F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 2, 2004
Late Ferrari On Back Foot
World champion Formula One team Ferrari is already on the back-foot.
The Scuderia's three F2004 race-cars and several tonnes of assorted
garage equipment arrived in Australia almost two full days later than
Cameras spotted the wrapped-up red cars being hauled out of a 747 at
Avalon Airport after the plane was grounded in Singapore with
Minardi's two PS04B F1 racers hitched a ride on the late flight.
Faenza boss and Melbourne local Paul Stoddart said Minardi's
preparations had been affected more drastically than Michael
Schumacher's well-oiled team.
'Ferrari already have a lot of their stuff [here] already,' he said.
'But we have everything on that plane. We're losing a whole day.'
F1 HAS ARRIVED
Jordan rookie and Italian Giorgio Pantano accompanied Stoddart to
Melbourne Zoo on Monday to cuddle-up with koalas and kangaroos before
gracing the F1 paddock.
Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner was greeted in his garage by his own
locals when a troupe of traditional Hungarian dancers shuffled their
feet in his honour.
Ralf Schumacher wasn't in a good mood when he touched down at
Tullamarine (Melbourne) Airport on Monday afternoon after a BMW-event
in New Zealand.
'I've just arrived so maybe we'll have an interview another time,'
snarled the BMW-Williams racer whose t-shirt read 'Don't Ever Let Em
See You Sweat'.
Wilson Lost Career In F1 Gamble
Out-of-work F1 racer Justin Wilson should not have gambled his career
on a five-race contract at Jaguar Racing last season, his former
team-mate has claimed.
The Leaping Cat's highly-rated Aussie ace, Mark Webber, said
Yorkshire's Flying Giraffe might have got a full-time seat in 2004 if
he'd stuck it out at Minardi.
'The poor guy was under a lot of pressure,' said Mark, 'and I could
'I did not change what I was doing. Sometimes Justin was two-tenths
off [my pace], sometimes eight-tenths, sometimes twelve (1.2 seconds).
That's a lot.'
HAD HIS CHANCE
Webber told reporters in Australia that hindsight is a skilful thing
but if he had been offered the same switch mid-season, 'I probably
would have done it.
'He's a nice guy but he had his chance. What more can I say?'
Mark, 27, flew direct from Europe to Sydney last week and spent a day
in his hometown near Canberra but missed the birth of his sister's
The race-star commented on a speculated move up the F1 grid.
'Clearly there's stuff going on,' he said, 'seats becoming available.
'... It does my head in that other guys beat me just because their car
Millions Give Mike Enough Motivation
Where does Michael Schumacher get his motivation from?
The German-born champion is sick of hearing those words from the
mouths of race-journalists but with six titles under his belt he'll
forgive it's repetition.
'I love what I do and I have never wanted to do anything else,' he
said on arrival in Australia to start his thirteenth full season in
Some reckon a daily-salary of $140,000 is enough motivation for
'I do get paid,' the 35-year-old smiled, 'so I ask myself 'why should
I not be motivated given the circumstances?''
Certainly, Ferrari paymaster Luca di Montezemolo thinks his number-one
grand prix driver is worth 'every cent' of his $50 million dollar
'He is paying us in victories,' said the Italian, 'and we're very
Schumi, though, isn't really comfortable that everyone in F1 - even
his good friend and boss Jean Todt - sees him as one of the world's
'I can't really understand it,' he told Reuters, 'because I'm just a
normal guy bringing up his family. Maybe I can drive a tick faster
than many others.'
Michael said his 'dream' is to race in F1 but still be able to go
Mosley Moves House To Avoid Arrest
FIA president Max Mosley is moving house in case a Formula One driver
is killed whilst driving on any of the eighteen venues on this year's
The Briton said the controversial new European Arrest Warrants
legislation might put him in jail if a local European police authority
is after a 'scapegoat'.
Max confirmed he is to close the FIA offices in Trafalgar Square and
sell his London home to relocate to the principality of Monaco's city
'This is not a snap decision,' he told The Times newspaper.
