F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 27, 2004
Kimi Says F1 Title Can Be His
Kimi Raikkonen doesn't want to say he's better than Michael
But it doesn't mean the young Finn, runner-up to the ice-cool German
in last year's Formula One championship, doesn't actually believe it
to be so.
'I think I have a very good chance (this year),' the 24-year-old told
F1 Racing magazine. 'I feel confident that I can beat Michael.'
Raikkonen is known in the paddock as The Iceman.
It started when McLaren chief and mentor Ron Dennis told the press
that Kimi Raikkonen is even cooler than his Finnish predecessor, Mika
'It's nice,' Kimi shrugged, 'but I never think like that.'
He happily wears the 'Iceman' sticker on his helmet and merchandise
clothing, but Raikkonen adds: 'I don't want to sound like I'm full of
Neither does the speedster want to say he's the best driver in the
'It's difficult to say, yourself,' said Kimi. 'But I came second last
year and I think I can improve on that in 2004.'
No Gasps As Ferrari Unveil Evolution
On a chilly mid-morning in northern Italy, Ferrari unveiled its latest
But there was no gasp from the assembled media when a scarlet sheet
was pulled off the F2004, the Scuderia's fiftieth single-seater to
attack the GP-grids.
'What's important is what you see on the stopwatch at the end of the
day,' world champion Michael Schumacher said as he defended the
But (r)evolution or not, Ferrari expects a tough challenge from
nearest rivals McLaren and BMW-Williams - and as an outside chance
Renault - in 2004.
Boss Jean Todt said they can 'no longer stand' to see Ferrari in the
'We have great impatience, a real desire to do well,' the Frenchman
continued at the team's factory in Maranello. 'It's like starting from
zero all over again.'
Ferrari has won the past five constructors' and past four drivers'
Ferrari Confirm: F2004 To Start New-Year
Ferrari has vowed to buck its own self-imposed trend of the past
couple of Formula One seasons to start 2004 with a newly-launched
'This year it looks like we will have the new car ready for the first
race,' said driver Rubens Barrichello. 'Now that's our wish.'
Technical director Ross Brawn confirmed that it is Ferrari's plan to
take the F2004, with numerous similarities to last year's contender,
to Albert Park.
'Maybe something will happen,' he admitted. 'We can reconsider, but it
would be a hell of a task to get the old car and engine ready for the
He explained that the new-policy was designed because of the novel
long-life engine regulations but also because of the 'performance of
The decision to go with the new car was made before Christmas after
mock-up crash-tests went well and Ferrari 'wanted to put 100 percent'
'Everything was planned to start with the new car in Australia,' said
Ferrari Clears Crash-Test Hurdle
Ferrari's new F2004 racer has passed most of the mandatory FIA
'We've passed the critical ones,' said technical director Ross Brawn
as the project-named '655' was unveiled at the Maranello factory in
Brawn revealed that the only test remaining is the rear-impact test,
but it won't deter Ferrari's plan of starting the season with the car
'I'd say that final test is pretty stand-alone,' the Englishman
He added, 'I'm reasonably comfortable we've got past that hurdle.'
Brawn Admits 'Unfinished' F2004
Any gasps from the assembled media upon the Ferrari F2004's unveiling
in Maranello yesterday were as much for what they DIDN'T see on the
A few days ago, prior to the ceremony near Modena, team boss Jean Todt
hinted that the fiftieth scarlet single-seater might boast a
'surprise' front wing.
'Certainly, we did not react aggressively enough to the opportunities
presented by the 2003 regulation changes,' admitted technical director
'For 2004 we have worked to ensure that we will not make the same
But where is the radical front wing, like BMW-Williams' new tusks?
'There will be fairly substantial changes to the aerodynamic
components [before the first race,' explained chief designer Rory
He added that the wing, bargeboards and rear-aero shapes are likely to
be quite-different by the time Michael Schumacher powers out of the
Albert Park pitlane.
The pieces will be introduced during February pre-season testing.
'Why aren't they on there?' Brawn quizzes himself. 'Because we've
pushed the development of the car and we're still making the pieces.'
Rubens Vows Threat To Ferrari Teammate
Rubens Barrichello has promised to pose a threat to his
championship-winning Ferrari team-mate in the race for the next
Formula One crown.
'I think I've always been a challenge for him, in a way,' the
Brazilian told the press at a low-key unveiling of the F2004 in
Maranello on Monday.
Barrichello is still a few years younger than Michael Schumacher but
he insists that he's a 'better driver today' than during his first
season in scarlet.
