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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 20, 2004


Sauber Offer To Cool-Down Ferrari
Sauber are to offer details of an innovative new cooling system on its Formula One race-car to engine-supplier and world champion team Scuderia Ferrari.

The famous Italian marque, which takes up to $25m from Sauber for supplying same-spec V10 engines, has a close relationship with its Swiss-based rival.

Sauber's new-car is also fitted with a Ferrari-designed gearbox.

Reports in the Italian media reckon Sauber's cooling system is ultra-compact and therefore increases aerodynamic performance by allowing for smaller air intakes.

UNVEILED LOOK-ALIKE F2003-GA

Peter Sauber's team unveiled a look-alike 2003-Ferrari racer, dubbed C23, in Austria this season, reportedly to aid in Ferrari's collection of tyre-data.

A spokesman for the privately-owned outfit refused to make direct comment.

He told us: 'Irrespective of your specific request concerning our cooling system, we generally don't discuss technical details of our race car in public.'

Sauber's radiators, to be fitted to the new Ferrari F2004 later this season, feature a rounded front section to increase cooling surface-area but not size.








Raikkonen Sets New Lap Record
Kimi Raikkonen proved McLaren might not be in as much trouble as predicted by smashing a new record established only 24-hours earlier at the Valencia circuit.

The Finn, in his on/off-form MP4-19 Mercedes-powered car, bettered the mantle set earlier this week by the innovative new BMW-Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya.

Raikkonen's time was 1.08.995; but Australian Mark Webber was the first ace to get heads turning in Spain on Thursday when he also grabbed an impressive lap.

OUT OF WOODS?

Analysts, however, insist that McLaren aren't yet out of the woods.

The Woking-based team turned up at Barcelona more than a week ago and never got higher than the midfield; but the previous test at Valencia was much better.

'We didn't have a good test in Barcelona,' Kimi told reporters in Spain. 'I don't know why because the test before in Valencia we went very quick.

He said: 'It's worrying because there is not long until the season starts.'








F1 Rookie Has Work To Do
Zsolt Baumgartner has some work to do.

The Hungarian F1 rookie had his first taste of driving a 850-horsepower Minardi in the rain in Thursday (Imola) and wound-out the day 8-seconds too slow.

'I'm aware I need to improve,' said the 23-year-old.

'We made some progress but I feel we still need to find a good balance for the wet. I struggled mainly with traction when the track was starting to dry.'

NOT TOO HARD ON ROOKIE

Team manager Massimo Rivola opted against being too hard on the lad who carries personal-backing and additional financial-support from his federal government.

'I'd say he's becoming more confident with the car and improving steadily and consistently. Only at the end of the day he came off and did a bit of damage.'

Owner and principal Paul Stoddart wasn't overly concerned that PS04B got its first shower of rain in Italy as he expects grey-clouds to gather in Melbourne.

The Aussie said: 'This could prove useful. We now move on to the first race of the season - I'm sure it will prove to be an exciting year of F1 racing.'

* Renault's Jarno Trulli, 2nd-quickest at Imola, had an hydraulic failure.








Coronel To Sign As 'Third' Driver
Tom Coronel is about to become Formula One's newest driver.

The little-known Dutchman, with local company Wilux, may be part of a deal to see the company become title-sponsor in 2004 at back-of-the-grid team Minardi.

Coronel and Ruud Wildschut, a Wilux director, met Stoddart at Rotterdam Airport late on Thursday afternoon to discuss the deal and a 'third driver' role.

MEETING IN ROTTERDAM

'Ruud Wildschut called me three weeks ago,' Coronel told the press, 'and today I had to come to Rotterdam to discuss things with Paul Stoddart.'

Some reports insist that Coronel, Wildschut and Stoddart actually put pen to paper on a contract, but our sources maintain that a deal may not be complete.

One source said Coronel is just a 'promotional part' of the Wilux sponsorship.

* Coronel, the 32-year-old who lives in Huizen, drove touring-cars last season but was Formula Nippon champion of 1999 and has also won titles in Formula 3.








Teen Thanked For Speeding In Bahrain
A teenage-driver has been thanked for nearing 300kmh on a public road.

