F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 7, 2004
Williams Makes 'Little Contribution' To Team
Sir Frank Williams makes 'very little contribution' to his eponymous
The Briton insisted at the launch of a radical-looking FW26 contender
near Valencia on Monday that whether the car fires or not has nothing
to do with him.
'Perhaps I make no contribution,' the 61-year-old team owner and
principal mused to reporters. 'I just come in and potter about.
'Most of what happens here is nothing to do with me.'
His role, then, might be seen more as one of providing inspiration - a
figurehead - for the troops?
The wheel-chair bound chief denies even this.
'I can't say I do that - provide motivation or anything,' he said.
'That doesn't occur in my life. I do have [some] influence.'
But WilliamsF1 is not a company that has cheerleading or 'keep fit'
classes in the car park every morning, like the Japanese sometimes do,
Sir Frank added: 'The guys come in to work, do their best and go home
usually quite worn out.'
In that respect, then, it was important for Williams to be around at
his Oxfordshire team base and factory, in Grove, over the Christmas
He said: 'A lot of guys worked over that period, which is hard, so I
wanted to be around. Otherwise they might start thinking this is a
Renault Sign New Technical Director (Engine)
Formula One team Renault has added a bit of White to its championship
Robert White, known in the Formula One paddock as 'Rob' - and formerly
chief engineer at Cosworth - has joined the operation as technical
The 38-year-old assumed control of all technical activities at the
team's Viry-Chatillon base, located in France, from the first day of
the New Year.
'He will work alongside deputy managing director Bernard Dudot at the
French site,' a spokeswoman explained.
'We are delighted to welcome an engineer of Rob's caliber to the team
at Viry,' said Renault F1's managing director and principal Flavio
The Italian added: 'His appointment is another key step as we build
towards challenging for the World Championship.'
Renault, which lost lauded technical chief Mike Gascoyne to Toyota
late last year, has scrapped the innovative but troubled wide-angled
The all-new R24 racer is scheduled for completion early this month.
Principally based in Enstone, United Kingdom, Renault also has a new
technical director to head its chassis development - Gascoyne's former
deputy, Bob Bell.
Can't Buy Me F1 Success: Stoddart
Cash does not buy Formula One success, according to Paul Stoddart.
The Australian, who runs his Minardi team on a shoe-string, offered
the warning to billionaire Roman Abramovich, who may be eyeing the
purchase of Jordan.
Sources earlier this week said that the Russian, worth $6 billion, may
be prepared to offer Eddie Jordan some $270m for his Silverstone-based
An insider said Abramovich will buy the 'best cars,' the 'best
technicians,' and the 'best drivers' should he mount a championship
campaign in F1.
He added: 'Money is no object.'
Jacques Villeneuve and six-times world champion Michael Schumacher are
already being linked to Abramovich's Formula One assault.
Stoddart, however, warned that Formula One is different to football.
'Roman may have done wonders at Chelsea with his open cheque book,' he
told The Sun, 'but mountains of cash do not buy instant success in
The 48-year-old referred to Toyota, who - in two seasons of F1 racing
- has spent more than a billion dollars to finish 10th in 2002 and 8th
And, 'When BAR came into the sport in 1999 they had a
quarter-of-a-billion dollar budget and failed to score a single
point,' he added.
Stoddart concludes: 'If you want to be a winner in F1 you need to have
a billion dollars to throw away before you can expect results.'
Abramovich Denies Jordan F1 Buy-Out
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich is not about to buy F1 team
His spokesman, John Mann, said there was 'nothing' in recent reports
that the Chelsea Football Club owner was ready to spend $270m on the
Mann told the Evening Standard: 'At the moment Roman is being linked
with bids to buy anything from a shopping centre to another football
'When anything is up for sale his name is being connected with it and
it gets a little nasty after a time.'
The spokesman agreed that Roman 'enjoys Formula One' and even admitted
to the Russian's several meetings with Eddie Jordan, the majority
owner of the team.
'But that's it,' he added. 'Roman has also met with [F1 supremo]
Bernie Ecclestone but that doesn't mean he's going to buy his house.'
BRDC Welcomes Sale Of British Race Tracks
The British Racing Drivers' Club has welcomed the sale of four race
circuits this week to a new company headed by former Formula One
driver Jonathan Palmer.
Brands Hatch, Snetterton, Cadwell Park and Oulton Park were sold by US
giant Interpublic to MotorSport Vision, Palmer's company, it was
revealed on Monday.
'The sale secures Brands Hatch and three other circuits for British
motorsport in the future,' said Alex Hooton, chief executive of the
He hoped the takeover will stop the sale of the tracks to property
developers. Hooton also denied that the sale to MotorSport Vision in
any way affects Interpublic's rights to stage the British Grand Prix
at Silverstone. Interpublic has a long-term lease of the
Northamptonshire-based circuit of which the British Racing Drivers'
Club is landlord.