'That was my third step in my career,' he said, 'I had Jordan and I
had Stewart, I learned with them but I had to change and I think I'm
doing a better job now.'
Rubens says winning only happens if you 'believe' and you 'dream.'
'You have to know you can do it,' he claims, 'and that's my status
But dreams might not be all he needs - Barrichello has Formula One's
new points-system on his side, particularly as 'number-two' to
'Someone who finished third in all the races would probably have had
the chance to win the championship last year,' he notes, 'so it is
wide open (this year).'
Best Tires Will Win F1 Titles: Brawn
Ross Brawn has admitted that tires will win this year's Formula One
The technical director concluded at Monday's launch of an
evolutionary-looking F2004 that Ferrari's 'most important' partnership
is with Bridgestone.
'What must be understood is that no tire firm can be totally
dominant,' he said.
'We will succeed or fail on the strength of our tires.'
Conventional wisdom claims that Michelin, with six manufacturer-backed
teams on the books in 2004, has an early edge over its Japanese-based
But 2003 champion Michael Schumacher reminded the assembled media in
Maranello that last season, the victorious scarlet car bore the brand
'If I'm correct,' he smiled, 'last year I think we won both
championships with those tires. So it can't be that bad.
'I think we are ready for the game and I'm as motivated as ever.'
Ross Brawn concluded that Ferrari and Bridgestone will both 'succeed
together' and 'fail together. And if we fail, then we need to work
Don't Discount DC: Schumacher
Michael Schumacher won't count David Coulthard out of the chase for
this year's Formula One championship - so why should the rest of the
Such was the gist of a message propounded by the German in Maranello
yesterday as his Ferrari team prepared to defend their titles in
'I know David gets a huge amount of flak and negative press in the UK
but within the confines of the F1 paddock he is well respected,' said
Coulthard, after a difficult '03 - especially in qualifying - may be
left without a racing home in 2005 as Juan Pablo Montoya touches down
Schumacher admits that DC 'didn't have the best' form last season.
'But I believe he will be one of my main rivals this season,' he
asserts. 'He will be fired-up and I can't afford to write him off in
terms of the fight.'
The 35-year-old reeled-off the merits of F1's Scottish veteran.
'He is always quick, totally professional, hard but fair, and an
excellent driver to race against,' said Schumacher.
'He'll be determined to prove a lot of people wrong.'
Schu Expects McLaren To Challenge
Michael Schumacher expects the toughest challenge to his world
championships to come from Mercedes-powered Formula One team McLaren
'However, I don't know about Renault's and Williams' new cars,' said
'I'm aware things can change very quickly in Formula One.'
Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello, of Brazil, agrees that 2004 is
likely to pose a 'tough, highly competitive' world championship
But he hopes to start it the way he ended 2003; 'with a win.'
So while the harshest test might be in a duel with McLaren, Schumacher
also has a cautious eye on F1's youngest-ever race-winner; a
22-year-old from Spain.
Asked if Renault's Fernando Alonso is a contender, he said: 'It looks
Schu To Kick-Start F2004 Program
Michael Schumacher will kick-off development on Ferrari's all-new
Formula One challenger at the Fiorano test track late this week.
'It's always been like that,' said team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who -
while Schumacher settles into F2004 - will be doing tire-work in
German-ace Michael's job will be to sort-out 'all the small glitches'
that inevitably grumble to the surface when a new car runs for the
Only a single F2004 is ready to test, the Brazilian admitted.
'By the time we get to February, the middle somewhere, we'll have two
cars and we'll be able to do a lot of testing,' said Rubens
He insists that he's not perturbed about his shorter test-programme.
'Apart from the seating position,' he explains, 'if the car is faster
you adapt to it very well and quickly - whether it's understeering or
Ferrari Defend 'Tusk-Less' New Racer
An assembled few expected Ferrari's new F2004 to feature tusks.
BMW-Williams plonked the front-end innovation on their newly-launched
FW26 and Jean Todt hinted recently that the new single-seater would
have a radical nose.
'Some people thought we would have something like that,' smiled
Michael Schumacher, 'just because Williams came up with something new.
'But that doesn't mean [Williams] are more prepared.'
Ferrari's team principal, Todt, declined to re-live his pre-launch
boasts about noses and just claimed that titles are not won or lost
'because of front wings.'