Formula One tester Neel Jani, from Switzerland, fired his Ferrari-powered Sauber C22 along the King Faisal Highway in the Kingdom of Bahrain on Thursday.

Twenty-thousand local F1-fans turned out to watch a grand prix charger, for the first-time ever, drive his racer ahead of the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix.

'I'm very proud that I was the very first to drive a F1 car in the Middle East,' said Jani. 'And it's also the first time I've legally jumped a red light!'

CHECKED-OUT CIRCUIT

Sakhir, near the capital city of Manama, will host Formula One this April on its nearly-completed, $150 million, custom-built Bahrain International Circuit.

'Those attending .. will experience the thrilling atmosphere of the championship at close quarters,' said chairman Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa.

* Neel Jani stopped off at the construction site and was 'impressed' by the ultra-modern F1 facility. 'I can't wait to see the race,' said the youngster.








Ferrari Cancel New-Car F1 Test
Ferrari called off development on its new F1 charger at Mugello on Thursday.

But worry not, fans of the scarlet team; it was the Italian rain and flurries of snow - not a technical drama - that halted Michael Schumacher's progress.

The German ace managed only an out-lap before the bad weather hit.

'We are prepared for the debut,' said the 35-year-old. 'The weather has been bad today but we are already ahead of the program and ready for the season.'

ROOM TO IMPROVE

For the first time since 2001, Ferrari are planning to unload a brand-new challenger - as opposed to a development of its predecessor - in Australia.

'There are things to improve but that's normal,' Schumacher continued.

'We've tested alone so we don't know where the other teams are, really,' he said, 'but we think we have a good car. That's the most important thing.'

* At Imola, Schumacher's test-deputy Luca Badoer was fastest of a field of eight - including Renault, Sauber, Jordan and Minardi - in an older F2003-GA car.






Bahrain Ready For First F1 Race
Bahrain is ready to host the Middle East's first-ever Formula One race.

Despite reports that the track near Manama is behind schedule and may fail FIA inspections, the $150m circuit will be ready but just days before a deadline.

Cebarco Engineering is building the circuit and insists that 'everything will be completed' by March the 2nd, five days before it's handed-over to F1 officials.

The 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix is scheduled for April 2 - 4.

Project director James Chai added: 'There still a little touching-up to do.'

TOOK 14 MONTHS TO COMPLETE

The circuit's chairman, however, told the media on Thursday that if Bernie Ecclestone decided to push the race forward to tomorrow, it could be done.

'All the electronic equipment for the race has been installed,' he said.

* Despite the optimistic pleas, however, Bahrain's first planned single-seater race, a Euro 3000 championship round scheduled for March 19, has been cancelled.

'Top priority is given to F1,' read a statement explaining the joint decision, 'because the circuit has to be in perfect condition for ... upcoming events.'








Raikkonen Needs More Power
McLaren's new MP4-19 racer needs more power and more reliability.

That was the distinctly downcast appraisal of runner-up champion Kimi Raikkonen on Thursday as he mused on disappointing test-results of the pre-season period.

He told Autosport: 'I guess we need more horsepower but it is not so easy to find. I'm sure we are not on the level of BMW (Williams) or some others.

'First we have to try to get [the car] to be reliable.'

RELIABILITY PROBLEMS

Analysts predict the main problems as on the new Mercedes-Benz V10 powerplant, which has been 'turned down' in a last-ditch bid to get it to last the distance.

New rules in 2004 require that just one-engine (per car) be used all weekend.

Raikkonen, 24, and team-mate veteran David Coulthard didn't impress the pace at a recent Barcelona session but Kimi reckons McLaren knows what the problem is.

'So hopefully we can improve,' he added. 'There is still work to do on the car but at least it seems to be more reliable now. Now it's just the speed.'

Poor reliability has had an adverse affect on car-development, said Kimi.

He concluded: 'They say a solution (to the engine problems) are coming. For most of the problems there are solutions - it's just that fixing it takes time.'








Toyota Aim For Podium Finish
F1's youngest team Toyota is aiming for a 'big step forward' this season.

