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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 16, 2004

New Jaguar Sports 'Serious' Faults
Jaguar's all-new R5 is sporting serious technical faults.

The new Formula One car, to be steered by Mark Webber in 2004, ran for the first time this week at Ford's own straight-line circuit in Lommel, Belgium.

Chief in green Tony Purnell says there will be no quick-fix to the problems.

He told media agencies that he knows 'there are some things that are wrong. There is one aspect where we think there is a gain to be made.'

But unlike Ferrari, whose mammoth budget could solve the problems in a matter of days, Jaguar don't have the resources to finance a solution until mid-season.

'That's a bit of a frustration,' Purnell continues.

Nonetheless, managing director David Pitchforth, who'll also be at the R5's launch in Spain on Sunday, reckons R5 will take a step up the F1 grid.

'If we could have raced as well as we qualified [in 2003], then we would have achieved our goals,' he said. 'But we didn't. We have got to tackle that.'

Only twice has a Leaping Cat-branded car finished on the podium in F1.

Rubens Thinks Of Senna 'Every Day'
Rubens Barrichello thinks about his late mentor 'every day.'

This season marks the tenth since Brazilian F1 legend Ayrton Senna da Silva, one of the best and revered drivers of all time, was killed in a Williams at Imola.

Back then, when countryman Barrichello - in his early-twenties - drove a Jordan, he felt the expectation of a nation fall squarely on his shoulders.

'They wanted to see me take over from Ayrton,' Rubens said in Italy yesterday.

'It was hard for me to lose this sensation.'

In 2004, ten years since a black 1994 in Formula One, Brazil is organizing special events in the country to remember their fallen sports hero.

'I hope they are joyful occasions,' Barrichello added.

But the Ferrari ace no longer feels Brazil wanting him to be a new Senna. 'Ten years has passed,' said Rubens, 'and I have learnt just to be myself.'

Toyota Process New Deal With Intel
Formula One team Toyota has processed a new sponsorship deal with the world's largest computer-chip maker, Intel Corporation.

The agreement includes 'substantial technical and marketing collaboration,' according to a statement issued on Thursday.

Intel's 'Itanium 2' brand logo will appear on the rear wing of the new TF104 racer, to be launched at Toyota's F1 factory in Cologne on Saturday.

The Intel logo will also appear on the side of the car and its nose.

'Ahead of our car launch this weekend, I am pleased to welcome Intel to the team,' said president of Toyota Motorsport John Howett.

Intel's vice-president Mike Fister added: 'We're proud to stand behind Toyota and its goal of winning world championship races in the next couple of years.'

Fisi Clocks Quick Time With New Sauber
'What else could we ask for?'

That's how Sauber's chief race engineer, Jacky Eeckelaert, summed up the second-ever day of running with a brand-new F1 car at Valencia on Thursday.

Giancarlo Fisichella and the Ferrari-powered C23 clocked 80 laps, or more than a race distance, with a quick best lap time and a car that 'feels good.'

'For us it is a really good result,' said Eeckelaert.

Sauber worked mainly with Bridgestone at the twisty Spanish track testing different tyre constructions; and one that felt particularly promising.

'We also fiddled with the set up a bit,' Jacky continued, 'as we assessed the car's sensitivity to parameter changes.'

Fisichella's team-mate Felipe Massa was on track with the older C22, testing a damper system, and will drive the new Formula One challenger on Friday.

'Usually it's hard to do a lot of laps with a new car,' 31-year-old Giancarlo Fisichella commented, 'but this was not the case today.'

He said, 'It is good and has potential. Now I just need to get more confident with it and do more set up work but overall the car has a good feeling.'

Schu May Keep Racing Beyond 2006
Michael Schumacher may not hang up his gloves at the end of 2006.

The six-times world champion fended off media assumptions that at the end of his new Ferrari contract, he'll call it a day at the pinnacle of motor sport.