BRDC says the sale to Palmer, former Williams and Tyrrell driver, will
allow Interpublic to concentrate on Silverstone and its Formula One
event. 'The deal, in summary, should be very welcome to British
motorsport and the industry,' Alex Hooton concluded.
BAR To Launch 006 On February 1st
British-based Formula One team BAR-Honda will launch their 2004
contender on the first day of February, a Sunday, at the Circuit de
A 'concept' version of the car, painted black, is already running on
the test tracks featuring the all-new Honda V10 engine and the 006's
Technical director of the Brackley-based outfit, Geoff Willis,
confirmed late last year that the Honda-powered 006 will start the
season in Melbourne.
The early-February launch date will give BAR, run by Briton Dave
Richards, only three tests in the run-up to Australia to polish
BAR has switched to Michelin tires for the 2004 F1 championship.
Following BMW-Williams' launch on Monday, privateer team
Sauber-Petronas will become the second Formula One team to unveil its
2004 car next week.
The Ferrari-powered C23 will be unveiled on January 12 in Salzburg,
Gene Wants Top-Job At BMW-Williams
BMW-Williams tester Marc Gene wants Juan Pablo Montoya's racing job.
The latter ace is off to McLaren-Mercedes in 2005 and Gene, the
'Catalan rocket', wants to re-start a grand prix career that halted in
Gene, 28, admitted that going from Minardi racer, to Williams tester,
to occupying the chair alongside Ralf Schumacher, will be 'difficult.
'Especially when you aren't racing every weekend,' he said.
But BMW-powered bosses were impressed with Gene when he subbed for an
ill Ralf Schumacher at the Italian Grand Prix of 2003 and finished a
'I know the team liked what I did,' he continued to the Evening
Standard, 'and I also know I am being considered.'
Gene admits that there are other, more qualified, drivers in the
running; like BAR-Honda's Jenson Button or Australian sensation,
Jaguar star Mark Webber.
'It's not going to be easy to prove I'm number one for that seat,' he
said, 'but to know I am going to be considered is very encouraging.'
Schumacher Welcomes Electronic Bans
Ralf Schumacher has welcomed the departure of launch control from
The German said at the launch of a striking FW26 car in Spain that
it's a variable that will open up the possibility of 'one more' driver
'Before, in races, it was quite easy to have a bad start and just say
'well, that's the team's fault'. Not any more. Now it's back in our
But that's no bad thing, the BMW-Williams ace continued.
'What it will do is give viewers less consistent starts,' said the
28-year-old, 'more mistakes. More overtaking. More excitement.'
His teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya, agrees - even dismissing the effect
that the exodus of fully-automatic gear-changes will have on the 2004
He said: 'When we did it for the first time, shifting gears, it was
hard - you're not used to it. But after twenty laps I was used to it
Montoya, the Colombian, warned all eyes to watch the start of grands
prix this season. 'It's hard,' he continued of the manual-start
New Rules Will Cut F1 Costs: BMW Chief
New engine regulations will succeed in cutting down costs in Formula
That's the assessment of BMW motorsport director Dr Mario Theissen who
welcomes the 'one-engine-per-weekend' regulation to the category from
'It is a correct step in this direction,' said the German, 'although
it isn't the case for development costs.'
Theissen reckons the costs of manufacturing won't get cheaper, either.
But as far as the bottom line is concerned, 'the lower number of
engines for a race and test season should bring down the costs,' he
Dr Mario confirmed that BMW will produce around fifty engines less
this season than was the case under unrestricted weekend-use
regulations of 2003.
He admitted that revs and ultimate horsepower will drop in 2004.
The final version of the 2003-spec, P83 engine achieved 19,200 revs
per minute. 'Moving parts get bigger and heavier,' he explains of the
new P84 design.
Theissen said: 'Engine speed falls and with it falls power. I am
anticipating a slight reduction in revs, although the goal is to keep
it to a minimum.'
Montoya Didn't Want '04 McLaren Swap
Juan Pablo Montoya has rejected claims that he was blocked from
joining Formula One team McLaren-Mercedes from this season.
His current boss, Sir Frank Williams, said team rival Ron Dennis'
suggestion that he be swapped for David Coulthard this season was 'out
of the question.'