'Our advice is that this is our best protection. As long as I am
president, I will have to live in Monaco to avoid a law which is not
sensible for F1.'
Sources reveal that race-director Charlie Whiting is similarly
* David Coulthard reckons Albert Park is a 'quite challenging' F1
'With any temporary circuit,' said the McLaren veteran, 'you have a
sort of Monaco feel. It's hard on brakes and also quite difficult to
The Scot is adamant that the track is a good 'indication' of a team's
car performance, a view backed-up by local star and Jaguar driver Mark
'We'll have a clear indication on Saturday and Sunday in Melbourne how
the next two or three months for us is going to go along,' the
BAR Better-Off Without Villeneuve
BAR chief Dave Richards has defended his decision to sack 1997 world
champion Jacques Villeneuve by claiming that the team-atmosphere is
now less tense.
The Briton arrived in Melbourne in Monday claiming that he had put a
thousand pounds on JV's replacement, Japanese Takuma Sato, to win the
Albert Park event.
Richards said 'a tension' existed at Brackley throughout last season.
'Sometimes you don't realise how influential and negative those
tensions are until they are removed,' he told reporters at Tullamarine
PAIN IN NECK
French-Canadian Villeneuve, 32, claimed that 'someone' had convinced
the paddock in 2003 that he had no work ethic and was a 'pain in the
neck' as an employee.
'So there was a highly negative feeling,' he told a recent press
Jacques' old team-mate, Jenson Button, emerged from the shadows last
season to put a world champion in the shade at the wheel of an
identical BAR-Honda car.
But the interpretation of his feats 'irritated' this Englishman.
'It wasn't what Jacques said at the start,' said Button, 'but what
people said at the end. They said Jacques was losing it - not that I
had beaten him.'
Button, now driving team-leader, said Richards 'made it difficult' for
both he and JV by claiming that the 24-year-old was the next Formula
One world champion.
'[Jacques] didn't like it,' said Jenson, 'but we sorted it. I respect
Be Like Mike, BMW-Williams Tells Drivers
Brother Ralf's no Michael Schumacher, according to his Formula One
Burly BMW-Williams technical director Patrick Head made a typical
pre-season push for Schumacher and team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya to 'Be
'Our current drivers are very good,' said the Briton.
'But they would know themselves that neither are as integrated in the
development of the team as [Ferrari-driving world champion] Michael
Head praised the pants off the 35-year-old's scarlet-clad employers.
'I've never seen an act like that in all the time I've been in F1,' he
said of Schumacher's Ferrari team, according to the BBC website.
Patrick's partner and team founder Sir Frank Williams says Ferrari's
run of five consecutive constructors' world championships has 'raised
the game' in F1.
He added: 'They are such a formidable team.'
Patrick Head also extolled six-times champion Michael Schumacher for
keeping the Maranello-based winning team together despite offers
elsewhere in pitlane.
'Usually in that situation,' he reveals, 'someone pays the golden egg
for someone to disappear. But they've all stayed and one has to look
* Ralf Schumacher has never heard of reigning IRL champion Scott
The German F1 ace, on a Monday visit to Auckland, was asked what
advice he could give to New Zealand's top driver in his quest to
strike Formula One by 2005.
'He must be good,' Ralf shrugged at reporters.
Schumacher, who said his two-year old son David would test a go-kart
later this year, added: 'If he's won in USA, he should try to come to
a top team to us.'
Minardi Chief Issues Friday Ultimatum
Five of Formula One's giant competing engine manufacturers have until
Friday to forestall a new 'traction control' crisis at the pinnacle of
Minardi chief Paul Stoddart issued the ultimatum when he warned that a
promise to offer affordable customer powerplants to smaller teams had
not been honoured.
If the pledge does not come, Stoddart - one of ten bosses required to
maintain unanimity in tech-regulations - will withdraw his support for
Stoddart said the elimination of traction-control would cost team
adversaries like McLaren's Ron Dennis 'tens of millions' of dollars in
'This ... was agreed as a direct trade-off for the smaller teams
supporting traction control,' he told reporters ahead of the weekend's
race in Albert Park.