'I have never excluded continuing after 2006,' he told the assembled press at Ferrari's annual ski gathering in the Italian Dolomites.

Schumacher, from Germany, said when he penned the new deal, he sat down with scarlet president Luca di Montezemolo and hashed out an outline for the future.

'He said: 'Stay as long as you like, as long as you're quick.' '

Michael continues, 'There is no reason to close doors for the future. If I feel then as I do now then it is an open future.'

At the moment, despite going into 2004 as the second-oldest current driver at 35, the decision to continue is 'easy' for one Michael Schumacher.

'I love what I'm doing,' he said. 'I love the sport, I love preparing for races. I am still motivated. The whole team is. I have no concerns of that.'

Schu: 'No Better Choice' Than Barrichello
Michael Schumacher can see 'no better choice' in Formula One than to have Rubens Barrichello as his Ferrari team-mate.

The German, Michael, heralded his Maranello team's decision to extend the 31-year-old's contract in line with other key members of the scarlet family.

Schumacher described the decision as 'natural and logical,' and the 'best possible news' upon arriving in the Dolomites for a press/ski briefing.

He added, 'It can only be a great practical move so the team works better.'

Some interpreted the move to plump for Rubens, the Brazilian, over rising young-guns, as a hint that Schumacher might not continue in F1 for much longer.

Certainly, Michael will use his highly-rated and hugely experienced team-mate, Barrichello, as his benchmark of how much longer to race in grands prix.

'That's the only straight comparison [drivers] have,' said the Kerpen-born ace.

He added, 'Should the day come when I'm doing my best but my team-mate is quicker than me, then I'm too slow. That, to be honest, is the day to stop.'

Badoer Wants To Keep Testing Job
Luca Badoer has vowed to continue testing red cars for Michael Schumacher.

The Italian, who last contested an actual grand prix in 1999, has been chief development driver at the Maranello-based outfit, Ferrari, for six full seasons.

'I have a great relationship with Ferrari,' he said in the Dolomites.

'Working for Ferrari is the ultimate for me. I can be at the wheel of the best F1 car - I prefer testing a Ferrari than racing for another team.'

Badoer singles out the team's first world title, in 2000, as his highest moment - and breaking three vertebrae in an accident that same year as his lowest.

'At times our job is more intense than a race driver,' he continues. 'The greatest satisfaction is, after a test, seeing real improvements in lap times.'

Schumacher's Genius: Luck - Or Happiness?
Could it really be that simple - that Michael Schumacher's genius on the race tracks is linked almost exclusively to his unprecedented enjoyment of his craft?

'I find it difficult to give you an answer,' the six-times world champion - Formula One's most successful-ever superstar - said in the Dolomites.

According to the German, actually, nothing is ever that simple.

'There's lots involved,' he continued at Ferrari's annual ski/press briefing. 'The most specific thing I can say is that there is nothing that specific.'

Of course, the 'team' is probably the most important thing, he said.

'And if you look at last season, how tight it was, the result was not down to just one person,' said Schumacher, who turned 35 this month.

Some will say that Kerpen-born Michael, who will charge for an extraordinary seventh drivers' championship in 2004, is just extraordinarily lucky.

'Look back over the years,' Michael challenges his questioner. 'It's impossible to put Ferrari's success, or my success, down to just luck.'

Indeed, from 1996 to 1999, Schumacher not only didn't win the title, he was disqualified from a season, lost it twice at the finale - and broke a leg.

'I haven't always had the right car,' he said, 'or the right team-mate, anything like that. In the end you are worth the luck that you get, though.'

And there's no doubting the influence of happiness, and enjoyment.

Schumacher concluded with a smile: 'I need a steering wheel in my hands and four wheels around me to be happy in my life.'

McLaren 2005: Coulthard Out, Raikkonen In
Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen will steer the 2005-spec McLaren.

According to Autosport magazine, F1 chief Ron Dennis has informed his Finnish protégé that he will be retained beyond a confirmed 2004 contract.

