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DATE News (chronologically)
04/12/07
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Midland cars added to 'Hall of Fame'
  • Webber 'excited' about Red Bull progress
  • Off and on track, Heidfeld gains upper hand
  • Honda cannot write off 2007 - Eeckelaert
  • Hamilton on cusp of F1 history
  • F1 drivers welcome traction control ban
  • Schu won't be Massa 'mentor'
  • Villeneuve defends poor album sales

Midland cars added to 'Hall of Fame'
(GMM) Two formula one cars raced under the defunct Midland ownership have been added to the museum of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.

According to the Canadian Automotive Collection, the cars are "significant ... in Canadian motorsport history" because they contested grands prix under the ownership of departed team owner Alex Shnaider, a naturalized Russian.

But one forum writer on the 'Inside Track' website wondered: "These are significant cars in Canadian motorsport history. Really? Why?"

In the grey, black and red colors, F1's Silverstone based outfit raced as Midland for less than a year before selling to Dutch owners who rebranded the team as Spyker.

One of the cars, meanwhile, is painted in the bright yellow Jordan livery of 2005, representing Midland's first year of F1 ownership.

The museum is located in Ontario.

Webber 'excited' about Red Bull progress
(GMM) Mark Webber has enthused about his tenth place finish for Red Bull in last Sunday's Malaysian grand prix.

"I'm not excited about finishing tenth," he insisted to the Australian press. "I'm excited about the potential we're beginning to tap into and the direction we're moving in."

In Australia, 30-year-old Webber's lapped Renault-powered RB3 powered to just thirteenth, but at Sepang Webber was the last car to finish on the lead lap, ahead of the two lapped Hondas.

Moreover, unlike his veteran teammate David Coulthard, Webber qualified for the coveted 'top ten shootout' at both events.

He said: "To get a car home on the lead lap is so much further ahead than where we were two months ago -- we must continue this progression."

Off and on track, Heidfeld gains upper hand
(GMM) Robert Kubica's lackluster start to the 2007 season may have swung the balance of power behind closed doors at BMW back in the favor of German veteran Nick Heidfeld.

Although youngster Kubica ended last year arguably as team boss Mario Theissen's golden boy, Heidfeld has performed strongly so far this season while rookie Pole Kubica has struggled.

Heidfeld, 29, outqualified Kubica in both Australia and Malaysia and has finished twice in fourth place. Kubica's struggles, meanwhile, came into full focus at Sepang, after he finished dead last following a troubled race.

Sections of the media have also sensed a shifting supremacy off the track. Heidfeld's manager is thought to have stridently leaked the apparent talks with Toyota about 2008, while Nick himself has been unusually vocal about his distaste for BMW's Friday driver policy.

Then, after Malaysia, BMW announced that a third driver will not be used at Sakhir this weekend, and possibly beyond.

Theissen is also quoted as telling the specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport that complaining openly about issues is "Nick's right" due to his experience.

Honda cannot write off 2007 - Eeckelaert
(GMM) Honda's engineering director Jacky Eeckelaert has rejected suggestions that the team is already considering 'writing off' the 2007 season.

The Japanese squad is grappling with a fundamental aerodynamic flaw with its uncompetitive RA107, but despite whispers of a 'B' car for the Canadian GP, Eeckelaert said Honda will not give up on the current concept.

"As a works team you can't write off the season –- you're not allowed to do that," he is quoted as saying by the magazine Motorsport News.

"We have to perform this season –- and to get there we have a plan."

Far from simply improving the RA107 racer, however - which in the hands of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button is yet to finish a race on the lead lap - it is understood that Honda are still focusing on identifying exactly where the car's problems lie.

Hamilton on cusp of F1 history
(GMM) With another podium in Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton will enter F1's history books.

The rookie Briton, already credited as being the first black driver on the grid, could on Sunday become the first ever rookie in the history of the sport to stand on the podium after each of his first three grands prix.

But, amid all the mainly British media hype, one of 22-year-old Hamilton's on-track rivals has anonymously asserted that Lewis' podium-filled debut has been more to do with the competitive McLaren MP4-22 than with the reigning GP2 champion himself.