The Aussie, with a miserly annual race-budget of $40m, said
traction-control is 'downright useless' for teams who don't have the
money to fully develop it.
He concluded: 'You would expect the world's great car manufacturers
should be able to honour their agreements. Memory-loss is not good
* Bahrain's new Formula One track in the desert-city of Sakhir has
been designed to resemble an oasis, according to its German designer
'We want to show that we're actually in the desert,' he told F1 Racing
magazine. 'The cars then disappear into the desert before returning to
The Shanghai F1 lay-out in China resembles the sign 'Shang' meaning
Rookie Not Warming Minardi Seat
Grand Prix rookie Zsolt Baumgartner has denied speculation that he's
only warming a seat at back-of-the-grid Formula One team Minardi for
The Hungarian told Adelaide-publication 'The Advertiser' that despite
problems with his sponsorship he has been signed-on for a concrete
'My managers were doing the business,' he said, 'but I knew it was all
'I can be thankful for the team that they were very kind.'
Baumgartner arrived at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne yesterday
to the welcome of a Hungarian band, but said he'd do his own dancing
on the track.
He admits some frustration that his year is to be spent at the back of
'It's not good to get yourself frustrated,' the youngster maintained,
'but you just have to race what you have and get the best out of it.
'The main thing is to do well in comparison with the other weak
Zsolt said that despite having only three pre-season tests for
development 'because we were a bit late,' the PS04B is better than
last year's car.
* Felipe Massa returns to the scene of his 2002 Australian Grand Prix
debut this weekend after a year-out on the bench testing Ferraris for
'I'm so happy to be racing again,' said the young Brazilian, 'and even
with new rules like one-lap qualifying I've done some simulation and
it will be okay.'
Give Me Sixty Million: Minardi's Stoddart
Give controversial grand prix entrepreneur Paul Stoddart an extra $60
million dollars and the Australian will bring his Minardi F1 team up
The 48-year-old has had to sign-on two paying drivers for the new
season to compliment the smallest annual race-budget in pitlane - just
To put the account into contrast, Ferrari and Toyota spend around $400
million a year and even under-funded Ford-owned team Jaguar has $170m
to play with.
'Formula one eats money,' Stoddart told the Australian media in
POOR GET POORER
'The rich get richer and, I'm afraid at the moment, the poor get
'We still have a wicked amount of money on tap but how can we compete
on a level footing when Ferrari has about ten times that amount for
But even if Minardi's black cars are only 10 per cent the team of
Formula One's scarlet pace-setters, they still manage to qualify
within a 107 per cent rule.
'We are achieving around 98 per cent of their performance,' Stoddart
He said: 'One could argue that if there was a world championship for
the best dollar-spend in F1 we would be twenty-one times world
'If we had $100 million we would be really dangerous.'
* Former Minardi ace Fernando Alonso reckons he will attack this
weekend's Australian Grand Prix with more confidence than in his
Renault debut of 2003.
'I know what it's all like now,' said the Spaniard. 'Last year I
wasn't sure about things but now I feel much more at ease. And we have
more power now too.'
F1 Is Bleeding Passion: Former Driver
An ever-corporate Formula One is bleeding passion, according to an
Former McLaren star of the Seventies, Ulsterman John Watson, reckons
modern grand prix racing has become too politically-correct and overly
He told The Guardian: 'I understand the way it has to be but at the
same time we need to develop the personality and characters.'
Watson reckons men like discharged ex-Ferrari and Jaguar pilot Eddie
Irvine, who's now in exile to avoid arrest for speeding, are a dying
breed in F1.
To spice up the Sunday action, the 152 grand prix veteran suggested,
F1's governing authorities should allow the public access to the
He added: 'When Montoya tangled with Barrichello in America (last
season), I'd have loved to hear that radio traffic, with Montoya
effing and blinding.'
Watson said the weekend F1 viewer should look forward to the next
grand prix thinking 'I can't miss this one because I know something's
going to happen.'