Speculation had persisted that McLaren, based in Woking, were undecided on whether to ditch 24-year-old Raikkonen or his veteran team-mate David Coulthard.

The publication quoted 'high-level sources' as reporting that McLaren has taken up on option on Raikkonen, to partner Williams' Montoya, for an undisclosed sum.

McLaren, powered by Mercedes, declined to comment this morning.

But if the story is true, as it most certainly appears likely, it will end a nine-year tenure for Coulthard in silver-branded overalls.

The Scot is linked with a move to either Toyota or Jaguar in 2005.

Clearly Raikkonen believes he can see off Coulthard, who debuted in a Williams in 1994, as the Scot winds out his long-term tenure at McLaren this season.

Asked who his rivals for the title might be in 2004, the Finn said: 'Both Ferrari cars, both Williams cars, and David - on his good days.'

F1 Deal Was No Deal At All?: Report
A mid-January deadline for 'more details' on a deal to secure Formula One's future will come and pass without a whimper, according to sources.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and a group of manufacturers, dubbed GPWC, signed a memorandum of understanding late last year to kill the threat of 'breakaway.'

But the deal may not be any deal at all, as a Reuters report predicts.

'I don't know the agreement,' said one team boss, Peter Sauber. 'I think there is no agreement, there is a letter. It is not a lot.'

Sauber expected the parties to take another six months to reach agreement. 'I think we celebrate if we get something before the end of the season.'

Sir Frank Williams agrees that on December 19, nothing concrete was signed.

'There will now be months of agitation and argument,' he said. 'But it does give us all more stability and an ability to plan for the longer-term.'

Ferrari's Claudio Berro, a bigwig in GPWC, is a little more confident and predicted that a final deal could be penned within three months.

He also reckons a new Concorde Agreement can be written immediately, despite its uninterrupted term to 2007, to give Formula One teams more instant revenue.

'It should not be a big problem to change those parts,' he said.

Leinders To Test Jordan At Barcelona
Jordan has revealed that Belgian driver Bas Leinders has come out in pole position for a 2004 Formula One seat with the Silverstone-based operation.

The cash-strapped team confirmed that Bas, 28 - who raced in the World Series by Nissan in 2003 - is scheduled to test the EJ13 in Barcelona next week.

Leinders, said the team, will steer an F1 for the first time on January 21; the second of a planned four-day session for the Ford-powered team in Spain.

Sources, however, hint that Leinders is more likely to line up this season as a Friday practice test driver for Jordan rather than a full-time race ace.

Nick Heidfeld and Jos Verstappen remain on a short-list for the GP drives.

'I'm very happy that Jordan have given me the opportunity to do my first Formula One test,' said Leinders in a statement issued on Thursday.

'I, along with all Belgians, am looking forward to this. Hopefully we can do a good job and see what the future brings.'

Team chief Eddie Jordan said Leinders has proved to be a 'talented and persistent' driver in the junior categories and his chance is 'well deserved.'

And he left the possibility of Leinders joining 19 other drivers on the grid in '04 by insisting that it would be 'great' if a Belgian ace raced again at Spa.

Jordan will shortly confirm other drivers for the Barcelona test.

Mourning Schu Was 'Not Alone' At Budapest
Michael Schumacher was 'not alone' when he raced at Imola last season.

In April, asked if the German ace would drive a grand prix only hours after the death of his mother, PR agent Sabine Kehm answered defiantly in the negative.

But Michael, 35, and younger brother Ralf, did race.

'In a team we all work as one,' Schumacher recalled when interviewed in the Dolomites for the annual Ferrari press/ski briefing on Thursday.

He said, 'So everybody pulls together in difficult moments.'

It's at these times, he says, that the team plays its most important role in a quest to squeeze maximum performance from a highly-paid race driver.

