F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 9, 2004
Jaguar Needs Stewart: Former Champion
Jaguar Racing needs its founder, according to a former Formula One
Retired star Mika Hakkinen says the present set-up at Milton-Keynes is
nothing short of confusing because it doesn't boast a 'charismatic'
leader at the helm.
'There's been no continuity,' the Finn told F1 Racing magazine in
reference to previous figureheads in British Racing Green including
champion Niki Lauda.
Hakkinen thinks Sir Jackie Stewart, who sold the operation to Ford
near the turn of the new millennium, could 'turn the team around' if
he took over.
FLYING PRAISE FOR MARK WEBBER
One thing that is right at Jaguar, however, is Mark Webber.
'He looks good in the wet which is always a good sign,' said Mika.
'He's got a lot of good qualities. He's professional - which is what
Jaguar need now.'
Hakkinen also predicted that countryman and McLaren successor Kimi
Raikkonen will push Michael Schumacher all the way to the finale for
this season's crown.
Panis Feels Good Despite Big Crash
Olivier Panis checked out of hospital feeling 'pretty good.'
The Frenchman destroyed his new TF104 Toyota F1 car on the high-speed
Turn Three at Circuit de Catalunya when trying to take it
full-throttle on Thursday.
'I'd gone through flat out in the morning,' said the ten-year grand
prix veteran, 'but as I tried to correct oversteer, the rear went and
that was it.'
Panis, the oldest driver in pitlane, was airlifted to hospital but
insisted that 'everything was fine' and he actually checked back to
the circuit after lunch.
LAUDED NEW-CAR PROGRESS
Readying to start his second year at the Cologne-based team, Olivier
downplayed suggestions that his new car is not on the pace by lauding
progress at the test.
'The base we have with the TF104 is really good,' he said, 'and we
know what we need to achieve together to continue to improve the
Team-mate Cristiano da Matta says he's pretty happy with the pace of
'We've made steps in every area,' said the Brazilian. 'The car is
certainly reliable which we showed by completing a race distance on
all four days I ran.'
New Ferrari Is 'Better': Barrichello
Ferrari's new car is better 'in every area,' according to Rubens
Number-two to world champion Michael Schumacher, the aforementioned
Brazilian got his first try at the controls of F2004 at Italy's
Mugello track last week.
'My first impressions are positive,' Rubens told reporters, 'even
though it might be a bit early to say. But I think we have made
Barrichello, in his early-thirties, completed just 56 laps - in the
rain - on Friday but got a few drier-tours the following afternoon en
route to a 1.21.270.
He admitted that he couldn't 'push the limit' on Bridgestone's
'But I think the new engine seems more powerful anyway,' Rubens added.
RENAULT TO POSE CHALLENGE
Barrichello also suggested that Renault may throw out a challenge to
the widely-lauded 'big three' grand prix teams this season with their
'McLaren's times have not been thrilling,' he said at Mugello, 'and
(the Williams) FW26 seems fast over a single lap but less impressive
on longer runs.'
Rubens, however, believes that Renault's car, to be steered by
Fernando Alonso in '04, is fixing to be fast over one-lap and 'very
consistent' in race-trim.
Webber: New Jag Is Up To Scratch
Mark Webber has poured cold water on a fire of speculation that his
new Formula One charger, the Jaguar R5, is riddled with technical
The Aussie said one or two 'issues' have been fuelled-up by the press
'It seems like [they] know a lot more than we do at the moment, which
is interesting,' he joked in a telephone conference with Australian
Webber said two new R5's will run at Jerez, Spain, for testing this
He did confess a few technical snags, including 'just not enough
mileage, and small things like pipes, brakes and things that stop long
runs on the car.'
BOSS APOLOGISED FOR REMARK
But Webber reckons team-boss Tony Purnell put his foot in it when he
told the media about some 'fundamental' flaws that needed fixing on
the new Leaping Cat.
'I read it and I thought 'that's interesting',' said Webber.