It will be the Cologne-based marque's third year on the grids but so far the red-and-whites have only made up the numbers while other teams fill the podium.

'We are starting to feel that we are gradually recognized as an F1 player,' said Akihiko Saito, Toyota executive vice-president, at a news conference in Japan.

He said: 'This year we will aim at a podium position.'

Saito confirmed that Toyota is involved in the pinnacle of motor sports to boost its corporate image and assist sales of road-going cars in foreign markets.

'This year,' he said, 'we hope to really be part of the F1 community.'

LAST OF MANUFACTURERS

Toyota finished last of the seven automobile manufacturers last season, so what makes the Japanese-owned team so confident of a definite step-up this season?

It's really very simple - a new $7m-a-year technical director in Mike Gascoyne.

'He's already giving us suggestions,' said team principal Tsutomu Tomita. 'He's [already] helping with design, strategy and race techniques.

'And our machines of 2005 will really reflect his input.'

* Tomita, in Tokyo, admitted that the new TF104 car is 'not necessarily' the fastest in F1, but said it is 'already an improvement over our previous models.'








Glock Is Jordan's Friday Tester
F1 team Jordan has signed German rookie Timo Glock as its 'Friday' tester.

The 21-year-old speedster, who won races in Euroseries F3 last season, will drive all of the official practice sessions of 2004, according to a source.

'Timo ... is one of the most promising talents in Germany,' said Eddie Jordan.

GERMAN TO DRIVE ALL SEASON

F1's new regulation allows inexperienced drivers to reside a different-liveried spare-car on Fridays to help 'bottom six' teams collect additional track data.

It's also a perfect 'training ground' for young drivers,' said Jordan.

The team owner and principal revealed that the 'ultimate aim' was to bring Glock onto the Formula One circuits as a full-time pilot some-time in the future.

'I thank the technical staff who made it possible for me to give a good performance at the [testing sessions] recently,' Timo Glock said on Thursday.








BAR's In The Ballpark, Says Jenson
BAR-Honda is in the 'ballpark' of the top Formula One teams.

According to the Brackley-based outfit's lead driver Jenson Button, regular podiums are a 'realistic target' for the new season which starts next month.

He scoffed at claims that impressive performances at recent tests with the new 006 car, including lap records, were only possible due to 'low fuel' runs.

'Maybe people are running more fuel than us,' he said, 'maybe some people are playing games. But we're quick because of our hard work. The car is quick.'

EYES RACE WIN

Button, 24, said if regular podiums are possible, 'a win might happen too.'

After four full-seasons in F1, JB is yet to land on the post-race podium.

He said: 'If I don't get one this year there will be something very wrong.'

The Englishman revealed that he hadn't once hit the pre-season tracks this winter with the ultimate ambition of smashing lap-records and going quickest.

'It's just happening,' he told Autosport, 'because we're quick. It's lifted everyone. Somehow we manage to be quick everywhere we go, which is good news.'

* Jenson Button was seventh (of 11 runners) in Thursday's trials at Valencia.







How Many Times Has JPM Been Booked?
Juan Pablo Montoya has lost count of how many times he's been booked speeding.

In 2002, the Formula One racer was done in America and last season - in between duelling for the championship - the Colombian was pulled-over in France.

'I have a Colombian license and you don't get points on it,' he told Maxim.

'All they do is ban you in France for two months - so what?! I'm traveling around so much that I'm hardly there. So what does it matter?'

Montoya doesn't like to be in the passenger seat.

'We have a bit of a deal,' he revealed in reference to wife Connie. 'I drive, but I'm not allowed to go over 125mph. It's a compromise!'

'CRAP' AT SOCCER

The BMW-Williams ace - who'll switch to McLaren in 2005 - might be worth $18 million behind the wheel, but he's not worth a cent in soccer-boots.

'I'm really, really, really crap at it,' he said, 'which is unusual in Colombia.

'I was always the kid who never got picked at school.'

Montoya said he's never been scared in a racing-car, but he came close to messing his pants one time in a comparatively tame Citroen Saxo saloon.

'I was going about 125mph on a little cliff road on a mountain,' he said. 'A car drove straight at me, I went off the road, but didn't hit anything.

