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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 18, 2004

Toyota Unwrap TF104
Toyota aims to close the gap to Formula One's leading teams this season with a conventional-looking TF104 race-car, which was unveiled in Cologne on Saturday.

Penned by Gustav Brunner and his team, the car is an 'evolutionary redesign' of its predecessor, the TF103, according to the Japanese-owned outfit.

'We have adopted similar principles for the TF104 race car to the ones we followed when producing the TF103,' Brunner, from Austria, explained.

He admits that TF103 and TF104 are visually very similar.

'But we've looked at every part of the car, studied it, redesigned it and improved it. There is no carry over.'

New technical director, former Renault man Mike Gascoyne, says TF104 'appears' to be a solid car, 'but we'll have to wait for testing to see how good it is.'

Toyota also has a new corporate sponsor for 2004 in Denso.

Panis: TF104 Seems Better
Olivier Panis offered a thumbs-up to the racing world after testing the new TF104 Toyota Formula One car for the first time at Paul Ricard.

'Everything seems better,' said the Frenchman, F1's oldest driver. 'At high speed it handles much better.'

Ralf Or David To Drive 2005 Toyota?
Ralf Schumacher is more likely to wind up racing a Toyota on the Formula One tracks of 2005 than veteran Scottish star David Coulthard.

That's what Ove Andersson, former president and principal - and now an advisor - of the Cologne-based outfit told reporters in Germany on Saturday.

Ralf Schumacher, who drives a Williams, is yet to agree a new contract with his racing bosses to race-on with BMW-power beyond 2004.

But Coulthard, similarly, may be out of the loop by the end of this season as McLaren settles on a new line-up boasting Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen.

'If Ralf or David came knocking at my door then I would look more seriously at Ralf,' said Andersson, the Swede.

Massa Drives New Sauber
Felipe Massa got his first shot at the controls of a brand-new Sauber racer at Spain's Ricardo Tormo circuit near Valencia on Friday.

The Brazilian managed 65 laps in the Ferrari-powered C23 despite high winds.

'I could compare the 23 with the 22,' Massa said, 'and I must say the new car feels pretty good. It's got more downforce and more grip.'

The program, including a Bridgestone tire evaluation, was halted due to a problem concerning fuel supply.

FIA Scraps Drive-Through Slap
Formula One drivers will no longer be penalized with drive-through or stop-go penalties after crashes during grands prix, according to FIA chief Max Mosley.

Instead, there will be a 'hearing after the race,' he explained.

'And then a penalty will be imposed, depending on the gravity of the offence.'

And if the same driver is similarly warned three times in a season, the stewards will look 'very seriously' at imposing a one-race suspension.

'It won't be automatic,' said Mosley, 'but they will look at it seriously.'

18 Races In 2004, French GP Saved
There will be an unprecedented eighteen grands prix this season after the fate of the French Grand Prix was sealed in a team bosses meeting on Friday.

Media reports insisted that Magny-Cours promoters have settled a financial quarrel with Bernie Ecclestone and promised compensation to all ten F1 teams.

'I think 18 races is the absolute threshold,' said Jaguar's chief Tony Purnell.

Third-Driver Rule Sticks, Say Teams
Formula One's door has slammed in the face of Justin Wilson after team bosses declined to overturn a rule prohibiting drivers like him from testing in 2004.

Under the new FIA plan, bottom-six teams can field their spare-car in official practice sessions next season but only with an inexperienced test driver.

Jaguar's Tony Purnell said: 'I can't see that the sport benefits from locking out drivers of Justin's ability.'

Panis: I'm Not Quitting
Olivier Panis has no intention of hanging up his Formula One gloves.

The 37-year-old, grand prix racing's oldest current driver, is out of contract at the end of this season but intends to continue racing Toyotas beyond 2004.

'I am starting this season with no thoughts about retiring at the end of it,' said the Frenchman as his new TF104 was launched in Germany.

He added, 'All I am thinking about is doing a good job this year. If I do that then I am confident that I will still be here in 2005. That is the aim.'

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