The unnamed rival is quoted as saying in the Spanish newspaper Diario As: "Lewis has done a good job but in qualifying he is on average more than five tenths a lap away from (Fernando) Alonso.

"That's slower than (Giancarlo) Fisichella was (alongside Alonso at Renault); and nobody raves about Giancarlo any more."

A report in the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, meanwhile, reveals that Hamilton flirted with physical disaster in the days before last Sunday's hot Malaysian grand prix.

McLaren's doctor Aki Hintsa said the Briton grappled with "big problems" during Friday's free practice after ignoring medical advice.

"Lewis wasn't able to perform well in the second session," Hintsa said. "He was simply very exhausted."

F1 drivers welcome traction control ban
(GMM) F1's drivers have generally welcomed the impending ban on traction control.

The FIA confirmed last month that the electronic driver aid will not be allowed in 2008, after it was reintroduced to formula one in 2001 following a previous ban that fell in 1993.

"I think it's going to be more fun," said Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, "although for sure it's going to make it more difficult to drive over the race distance, so it's not going to always be fun."

The reintroduction of the ban is understood to have been made possible because of the standardization of F1 cars' electronic control units (ECU), which will make it harder to illegally replicate traction control.

Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella described the ban as a "good option" for the sport.

"It's good to make it more difficult for the drivers," the Roman said.

"When I first drove in formula one with no traction control it was more fun, more difficult because it's more in the hands of the drivers to judge the traction at the exit of the slow corners."

Veteran David Coulthard, however, played down the probable impact of the ban, insisting that the only noticeable difference might be in wet races.

Indeed, it emerged recently that Super Aguri ran nearly the entire 2006 season without a traction control system -- and almost no-one knew.

Coulthard, a Scot, said: "I think in dry conditions, the driver has an in-built traction control system and that won't change."

Williams' Nico Rosberg agrees that the impact of traction control is usually overestimated, arguing that with or without the system it is difficult to drive an F1 car.

"I think you still need to control (the car) yourself with the foot occasionally," he said, "so it is not going to make a huge difference."

But Renault test driver Nelson Piquet Jr, fresh out of GP2, observed that in F1's feeder series - where traction control is not allowed - there is usually more overtaking per race.

He said "a big part" of the difference in quality between F1 and GP2 races "is the driver controlling his foot on the accelerator" on the exit of corners, leading to more mistakes and more variable tire wear in GP2.

Schu won't be Massa 'mentor'
(GMM) Despite calls within critical Italian circles, Michael Schumacher is unlikely to travel to grands prix this year to 'mentor' Ferrari driver Felipe Massa.

Particularly in Italy, Brazilian Massa, 25, has been the subject of varying levels of criticism this week after he squandered his Malaysian GP pole position last Sunday with a couple of driving errors.

One scenario mooted as a possible solution to Massa's erratic driving is the attendance at races by Ferrari 'advisor' Schumacher, who could coach Massa as to how to keep his cool in difficult moments.

But the Cologne newspaper Express observed that Schumacher is presently in Miami (USA) with his family, meaning that he almost certainly will not travel to Bahrain.

The retired seven time world champion is, however, due to make his first grand prix appearance in 2007 soon.

Spokeswoman Sabine Kehm said: "It looks as though Michael will go to Barcelona (on May 13).

Villeneuve defends poor album sales
(GMM) Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has accused the media of tarnishing sales of his debut album.

The French Canadian, who was left without a seat for the 2007 formula one season, recently turned his attention to releasing 'Private Paradise' -- a self-confessed semi-professional attempt to step up his hobby as a singer and songwriter.

But Villeneuve, who turned 36 this week, lashed out at Montreal tabloid Le Journal for claiming that a mere 233 copies of the album have been sold so far.

Instead, the former F1 driver thinks a figure of between 1,200 and 1,500 is more accurate, and branded the journalists responsible for the fit-up as "idiots".

He said bad publicity due to the media not taking his project seriously has had a "huge negative effect" on sales.

Referring to the figures, Villeneuve admits: "They're not great (but) it's actually not that bad.

"We were at 49 (in the charts), which is acceptable in the first week," he told Hour.ca.

"Position 20 on the chart was about 50 CDs more. So it was taken out of context and people thought, 'Oh wow, that's really a piece of sh-t.'"

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