'I was a lucky boy. I didn't shit my pants but I was pretty shaken up.'








F1 Eyes Dubai
Formula One might stage a second grand prix in the Middle East.

According to a Scottish company, it has won a contract to build a grandstand and retail buildings for a F1-style circuit in Dubai, in the Emirates.

Bahrain will host the first-ever F1 race in the Middle East in April.

'They see this as a key project so there was a lot of competition,' said Bone Steel's director Colin Bone, in reference to the more than $5 million contract.

Scottish steel started leaving Glasgow's dock on Thursday.

IDEAL VENUE

Dubai has cropped up a few times in Formula One headlines of recent weeks; first with the speculated visits of ace drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Ralf Schumacher.

And other sources speculate that the destination would be an ideal venue for a non-European base for Formula One, given recent problems over EU legislation.

FIA president Max Mosley recently hinted that 'a country' - most likely Dubai - is offering a small fortune to host disgruntled British-based Formula One teams.








Currency Crisis Hits Formula One
Formula One teams stand to lose more than $100 million this season due to the diminishing value of the United States Dollar, according to a report.

Focus-Money, a German business magazine, predicts that this season's budget of the world championship-winning Ferrari team is $40 million lower in 2004.

It explains the deficit as due to contracts with financial-sponsors which stipulate payments to be made in the previously-steady American currency.

The publication continued that, due to the problem, F1 rivals McLaren and Renault stand to lose $25m each, BMW-Williams about $15m, and Sauber $10m.

TWO NEW FLYAWAY RACES

Compounding the problem is that F1 teams are being asked to spend more.

Sir Frank Williams, chief of the aforementioned Oxfordshire-based outfit, estimated the extra costs involved in racing in China and Bahrain at $1.8m.

'We do consume cash,' he told Autosport.

'Anybody who isn't worried about that is mad or completely out of touch.'








Drivers Not Toyota's Problem
The problem with Toyota is not its Formula One race-drivers.

New technical director Mike Gascoyne insists that Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis would be good enough to win races if the TF104 car was up to the job.

'Olivier has always been quick enough if you give him the right car,' the Briton told ITV-F1 in reference to the veteran, 'and Cristiano is a strong racer.

CRISTIANO STRUGGLED

'Last year he struggled compared to Olivier for outright pace.'

But Gascoyne, who switched from Renault on the promise of a seven-digit annual salary, admits that drivers aren't the problem as Toyota eyes season-three.

'We have to design a quicker car,' he said, 'but it won't happen overnight.'

He revealed 'four steps' of major development on the TF104 this season and verified that consistent points and fifth in the championship are possible.

'This car is ultimately not quick enough,' Mike confessed. 'But we'll get the best out of it. Last year, Toyota suffered from a lack of experience.'

* McLaren has signed Sparco as a new supplier of 'advanced' Formula One driving suits designed exclusively to reduce weight and enhance breath-ability.

'We have been wearing a development version of the [suits] at recent tests and have been impressed with their performance,' said driver David Coulthard.








McNish Gets New Career Racing
Allan McNish got his new race-career up and running on Thursday.

The Scotsman, who had hoped to steer a Jordan in F1 this season, ran in the Audi R8 sportscar for Team Veloqx at Road Atlanta ahead of next month's Sebring race.

'The Audi and F1 cars are different and I've got to get that feeling back,' said the former Toyota grand prix driver who tested Renault F1 cars last season.

GETS USED TO SLICKS

McNish last drove the R8 in 2000 and won the endurance race in Adelaide.

He added: 'I've got to get the understanding of even silly things, like this Audi has got slick tyres - I've been used to grooved tyres.'

Another ex-F1 ace, former Lotus and Jaguar driver Johnny Herbert, is also at the session and will contest the Sebring and Le Mans 24-Hour events.

* David Coulthard cast-off the downcast demeanor of his McLaren teammate on Thursday by refusing to predict how the new MP4-19 lines up against rivals.

The Scot said at Valencia: 'We'll see in Australia. Right now we're building up confidence in the car but I can't say who we'll be fighting at the first race.'

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