F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 25, 2004
Never Better Prepared: Barrichello
Rubens Barrichello has never been more prepared for a new Formula One
The Ferrari ace, albeit driving the older F2003-GA at Imola on
Tuesday, yesterday lauded Maranello's latest grand prix charger, the
'The [old car] was much more powerful than the 2002 version,' said
Barrichello, who still lives in Sao Paulo, 'but it was quite nervous.'
Barrichello told Tuesday's Gazzetta dello Sport that F2004 has similar
'But, saying that, [the new car] is much more complete. I like driving
Ferrari's pre-season preparation has been affected by steadily-poor
Italian weather at test venues, but Barrichello reckons the F2004 is
'It showed itself to be better immediately,' said 31-year-old Rubens,
who debuted the scarlet car's novel engine-cover winglets on Monday.
He added: 'Given that fact, we could focus more on reliability.'
Last year, prior to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix at Albert
Park, Barrichello hit the headlines when he complained of a sore-back.
'It was because of all the testing we did,' he told the publication.
'This winter I have prepared myself better than I have ever done
Rubens won two grands prix last season.
Weather Spoils 3-Way Head-To-Head
The only party not interested in a novel head-to-head test with
Formula One's top three teams at the Imola (Italy) circuit on Tuesday
was the weather.
A freezing three-degrees and a mix of rain and snow made comparisons
of the new rival cars difficult but, for the record, BMW-Williams'
FW26 came out on top.
Ralf Schumacher's best time on the slippery circuit was less than a
tenth of a second quicker than big-brother Michael who clocked just 32
laps in the F2004.
Schumacher Junior's tally of 57-laps was the most of anyone on
He also ran the new Michelin dry-tyre for Imola which is a 'useful
step forwards,' according to BMW-Williams' chief operations engineer
Ferrari 'number two' Rubens Barrichello was third-fastest in the older
F2003-GA as he worked on Bridgestone tyre-testing, nearly a full
second down the road.
As was most observers' prediction, McLaren lost the three-way battle
for spoils as David Coulthard lapped his MP4-19 more than 1-second off
the ultimate pace.
Toyota's Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis brought-up the rear.
* At Silverstone, Renault and BAR continued their pre-Melbourne shake
Renault F1 drivers Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso wrapped up an
extensive pre-season test campaign practicing pit-stops with the full
'We're looking forward to getting out to Melbourne,' said executive
director of engineering Pat Symonds, 'and starting the season
McLaren To Sell Final F1 Road-Car
McLaren is set to break a record, but this one won't happen on the F1
The team's road-division is releasing a final version of the world's
fastest sports car, the McLaren F1, at a never-before-seen price of
nearly $2 million.
Ahead of spring, when McLaren will start delivering the all-new
Mercedes SLR sports car, the division has decided to sell the final
five-year 'chassis 65.'
Never before has a new road car been priced so high, reported Auto
'Chassis 65' sat in a window in McLaren's showroom on London's Park
Lane for many years until it was replaced by the speed-freak XP5 a few
'It's like something frozen in time,' said McLaren Cars' head of
customer care, Harold Dermott. 'Here is an F1 with delivery mileage
only - never sold.'
The McLaren F1 is powered by a 6-litre BMW engine that can propel the
carbon-fibre monocoque chassis from zero to 60 mph in just 3.1
Dermott defended the huge price-tag.
'We think it's reasonable,' he said. 'There is no requirement to sell
it quickly. The right people know it's for sale.'
Car enthusiast and Tonight Show host Jay Leno denied he's eyeing the
Timekeeper Pulls Plug On Formula One
Official timekeeper TAG-Heuer has pulled the plug on Formula One.
The Swiss company, which has timed Michael Schumacher's entire grand
prix career, says it decided to accept an offer from the US to
collaborate with IRL.
'Our directors have decided to leave F1, knowing that we won't be able
to guarantee an adequate service to both championships,' said Jean
STAYS AS SPONSOR
The head of timekeeping confirmed that TAG stays as a McLaren F1
Speculation insists that TAG-Heuer sees the Indy Racing League as a
tougher challenge because lap-times need to be discerned by 1 /
10,000th of a second.
F1 only requires times to within 1 / 1,000th.
The headline comes hot-on-the-heels of a timekeeping debacle at last
year's Brazilian Grand Prix, in which Kimi Raikkonen was denounced as
F1's governing FIA didn't reveal a replacement for the official
timekeeper but said the pull-out would not affect preparations for the
Sources report that Swatch is a likely successor.
New Ferrari Grows Wings
Ferrari fulfilled a promise to alter the appearance of its new F2004
racer on Tuesday when Michael Schumacher sped around the final
winter-test at Imola.
The Maranello-based team ran the scarlet car with a 40cm-wide winglet
on the engine-cover, just behind the 35-year-old world champion
When F2004 was unveiled, designer Rory Byrne swore that it would not
look the same, especially in terms of aerodynamics, at Melbourne's
opener in Albert Park.
