F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 13, 2004
Sauber Unwrap 'Pragmatic' New F1 Racer
Swiss F1 team Sauber unveiled a handsome but 'pragmatic' new grand
prix racer, the C23, at Salzburg Airport in Austria on Monday evening.
With two new team drivers in Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa,
team chief Peter Sauber says the goal for 2004 is to 'clearly
'How well we'll do this primarily depends on how quickly we'll be able
to translate the results of our wind tunnel work to the race track,'
Technical director Willy Rampf admitted that the new car, with design
similarities to last year's Ferrari, is also deliberately simple.
Sauber has resorted from its ground-breaking twin-keeled design,
adopted by Williams for 2004, to Ferrari's more conventional
Rampf said because the impressive new wind-tunnel won't be ready for a
few more weeks, 'this solution made sense to us more than any other.'
Interestingly, the C23 - for the first time - will be powered by the
same type of engine as Ferrari and the world champion marque's
On Wednesday, Roman ace Fisichella will drive the C23 for the first
'I take the fact that this date coincides with my 31st birthday as a
good omen,' the former Jordan driver smilingly added of the scheduled
test at Valencia.
Team-mate Felipe Massa, 22, drove for Sauber in 2002.
'I've learnt a lot during my year as a Ferrari test driver,' said the
Brazilian, 'and am ready, now, to apply this knowledge to the race
Brand-New Jaguar Runs For First Time
Jaguar's new R5 contender took its first steps on Monday.
The car, initially steered by Australian star Mark Webber, undertook
its preliminary shakedown at team owner Ford's Lommel testing facility
Less than a week from the formal launch and public track debut, the
aim of the Lommel session was to complete systems checks, according to
The test team manager explained after the first couple of runs with
the R5 that everything appeared to 'look okay.'
He added: 'We'll get through today (Monday) and make sure it changes
gear and the drivers point out any abnormalities.'
Austrian Christian Klien also got a turn at the R5's controls, he
'If that's all okay we go on to Barcelona,' said Burrows, 'and launch
the car next weekend and hopefully have a good three days of testing.'
He concluded: 'It's good to come here as it's private and you can run
up and down and make sure everything's working.'
Verstappen Visits Jordan Factory
Racing veteran Jos Verstappen touched down at Jordan's Silverstone
headquarters on Monday for a seat-fitting and a sneak-preview of the
The Dutchman isn't yet confirmed as a 2004 starter but he's on pole
position for one of the Ford-powered drives, according to widespread
Fuelling the speculation is the 31-year-old's main sponsor, Trust
Computers, who jumped the gun on the Verstappen signing late on the
A photo of the yellow EJ13 Jordan, wearing Trust logos, was posted on
the Trust website on Sunday evening, and later blacked out with a
This publication's sources insist that, despite Jos' manager's belief
that a deal is several weeks away, an official announcement is
Estimates put Verstappen's sponsorship coffers at some $10 million.
Verstappen drove a Minardi in 2003 and warned his fans 'not to read
too much' into his visit to Eddie Jordan's factory in Northamptonshire
Jos and his manager, Raymond Vermeulen, paid only a 'friendly visit'
to the factory, according to the racer known by his supporters as 'The
'Eddie called me to visit the factory,' said Verstappen, 'to see the
progression that the EJ14 has made. Of course I accepted the
'We will absolutely not sign a contract tomorrow,' he insisted.
McNish Pleads For Formula One Drive
Allan McNish is still pleading for a Formula One race-drive.
The Scot, who tested a Renault car last season, insists that he has
the 'experience and the speed' to haul Jordan-Ford back up the grid in
Nick Heidfeld, Jos Verstappen and Ralph Firman are all vying for the
McNish told The People: 'Jordan need a driver who can run the team
like Michael Schumacher does with Ferrari.'
The 33-year-old reckons a cash-strapped independent team can afford to
take on one paying-driver, but Jordan also needs 'someone who can get
you the points.'
He continued, 'Formula One is based around money, but you can come off
worse if there is not the talent within a team to snatch the vital
point here or there.'
And with so little time until the start of the new season in
Melbourne, McNish is also the best bet to settle in fast, according to
the little Scot.
'You can't be taking your time to gel into a team,' he added. 'I have
been around long enough to fit into situations quickly.'
And Eddie Jordan would also be a great team boss.
