F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 19, 2004
Denso Strengthens Toyota Deal
F1 team Toyota has announced a new corporate sponsor - Denso.
The supplier of automotive technologies has been a technical partner
of the team since 2002 but now vows more money to get exposure on the
Formula One car.
An evolutionary TF104 was launched in Cologne, Germany, on Saturday,
boasting Denso logos on the engine-cover and drivers' overalls.
Team principal Tsutomu Tomita said Toyota was 'honored' that the brand
opted to strengthen its commercial relationship with the
Toyota Aim For First Podium
Four hundred of the world's media flocked to Cologne on the weekend to
watch the TF104 car be launched and check-out the German-based team's
Toyota build both chassis and engine under the 30,000 square-meter
'Our activities are unique in that we create our car under one roof
using our own technology and ability,' said Toyota president John
New team principal Tsutomu Tomita says the goal for 2004, with the
evolutionary TF104, is to get closer to the top-four Formula One
'If conditions are right,' he added, 'also to score our first podium.'
Chief designer Gustav Brunner admits that the new car is a 'logical
progression' of 2003's TF103; a competitive racer that failed to live
up to its potential.
'We've made steps on the aerodynamics,' said the Austrian, 'and the
whole car is lighter and stiffer.'
Brazilian Ricardo Zonta will drive a 'third car' in official practice
sessions this season while Aussie youngster Ryan Briscoe has been
signed as a tester.
Verstappen Deals Jordan Ultimatum
Jos Verstappen wants to know if he's a Jordan driver - right now.
The Dutchman and manager Michel Perridon are understood to have
demanded an immediate answer to the question we've all been asking.
Has the 'Boss' got the Ford-powered drive for 2004?
'There is a probability that Jordan will not accept but that's the
risk,' said Perridon. 'If that's the case, we will look for other
Verstappen brings some $10 million in sponsorship but a
'behind-the-scenes' job is not ideal as, under new rules, he's not
allowed to test spare cars on Friday.
According to sources, Eddie Jordan's team is not keen on giving-in to
Perridon's desire for significant livery-space (for personal sponsors)
on the new EJ14.
Verstappen's agent, Raymond Vermeulen, says the reason for the
ultimatum is to get the Montford-born star behind the F1 wheel again
'as soon as possible.'
'We want to know where we stand, right now,' he asserted.
Jaguar Face Task To Keep Webber
Jaguar Racing face a couple of related challenges in 2004; upping
their game and convincing Mark Webber that he should continue to steer
a Leaping Cat.
'Everyone keeps saying Williams are going to ring up,' said Tony
Purnell at the launch of a conventional-looking R5 at Circuit de
Catalunya on Sunday.
He said: 'They haven't.'
But Purnell, team principal, insists that Jaguar 'definitely' wants to
hang onto the Australian who is under contract to the team in green to
the end of 2005.
'The atmosphere he brings is very positive,' said Tony.
Webber, 27, may also have a future awaiting him at manager and Formula
One principal Flavio Briatore's Renault team.
Jaguar managing director David Pitchforth admits that Milton-Keynes
must 'do a very good job' to provide a racing car that is worthy of
'Only if we can do that,' he said, 'will there be no problems.'
Webber Admits 'Big Team' Interest
In the face of keen interest from a couple of top Formula One teams,
Mark Webber on Sunday pledged his allegiance to current employers
The hugely-rated star is linked with alternative futures at Renault or
'It's a nice pat on the back,' he said in Barcelona, where Mark
debuted the new R5 challenger before it broke down on the first
He added: 'But this game is so fickle so I'm not waking up each
morning thinking about the big teams. But yeah - we have to look at
Webber, from Australia, admits that he does want to win grands prix in
the next couple of years 'and that might be difficult to do [at
He even admitted the touted interest of eponymous F1 chief Sir Frank
'You never know,' the 27-year-old smiled, 'but even if I do go there
to drive, I'm not about to go and live in Monaco. I'm a country boy, I
don't mind tax.'
Jaguar Reveal Modest Goals
Jaguar Racing unveiled a conventional new Formula One challenger at
the Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday without dreaming of immediate
Unlike Renault or BAR, the Milton-Keynes operation knows it won't be
sniffing the exhaust fumes of the top-four teams like Ferrari or
BMW-Williams in 2004.
'We aim to compete with the likes of Toyota, Sauber and BAR this
season,' said team principal Tony Purnell in the background of the
Purnell says Jaguar aren't ready to take on the 'front guys.'
'But I'd like to think maybe we can put a bit of pressure on them
especially as the second half of the season goes along.'
