor; it also sports the most overtly aerodynamic treatment of the new-for-'96 mandaly raised cockpit sides seen to date.

11 Dale Jarrett gets his NASCAR season off to a winning start at the invitation, non-points scoring Busch Clash race. But Dale "Ironhead" Earnhardt sticks his Chevrolet on pole for the Daytona 500, the Winston Cup's most prestigious event.

12 Keen not to be upstaged by McLaren, Williams wheels out its evolutionary new machine, the FW18. Revised cockpit sides and the odd new decal are the only visual differences from race-winning FW17, although it utilises Renault's new RS8 under the skin. Damon Hill announces his intention to win races and the title - buoyed now doubt, by the early testing troubles endured by Benetton with its B196.

12 Jimmy Vasser (Reynard-Honda) rattles a few cages by setting quickest time in the first IndyCar test of the season, lapping the 1.5mile Homestead Motor Sports Complex a shade faster than Paul Tracy's Penske-Mercedes

12 The RACMSA is reported to be considering the withdrawal of British Championship rallies from the European Championship, concerned by the FIA's ruling that World Rally Cars will be given free reign in regional championship (ie European) rallies albeit it with a choking 32-millimetre air restriction from 1997 onwards.

12 Doomed Grand Prix projects dept: lkuzawa International confirms that it has scrapped plans to enter F1 in 1997 with an Enrique Scalabroni-designed, Peter Windsor-run car.