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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 5, 2004


Jordan 'Launch' New Car At Silverstone
A Formula One car 'launch' or a 'public unveiling'?

Jordan's spokesman reckoned presenting an uncompleted-livery and just one confirmed race-driver at a chilly Silverstone track was probably the latter.

It reminded the few invited local journalists sipping tea out of mugs of the first-ever Jordan launch in the early-Nineties, opting for promise over pomp.

Jordan-Ford finished ninth in the constructors' chase last season ...

... And the new EJ14 racer bore the word 'Lazarus' on its sidepods in reference to the character who was brought-back from the dead by Jesus in the Bible.

QUIET LAUNCH WAS PREMEDITATED

'As most journalists had us written off for this year, we decided that the reincarnation of Lazarus was probably the most appropriate,' EJ smiled.

Team boss Eddie Jordan said the quiet-launch was very-much premeditated.

'The key thing was to keep our heads down, don't say too much, just come out of the box, very quiet launch, and let's rip into the season,' said the Irishman.








Verstappen Back In Race For Jordan Seat
Jos Verstappen has re-joined the race for the final seat on this year's Formula One grid, according to Silverstone-based owner Eddie Jordan.

'We would ideally like an experienced driver,' said the Irishman as he, confirmed ace Nick Heidfeld and a Trust-branded EJ14 was launched on Wednesday.

Jordan denied speculation that renewed-sponsor Benson & Hedges is demanding a British national to trigger-off another few million in team backing.

'Not at all,' said EJ. 'Jos is mature, we know him but he's not the only show in town. But if he were to end up driving for us that would be fine.'

He also denied that a deal has been done with Verstappen's main sponsor Trust, even if the black logos appeared on Heidfeld's overalls and the new F1-racer.

'Trust and I have had discussions,' said Jordan. 'We'll make an announcement when we are ready. 'There is still a seat available, I have not finalised it.'

FIRMAN STILL IN FRAME

2003-driver Ralph Firman is still in with a shout for the vacant seat.

'I speak to him all the time,' said Jordan. 'If there's a way to get him in a testing role or as a driver, then we'll do it. I particularly like him.'

Sources suggest that Italian F3000 driver Giorgio Pantano, who has several million sponsor-dollars in tow, is also a candidate for the F1-drive.








Massa Dazed After High-Speed Shunt
Sauber signing Felipe Massa emerged dazed but mostly unscathed from a horror high-speed shunt at Spain's Circuit de Catalunya early on Wednesday morning.

The Brazilian was doing 190mph at the end of the straight when, according to onlookers, a section of his front suspension broke crashing him into barriers.

Sauber, based in Switzerland, cancelled the rest of the test-programme.

Massa, 22, hopped out of the car himself but, contrary to some reports, did not fall unconscious at any time before or on the trip to the medical centre.

He was later airlifted to hospital but confirmed as having no serious injury.

'No problem, I'm fine,' was the youngster's first report from hospital.

LIGHT HEAD INJURIES

A spokesman at the General Hospital of Catalunya, however, said Massa had sustained 'light head injuries' and some rib-damage at the wheel of the C23 car.

Later, observers claimed the blue-and-green car had rolled-over more than once.

Massa was still in hospital several hours after the shunt under observation.

A team spokesman ruled out driver-error and said the wrecked-C23, based closely on Ferrari's 2003-specification F2003-GA, would be analysed in Switzerland.

'I already want to leave,' Felipe said in another hospital-release. 'I'm feeling healthy and don't have a scratch but it's up to the doctors to decide.'








Jordan Get Same Engine As Jaguar
Jordan's newly-unveiled EJ14 contender will be powered by the same-specification Ford Cosworth V10 engine to be used by works-backed team Jaguar Racing in 2004.

'The Jaguar unit made some great performance strides at the end of 2003 and we will have the same unit as them [this season],' said Eddie Jordan in England.

FUTURE MERCEDES LINK?

But early speculation is already making the link between new team-driver Nick Heidfeld and the marque that boosted his early career - Mercedes-Benz.

The German carmaker has already made noise about a future supply of Formula One engines for privateer teams at a cost of somewhere around ten million Euros.

Jordan said the new 90-degree Cosworth V10 will be a 'huge benefit' this year.

'We'll have a big power increase,' the flamboyant Irishman concluded.








New BAR Enjoys Rapid Track-Debut
BAR's new Formula One racer enjoyed a rapid-debut in Spain this week.

Team leader Jenson Button was given an early performance-run in the Honda-powered 006 and quickly established a new circuit record of 1.13.868.

On Tuesday, team-mate Takuma Sato bettered it with 1.13.797 at Montmelo.

'It was a nice result for the whole team,' Button said of his record which was established within fifteen-laps of the 006's track-career.

