F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 28, 2004
Ferrari Unlikely To 'Dip' In 2004
One of Ferrari's key rivals has rejected claims that world champion
Michael Schumacher is likely to slide down the grid on inferior-tyres
Sam Michael, chief operations engineer at BMW-Williams, says the
much-hyped tyre-war will not necessarily go against Bridgestone-shod
Ferrari in 2004.
'They'll be the strongest competitor,' the Australian said of Ferrari,
who again took the constructors' title last season by a margin of
Observers at the pre-season testing tracks reckon Michelin, who supply
Grove-based Williams and other top-teams like McLaren, maintain the
edge over Ferrari.
Michael refers to Ferrari's widely-reported 'dip' in form of 2003.
'I think it's unlikely that we'll see another one,' the 31-year-old
He continued: 'I would say, actually, the opposite. But I think if you
take it as a whole, the grid [in 2004] will be a little closer.'
BMW-Williams are preparing for the new-season quite differently from
The innovative-looking FW26, with a radical front-end, hit the
test-tracks a month earlier than its predecessor to fix an
early-season deficit last year.
'So we're hopeful we can challenge straight away,' Sam Michael
Verstappen Retires From Jordan Race
Jos Verstappen has pulled out of the race for one of the last
remaining drives on the 2004 Formula One grid, the Dutch star
announced on Tuesday.
'The Boss' told the media that his management has put a full-stop
against all ongoing-negotiations with Eddie Jordan's cash-strapped
He said: 'At the moment it is useless to continue.'
Jos, who drove for Minardi last season, revealed that he was handed a
contract by Jordan but it 'gave insufficient confidence' of a
The Montford-born veteran is too-qualified to take up a bottom-six
test-drive in 2004 so is therefore likely to sit-out this year's
series as he did in 2001.
Jos carries some $10m in personal-sponsorship but his failed
negotiations leave Nick Heidfeld, Allan McNish and Ralph Firman in the
race for one of the seats.
Rookies Jarek Janis, Bas Leinders and Timo Glock have all tested
yellow-liveried EJ13 cars in recent months and may also carry enough
cash to acquire the drive.
JV's chief backer Michel Perridon, of Trust Computers, pledged
continual support for the highly-popular racer even in the absence of
a race-drive this season.
'It is important that all parties ... have a good basis for a
successful season,' he said in a statement, 'and ... this time, that
is not the case.'
Firman 'Desperate' For F1 Seat
The prospect of Ralph Firman racing a Jordan for a second consecutive
season rose again on Tuesday as Jos Verstappen ceased contract-talks
with the team.
Firman, the 29-year-old from Norfolk, is favoured by British backer
Benson & Hedges but reckons he can shine in his own right given
another chance in 2004.
'I'm desperate to stay in F1,' said the star who scored a single point
The Englishman, also Formula Nippon champion of 2002, promised to be
on the pace from the off this season because none of the grand prix
circuits are new to him.
Firman, under long-term contract to Jordan, insisted that he'll remain
'in the frame' for a full-time F1 drive in 2004 until EJ confirms two
'We are doing as much as we can, so fingers crossed,' he added whilst
contending that Eddie Jordan should make a final decision within the
space of ten-days.
He admitted that EJ is looking at alternate drivers with 'big money.'
Ralph Firman's main rival for one of the two spare Ford-powered drives
must be former Renault tester and Scot Allan McNish, also admired by
Jordan sponsor B&H.
Indian States Tussle For F1 Race
Despite the recent claims of a rival state, city Hyderabad still leads
the race to land a seven-year contract to host future Formula One
grands prix in India.
This publication reported on Monday that Indian state Maharashtra was
confident of wooing Bernie Ecclestone's affections away from Hyderabad
to the city of Mumbai.
'[F1 officials] have informed us that they will be coming next week
for discussions with me,' chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was
quoted as saying.