Jaguar was the first team to test on the newly-completed, modified,
Barcelona track in Spain when it completed installation laps in the R5
on the weekend.
Spain's F1 circuit boasts a re-asphalted main straight, bigger run-off
at several corners and a revised final section of the track in
New Engine Is Just As Fast: Toyota
Toyota's all-new Formula One engine has been designed to last twice as
long whilst not affecting overall horsepower.
Technical director of the department, Luca Marmorini, comments on a
new regulation demanding double the track-life of an engine in 2004.
'We've tried to increase durability but still maintain the drivability
and the performance,' he said of the new RVX-04 which was first
fired-up in November.
New Rule Is Pain In Neck: Michelin
A new regulation in Formula One is a 'pain in the neck' for Michelin.
Partner teams must select a single tire-compound for the whole weekend
right after Friday morning practice, to ensure they maximise allowed
'With so little time,' said Pierre Dupasquier, 'we'll have to pool all
the data from the teams rather than base our decisions totally on the
It will involve 'theoretical judgements,' said the French motorsport
boss, despite the many millions of dollars that Michelin plough into
'On the one hand it's quite interesting,' he continued, 'but on the
other we're spending so much but we're not allowed to generate that
much useful data.'
Selection on Friday will also be difficult for other reasons, he
explained. For example, 'on Friday the track is usually so dirty,'
F1 To Get New Champ In 2004: Webber
Formula One will have a new champion in 2004, according to Mark
The Australian believes that the four-year title-winning streak of
Michael Schumacher will end this season as a generation of younger
stars shines on.
'Michael will be deposed,' said the Jaguar ace at Barcelona.
He added, 'I think Kimi [Raikkonen] will give it a real shout and
either of the Williams drivers will definitely be right up there.'
Webber says the momentum is now with Ferrari's main Michelin-shod
'It's going to be a tough year for Michael,' said Mark. 'He scraped it
out of the bottom of the canyon last year for the championship.'
Schu's imminent first defeat since 2000 may even quell his love-affair
Said Webber, 'He won't enjoy it if he loses - it will be tough for
him. But it might give him the motivation to come back again and stick
around even longer.'
Toyota Trim Formula One Budget
Toyota has cut back on spending at the pinnacle of motor sport.
Since the Cologne-based marque entered the sport in 2002, it has spent
an estimated $1 billion to finish tenth and eighth in the
President John Howett, however, used the launch of a new TF104 racer
in Germany on Saturday to combat assumptions that Toyota is again
spending big in 2004.
'The name Toyota is synonymous with lean operations,' he insisted.
Howett said, 'We operated comfortably within last year's budget, and
this year's budget is actually lower.'
Media reports are claiming that Toyota may have curbed a $400 million
budget in 2003 by as much as thirteen per cent in preparation for the
new racing season.
'But we do aim to be a top team,' Howett continues, 'so we have a top
team's budget. But it is not as large as people may think.'
Jaguar Yet To Sign 'Third' Driver
Jaguar declined to announce a 'third driver' for the 2004 season at
the launch of its modest-appearing R5 racer at Circuit de Catalunya on
The team had hoped that former Minardi and Jaguar star Justin Wilson
would be free, under new FIA rules, to test the spare-chassis on
Fridays this season.
'We will have a third car at every race,' managing director David
Pitchforth confirmed. 'We have a list, but I'm not going to talk about
who is on it.'
American Townsend Bell, who tested alongside newcomer Christian Klien
at the circuit late last year, is now favorite to claim it, according
'We're in negotiations,' Pitchforth continued, 'however in the next
two to three weeks we will make an announcement.'
Klien Turns To Legends For Advice
Christian Klien is the 'real deal,' according to his first F1
Jaguar's Mark Webber certainly hopes his new 20-year-old sparring
partner does better than his predecessors in getting the most from the
sister Leaping Cat.
The 27-year-old deposed Antonio Pizzonia and Justin Wilson in 2003.
'Last year I scored all bar one of the team's points and that killed
us for the championship,' said the Australian.
'We need to have two drivers regularly scoring points.'
Klien, from Austria, has never ventured beyond the European continent
but reckons two of his country's legends can help him deal with the
pressure of F1.
'I spoke to Gerhard Berger about how to handle the pressure,' said
Klien. 'He told me whenever I have a question to just give him a
And while he also plans to touch base with triple champion Niki Lauda,
Christian is no admirer of F1's pacesetter, German champion Michael
'I'm more a [Juan Pablo] Montoya fan,' said Klien. 'I think he's a
great driver and I like his driving style and personality.'