EARLY CAR GREMLINS

But then some gremlins crept-in to the progress.

Button added, 'We were disappointed that we didn't achieve all that we would've liked to in our test plan, but we did manage some decent laps.

'I think that the car as a whole performs very well, particularly over one-lap.'

Honda's track-director Shuhei Nakamoto played down continuing problems with the all-new Honda V10, insisting that the failures were not 'critical ones.

'They're not repeats of ones we have had in previous weeks,' he added.








New Cars Shine At Busy Catalan Test
A trio of all-new F1 racers topped the timesheets at Barcelona on Wednesday.

Fernando Alonso's R24 Renault was fastest as the Spaniard completed a race-simulation and tried new front-tyre constructions for partner Michelin.

'I am feeling more and more confident in the car,' the youngster explained, 'and it is gradually becoming much better even if there is still room to improve.'

Ralf Schumacher in the Williams FW26 was next, followed by Jenson Button's BAR.

RUBENS TO DRIVE NEW FERRARI

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello wrapped up his team's Montmelo-program and will have his first run in the all-new F2004 this Saturday, at Mugello (Italy).

Olivier Panis, seventh of fifteen runners, is still not entirely happy with the ultimate pace of his 2004-spec TF104, but he was faster than Juan Pablo Montoya.

The Colombian practiced pitstops all day with the BMW-Williams race team-crew.

Antonio Pizzonia will climb into Marc Gene's FW26 on Thursday and will be joined on the Spanish track by son-of-a-world-champion Nelson Piquet, in a FW25A.

McLaren continued to field three runners in three new MP4-19s; on Thursday David Coulthard, replacing tester Alex Wurz, was 14th of 15 runners after 39 laps.








'Quick Nick' Smiles At Good Start
At a drying Silverstone circuit in England, Nick Heidfeld smiled at a 'good start' to the life of his new yellow-painted Formula One car.

After a windy and distinctly low-key car 'launch', the sole-signed driver lapped 44 times in the Jordan EJ14 and promisingly encountered no technical problems.

'That's positive at this stage,' said head engineer James Robinson.

WORK TO DO ON NEW RACER

Nick Heidfeld was happy, after the initial shake-down, to get some dry-laps in.

'It gives you a better feel for the car,' said the German. 'As you would expect there is work to do but I have a good feeling. It was a good start.'

Compatriot Timo Glock circulated in an older EJ13 and spun twice.








No Trust At Jordan Without 'The Boss'
Trust won't sponsor Eddie Jordan's F1 team unless their man is at the wheel.

The computer product company's managing director Michel Perridon told Jos Verstappen's website that no more logos will be on the car until it's a deal.

But the sticker was on the newly-launched EJ14 at Silverstone on Wednesday.

Sources report that Jordan got special pre-agreement approval from Perridon to run the logos in a speculated re-opening of talks with the Dutch veteran.

According to Perridon, Jos' fans are worried that Trust - having appeared on the EJ14 - may abandon 'The Boss' and sign a sponsorship with Jordan anyway.

JOS' MANAGER KEEPS RADIO-SILENCE

'They don't have to worry,' said Michel. 'I won't agree a deal with Jordan without having Jos as a driver. We'll support Jos unconditionally.'

All Verstappen's manager, Raymond Vermeulen, would say on the speculated Jordan-Jos deal was 'no comment' before boarding an aeroplane back to The Netherlands.

JV's website reported that he was in the UK on Wednesday along with agent Huub Rothengatter to continue talks with the Silverstone-based operation.

'We agreed to maintain radio-silence,' he said, 'so that is what I will do.'








Heidfeld Has Eye On Bigger Teams
The last few months have been tough for talented German driver Nick Heidfeld.

He got to the end of last season, his third at the wheel of a Ferrari-powered Sauber, knowing that he would be replaced by Giancarlo Fisichella in 2004.

'It was quite a tough time,' he told Press Association on Wednesday, adding that he knew well-before the rest of us that Felipe Massa would also be signed.

The 26-year-old, Nick, was at Silverstone International with a couple of tasks to complete; pulling the wraps off a new Jordan EJ14 and then testing it.

WANTS TO BE WORLD CHAMPION

Heidfeld thanked Eddie Jordan for having faith in his talents but will keep a watchful eye further up the grid where he can achieve his ultimate ambitions.

'If I drive well then I might be with a top team next year,' he said. 'My aim now is the same as it has ever been - I want to be world champion one day.'

'Quick Nick' knows 2004 will be tough in the under-funded yellow car.

He added: 'It gets difficult against the manufacturers but Jordan has shown in the past that there is a chance to do well and even occasionally win.'








Schu Flies Past Pole At Imola
Michael Schumacher started work at the Imola race-track on Wednesday.