'He's a former racer so he knows what it takes to do well,' said
McNish, who debuted for Toyota in 2002, 'and I think that we could
work well together.'
Jordan Left 'Breathless' By Bahrain
F1 boss Eddie Jordan was left 'amazed' by Bahrain's new grand prix
The Irishman, head of the Silverstone-based team, paid a visit to the
facility near the deserts of Manama this week and said it 'exceeds
'I am breathless actually,' said Jordan of F1's first Middle Eastern
Organizers said in a statement that the track is 89 percent completed
and will be inspected and approved by FIA officials on March 7.
EJ added, 'I was tremendously impressed with the work that everyone in
Bahrain has done in building this magnificent circuit.'
On track, the first layer of tarmac is already down and engineers are
now at work on the final second and third layers.
Why Williams Opted For Revolution
F1 team BMW-Williams could have taken an evolutionary route with their
new FW26 challenger; and it may even have won them the world
Instead, the radical and innovative 'tusked' car was unveiled in
'You cannot stand still or relax your development pace for a single
minute in Formula One,' Williams' chief designer Gavin Fisher
He said the sport's history is littered with teams who thought they'd
made the big-time only to find that the game has moved on without
Williams has not secured either F1 title since 1997.
In that way, the FW26 could have been a straightforward evolution of
the FW25, a racer with which Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher
won four grands prix.
'It undoubtedly would have been a quick car,' Fisher agreed.
But whether it was quick enough to power to the world championship
would have been too dependent on the relative performance of the other
teams like Ferrari.
So Williams ensured that development was pushed as 'far as it could
go' rather than let it be constrained by the basic work of 12, perhaps
18 months earlier.
As well as its tusks, FW26 also boasts a new seven-speed gearbox.
'Because of the one engine rule,' said technical director Patrick
Head, 'it will allow some stress to be taken off the engine.'
New Williams Finishes First Grand Prix
Only Ralf Schumacher and boy-faced Australian tester Ryan Briscoe were
left to duke it out on a foggy Jerez de la Frontera track on Monday.
Schumacher, the German, clocked up a successful - and significant -
full 90 lap race simulation in the radical all-new BMW-Williams FW26.
Briscoe, in a Toyota TF103B, nearly matched Ralf's pace but set his
best time on low fuel and new Michelin tires (a qualifying
simulation), according to reports.
Running, particularly in the chilly morning, was curtailed as the
medical helicopter was deemed unable to take off or land in the heavy
Briscoe completed 107 laps.
'Despite the poor weather conditions this morning, Ralf successfully
completed a full grand prix race simulation in the FW26,' confirmed
Williams' Sam Michael.
He added, 'So we've had another positive day.'
Third driver Marc Gene will re-join Ralf on Tuesday for the last of a
seven-day test, during which both drivers will perform wet-tire
testing with Michelin.
BAR-Honda will also re-join the test, according to sources in Spain.
Sauber Announce Two New F1 Sponsors
A new Formula One car was not Peter Sauber's only boast at the Red
Bull 'Hangar-7' in Salzburg Airport on Monday.
The Swiss welcomed two new sponsors to his Hinwil-based operation.
'The presence of seven automotive manufacturers has made the
competition in Formula One fiercer than ever,' said Sauber.
'But we're ready to accept this challenge.'
Ready also are 'Sokhna Port' and 'Tai Kang Life', unveiled as new
sponsors to the Swiss team on the ten-year anniversary of the
Sauber/Red Bull alliance.
Sokhna Port, with its logistics centre on the coast of the Red Sea
near Cairo, makes use of the latest state-of-the-art IT technologies.
Their logo is located on the front nose of the handsome new C23.
Sauber, meanwhile, also commence an alliance with China in '04 by
introducing one of the populous country's six biggest life insurance
firms to their livery.
In 2003, Tai Kang Life's total assets amounted to $2.67 billion, and
its logos are placed on the car's rear view mirrors.
'I'm delighted that we've been able to gain two new partners,' said
He added, 'Only thanks to our strong and loyal sponsors are we able to
pursue a forward-looking strategy as an independent team.'
Sauber Slams 'Third Car' Driver Ruling
Sauber won't make use of a new Formula One regulation designed to help
the bottom-six teams, its boss and owner confirmed in Austria on
Asked about 19-year-old 'test driver' Neel Jani, Peter Sauber said
he's 'not going to be a real test driver because we don't need it.'