The 27-year-old racer concluded: 'I also think Tony was massively
misquoted. He even sent an email to everyone here at Jaguar
apologising for what happened.'
Hakkinen Pans So-Called F1 Chargers
Former double world champion Mika Hakkinen has lashed out at a
clamoring band of so-called young 'driving sensations' on today's
Formula One racing-grid.
The Finn, who hung up his helmet two years ago, insists that
youngest-ever GP-winner Fernando Alonso is not in the same class as
compatriot Kimi Raikkonen.
'I haven't seen anything that justifies the level of hype that has
surrounded him so far,' Hakkinen told F1 Racing Magazine.
'He's quick, but is he Kimi-quick? Is he Michael-quick? I'm not
BUTTON AS 'NEXT SENNA'?
Jenson Button, too, is not as quick as a lot of people think he is.
Hakkinen continued: 'He's obviously fast, but is he super-fast? He
debuted in 2000 and straight away the British press called him the
'I have to say that was ridiculous - how could they know?'
24-year-old Button's BAR team-mate Takuma Sato is 'far too wild,'
according to the Flying Finn, as is new Sauber grand prix racer and
Brazilian Felipe Massa.
Even some of the sport's more established names, like BMW-Williams
aces Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, are not living up to
their hype, said Mika.
Briton Unlikely To Land Jordan Ride
A German and an Italian have their noses in front of a couple of
Britons in a fascinating race for the final full-time seat on this
season's Formula One grid.
With the decline of Jos Verstappen, Timo Glock - with plenty of
backing-bucks - is probably more likely than F3000 ace Giorgio Pantano
to drive for Jordan.
Both promise more than $10 million to the team in personal
Meanwhile, British media sources claim that Verstappen's management
was making 'impossible demands' relating to space on the EJ14's livery
for their logos.
DECISION EXPECTED THIS WEEK
Other sources suggest that Scottish and English stars Allan McNish and
Ralph Firman have been relocated to no more than 'also-runs' in the
Initial assessments reckoned that British sponsor Benson & Hedges
would release more money for Jordan if a local-hero raced alongside
Nick Heidfeld in 2004.
But British hack Alan Henry is quoting a source who claims that McNish
and Firman should cross more than just their fingers if they want the
Eddie Jordan's driver-decision is expected in the next few days before
Kimi Worried About New McLaren
Kimi Raikkonen still doesn't know how good his new F1-racer is.
The Finnish star, tipped to drive to glory in 2004 by countryman Mika
Hakkinen, reckons the all-new MP4-19 challenger is struggling in the
He told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport: 'In testing at Jerez and
Valencia (the McLaren) went really well, but at Barcelona we started
A trio of silver cars spent most of the week at the bottom of the
SOLUTIONS ON THE WAY
But Raikkonen, 24, insists that solutions are on the way for the
problems, which may relate to the integration of Adrian Newey's new
car with the V10 Mercedes.
'When we get the new evolution [engine],' he continued, 'I'm sure
things will be fine. That's what I hope because last week we had
trouble matching Williams.'
Some F1 analysts, meanwhile, reckon the latest round of silver
'sandbagging' may be a deliberate attempt to lure McLaren's rivals
into a false sense of security.
Malaysia Expect More Spectators
Malaysia is expecting a bigger turn-out for this year's Formula One
The impressive circuit, located at Sepang not far from capital
Kuala-Lumpur, predicts a 25 percent increase - 30,000 more patrons -
over 2003 figures.
'We are expecting about 120,000 fans this year,' said general manager
Ahmad Mustafa in Malaysia, 'and I believe the target can be achieved.'
One of the initiatives to stimulate sales for the 2004 Malaysian Grand
Prix, to take place on March 19 - 21, is a 50 percent discount for
SAUBER SIGN NEW PARTNER
In other quick F1 news, Swiss team Sauber has a new local
'SUPAG Spichtig und Partner AG' will supply the team with large Xerox
plotters, scanners and folding machines for immediate use in the new
And F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has pulled the plug on 'F1 Magazine.'