The world champion rolled onto the Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit, scene of April's last-ever San Marino Grand Prix, with his evolutionary-new F2004 contender.

A sunny 11-degrees hung over the Italian location as Schumacher, who turned thirty-five in January, continued development work that commenced at Fiorano.

FASTER THAN OLD FERRARI CAR

He covered 61 laps with a quickest of 1.21.646, a full seven tenths faster than the time with which he snared final pole-position in the F2003-GA back in April.

On light-tanks first-qualifying, however, the pace was a little quicker as Schumacher beat his scarlet-clad teammate to the line with a time of 1.20.628.








Jordan Promise Return To Top-Six
Eddie Jordan has promised a return to the top-six F1 constructors in 2004.

The Irishman's yellow-clad outfit has been around for the past eleven grand prix seasons and last year, 2003, was undoubtedly the worst, according to EJ.

He said: 'I'll never let what happened last year happen again.

WILL BE PROPERLY-FUNDED

'I got embroiled in some things that stole my attention away from the action and the car didn't get developed. We finished ninth [of ten manufacturers].'

Jordan spent much of the year away from race-tracks preparing the ultimately-doomed - and slammed (by the Judge) - action against sponsor Vodafone.

EJ boasted about his new EJ14 racer and said his Silverstone-based operation will be 'properly funded' this season. 'So we're going to be back,' he vowed.








McLaren Work To Improve MP4-19: Tester
McLaren is still working to improve the all-new MP4-19 challenger.

Team tester Pedro de la Rosa is at the wheel of one of three new silver machines at the Barcelona track this week but they haven't really stunned the timesheets.

'It was a benefit to be ready early and by mid last-month the car had already improved a lot,' said the locally-born Spaniard before a test-run.

MP4-19 has already overcome its predecessor's impediment of poor reliability, evidenced in de la Rosa's recent back-to-back full race distances at Jerez.

He continued: 'I feel that at the moment we are progressing well but there are still some areas where we can improve.'

IMPRESSED WITH NEW MERCEDES V10

Pedro is also impressed with the new Mercedes-Benz powerplant, especially when considering that the design is more robust to combat long-life regulations.

'People may have thought there would be less power,' said the former Arrows and Jaguar racer, 'but already at this point it matches last year in power.'

Pedro de la Rosa 'has a feeling' that Ferrari will be knocked off its pedestal by Michelin-clad teams including McLaren, BMW-Williams and Renault in 2004.








Webber Doubts Schu Can Make It Seven
Mark Webber doubts if Michael Schumacher can make it seven-titles this season.

The Australian driver, who steers a Jaguar in Formula One, is a Schumi-fanatic but he believes the German will be toppled by a younger challenger in 2004.

'To win seven would be amazing,' Mark said, 'but I think a Michelin driver will win it. Kimi [Raikkonen] or a Williams driver.

'Fernando [Alonso] as an outside [chance].'

But, as the 27-year-old's admiration for the Schumacher-way of doing things returns, Webber warns the field not to underestimate the title-winning veteran.

'He's so consistent, he's got everything under control. It was Michael who won the championship last year, not the [Ferrari] team.'

Webber thinks McLaren's Raikkonen is 'slightly quicker' than Juan Pablo Montoya.

'Both are different characters,' said the highly-rated Aussie. 'Very quick, very, very fast. But both have a long way to go to get to Michael's level.'

WEBBER TO WILLIAMS LINK

Mark also responded to speculation linking him to Montoya's soon-to-be-vacated seat at the BMW-powered team. 'I am focused on Jaguar,' he asserted.

'[The rumors] will only stop when someone replaces him. The next two years, as far as I am concerned, I am planning to be at Jaguar.'







Even A Tank Can't Halt Schu Now
A tank could roll over Michael Schumacher's new Formula One car this season and the world champion would probably just hop out and walk away without a scratch.

The Ferrari ace's super-tough new helmet, the Schuberth RF 1.5, costs about 15 thousand Euros but it guarantees him the safest head on the grand prix grid.

It's made of multi-layered carbon-fibre and is twice as strong as a standard F1-lid - and makers Schuberth proved it by driving an army-tank over the top.

'It is 100 per cent better in shock absorption and strength,' said Schumacher. 'But the [extra] weight still bothers me and we need to work on that.'

COULTHARD MIGHT WEAR TOUGH LID

Schumacher's 'mate' David Coulthard might even wear the helmet in 2004.

'He's been testing it for a while but it depends,' said development manager Oliver Schimpf. 'You see, we are not supplying them for free.

'But this is the safest helmet money can buy,' he was quoted by The Mirror.

Schimpf said his technicians had to completely redesign the RF 1.5 for Coulthard because his head is about 15 percent bigger, and squarer, than Schumacher's.