'[Williams] got a lot of media attention because their wing was
different,' said the Frenchman, 'but we do a lot of development in the
Todt hinted that 'tusks' have already been tried in the Maranello
Meanwhile, Schumacher wondered just how long the FW26 will be tusked.
'It will be interesting,' said the German, 'to see how long it goes
that way and whether other teams go the same route or not.
'It's an innovation, but at the end of the day it has to be quick.'
Badoer May Run Third Sauber: Ferrari's Todt
Ferrari test-driver Luca Badoer is allowed to drive a third Sauber in
the official practice sessions at grands prix this season, Jean Todt
A story last week hinted that Ferrari, led by Todt, might pay their
bottom-six 'customer' team to run a spare-car in 2004 as allowed by
Sauber's new C23 racer bears a striking resemblance to the
2003-specification F2003-GA and is powered by a Ferrari-made engine
The participation of Italian-born Badoer in the official practice
sessions would also help Ferrari gather data as both teams run on
Badoer, 33, is allowed to be a Friday-test driver as he hasn't turned
a wheel in an actual grand prix since 1999, when he doubled as a
'Luca is able to test the third car for a team that is between fifth
and tenth place (in last year's championship),' Todt said in Maranello
The Frenchman said whether Ferrari actually does it 'is speculation.'
He added, 'But if we decide to do it, we can.'
Schu Slams F1 Points-System
Michael Schumacher has renewed his criticism of Formula One's
new-for-2003 points-system which strives to reduce the margin of the
Last season, F1 runner-up Kimi Raikkonen got within two-points of
Schumacher's sixth drivers' title by consistently finishing races in
But he only won a single grand prix to Michael's six.
'I knew Kimi was a very good racing driver, he had a good car and was
very consistent,' said Ferrari's number-one driver and champion,
But the German questions whether a driver with 'so many second
positions' should actually wind-up at the final race of the season
within sight of the title.
Michael wondered: 'Is that correct or not correct? I have my own
opinion. It's nothing to do with Kimi. Regarding him I think he will
do a very good job.'
Schu: Too Early To Plan Beyond 2006
Can't you just go and bother someone else?
That was Michael Schumacher's plea at Maranello yesterday as the press
continued their agitating-campaign of speculation regarding his
Before the 35-year-old renewed his Ferrari contract mid-last season,
rumours were rife that he would hang up his scarlet helmet at the end
But even armed with a new through-to-2006 agreement, Michael is still
'Last year, when we were discussing terms for 2006, there was a lot of
discussion,' Schumacher told the media as Ferrari launched F2004 in
'They said: What is he going to do? - is he going to extend? Blah,
Michael thought his new deal would cease the speculation; but now the
racing media want to know what he's got planned beyond 2006; or
perhaps even earlier.
'I think it's a bit too early,' Schumacher continued. 'What am I going
to do? It doesn't matter. I don't intend to think about anything other
Ferrari Reveal Radical Gearbox
One of the most radical elements of Ferrari's evolutionary new Formula
One racer, the F2004 - unveiled in Italy on Monday - is under its
Sources report that new materials were used in the construction of the
'The fundamental change is in the casing,' admitted car designer Rory
The South-African said that in the past, Ferrari used a cast-titanium
case for the Formula One transmission - 'now we've got a hybrid
material one,' he said.
Byrne continued: 'It's another step in improving structural efficiency
and reducing weight. We're introducing much more composite-use into
But while Ferrari boast about new materials, it is believed that
McLaren might be about to unleash an even more radical
gearbox-innovation on the F1 grid.
Their MP4-19's twin-clutch gearbox, apparently to be ready by the 2004
season-opener, enables gears to be changed without the momentary loss
Barrichello: McLaren Our Biggest Threat
Rubens Barrichello agrees with his Ferrari team-leader that
Mercedes-powered Formula One team McLaren look likely to pose the
sturdiest threat in 2004.
'I think the McLaren is going to be a very good car,' said the Ferrari
But why is silver likely to be a more dangerous colour than blue and
white? Mostly because Ron Dennis' Woking-based lads know the MP4-19 so
Barrichello continues: 'It's like a year-old car. It was never used in
2003 but it's a car that they are going to develop quite a lot now.'
The '19' is based heavily on McLaren's un-raced 2003 test-car, MP4-18.
'If they are going to be the toughest one, I don't know,' Rubens said.
'But Kimi [Raikkonen] was the closest challenger last year. Let's wait
Schu Believes New Format Is 'Fairer'
Michael Schumacher believes Formula One's new qualifying format is
The German, reigning world champion since 2000, was forced throughout
last season to be the first one-lap qualifier on the track on Friday
'I'm a lot happier (with the revised system),' Michael told reporters.