The Briton took over the publication as an official series in 2002 but
it did not fare well against established competition like F1 Racing
Drivers Praise New Williams Racer
Juan Pablo Montoya only has words of praise for his new Formula One
The Colombian will see-out his tenure at BMW-Williams in 2004 but he
doesn't intend to let a genuine shot at the world title slip through
'This is an excellent car as it reacts well to the set-ups and it
seems to be very competitive,' he said after another busy five-day
test at Barcelona.
Montoya added: 'This gives me great confidence about the coming
ON RIGHT TRACK WITH FW26
German team-mate Ralf Schumacher is also impressed with FW26's pace.
'The car handles very well,' said the 28-year-old, 'and, without going
into detail, I can say we are definitely on the right track.'
Williams launched '26' much earlier than last season to ensure that
development would be well underway by the time it lands in Melbourne
for the first event.
'I can already say that with this car we'll be able to fight for the
championship,' a feisty Juan Pablo Montoya concluded.
Dr Mario Theissen, meanwhile, said the new BMW-V10 engine - designed
for long-life regulations - completed the full 5-day test without a
Hakkinen Slams Ferrari 'Team Orders'
Mika Hakkinen loathes Ferrari's anything-goes approach to team orders.
He notes that his former championship rival, Michael Schumacher, has a
distinct edge over fellow racers because scarlet pitwall-decrees
always go in his favour.
But the Finn, Hakkinen, would like to see Ferrari be more compliant in
response to the highly-controversial sphere of asking a racer to move
over for another.
He told F1 Racing: 'I'm all for it when the season gets critical,
especially if one driver has a much better chance of winning the
championship than the other.'
The retired champion, however, roasts any team - especially one with a
mammoth budget - which chooses to operate with a policy of team orders
from 'race one.'
MOVE OVER COULTHARD
In 1997 (Jerez), Scotsman David Coulthard was asked by his McLaren
chiefs to move over and let Hakkinen slide past Jacques Villeneuve for
his first F1 win.
This season, Mika reckons DC is in with a shout of the title.
'Especially now that McLaren have signed Montoya,' said the Flying
Finn, 'he'll want to prove a point - he's a potential champion this
year, no question.'
Alonso: New Car Faster Than Old
To spite new regulations that should ensure the opposite is true,
Fernando Alonso reckons his new Formula One racer, R24, is faster than
the old Renault.
The Spaniard said his newly-launched car performs better in 'every
area' and proved it by going quickest at the busy Barcelona tests last
'When a car is quicker,' Alonso told reporters, 'you don't question
SHOULD GET EVEN BETTER
But even though Williams, Ferrari and McLaren were left in his wake,
22-year-old Fernando says the car-improvements will keep coming in the
run-up to Melbourne.
'...to the chassis, the engine, the tires and of course the driver,'
Alonso won't be back at the wheel until Renault tests at Imola in a
Pizzonia On Top As Test Winds-Up
Just two teams and three cars were left to fight it out for top-spoils
as a busy week of Formula One testing in Barcelona found a conclusion
Antonio Pizzonia was quickest in the new FW26 Williams chassis ahead
of 'team-mate' Juan Pablo Montoya who also steered the innovative
Toyota's Cristiano da Matta rounded out the times in his new Toyota,
watched on by veteran team-mate Olivier Panis who sat-out the final
day after a shunt.
'It has been an extremely productive week, quite possibly the most
productive we have had so far,' said the Brazilian who worked on setup
and tires in the TF104.
TEAMS TO TEST IN JEREZ
Montoya, in the 'tusked' Williams, completed long-runs in the
afternoon while Pizzonia, the former Jaguar racer, focused on engine
and gearbox reliability.
Most F1 teams will unpack in nearby-Jerez this week, starting Tuesday.