Renault Wants 'Junior' F1 Team
F1 team Renault wants to link-up with Sauber, Jordan or Minardi.

According to Motorsport News, the French-arm based in Viry-Chatillon wants not only to supply the team with engines, but forge an expensive 'junior' division.

'It wouldn't be just as an engine supplier,' CEO Patrick Faure said.

He added, 'We could have agreements with drivers, engineers and mechanics as well. We'll look at all the options in September.'

B-TEAM TO TRIAL YOUNG DRIVERS

Faure said the ideal scenario would be to use the 'B' team to trial young engineers and drivers in readiness for their graduation to the works outfit.

The privateer squad would be a 'partner' rather than a customer, he added.

He also warned that while Renault is ready to supply another team 'from 2005' with engines, it would cost more than the earlier-touted figure of $10 million.








EJ Warns Silverstone To Keep Foot On Gas
Eddie Jordan reckons Silverstone should heed the recent warning of Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone that the British Grand Prix is in serious trouble.

F1's 73-year-old impresario said the ageing Northamptonshire-based facility had 'no chance' of competing for future races with India, Korea and Turkey.

'Countries like Bahrain and Malaysia pour millions into the grands prix but Silverstone cannot take its foot off the gas,' said EJ, the locally-based chief.

MUST IMPROVE FACILITIES

Jordan said Silverstone must improve its facilities or it risks losing the hallowed Formula One stop to a growing exodus of grands prix outside Europe.

While Bahrain and Malaysia get their governments' cash, Silverstone derives its income from 'bringing on young drivers and activities like that,' said EJ.

He added: 'You're never going to get [Silverstone] anything like Bahrain.'

Sir Jackie Stewart, president of the club that owns Silverstone, also agrees with Ecclestone that Bahrain and China have 'massive financial power and draw.'








Model Claims Affair With F1 Racer
A model has claimed she had an affair with married F1 ace Ralf Schumacher.

Britain's The Sun said 'Jordan' boasted to co-stars on a TV-show in Australia that she had flings with Ralf and also married football player David Beckham.

SOURCES SAY CLAIMS ARE UNTRUE

28-year-old Beckham, and his lawyers, denied the affair and said he would sue the busty model if she repeated it in a soon-to-be-released autobiography.

Jordan, real-name Katie Price, said on ITV's I'm A Celebrity: 'My book is out in April and it's going to shock a few people. I name names.

'I had an affair for three years on and off with Ralf Schumacher.'








Webber Admits 'Snags' On New Jaguar
Jaguar's new F1 challenger has 'issues,' according to lead driver Mark Webber.

The 27-year-old hosed down claims that R5 is seriously-flawed but said a few 'snags' had prevented the Leaping Cat from getting enough miles under the belt.

'We've got some issues as everyone has,' he said from England. 'Melbourne always comes along very quickly. There's not enough miles on the car.'

Webber said Jaguar was yet to put a race-simulation on the new green racer.

'The tests next week in Jerez and the week after in Valencia are very important,' he continued. 'We'll have two new cars there.'

GETTING-ON WITH NEW TEAM-MATE

In the other R5 challenger will be Christian Klien; Webber's new team-mate who has been panned in the media for earning the drive via his $6m in Red Bull cash.

'Webbo' insists that 'CK' is doing a good-job so far.

'He's mature beyond his years,' said Mark, 'and we're getting on well - probably better than I have with any of my other team-mates.'








Jaguar Avoids Factory-Fire
Jaguar's F1 factory in rural Milton-Keynes, England, was miraculously untouched after a huge fire ripped through and destroyed a neighbouring warehouse.

Fire-fighters toiled for three hours with eight pumps to control the blaze in produce company Geest's building but it was eventually razed to the ground.

'There was no damage to our building and it had no effect on us whatsoever,' a spokesman for the Ford-owned Formula One team told UK publication Autosport.








Now Jordan Threatens To Leave Britain
Jordan has joined fellow British-based F1 team BAR-Honda in threatening to move operations abroad in a bid to sidestep restrictive European legislation.

Irish boss Eddie Jordan, whose team nestles near Silverstone, has already received offers to relocate some elements of his Northamptonshire operation.

Sources say one offer is from Dubai and two others elsewhere in the Middle East.

British teams are concerned that the looming 35-hour working week, the European Arrest Warrants and anti-tobacco legislation aren't compatible with their sport.

COUNTRIES 'DESPERATE' FOR F1

'I would ask people to be very careful before they let something ... lead to the demise of our current F1 technology [in Britain],' Jordan told the Telegraph.

He said a 35-hour working week is 'not workable' in Formula One.

'It doesn't make sense,' EJ added. 'We'd have to increase budgets and have more shifts to get the same work done. Our mechanics work 65-hours a week.

'On the other hand there are so many countries desperate for this technology.'

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