But state-Andhra Pradesh counterpart N Chandrababu Naidu maintains his
own confidence that promoters will still plump for Hyderabad for the
'F1 is not going to Mumbai,' said Naidu whilst also claiming that his
officials were in constant contact with Ecclestone and the Briton's F1
However, Hyderabad officials report 'surprise' that F1 has started
talks with Mumbai especially after agreeing to a 'lock-in' period of
Naidu claimed that a Memorandum of Understanding is soon to be signed
'We are working on it,' he said, in light of a meeting with Ecclestone
in London only a few days ago. 'We expect to sign it at the earliest.'
Minardi Opens Testing Account
Formula One rookie Gianmaria Bruni opened his 2004-account with the
Minardi team on Tuesday as the cash-strapped minnows started testing
The Roman drove an 'interim' PS04-b car and will hand over to
newly-signed team-mate Zsolt Baumgartner on Wednesday, according to a
Bruni worked on a programme, over 76 laps, including the assessment of
various components and software for Minardi's 2004 Formula One
'I am pretty satisfied,' said 'Gimmi' who had a harmless spin in the
He added, 'The car is much better than in Vallelunga, and I'm looking
forward to tomorrow, when we plan to do some long runs with the PS04.'
Senior engineer Andy Tilley confirmed that Hungarian Baumgartner, who
has yet to get behind the wheel of a Minardi, watched Bruni's progress
from the pitwall.
Team owner Paul Stoddart, meanwhile, explained that the data collected
at Valencia will help the team finalise the specification for the 2004
'The test also provides Gimmi and Zsolt with the opportunity to start
settling in with the team prior to the first grand prix of the
season,' he added.
BAR Promise Button's Title By 2005
Improving Formula One team BAR-Honda can deliver a world championship
to British driver Jenson Button by 2005, according to team principal
The Englishman told British paper The People that Button, 24, is now
more mature than in his formative BMW-Williams and Renault days and
can 'win the title.'
But Jenson has yet even to stand on the post-race podium, let alone
claim a win.
But DR says his young driving-charge will collect both milestones with
the '04-spec 006 car before, in 2005, he lines up a first drivers'
'I want to deliver him the world title,' said Richards.
Frome-born Button has already voiced his expectation to the media that
he now expects Brackley to build him a car capable of serving-up
Richards said he would understand Jenson 'being annoyed' if that
didn't happen as soon as this F1 season, which kicks off in Australia
He added, 'But we will give him a car capable of winning the
championship in the next couple of years.'
Button, albeit on a low fuel-level, smashed the Barcelona lap-record
in testing last week. 'Everyone's talking about how fast the Williams
cars are,' said DR.
David Richards noted that JB 'took almost a second' off them.
F1 Guilty Of Negligence: Eddie Jordan
Formula One may have already driven immovable nails into its own
coffin by failing to get rising costs under control, team boss Eddie
Jordan has claimed.
The flamboyant Irishman, who - as a privateer - will contest the 2004
season with a 'meager' $85m budget, accused the sport as a whole of
He said: 'I think we're all guilty of that. It's true that we have
done ourselves a disservice by our lack of progress in containing
Since no less than seven automobile giants got involved at the
pinnacle of motor sport, a revolution of technical advance has speared
budgets towards the absurd.
2001 and 2002 saw a third of F1's privateer teams, like Prost and
Arrows, fail while Ferrari and Toyota budgets bubble to near the
But Jordan refuses to blame the richer teams: 'Nobody is without
He added, 'We take everything too personally and then think of how to
maximize things to our own best advantage. We don't consider the
business as a whole.'
Such a view gives credence to FIA president Max Mosley's plea for more
power to unilaterally cut costs by introducing new money-saving
'The teams themselves have got to recognize that they have allowed the
costs to get too high,' the Englishman told the British media
Rivals Shade Pace At Big Valencia Test
BMW-Williams and Ferrari proved the tyre-war might not be a foregone
conclusion in 2004 by shading each others' pace on the first day of
testing in Valencia.