'When I get in the cockpit I'm finally alone,' said Schumacher, 'but we still think about what we've decided together [as a team].

'This is the only way to win.'

And he did that, too - a bit of winning - at the trying San Marino Grand Prix.

F1 Has Lost A 'Great Figure,' Says Schu
Formula One has lost a 'great figure.'

That's how Michael Schumacher coolly assesses the forced retirement of the only other former world champion on the grand prix grid - Jacques Villeneuve.

JV, from Canada, and Schumacher went head-to-head for the '97 crown.

Schumacher insists he didn't have anything other than a 'working relationship' with the feisty 1997 champion who 'never understood' the sport's leader.

'I don't really feel particularly involved in this story,' Michael said in the Dolomites on Thursday. 'I think the sport has lost a great figure, though.'

Feeling he was on a roll, the interviewer asked Schumacher about Ayrton Senna.

'The esteem I felt for him is personal, private,' said the man who was chasing down Ayrton's Williams when it ploughed fatally into the Imola barriers in 1994.

He added, 'I don't think I will ever express my feelings in any public setting.'

Schu Brothers Won't Race In Same Team
Michael Schumacher will never go head to head in the same car as his Formula One racing brother, according to the six-times world champion.

Asked if he'd ever welcome 28-year-old Ralf into the Ferrari fold, Schumacher said: 'The Klitschko brothers will never box against each other.

'And we won't do the same. We don't want to fight each other like that.'

The only way they can retain a semblance of a relationship whilst ensconced in the high-pressure world of F1, says Michael, is that they drive different cars.

To share a Ferrari, for example, 'wouldn't be nice.'

Schumacher continued: 'Think about it. Every weekend, one would be the winner and one the loser. That's something we don't want to do to each other.'

But while they steer separate racers, such as Ralf's BMW-Williams, they can still go head-to-head on the grand prix circuits and maintain their dignity.

'You may call it winning and losing,' said 35-year-old Michael, 'but then it's under different circumstances. Other things are responsible for it.'

Schu Confirms Ferrari's New-Car Policy
World champion Michael Schumacher has reinforced Formula One team Ferrari's decision to start the 2004 season with a brand-new red challenger.

Earlier, team president Luca di Montezemolo confirmed that unlike in seasons past, the undesignated new racer will start charging from the Melbourne event.

'We would like to begin the championship with the new car,' 35-year-old Schumacher said in the Dolomites on Thursday.

He said Ferrari, who only scraped the 2003 title chase, had opted for the new strategy so that it can 'identify immediately' areas on which to work on.

'It will give us more time to see what needs to be improved,' said Michael.

France Will Host 2004 Grand Prix: Todt
Jean Todt would bet money that his country will host a Grand Prix in 2004.

The Frenchman's pitlane cohorts, like Peter Sauber and Frank Williams, earlier doubted that Magny-Cours could stump up with the cash to make up an 18th race.

Todt, his nine contemporaries, and Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Max Mosley, will meet in London on Friday to discuss this and other matters.

'We'll talk about the final calendar,' Jean, Ferrari chief, confirmed.

He said if he had to bet, 'then I would say there will be a French race.'

Other items on the agenda of the London meeting are a new rule governing 'third drivers' on Fridays, and additions to the secretive Concorde Agreement.

Villeneuve Opts Out Of Formula One Race
Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has counted himself out of the race for one of the final spots on the 2004 Formula One grid.

Speculation had linked the French-Canadian, who was dumped by BAR-Honda late last season, with a pay-drive at Eddie Jordan's cash-strapped team.

But in an interview with Swiss weekly L'Illustre, Jacques confirmed that he won't climb back into the paddock with yet another back-of-the-grid team.

'Going back in F1 with Jordan?' he quizzed - 'No thank you! I had to endure this situation for the past five years.'

Villeneuve praised Jordan for its 'great attitude' and work ethic.

'But no, I am happy not to be in the paddock anymore.'