Michelin Didn't Want To Supply BAR
Michelin didn't really want to supply BAR-Honda with F1 tires in 2004.
Under the stipulations of the Concorde Agreement, though, tire
suppliers must be prepared to adorn more than half of the grid with
race-rubber if requested.
'We're delighted about it,' said a nonetheless reticent Pierre
He explained: 'We weren't really looking to increase of numbers but it
shows that our tires are the number one choice in the sport at
Having six teams to Bridgestone's four, however, could actually pose a
problem for Michelin in its quest to finally tie-up the world
Some say Michelin's development will be pushed along faster than its
rivals in '04 because it boasts six manufacturer-backed teams to
Dupasquier doesn't necessarily agree: 'So many of our partners can
score points that it could actually open up the door to our opposition
to win the title.'
He added, 'Let's hope not. At the end of the day we want to win
Do New Rules Tame F1's Horses?
You'd be wrong to assume that just because F1's engine rules have
changed ahead of season 2004, horsepower will be down and overall
weight will be up.
Cosworth's technical director Nick Hayes said at the launch of the new
Jaguar R5 in Spain on Sunday that the new CR-6 V10 doesn't necessary
'You can't make those assumptions,' he said. 'F1 technology moves
forward so fast you can't use last year's model as a benchmark.'
Hayes declined to reveal exactly what the 90-degree unit does weigh
but he did admit that it 'probably weighs a little bit more than it
would have done.'
In 2004, each car/driver faces penalty if his single powerplant per
weekend does not make it to the start of Sunday's Formula One Grand
'We are always trying to save weight,' Hayes continues, 'so if you
were going to make an assumption, you'd be safer to assume it is
Nick admitted that revs and power-output are also likely to be lower
than they would have been if the regulations had stayed the same this
'But I think by the end of the season we will have caught up,' he
Purnell 'Worried' About R5 Progress
F1 team Jaguar is in better shape than it ever has been, according to
the man most directly responsible for what its new R5 challenger looks
Aero chief Ben Agathangelou says the car incorporates 'less risk' than
its predecessors because the team understood the 2003-spec R4 so well.
'We're working in a low-risk, conventional fashion,' he said, 'and
that stability has given us a chance to push really hard to make it an
Rather than stab in the dark on new innovations, then, Agathangelou -
for the first time in his tenure - could 'refine and evolve' the
Formula One car.
Team boss Tony Purnell is sure that R5 is quicker than the old racer.
'But I'm really very worried that maybe we make half a second and
everyone else makes up one second,' he said. 'That will make us
Fisichella Denies Sour-Grapes
Roman ace Giancarlo Fisichella has denied sour-grapes that Ferrari
opted to extend the racing contract of veteran Rubens Barrichello for
a further 2-years.
Observers saw the 31-year-old's swap from Jordan to scarlet-powered
Sauber this season as a step closer to realising his dream of one day
racing for the marque.
He told Gazzetta dello Sport: 'I'm happy for him and not disappointed
for myself, but rather satisfied for the opportunities that will
Pressure Lands On Austrian Rookie
Driving quickly is simply not enough.
That's the message whispered firmly in both 20-year-old ears of Jaguar
Racing's brand-new Formula One team-mate for Mark Webber, Christian
'I want to be pushed by my team-mate,' said Webber in Spain.
Klien, from Austria, knows that even a $5 million sponsorship purse
courtesy of backers Red Bull won't ease the pressure on his shoulders
'I know this is going to be a tough season,' he added at the launch of
'I know less than half the tracks and I am ready to learn a lot from
Mark. From the first day, Jaguar have told me that I must score
Boss David Pitchforth deposed fears that Jaguar might be about to
stamp on another talent like Klien's predecessors Justin Wilson or
'He needs time to settle into F1 as a whole and he'll be given that,'
Celebrity Races To Get Green-Light
Formula One fans may be treated to a Celebrity Grand Prix at races in
Minardi chief Paul Stoddart, with a fleet of two-seater F1 cars,
proposed the idea to his nine counterparts last week as a way to boost
The ten cars, painted in team colors and steered by test drivers, will
ferry A-list celebrities around the eighteen grand prix circuits on
'It's very interesting,' said FIA chief Max Mosley, 'and it was well
F1 bosses are asking their sponsors this week if the idea is workable
and will give Australian-born Stoddart an answer 'within the week.'
Bahrain Running Out Of Time
F1 circuit contractor Cebarco Bahrain has admitted real concern about
whether the 89-percent completed track can be finished in time.