In a radical-new FW26, team tester Marc Gene - on Michelins - just
managed to pip the scarlet pace of Bridgestone-clad world champion
Having helped launch the new Ferrari F2004 on Monday, Schumacher was
on form in Spain on Tuesday - but at the wheel of two older-spec
Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya was third, followed by Bridgestone-clad
Sauber's Felipe Massa and another Michelin ace; Jarno Trulli in the
'Today we rolled-out of the second [C23 Sauber] chassis, which
basically means that we are testing with a new car this week,' said
engineer Jacky Eeckelaert.
Toyota and BAR are fielding runners in Spain, as are Milton-Keynes
based Formula One outfit Jaguar Racing who continue to trail the pace
with the worrying R5.
F1 Brings Benefits To Bahrain
Formula One will bring countless benefits to Bahrain, according to an
Director of TSE Consulting Lars Pedersen, based in Switzerland, told a
gathering in the new GP-hosting nation that economic benefits will
'definitely be there.'
Michael Schumacher and his rivals are set to touch-down for the
first-ever race in the Middle East this April, on a $150m
purpose-built facility in Sakhir.
Some of the world's most influential businessmen will be on the
Gulf-Island nation for the inaugural Formula One event, according to
Gulf Daily News.
Pedersen told the publication: 'This alone will provide many
opportunities for networking and meeting business leaders.'
F1 will also introduce Bahrain to the world, he insisted.
'When people think of Formula One, they will think of Bahrain. It will
create a reputation for Bahrain as a sporty, fun place - a place for
young people to go.'
And what better promotional-tool than a free one; and one that should
- if everything goes to plan - have the world boasting about how great
'People saying good things about you is always better than you saying
good things about yourself,' Pedersen smiled as he continued at the
Don't Ask About Horsepower: Martinelli
Don't even bother asking about horsepower, Paulo Martinelli said on
The Italian, as usual, has designed Ferrari's new Formula One engine
which was unveiled in the rear of the evolutionary-looking F2004 car
'We will not disclose a horsepower figure,' he told reporters at the
But he insists the new V10 unit, designated 053, has 'enough power' to
deal with its rivals but also meet stringent new regulations requiring
The new rules demand that a driver use just one engine for the entire
Formula One race-weekend in 2004, meaning nearly double the track-life
Martinelli reckons 'great attention' has been paid to ensuring that
053 is still working to its full potential from - to use an analogy -
its '40s to its 80s.'
To extend the 'life' to more than 700kms, Paulo strengthened the block
and heads with the use of 'new metallurgical solutions' to rein-in any
'All moving parts are new in order to prolong engine life,' he added.
Life At BAR To Be 'Tough' For Taku
Life at BAR will be difficult for Takuma Sato, according to the former
engineering chief of the Japanese driver's old F1 team Jordan Grand
Gary Anderson, who's settled into a lesser role at Silverstone HQ,
reckons Taku hit Formula One with a 2002-spec Jordan 'a little too
early' in his career.
Widespread wisdom has Sato as a 'crasher,' and Eddie Jordan has also
mused gloomily about the multi-million damage-bill he left him with
after the season.
Anderson doesn't fully agree with that.
'To be honest, all those accidents weren't all his fault. Sato made
mistakes, but the team made mistakes too. I'd say it was about
Takuma retreated, with engine-supplier Honda, to a BAR test-drive last
Gary Anderson thinks that Sato, with crucial development-miles under
his belt, will have 'settled down' and should have a good season as
Brackley's new racer.
But it won't be easy to be team-mate to the on-form Briton, Jenson
Anderson continued: 'Jenson is doing a strong job. He's no slouch.
We'll have to see if [Sato] can turn his talent into real lap-times
Sato's team chief Dave Richards claims that Takuma's testing times
have been 'just as good as Jenson's' and it is 'very positive to have
a good young team.'
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