'They'll be fairly substantial change to the aerodynamic components,'
said the South African chief designer, 'most obviously ... at the rear
of the car.
Observers noted that Ferrari's development resembles an engine-cover
mounted wing run by the Cologne-based Toyota F1 team last year on the
streets of Monaco.
Schumacher, as he continued development on the snow-lined track on
Tuesday, trailed his brother's pace in the new BMW-Williams FW26 by
less than a tenth.
Team-mate Rubens Barrichello had debuted the little-wing a day
'I really like driving [F2004],' the Brazilian told Italian reporters.
Rubens said the older F2003-GA was more powerful than the 2002-version
but it was quite nervous. 'This, keeping the power,' he added, 'is
Ralf Tries Diversionary Talk
Ralf Schumacher has tried to toggle attention from a speculated-split
from BMW-Williams to the tough upcoming battle for a new Formula One
The German said earlier this week that his F1 employers were under a
'big deal' of pressure to re-sign him in light of Juan Pablo Montoya's
decision to quit.
Team principal Sir Frank Williams, who reportedly called Ralf a 'money
grabber', decided recently to halt all talks with the 28-year-old
until at least June.
But Schumacher told Bild that he holds the upper-hand in negotiations.
He said: 'If [Williams] lose their second driver for 2005 after
Montoya (leaves), they have a real problem.'
Ralf, however, moved to extinguish the resultant fire of team-quit
tittle-tattle when he switched his attention to next-week's
season-opener in Australia.
'All of [the speculation] has absolutely nothing to do with what we
are working for at the moment,' the German told his personal website
He added: 'Everyone's focus is only on the start of the season.'
Ralf hinted that he was ready to sign a new contract at Suzuka last
October that would have agreed to an annual salary pay-cut of around
fifty per cent.
'That's what the contract said,' he earlier explained, 'and it was
ready to be signed for a long time. But Frank did not come [to a
Schu's Getting Better With Age
Six-times a champion Michael Schumacher reckons he's getting better
The master of Formula One's eighteen race-tracks issued the warning to
his rivals as he tested the continually-evolving new Ferrari F2004 at
Schumacher, who first raced in F1 at Spa in 1991, is now 35-years-old
but he insists that he's more like a bottle of fine-wine than a carton
'I'm like a good bottle of wine,' said the German - 'the older the
March 7, at Albert Park, starts the thirteenth full-season of F1 for
Michael but, even though six of them netted a drivers' title, he still
JUST AS HUNGRY
'I am ready,' said Schumacher, 'for the new challenge. I am as hungry
as [I was] at the start of my career. I want to win the title again.'
Schumacher has signed a new contract through to the end of 2006 but he
told the Malaysian 'Star' that he may even get his pen out for another
stint beyond that.
He added: 'I feel that I can match the others well and that a few nice
years lie ahead of me. If I feel like I do now then it's quite
possible that I'll go on.'
Most agree that the length of Schumacher's career from now depends on
But even if Michael fails to win another title, the German master
hinted that he might not find an alternative he loves more than
climbing into a scarlet racer.
'I must be competitive,' he said, 'but that doesn't mean winning
Schumacher As Ambassador
Swiss watch manufacturer and BMW-Williams partner 'Oris' announced
that the Formula One team's driver Ralf Schumacher has become its new
'Mechanical watches fascinate me,' said the German ace.
* F1 team Jordan has announced Quiksilver as a new official supplier.
The Silverstone-based outfit said the Australian-founded surf company
would supply eyewear and time-pieces during the 2004 world
'We strongly believe Quiksilver share the same values [as Jordan] when
it comes to products,' said the brand's general manager Pierre Agnes.
Swedish media are reporting that artist Richard Brixel has been asked
to build a statue of the late F1 racer Ayrton Senna to be auctioned
for street children.
AFP claims that the 15-foot bronze statue will be of Senna, who died
ten years ago, standing beside a McLaren Formula One car with arms
raised in victory.
Sources also hint that Imola, EMI and F1 officials are involved in the
Threat On Aussie GP Dropped
A threat to disrupt the Australian Grand Prix has been dropped.
This publication reported earlier that the Services Union (ASU) was
threatening to leave electrical faults un-repaired in the build-up to
the big F1 race.
Victorian secretary Michael Rizzo maintains that a ban will begin on
Wednesday but said certain exemptions are to be granted on health and
Sources said the Albert Park event qualifies for a ban-exemption.
'The ban will still apply to industrial users,' added Michael Rizzo.
ASU is negotiating a 5% pay-rise with electrical workers and the six
energy providers in the Australian state of Victoria, in which
Melbourne is capital.
* According to speculation, ex-Formula One driver and retired
co-motorsport director at BMW, Gerhard Berger, is eyeing a return to
Sources say the Austrian will test a BMW M3 GTR at the Monza (Italy)
venue in preparation for the marque's entry in the 24-Hours event of
Kimi Does Learning On F1 Tracks
Kimi Raikkonen doesn't waste too much time in new-circuit simulators.