But Montoya, 28, didn't even want to complete the switch yet, he
'I didn't want it,' Juan said in Spain on Tuesday. 'I didn't want to
go. I think Williams are in a better position to win this year than
The 28-year-old added that while McLaren are changing factories in
2004, BMW-Williams are concentrating exclusively on their car and the
'You've got to take the risk,' said Montoya. 'I think '05 is the right
year for McLaren. This year, they're doing a lot of stuff outside of
Williams 'Miles Ahead' With New FW26
BMW-Williams is 'miles ahead' of where it was at this time last
At a second successive day of running the radical-looking FW26 at
Valencia, chief operations engineer Sam Michael lauded the positive
comments of drivers.
Sources at Autosport insist that the car is already in the 1-minute
11s bracket at the tight and twisty Ricardo Tormo circuit in the south
That's around a second off the pace of the brand-new McLaren MP4-19.
'It was mostly TV work today,' Michael, the Aussie, said, 'but we did
get some more runs and the initial comments about the car are very
The innovatively-sculpted car, and BMW-Williams' throng of drivers,
flew to nearby Jerez de la Frontera overnight to start a 7-day
Schumacher Calms Bahrain Threat
Ralf Schumacher has dismissed a terrorist threat for the Bahrain Grand
The German ace put the first lap on the circuit near Sakhir recently
and now joins his BMW-Williams boss in calming fears ahead of its
inaugural F1 race.
Asked if he had any concerns in light of a recent warning issued by
the British Foreign Office, the 28-year-old said: 'No.
'I visit [nearby] Dubai quite often and it's not a problem.'
Schumacher insists that since the September 11 attacks on the United
States a couple of years ago, 'almost everywhere' has been at risk of
'Perhaps we shouldn't go to America either,' he mused.
'Haves' To Get More From New Engine Rule
Formula One's new one-engine-per-weekend regulation may not be as
simple as meets the eye, according to a leading chief at Cosworth
Technical boss Nick Hayes says there is 'some confusion' with the rule
because the interpretation of it by teams is likely to differ up and
He said: 'Teams may decide to do less running over the whole weekend
and thereby design an engine with less life overall.
'That might give them significant advantages in terms of performance
over a team with an engine built to run in every session of a Grand
And what about if a driver suffers a pre-race failure with their
'You're demoted on the grid,' he explains, 'but what's to stop you
putting in a new engine with a shorter life?'
Hayes told Formula One Magazine that if a manufacturer 'has enough
money' it'll be able to bring engines to races with 'all sorts of
That'll fly in the face of the rule's aim of cutting development
Nick Hayes suggests: 'This is something that, at the end of the day,
the haves can get more out of than the have-nots.'
Jordan Does Not Deny Abramovich Link
Eddie Jordan has declined an opportunity to stamp on speculation that
his Formula One team may be snapped up by a Russian billionaire.
Roman Abramovich has already denied that several 'secret' meetings
with the entrepreneur suggest that he'll pay some $270m for his
Earlier this week, a Jordan spokeswoman also refused a point-blank
denial of the link, saying only that it is 'positive' to see any
interest in their outfit.
Irishman Eddie Jordan told The Independent on Tuesday: 'At this time
of year I have many private conversations with many people.'
He added that it would be clearly 'improper' of him to divulge the
contents of such conversations.
Ford-powered Jordan, still yet to announce either of its 2004 F1
pilots, admitted to a 'glitch' in its championship campaign of last
'We had nine years in the top five,' he told the paper. 'It was a
massively disappointing year, and the best thing about it is that it's
Jordan concluded: 'We are aiming to rectify that at full speed [in
Money Doesn't Buy F1 Success: Brawn To Roman
Ferrari's Ross Brawn has backed fellow pitlane resident Paul Stoddart
in warning that money does not buy success at the pinnacle of
The pair direct their caution to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich,
who has been linked with a $270m buy-out of Eddie Jordan's embattled
grand prix team.
Abramovich has pumped a quarter-of-a-billion bucks into football team
Brawn told The Sun: 'What he's achieved there has added so much to the
sport. It has put a third team up against United and Arsenal.'
Furthermore, Abramovich would be welcomed into Formula One.
'The sport is always looking for new characters,' said the Briton.
'That's why Eddie Jordan has survived for so long.'
But Roman will be 'very disappointed' if he thinks money buys success
'You need a huge technical base,' Ross Brawn continued, 'and while
Jordan have the technology, it would have to be strengthened.
'And that could never happen overnight.'
BMW Back Global Shift In Formula One
Formula One should be a genuine world championship.
That's the opinion of BMW motorsport boss Dr Mario Theissen who says
automobile manufacturers definitely welcome the switch from
Euro-centric to truly global.
He said: 'It is an extremely attractive proposition to be able to use
Formula One to demonstrate our technical expertise to emerging nations
Bahrain, in the Middle East, will also stage an inaugural grand prix
'It enriches the tournament from our perspective,' the German added.
'The North American market is also particularly significant for us.'
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