F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 19, 2004
F1 Test Notes: Imola And Valencia
BMW-Williams charger Juan Pablo Montoya set a new track record at
Valencia on Thursday but Jaguar's Christian Klien was also getting
noticed with third-best.
The Austrian said of the three-day planned session in the R5: 'We did
a lot of laps today on aerodynamics setup, weight distribution and
Colombian Montoya's 1:09.103 bettered the previous-record established
last month by BMW-Williams test-returnee Antonio Pizzonia, the young
McLaren again didn't look quick as Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard
could manage just 6th and 10th-best times whilst encountering more
Raikkonen, the Finn, sat motionless as his practicing pit-crew
extinguished a fire during a simulation while veteran Coulthard
stopped with an engine failure.
At the Imola track (Italy), Jarno Trulli worked on the Melbourne-spec
Renault engine. 'The car is very consistent on long runs,' said
tech-head Pat Symonds.
RAIN FORECAST ON THURSDAY
Poor weather, including rain, is forecast at the Enzo e Dino track on
Felipe Massa was a surprise second-best in one of two Sauber C23 cars
but his race simulation was hampered by some hydraulic problems.
Team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella was testing Oz-spec tires and engineer
Jacky Eeckelaert said Sauber was ready to 'make a good choice' for the
For the first time in a while, Jordan was not bottom of the times but
tech-chief James Robinson said Wednesday was 'more frustrating' than
'We had a number of exhaust pipe failures,' the Briton said. 'Imola
tends to throw you a new set of problems but we think we can get on
top of this.'
Back at Valencia, BAR and Toyota also turned laps, while Minardi's
Gianmaria Bruni brought up the lap-sheets in Imola by trailing the
EJ14 of Nick Heidfeld.
'It's promising that we're less than a second off the Jordan,' said
team boss Paul Stoddart, 'although there is still room to improve our
Verstappen To Revive Career In States
Jos Verstappen may revive his flagging race-career in the United
The Dutchman missed out on the final seat in Formula One last week
when the exorbitant demands of his manager moved Jordan to plump for
He has ruled-out a return to back-of-the-grid employers Minardi and
told his website that Champ Cars or the Indy Racing League are more
SHAPES UP F1 TEST-DRIVE?
'We are talking with Formula One teams,' said Verstappen, although
sources insist that all meaningful development-drives are sealed for
Verstappen said earlier this week that the F1-paddock is aware of his
unemployment and should consider his sponsors if a race-vacancy pops
He added: 'But [we're] also looking to America.'
Known for his hard-charging attitude and nickname 'The Boss',
Verstappen insisted that 'nothing concrete' has been sorted for the
looming 2004 season.
'But we will talk very fast,' he joked.
Why Is F1 Boss' Girlfriend So Glum?
Why is German supermodel Heidi Klum so glum?
Because her boyfriend, Formula One team Renault managing director and
principal Flavio Briatore, has been spotted doing the dirty.
Klum is pregnant with the Italian's baby but photographs of Briatore
kissing jewellery heiress Fiona Svarowski were sold to the media
earlier this week.
BRIATORE SHOWN THE DOOR
It left 'the 30-year-old beauty with little option but to show
Briatore the door,' according to a report in the Daily Express tabloid
At Christmas, Flavio said he could 'imagine marriage' to Heidi Klum.
But the publication continued that the 54-year-old Briatore may
already be dating a new beauty; Klum's look-alike teenage neighbor
Vanessa Hilger (19).
Briatore's former courtship of supermodel Naomi Campbell was also
Ralf: No More Braking For Big Brother
Ralf Schumacher is not going to brake for his big brother any more.
Multiple Formula One world champion Michael, 35, intimidates his
younger sibling on the world's GP race-tracks, according to widespread
It has led to claims that 28-year-old Ralf, who drives for top-team
BMW-Williams, races his Ferrari-piloting brother less hard than other
'Enough with the jokes,' he told German daily Bild.
'I am not going to brake for Michael any more. I am not going to take
my foot off the pedal for him. I will give my all just like Michael
taught me to do.'