In 2004, the first-car out for Saturday-only qualifying will be the
winner of the last grand prix - not the championship-leader, as during
'If the circuit is in good condition it should be ok,' he continued,
'but if not then you could still be a track-cleaner. But it is a
Ferrari Aim For 'Little News' In 2004
Luca di Montezemolo was happy, not perturbed, when his Formula One
drivers said little about their chances for a new title-challenge in
The president of Ferrari, on-hand at Maranello for the launch of a new
racer, said he hoped media agencies struggled for eye-catching news
'It is more news when Ferrari are beaten than when they win,' said the
His logic is sound; it is easier, for example, to remember who was
lapped by Fernando Alonso in Hungary than to recall which driver
triumphed in Barcelona.
Both times, it was Ferrari's eventual champion, Michael Schumacher.
Montezemolo smiled: 'We will try to give as little news as possible
and win as often as we can. When drivers don't say much it's a good
He reckons when F1 aces talk too much 'they invent things.
'How they drive is what matters. It's going to be a hard fight and a
difficult year. But I want to have the same conclusion (as last
Brawn Checks Out Bridgestone Centre
Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn headed to the outskirts of Rome
(Italy) last week to check-out Bridgestone's European technical
The event signified an 'increasingly open exchange of technical
information' between the two companies in Formula One, according to a
Meanwhile, Brawn explained: 'Today was all about meeting and talking
to young engineers and getting a closer look at the technical
facilities here in Rome.
'It is an important visit not only for our relationship, but also to
understand Bridgestone's capabilities,' the Englishman continued.
Later, Brawn put his skills to the test on the wet-handling track
after a few laps in the passenger-seat of a Fiat Group car with ex-F1
ace Stefano Modena.
Jaguar Prefer Reliability Over Speed
Jaguar would be happier to start the season with reliability rather
Chief engineer Malcolm Oastler said an 'evolutionary' R5 challenger
means more time has been spent on fine-tuning the new Formula One car
ahead of 2004.
'Originally, we set out to give R4 a light-rub,' said the Australian.
He added, 'But with the added time we have been able to extensively
redesign quite a few areas of the car and still retain the proven
systems and parts.'
Recent reports after initial tests, however, indicate that the R5 is
not developing in the right direction and may even sport serious
Ex-BAR man Oastler said his main job before Melbourne is to ensure R5
He explained, 'At some circuits last year we were very quick but
couldn't translate that into points. At other circuits we were off the
'We can't afford for that to happen if we want to improve in the
Pizzonia Set For BMW-Williams Return
Antonio Pizzonia is heading for a return to the BMW-Williams
The embattled Brazilian filled the position in 2002 before emerging
triumphant in the race to partner Aussie Mark Webber as Jaguar
team-mate last season.
By the fourth race, he was in trouble; by Hockenheim, he was out.
Some publications are musing that either son of former F1 world
champions, Nico Rosberg or Nelson Piquet Junior, are favorite to land
the official role.
But our sources insist that Pizzonia, also known as 'Jungle-Boy' in F1
circles, may have already signed a contract to cover the position
during season 2004.
Spaniard Marc Gene is in dire need of a 'second' support test driver.
'Sometimes it was six days running [in a row],' said Gene, 'and that's
too much. As far as I know, [the bosses] have [already] made a
Youngster Pizzonia returned to the cockpit of a Grove-built car in
early October (2003) and was praised by BMW-Williams' chief operations
engineer Sam Michael.
'12 months out of a Williams has done nothing to slow Antonio down,'
Ferrari Admit Close Sauber Link
F1 team Ferrari has admitted a 'close' relationship with rivals
Last week, reports did the rounds that Sauber's new C23, which boasts
a Ferrari-made engine and gearbox, was a 'direct copy' of the
'You know we share information,' Ferrari chief Jean Todt admitted on
Monday at his team's new-car launch. 'We have our engineers talking to
Todt mused confidence that supplying Sauber with same-spec engines
this season and - for the first time - the gearbox, will 'help them be
'And we can also share some more information together,' Jean, who
insisted that Peter Sauber still pays for the privilege of Ferrari
Speculation is also doing the rounds, partly confirmed by Todt at the
F2004 launch on Monday, that Ferrari might pay Sauber to run a
third-car on Fridays.
Jean Todt noted, 'Don't forget [Sauber] are also using Bridgestone
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