Chairman Khalid Abdul Rahim reckons last-minute changes to the track
design will make getting the facility ready for an April 4 race-date a
'You might finish the project,' he said, 'but you have to make it
He says Cebarco has just three weeks to commission a circuit by a
process that normal takes 'three or four months' to complete.
FIA officials have also started their own tests to ensure that the
first Middle Eastern F1 facility is up-to-scratch for an inaugural
race in 2004.
'We were told we'd have three months for the FIA to test,' Rahim
continues. 'But they started a month ago. Right now they're looking at
Meanwhile, renowned F1 race organiser Philippe Gurdjian has been
brought-in at the behest of Bernie Ecclestone to oversee the final
stages of organization.
The Bahrain circuit is now way over-budget, according to the
Da Matta Prepares To Pounce
F1 driver Cristiano da Matta is ready to pounce on his rivals this
Last season, as a rookie, the former CART series champion from Brazil
spent most of his time fitting-in with the F1 fold and learning a
dozen new race circuits.
'It was a lot of hard work,' said da Matta, widely regarded as the
'rookie of the season' in 2003, 'but I think I showed my potential.'
2004 will be a different story, said the diminutive ace from
'At last, I'm on a level playing field to the other drivers,' said
Cristiano. 'I will aim for consistency and help Toyota make progress
on the top teams.'
French Race Is On, Ecclestone Confirms
The French Grand Prix is on, F1's impresario Bernie Ecclestone has
'There will be eighteen races,' said the 73-year-old impresario after
a meeting in London late last week with the sport's ten team
Ecclestone confirmed that Magny-Cours promoters had met their
financial obligations to the sport and agreed to compensate the
Formula One teams.
'The teams have agreed and there's no problem,' FIA chief Max Mosley
added. 'They're getting their financial deal. It's really down to
Mosley denied that the entire saga had been a ploy by Bernie, who
actually had little intention of scrapping the historic race, to get
more money from France.
'No,' he said, 'it was very close. It wasn't completely in place until
a day or so ago. The FIA were, however, reluctant to see France come
off the calendar.'
Retaining Rubens Was 'Automatic'
Retaining Rubens Barrichello was an 'automatic decision.'
That's the insistence of Ferrari's racing chief Jean Todt who denied
claims that a new two-year deal was a close-run deal with younger
'It was virtually automatic,' Todt told the Italian press. 'He has
done an extraordinary job and there was no reason not to carry on with
a winning team.'
Nothing Wrong With R5: Jaguar
Jaguar Racing has poured scorned on reports that its new R5
challenger, unwrapped in Spain on Sunday, was born with inherent
Spokesman Nav Sidhu said there is 'nothing wrong with the car.'
Late last week, chief in green Tony Purnell told this publication
after a roll-out in Belgium that he knows 'there are some things that
are wrong [with R5].'
Sidhu appears to admit that this may be true but says the
press-interpreted description - 'fault' - suggests that the problem
does not have a fix.
He added, 'Every single car in Melbourne will have areas which are
under-developed. That's the nature of the business.'
Meanwhile, David Pitchforth - team managing director - admits that
some of R4's problems have been carried-over into the design of the
'It's better to run something whose quirks you believe you can fix
than take a gamble on something new,' he said at Circuit de Catalunya
Gascoyne Defends Big-Spending Toyota
Mike Gascoyne has defended new employers Toyota Racing in the face of
criticisms that they are spending-big in their quest for Formula One
The Briton was lured away from Renault late last year on the promise
of an unprecedented engineer's salary; some $7.1 million per season.
He said: 'A lot of people concentrate on our budget.
'But they forget Ferrari, McLaren and Williams have spent years
building their teams into winning organizations.'
Toyota are rumored to spend about $400 million annually on their
grands prix campaign; although that figure is said to have been
trimmed for 2004.
Gascoyne, technical director on the chassis-side of the garage in
Cologne, said Toyota are attempting to catch the big-guys in just a
few racing seasons.
'And that takes a lot of investment,' he said. 'I think they're doing
it in the smart way.'
Senna May Have Driven For Ferrari
Had Ayrton Senna survived a shunt at Imola in 1994, he may well have
ended up as team-mate to Michael Schumacher at world-championship team
Scarlet chief Jean Todt said the late, legendary Brazilian was
'interested' in switching from Williams to Ferrari ahead of season
'I met Senna at the 1993 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, shortly after I
had come into Formula One, to talk about signing him,' the Frenchman
Todt said he was 'surprised' that Senna was keen on slipping on
He added, 'We were nothing like as strong a team then as we are now,
so you can actually imagine how surprised I was.'
Todt said Ayrton's interest was 'proof' of the strength of the Ferrari
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