Bottom-six outfits, including Sauber, are now allowed to field the
spare car and an additional driver in the official practice sessions
at grand prix meetings.
Jani, a Swiss, won't even do a lot of non-race track testing.
'We will use our normal drivers to do the tests,' said Sauber. 'We
will have two cars only on Friday. Maybe we will change this but I
don't know yet.'
Earlier, reports indicated that the privateer Hinwil-based operation
simply couldn't afford to run a third car in the official sessions in
Sauber, however, slammed an FIA ruling which prohibits stars with more
than six grands prix under their belts from joining the Friday test
'I don't understand it, it's a joke,' said the Swiss-German. 'Maybe
there's only one or two [top] teams that push [for] it.'
New Sauber Fails FIA Crash-Tests
Sauber's handsome and noticeably more compact C23 Formula One racer
has failed the FIA-imposed, mandatory crash tests, according to Willy
The Swiss team's technical director said Hinwil had worked hard to
make 'everything smaller' on the new car 'and I think we paid the
price for it.'
Rampf continued, 'The 2003 season soon made us realize where our
Sauber has opted against its innovative twin-keeled chassis design for
2004 in favor of Ferrari's more conventional approach; with a
C23 has obviously taken other design leafs out of the scarlet book,
such as rounded sidepods, aero flip-ups ahead of the rear wheels, and
the curved nose.
'The car will have to wait for the wind tunnel,' said Willy Rampf, 'so
our challenge was designing a good car which is able to be developed
One innovation to be looked at in the new $55m tunnel is BMW-Williams
Rampf concluded: 'I think everyone will be looking at that again.'
The Ferrari-powered C23 will sit its FIA exams again in February, 'and
we're reasonably confident we can make the changes that are necessary,
Fisichella Wants To Beat Old Team In '04
Sauber versus Renault; that's how Hinwil's new driver Giancarlo
Fisichella sees the 2004 Formula One world championship at the front
of the midfield.
The Roman, dumped by Flavio Briatore's team in 2001, says with the
newly-launched C23 it is a 'realistic' target to aim for the pace of
'There is no way we can fight with the top three,' said Fisichella.
'My goal for this year is to have a good car - and most importantly, a
He added, 'We're going to work very hard on the reliability in the
The Italian also confirmed that, with Sauber's close collaboration, he
will 'definitely' test a Ferrari car at some point during the new race
He said the 2003-spec Ferrari engine 'feels good, but we have to wait
and see on the new one.
'It's very drivable,' Giancarlo added. 'I look forward to using the
2004 engine, but I am even happier about the use of the Ferrari
Fisichella Pleased With Ferrari Look-Alike
Formula One's 'drivers driver', Giancarlo Fisichella, is perhaps as
close to being a works Ferrari driver as he'll ever get.
In 2004, with the C23 Sauber, he'll have a Ferrari-powered racer, with
Ferrari look-alike aerodynamics, a Ferrari gearbox - and a
Felipe Massa, 22, was Maranello's second tester in 2003.
'He can pass on lots of useful engine information to us,' said the
30-year-old, 'and also what he has learned from their way of working.'
But as well as working with Felipe, Giancarlo's target is to trounce
'I'll do my best,' the Italian smiled. 'He's quick, but I feel very
confident physically and mentally - as confident as I have ever been.'
The former Minardi, Benetton and Jordan star also played down
speculation that another race-win - like his rain-soaked triumph in
Brazil - is on the cards.
'If Brazil is wet again, maybe we can repeat the result,' Giancarlo
joked. 'But anything can happen. Otherwise it's probably not too
Sauber Was Right To Dump Me: Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa has likened a year at Ferrari to a year at University.
The young Brazilian debuted in 2002, at Sauber, but was dumped at
season's end because his undoubted pace was overshadowed by often
'I'm very happy to be back,' he smiled in Austria on Monday.
Ferrari, with a long-term contract on the Brazilian and strong links
with Sauber, hauled Felipe back to Maranello for a season of testing.
Massa said, 'Working with Michael [Schumacher] and Rubens
[Barrichello] was great for me. I did 15000kms and I have to say it
was a great experience.'
Peter Sauber described the rookie as 'very fast' but too young for F1.