F1 Stars With A Lot To Prove: Mika
A swarm of Formula One drivers have a lot to prove this season,
according to retired McLaren star and double world champion Mika
The 'Flying Finn' reckons it's about time Jarno Trulli got noticed.
'It's strange,' Mika told F1 Racing magazine of the Italian who'll
start his 3rd year at Renault. 'Whenever I think of Jarno, I think
'What happened to him?'
Trulli, nearly thirty, has been in F1 since 1997 but Hakkinen reckons
its about time he started showing-up near the front of the field at
the end of races.
'He's almost F1's invisible man,' said Mika. 'But in karts he was
HAS TESTING HELPED MASSA?
Is young charger Felipe Massa just 'fast and wild,' like Takuma Sato?
Mika won't be surprised if a year spent testing alongside Michael
Schumacher has failed in polishing the Brazilian youngster's rough
'He won't have learned much about running close to other cars, will
And all the pressure might just get to crash-laden rookie Christian
'He's 20,' said Mika - 'not a baby but not grown up. I hope the
[Jaguar] people around him give him good advice because he could be
out of F1 very quickly.'
Piquet Pleased With Second F1 Test
BMW-Williams and Nelson Piquet were satisfied with the young
Brazilian's form as he returned to the wheel of an older FW25A chassis
in Barcelona last week.
The 18-year old F3 ace drove two days alongside Grove's experienced
line-up and produced a best time six-tenths faster than junior testing
rival Nico Rosberg.
'Considering it was my first run here, I am satisfied with my
performance and think that Williams are satisfied too,' said Piquet,
son of the world champion.
ADAPTED BETTER TO CAR
Chief engineer Sam Michael lauded Nelson's good times and 'feedback.'
And Piquet, referring indirectly to Sir Frank Williams' observation
that maybe he's still too young for F1, said he adapted better to the
car this time round.
'Well, this time I knew the car,' said Nelsinho, who competes for a
Formula 3 team in Britain owned and chiefly financed by his triple
He concluded: 'I was a lot more confident, less nervous and achieved
Webber Doubts BAR's Test-Pace
Mark Webber has cast doubt on BAR's stonking pace in pre-season
Honda-powered stars Takuma Sato and Jenson Button devastated the old
lap record in Barcelona last week but is their speed genuine, wonders
the Australian ... ?
'If we're talking about podiums,' the Jaguar driver told local
journalists during a teleconference, 'then BAR are probably more
likely than Toyota.
'But I assure you BAR aren't where they are testing now, that's for
27-year-old Webber reinstated Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Renault
as the 'top four' teams likely to share podiums, wins and the world
championships in 2004.
'And Renault will be a lot closer than people think,' he hinted.
AUSSIE TO SLIP-ON BLUE OVERALLS?
Webber might even swap green overalls for a set of blue and yellow
ones in the next few Formula One seasons, he let slip to the
'First I have to perform, otherwise no-one will want me,' he laughed.
'Renault helped me get here, so we'll make the decision together.
There are options.'
Sources confirmed that Renault has an option on the Aussie for 2007
Disappointed To Have Lost BAR: Suganuma
Tire supplier Bridgestone is disappointed to have lost partner team
In an odd turn of events, the Honda-powered British outfit has managed
to irritate both of Formula One's rubber-manufacturers ahead of season
Bridgestone, because they wanted BAR's development-miles; and
Michelin, because they didn't really need BAR's custom to add to an
already strong team line-up.
'BAR were a good team from the tire development point of view,' said a
frustrated technical manager at Bridgestone, Hisao Suganuma.
Ferrari is now Bridgestone's only manufacturer-backed, and
'We have to live with that and work harder to develop our tires with
our other teams,' said the Japanese whose marque is seemingly already
losing the tire-war.
DID BRIDGESTONE LOSE 2003 TIRE-WAR?
But Suganuma doesn't agree that Bridgestone lost last year's duel with
'We struggled more compared to '02,' he confessed, 'but we still won!
We will have to make some reactions against [Michelin] if we want to
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