LESS RESPECT FOR MONTOYA
Ralf's team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya believes 'Schumi Junior' has more
on-track respect for his big-brother than most of his other
The Colombian added: 'Sometimes you see him racing me harder than with
anybody else. You don't see [Ralf] blocking Michael on the straight,
Badoer Unhurt After Big Imola Crash
Ferrari tester Luca Badoer walked away from a big shunt in his
F2003-GA car on Wednesday as the famous marque got up-and-running at
Italian circuit Imola.
Track-observers said the left-hand side of the chassis was destroyed
after Badoer, from Italy, lost control and came off the track at curve
INJURIES 'RULED OUT'
He underwent some checks, according to a spokesman, but any medical
problems were 'ruled out' and doctors cleared Badoer to drive in the
session on Thursday.
* A lone Michael Schumacher was still in action at the nearby chilly
Autodromo Mugello as he clocked up another 63-laps on development of
the brand-new F2004.
Michelin Teams Charge For F1 Victory
Formula One's Michelin-shod teams aim to turn out at the Australian
Grand Prix in just over a fortnight and charge immediately towards
Head of the tire-marque's F1 programme Pascal Vasselon admits that the
temporary road-circuit near Melbourne has not always been suited to
He said: 'Let's say that our advantage there has not been quite so
impressive. We've tried to make the most of our testing to provide an
Pascal spoke from Imola (Italy); the centre of one of the final
pre-season tests of the winter and another circuit on which Michelin
hasn't always shined.
The Frenchman said Melbourne-spec choices will be finalized this week.
'This test also allows us to take a look at the first European race of
the season,' continued Vasselon. 'Our predictions are becoming more
Pascal insisted that Michelin, which supplies top-teams including
BMW-Williams, McLaren and Renault, has made 'significant progress'
since Suzuka 2003.
'When our [teams] confirm a good development, that becomes our new
benchmark,' he said, 'and we try and improve our product from that
'We have gone through several different levels on this scale [over the
* A new EU law seeks to limit the use of certain cancer-causing oils,
used to increase grip in wet-weather, in the manufacture of
Ralf Reckons He Can Shade Montoya
Ralf Schumacher reckons he can again put his F1 teammate in the shade
even if the single-lap qualifying format has undergone more changes
The German, who had an edge over Juan Pablo Montoya in the Friday /
Saturday design of 2003, is looking forward to the revised
back-to-back Saturday system.
'I don't see a huge difference,' the BMW-Williams driver told British
broadcaster website ITV-F1, 'even if there's less time between the two
'I'm looking forward to proving myself twice within a few minutes.'
The 28-year-old had problems early last season in getting the most out
of his Formula One racer over just a single-lap in the quest for pole
Schumacher improved mainly by increasing concentration for the
'It's something I probably learned from my time in Japan,' he
FORMAT ENDS TRUE QUALIFYING
Montoya, who'll see out his BMW-tenure this year, worries that the new
format is set to put to an end to all-out 'true qualifying
performance' in F1.
'The first run will be low-fuel but [with] race-setup,' the Colombian
also told ITV-F1. 'It means the car will understeer all over the
* American F1-fans will again be given the chance to check-out pitlane
at Indianapolis this season with the confirmed return of the 'USGP pit
'Many teams asked us after the  race how they can get more
involved this year,' said vice president of business affairs at Indy,
Pantano Thanks Cash For F1 Debut
Giorgio Pantano has thanked his sponsors for getting him to Formula
Dutch veteran Jos Verstappen, who had $10 million in tow, was favorite
to land the final Jordan seat until negotiations involving his
management broke down.
Enter Giorgio, and the support of an Italian fashion-house.
He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: 'It would be foolish to deny reality.
'These days people look a lot at the aspect of money. And it's right,
because there are teams with difficulties.'
But the Italian nonetheless thinks he deserves his spot on the F1
DESERVES SPOT ON GRID
'It's not by chance that Jordan looked for me,' he said. 'I don't
deny, however, that my hiring has been eased thanks to the sponsors I
Otherwise, GP followed a 'classic' path to Formula One; first in
karts, where he was world champion, then German F3, and finally with
multiple wins in F3000.