Jacques, who won the championship with Williams in 1997, said particularly after the past two arduous years under David Richards, 'I'm more tired than ever.

'It wore me out - my energy is gone, but I'm sure it will come back. When Richards came, I knew it was over. I gave my career to BAR for nothing.'

Alonso Plans On 'More Wins And Podiums'
Spanish sensation Fernando Alonso reckons 'more wins and podiums' will be attainable when he gets behind the wheel of his new Renault racer.

The 22-year-old Formula One driver was in Madrid on Thursday to help new sponsor Gillette launch a new range of shaving products.

'We didn't really expect to win a race last season,' he said, 'but this year we must try to improve even more. We must try to fight the top three teams.'

Alonso also predicts an end to Michael Schumacher's F1 reign.

'He didn't have it easy [in 2003],' said Fernando. 'Both McLaren and Williams are already showing that their two drivers are the best chances for the title.'

Launch Ban To Return Cheating To F1?
Banning launch-control might only return the spectre of cheating to Formula One.

That's the opinion of McLaren's technical director Adrian Newey who believes a new FIA-decree only serves to tempt grand prix teams to bend the rules.

'The rules themselves are reasonably clear in terms of what is launch control and what is traction control,' said the Englishman.

He told Autosport: 'So I don't think that's really the issue.'

The issue, of course, is how to police the anti-electronic regulation.

'It depends on hardware and software policing,' said Woking's main man.

Williams Defuses Driver Disarray
Sir Frank Williams has moved to de-fuse a bomb of speculation that all may not be rosy on his Formula One team's driver-front this season.

Colombian ace Juan Pablo Montoya has already confirmed a switch to McLaren in 2005 and rumours are rife on which young-ace might replace him.

'It doesn't occur until '05,' said the Oxfordshire-based principal.

Team-mate Ralf Schumacher, also under contract only the end of 2004, is similarly yet to pledge his future to the BMW-powered squad.

'I think we are lumbered with problems to take care of this year, as any grand prix team is,' Frank added.

'It's too far down the track to worry about too much.'

Williams, however, thinks suggestions that 28-year-old Montoya is unlikely to give his all during the fourth of a four-year stint are wide of the mark.

'We believe he'll give his usual 101 percent,' said Frank. 'Anyway, it's not really a matter at the moment that will cause me to lose a great deal of sleep.'

Agent Admits Concern Over Baumgartner Drive
Zsolt Baumgartner's manager, Tamas Frank, has admitted serious concern that his Hungarian charge will actually race in grands prix this season.

Back-of-the-grid team Minardi has already confirmed the one-year deal.

But his primary sponsor, oil firm Mol Rt., are concerned that, without their knowledge, their bucks were actually to support Zsolt's campaign in a Minardi.

They believed Baumgartner would be driving a Jordan-Ford in 2004.

Tamas Frank slammed Mol Rt. late Thursday for modifying its agreement with Baumgartner on the very day of a payment deadline to F1 boss Paul Stoddart.

'[They are] asking for guarantees which are impractical in motor racing,' he said. 'This will probably make [Zsolt's] F1 participation impossible.'

A spokesman for Mol Rt. insisted confidence that the support pledged to Zsolt Baumgartner 'will not be lost' and that he'll 'make it onto the F1 grid.'

Alonso Dislikes Tusk-Nosed F1 Racer
Fernando Alonso has joined a queue of skeptical observers who question the performance benefits of BMW-Williams' new tusk-nosed Formula One car.

The Spaniard, who drives a Renault, said his Enstone-based team tried a similar front-end solution to the FW26's in the wind tunnel late last season.

'It didn't do much,' said Alonso, 'so we scrapped it.'

But Renault's engineering director Pat Symonds has already confirmed that his French-owned team will try Williams' idea again before the '04 season starts.

'But our new car doesn't have it,' Fernando confirmed. 'I personally don't like it. And I don't really consider Williams the best in chassis development.'

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