He added on Monday, as he launched the new C23: 'His technical
expertise was not good enough for Formula One.'
Felipe Massa admits that he probably made too many mistakes in 2002.
But he added, 'You do learn from them and last year, I think the team
would say, I made very few mistakes - a few spins and that is really
'I saw how Ferrari worked and the drivers talked to their engineers.
Michael [Schumacher is] a great driver; very technical and
And now he thanks Peter Sauber for sending him back to school.
'I think he was maybe right in one sense,' the Paulista smiled.
Sauber Praise For New F1 Line-Up
Peter Sauber praised his new Formula One driver line-up.
Gone are the steady Nick Heidfeld and Heinz-Harald Frentzen; replaced
by the rated Giancarlo Fisichella, of Italy, and former Ferrari tester
'For me, [Giancarlo] is one of the top six drivers in the sport,' said
Sauber. 'I am convinced he will help us move forward significantly on
the F1 grid.'
He added, 'Signing him has made an old wish of mine come true.'
Massa, 20, first drove a Sauber in 2002 but was moved on at the end of
the season because his technical skills were not up to speed.
Sauber said the Brazilian's raw speed was never in doubt.
'It was clearly evident,' said the team boss, 'during his first
collaboration with our team. I think what held him back most was his
Fisichella To Step Up Grid With Sauber
Giancarlo Fisichella has reinforced his intention to use a drive at
Ferrari-powered Sauber as a stepping-stone to greater things.
'The dream for me is obviously to drive in the future for one of the
three top teams - Ferrari, McLaren or Williams,' said the Roman.
Asked whether he's got one eye on Juan Pablo Montoya's soon-to-be
vacated BMW-Williams drive, Fisichella replied, 'Of course.'
So why sign a two-year contract with Peter Sauber?
'I've spoken with Peter about that,' Fisi explained, 'and he said if
there's a good offer, 'it is not a problem'. I can go.'
Fisichella will debut the new Sauber C23, launched in Austria
yesterday, on Wednesday at the Valencia circuit - his 31st birthday.
'I take that as a good omen,' the Italian told reporters in Salzburg.
Bahrain F1 Track Nears Completion
Organizers of the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix have moved to stamp out
fears that the circuit near Manama won't be ready for an April 4
A statement issued yesterday reports that the desert-setting in Sakhir,
scene of the first GP in the Middle East, is '89 percent completed.
'Work has been in operation around the clock,' organizers said.
The circuit will be inspected by Formula One's governing FIA officials
on March 7, where it should gain approval to stage a grand prix the
Gravel traps, barriers, race control facilities, garages and the
medical and press centers are in the final stages of construction, a
Klien Sponsorship Overstated: Red Bull
Once again, the racing press has got it wrong, according to Christian
Klien's chief backer in Formula One, Red Bull.
Widespread reporting put the 20-year-old's sponsorship coffers,
courtesy in the main of the energy drinks brand, at around the $10-15
It's actually around half of that, says Helmut Marko, Red Bull chief
Dieter Mateschitz's motorsport consultant; a paltry $4.5 million.
Red Bull were initially prepared to spend up to $10m, according to new
reports, but Jaguar Racing only had about $5 million of car
advertising space available.
Marko told Business F1: 'If you saw the potential for logos [at
Jaguar] you would realise the figures in the press aren't anywhere
near the actual figure.
'It is nowhere near US$10 million or $15 million.'
Earlier, Jaguar boss David Pitchforth insisted that despite the Klien
signing, the fabled Leaping Cat logo would continue to dominate on the
new R5 car.
'Ferrari' Is Most Common Word On 'Net
The most common word entered into search engines around the globe is
That is the recent finding of one such internet website, Google.com.
It said, in its annual 'Year-End Zeitgeist', that among 55 billion
keyword searches in 2003, the six-letter combination 'Ferrari' was the
A search of the word today reveals that of the ten entries on the
first page of Google, about half refer to the world
championship-winning Formula One Scuderia.
In winning the internet race, Ferrari overtook the most famous brand
names on the planet, Microsoft and Coca-Cola, according to a
'What emerged from the research was that the favourite pastime of the
online population was admiring the elegant Prancing Horse models,' a
Last year, too, Ferrari was revealed as the most searched-for brand on
Brand Races To Help F1 Kick Smoking Habit
For the first time in Formula One's sponsorship history, a company is
charging full-throttle to butt out - rather than promote - cigarettes.