He also tested a McLaren F1 car in 2001 - but regrets it.
'I wouldn't do it [the same] again,' he said. 'The car had no project
behind it - it was an error. At the end of the day, what was the point
Pantano notes that Jordan has launched the F1 careers of highly-rated
'Like [Giancarlo] Fisichella,' he said of the Roman who won in Brazil
'I want to learn quickly, be competitive and win.'
Klien To Learn Tracks On PlayStation
Christian Klien has vowed to spend as much time on his Sony
PlayStation as on the Formula One test-tracks in the fortnight before
The rookie, backed by sponsor Red Bull, said his first priority for
his debut season at the pinnacle of motor sport will be to learn the
'I haven't driven on most of them before,' the Austrian said at
Jaguar's annual NSPCC charity night at the Browns Lane facility in
Coventry on Monday.
'As far as Australia goes,' he added, 'my target will be to get used
to the circuit, have a solid qualifying run and finish the race.
'Until then I'll be playing a lot of PlayStation to get used to the
BIG STEP FROM F3 TO F1
Another of 20-year-old Christian's targets is getting-up to race-spec
'I'm training quite hard,' said Klien, 'especially in the upper body
and neck region. That's one of the biggest adjustments going from F3
to Formula One.'
* Malaysia's ex-F1 ace Alex Yoong has signed to host a series of
preview and review shows of the 18-race GP-calendar with Asia's
'[The deal] allows me to record the programs from wherever I may be,'
said the 28-year-old, 'which is important as I will still be racing
Is Montoya Worried About Raikkonen?
Surely, even though Juan Pablo Montoya is relishing his move to
McLaren, the Colombian lays awake at night worrying about future
team-mate Kimi Raikkonen ..?
'I'm not thinking about that,' this season's Williams ace told ITV-F1.
He added: 'It will be good if we can work together. But I obviously
feel that I can beat him if I have an equal car.'
Montoya, who has not actually had his next team-mate confirmed by
McLaren, knows that 24-year-old Raikkonen is one of the very best
young chargers in F1.
'I don't think I'm quicker than anyone else,' said the 28-year-old,
'but I don't think I'm slower either. There will be times when we both
beat each other.'
BLOWN-AWAY BY RALF
The Bogota-born ace referred to 2001, when - as a Formula One rookie -
he was significantly beaten by current team-mate Ralf Schumacher.
'For the first six months, he blew me away,' said JPM, who thinks F1
will have a new champion in 2004. 'But since then I seem to have had
the better of him.'
Lauda: No Pressure To Emulate Father
Rising open-wheeler sensation Mathias Lauda feels no pressure to
replicate the feats of his triple Formula One world
championship-winning father Niki.
The Austrian, 23, has just signed a contract to race with F3000
operation Coloni in 2004 having impressed in the World Series By
Nissan (Lights) last year.
Lauda said he would be happy if his season on the F1-tracks this
season impresses grand prix racing-bosses and inspires a graduation to
But he told the ANSA network: 'I don't have any great ambition or feel
any obligation to reach Formula One and repeat the success my father
FATHER DROVE 14 SEASONS
Lauda Senior, now 55 and still scarred from a near-fatal shunt at the
Nurburgring (1976), drove for Ferrari and McLaren in a 14-season GP
His son concluded: 'If I do have success and move up to F1 I'm
certainly going to be happy. And I'm sure my father will be happy
about it as well.'
Sheene Cheers For Brits And Aussies
Stephanie Sheene can't decide who should win the upcoming Australian
On the one hand, the widow of much-loved motorcycling-legend Barry is
a Brit so would enjoy watching BAR's Jenson Button roar to her waved
Mrs Sheene has accepted an invitation to greet the Albert Park
F1-winner in Melbourne next month as a tribute to her husband who died
of cancer in 2003.