The Finn's F1 employer McLaren has a state-of-the-art computer
simulator at Woking but so far he's turned down all offers to try-out
Bahrain and China.
'I haven't even looked at drawings,' he told official website F1.com.
'When I go to a new track, I generally walk or cycle around it first.'
Raikkonen, 24 - who learned more than a dozen F1 tracks as a rookie in
2001 - reckons once he drives, it doesn't take him very long to learn
a new layout.
He added: 'Then, it's a case of working on finding the right car
set-up and build up speed as you get used to it.'
The runner-up champion is looking forward to the new race-challenges
of Bahrain, the first Middle Eastern host, and Shanghai, to stage F1
in September 2004.
'It means more travelling outside Europe,' said Kimi, 'but I find it
interesting to go to new circuits and to visit cities I haven't seen
F1's New Rule-Changes
After the overhaul of last season, Formula One has introduced a few
more changes to the regulations ahead of next week's season-opener in
Most significant is the one-engine-per-weekend rule.
According to the new decree, each car/driver combination can run only
one fully-reliable V10 powerplant from Friday practice to Sunday's
Failing to do so results in a ten-grid qualifying demotion.
McLaren veteran David Coulthard is unconvinced of the change's merit.
He quipped: 'Do you think the public are going to go: 'I really like
F1 now because the engines last for 700 km instead of whatever it
'I don't think the public cares that much.'
Technical changes have also taken-place with all new Formula One
challengers running larger engine-covers and modified rear-wings on
the winter test-tracks.
The FIA is requiring that the wing sport only two - not three as in
2003 - main carbon-elements and a larger rear-wing end-plate to
increase space for sponsors.
One-lap qualifying has not escaped the Formula One rule-revisions.
The old Friday-session, and 'Heathrow' test, are gone, replaced by a
back-to-back double qualifying session on Saturday to decide the order
of the GP-grid.
Drivers will take to the circuit in the finishing-order of the
previous race, and then in the second-session - just two minutes later
- slowest ace first.
Malaysia Predicts F1 Thriller
Ahead of its sixth Formula One race next month, Malaysia is predicting
another down-to-the-wire battle for this season's world championship.
The impressive Sepang track, near Kuala-Lumpur, is finalising
preparations for the second-race of the year, to take place after
Melbourne on March 19 - 21.
RACE TO FINISH
General manager Ahmad Mustafa predicts another 'race to the finish.'
He said in a statement on Tuesday: 'With cars now being regulated
further ... and rule-changes, I foresee another race to the finish.'
Mustafa said the one-engine decree and parc ferme rules mean that the
need for 'new and ingenious strategies' should come into play in the
Lauda Dents F1 Chance
Mathias Lauda's quest for the Formula One grid took a dent last week.
The new F3000 signing, and 23-year-old son of triple champion Niki
Lauda, tested at Jerez but could only debut behind the pace of his
team-mates and rivals.
Lauda was third on the first day, but he later clipped a kerb.
'It was a shame for Mathias,' said a Coloni team spokesman, 'because
he could not express his potential. He went wide and ... damaged his
'He was on new tyres and therefore could not show what he was capable
At Road Atlanta, former F1 racer and tester Allan McNish impressed in
his Audi R8 prototype as he prepared for a new career in the sports
The Scot was quicker than all team-mates including another ex-GP star
Johnny Herbert and Frank Biela, Jamie Davies, Pierre Kaffer and Guy
'First, I got used to driving a sports car again,' said McNish, 'and
the differences to an F1 car - like right-foot braking, the gears and
Bahrain: Free Two-Week 'F1 Visas'
Got a passport and a ticket to the first-ever Bahrain Grand Prix?
Then you nearly qualify for a free 'visiting visa' to the tiny Middle
Eastern nation as Sakhir works feverishly to complete the $150m
project ahead of time.
A statement provided to this publication explained that a return
airline to Bahrain must also be presented before the two-weeks
re-entry visa is granted.
A website has been set-up so the process can be completed online.
Sources report that two-week visas used to cost $14 but the General
Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Residence announced plans to
make them free.
'All visa and formalities connected with the [F1] event are being made
simple,' said Brigadier Abdul Aziz who is director-general of
Nationality and Passports.
The inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix takes place on April 4 (04-04-04).
New Engine-Rule Is New Headache
A new Formula One regulation requiring that engines last longer is set
to cast headaches on the masterminds of competing teams, according to
Michelin boss Pierre Dupasquier believes that some of the top teams,
including Ferrari and BMW-Williams, will suffer engine failures in the
Engine-failures, and therefore unit changes, result in a grid-demotion
of ten qualifying places, according to the latest addition to the
'Reliability, with the new rules, will be a key factor this season,'
Technical director at BMW-Williams, Patrick Head, agrees.
He said the 'biggest change' ahead of season 2004 is the one-engine
rule even if, purely on the winter test-tracks, it's difficult to tell
the real impact.
Head told Reuters: 'We won't know who has done the best job with it
until well into the season. Everyone goes into Melbourne thinking 'no
'But if it blows up, [a team] won't have time before Malaysia to
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