NiQuitin CQ is a sponsor of the BMW-Williams team and it supports all
government legislation and pro-health messages to encourage smokers to
kick the habit.
'Banning tobacco advertising has been proven to work, and we support
any government policy [to that effect],' said Mark Dickinson,
Countries including Belgium, Austria, France and Canada have all been
in danger of losing their F1 grands prix due to tough anti-tobacco
The brand's sponsorship in Formula One has been well received within
the public health and grand prix environments, NiQuitin CQ's Mark
'We are continuing to promote pro-health messages within F1, to
inspire smokers to quit, who have previously been bombarded with
Despite a 20-year-old ban on cigarette advertising, surveys show that
most children still think smoking is advertised on TV, due to sports
Sir Frank Williams, principal and owner of the Grove-based Formula One
team, said WilliamsF1 is 'proud of its non-tobacco stance.'
Williams, with NiQuitin CQ, will race Phillip Morris and Reemtsma-backed
F1 teams Ferrari and McLaren to the world championship titles in 2004.
Wilson May Re-Charge Career In America
Justin Wilson may cross the Atlantic if he can't re-start a Formula
The 25-year-old, who raced for Minardi and Jaguar in 2003, is waiting
impatiently for Formula One's bosses to discuss a new ruling on test
Under new-for-'04 rules, Wilson is too qualified to test a bottom-six
If, however - as it appears likely - the ten F1 principals cannot
agree to scrap the stance, Yorkshire's F1 pilot may try Champ Cars or
the Indy Racing League.
'We will know a lot more this week and after that we should have a
good indication of what direction to work on,' said Wilson.
F1's ten bosses will meet in London on Wednesday to discuss the rule.
He added, 'We will wait and see what comes out of the meeting and it
would be nice if they would change the rule but there is no guarantee.
'Every now and again you hear positive noises but you are not sure if
it is going to make a difference or not.'
Wilson said he cannot afford to 'hang around waiting' for too long.
'I want to get on with it and get started as I am frustrated not
having a drive or anything. I think at the minute it would be better
to stay testing.'
Justin reckons he favours the old CART series over oval-based IRL.
FIA Won't Save F1 From Folly: President
The FIA has better things to do than save F1 bosses from their own
That's the hard-hitting new stance of the series' governing president
Max Mosley who insists that it's up to the teams to cut costs in
'We can produce and ask for ideas but the teams themselves have got to
recognise that they have allowed the costs to get too high,' he told
Max emphasised that the FIA would not, and cannot, apply cost-cutting
discipline through new rules like bans on technologies such as
'We can have a bit of a go in World Rally,' said Mosley, 'but we can't
in F1 because of the Concorde Agreement.'
Last January, the Paris-based Federation Internationale Automobile
tried to force through technical changes in F1 including bans on
Max said, as thanks, the FIA got hauled to arbitration by McLaren and
'It was gentle application of existing rules,' said the Briton, 'but
it produced arbitration. We don't need it. We've got better things to
New Jaguar Is Evolution
Jaguar's new Formula One car is evolution, not revolution.
Managing director David Pitchforth told Autosport: 'It [the R5] is an
evolution focusing carefully on areas that needed attention.'
It might be evolution, but it's also all-new, he insisted.
'But it has lineage to its predecessors,' said the Briton. 'Everything
changed on the car is based on fact.'
Aussie Mark Webber, for his second full season at the 'Cat, will be
partnered at the wheel by pay-driving Austrian team-mate, 20-year-old
The R5 will be unveiled at Barcelona this Sunday, followed by a 3-day
Jordan Admit Verstappen Visit
F1 team Jordan-Ford has confirmed a visit by Dutch hopeful Jos
The 31-year-old racer touched down at the Silverstone-factory on
Monday afternoon for talks with team owner Eddie Jordan, according to
Verstappen, Minardi driver of 2003, also had a seat-fitting in a
mock-up of the new EJ14 race car, sources insisted.
'Eddie has had some preliminary discussions with Jos and the
discussions will be continued over the next few days,' business
director Ian Phillips confirmed.
'The Boss' brings nearly $10 million in sponsorship to his F1
employer, Britain's authoritative newspaper The Guardian reported on
Feedback can be sent to
Go to our
to discuss this article