'Jenson [is] the favourite driver of my daughter Sidonie, son Freddie
and me,' she told the media. And the young charger was a friend of
'It would be lovely to wave that flag as an Englishman won his first
But the Sheenes were also 'adopted' as honorary Australians,
particularly after, in the 1980s, they moved to the sunny Gold Coast
to ease Barry's arthritis.
'I'd love to see Mark Webber, the Aussie, do really well too,' said
Stephanie Sheene, 'especially as he's racing for Jaguar, a great
Barry Sheene, the double 500cc champion, lost his fight with cancer
aged 52 on the day after last-year's season-opening Formula One race
'Motor racing was Barry's life,' said his wife.
F1 Must Cut Costs Or Die: Industry Expert
Formula One must cut costs or risk extinction, according to an
Nicky Samengo-Turner, of a banking boutique specializing in motor
industries, says F1's major players are racing around with their
'heads in the sand.'
'[F1] is far too expensive in every possible facet,' Samengo-Turner,
at Touchstone Securities, told the BBC world service.
'The costs need to come down in order for [the] media to get its
Samengo-Turner notes that the world is witnessing 'meteoric growth' in
engineering skills in parts of the world other than Europe and
The expert is a close associate of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone who
also agrees that the pinnacle of motor sport is doomed unless
immediate action is taken.
'We've got to come up with some ideas this year,' he said. 'It's that
Ralf's Never Had A Better F1 Racer
Ralf Schumacher has never had a better Formula One title-weapon.
Last season, the German's BMW-powered FW25 Williams was an
under-developed machine that didn't win a race until June's
Monte-Carlo event of Monaco.
But the innovative FW26 is ready, according to the youngest Schu.
He told ITV-F1: 'I would say it's the best one I've ever had at the
start of a season. A car has to be competitive when it first comes out
of the factory.
'We missed it last year, but we had a satisfying start this year.'
Ralf, 28, warned that Ferrari - headed by big-brother Michael - is
again the team to beat but downplayed the threat posed by
BAR-Honda has also surprised the BMW-Williams star; even if he reckons
some of the Brackley-based team's sterling test-times have been 'for
'[But] even if they were on low fuel,' said Ralf, 'they are fast.
'If their car really is like that, there's a new opponent.'
Webber's Ego Kept In Check 'Down Under'
Mark Webber's ego is kept in check by his Australian supporters.
The local lad returns to Albert Park for the third time as an F1
driver next month and admits that attention has increased 'massively'
since his debut.
He finished fifth for Minardi in 2002 'and last year I was running 5th
with Michael ahead and DC behind before my driveshaft broke,' said
Mark was speaking at Jaguar's annual NSPCC charity-night in Coventry.
LOTS OF EXPECTATION
'It's been a very good race for me,' said Mark, referring to
Racing in front of a home contingent obviously raises the pressure,
Webber confirmed; 'it's a very busy few days - lots of expectation and
And the 27-year-old reckons Aussies know all about the 'tall poppy
'They've been known to tell you if you're getting too big for your
boots so it certainly keeps your feet on the ground. I think we put on
a great race.'
Bernie Doubts Success Of 'New' CART
Bernie Ecclestone doubts that a rejuvenated CART series can stay the
The F1 supremo told us that Champ Cars, which emerged from bankruptcy
on Wednesday with a new owner (OWRS), 'lost its way' several years
73-year-old Ecclestone was last year linked with a buy-out of the
embattled open-wheeler series based in the United States, but talks
came to nothing.
Bernie said CART used to be a 'good domestic series' that shot itself
in the foot because it wanted to globalize and act as a rival to
WANTED TO MERGE IRL
'We'll have to wait and see how they survive,' he continued. 'I was
hoping to get them together [with the IRL] and then I think it would
Feedback can be sent to
Go to our
to discuss this article
Back to the top
AutoRacing1 is an
independent internet online publication and is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed
by CART Inc., NASCAR, FIA, FedEx, Nextel, or any other series sponsor.
This material may not be published, broadcast, or redistributed without
Copyright 1999 -
AutoRacing1, Hamilton, NJ