* 1996 world champion Damon Hill has urged embattled McLaren star
David Coulthard to scream 'To hell with everyone' and race for his
career in 2004.
Hill, who never had a contract that was longer than a single season,
told 'The Sun' that his former Williams team-mate needs to become
Schumacher Has Changed In A Decade
November, 1994 to March, 2004.
It's a time-span of nearly a decade but one thing has remained the
same all the time - a boy-faced German called Michael Schumacher
setting the pace in F1.
One reporter, as ever probing the racer as he touched-down for a new
race-season, remarked that Schumacher has undergone a metamorphosis
In Australia of that year, albeit on the Adelaide street-circuit,
Schumacher seemed to deliberately steer into Damon Hill to secure his
first drivers' crown.
A 35-year-old Schumi plays-down the significance of any
He asked the interviewer: 'Well, how much have you changed since you
were a boy? It's a period when probably everybody changes a lot.
'I am probably more self-confident now, having achieved what I wanted
to achieve and even more, and sharing my life with a wonderful family.
I'm a lucky man.'
In 1994, the late Barry Sheene - then a commentator for a broadcaster
- noted that Schumacher was an aloof 'robot' with no time to spare for
Stephanie Sheene, now a widow who will wave the chequer in Melbourne
on Sunday, remarked yesterday that her racing-husband had died with
'admiration' for Schu.
Schumacher believes four 'nearly equal' teams will attack Formula One
'And maybe another team we will have our eyes on,' he added.
* Bridgestone technical manager Hisao Suganuma has revealed that eight
new specifications of F1 tyres will be available for partner teams
'We have worked not only on compound development,' he said, 'but on
improving both front and rear construction performance. The true test
Raikkonen Isn't Thick: F1 Legend
Don't be fooled, a legend assures the racing world - Kimi Raikkonen
Stirling Moss, again making the trek to Albert Park for the Australian
Grand Prix, reckons McLaren's young Finn is as quick as his rival
'I wouldn't be put off by him being an introvert,' the Briton told The
'Jim Clark was very quiet and he just happened to be one of the finest
drivers there ever was. The great thing about Kimi is that he's very
Moss, perhaps the best driver of his period never to win a world
championship, said 24-year-old Kimi drives 'naturally, effortlessly.
You can't teach it.'
Another source close to the Woking-based team claims that Raikkonen's
- nicknamed 'The Iceman' - reticence is a 'Finnish thing.'
He recalled: 'They're all like that. Hakkinen wasn't a bundle of
Finally, Raikkonen - touching down in Melbourne for the season-opener
- is happy; the interviews can stop and his imposing driving can do
'Winning ... takes all the bullshit out of it,' he told the paper.
'It's important to win the title many times but that first title is
F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone has put his money on Raikkonen, but
agrees that a plain-faced, grumpy, monosyllabic race-driver does not a
'You mature to become one,' said the Briton, 'so give him time.'
* Renault F1 ace Jarno Trulli attended a kart race in Geelong (near
Melbourne) on Tuesday. 'It is always fun seeing the enthusiasm of
young drivers,' he said.
Angry Ralf Was Not Misquoted
Ralf Schumacher was not misquoted by a German publication.
The BMW-Williams star was reported to have angrily hit-out at his
Formula One boss in a spat over stalled contract-talks for a new
He told The Guardian on Monday night that his management and Sir Frank
Williams had agreed terms on a new two-year deal before the last race
at Suzuka (2003).
'The contract was drawn up and I was ready to sign in Japan,'
Schumacher told the British publication. 'Then I was told he changed
'He's a tough negotiator and always tries to get a better position.'
Schumacher, 28, said he was angered by the flip-flop and unilaterally
decided to end all talks about a new contract until at least
'I'm sure [Frank] has his reasons for taking all these decisions over
the last few months,' continued Ralf, 'but I don't really understand
'I don't care about next year any more. Everything depends on this
Williams' technical director Patrick Head said earlier this week that
he hopes the Grove-based team doesn't lose both of its current drivers
ahead of 2005.
Ralf didn't do much to quell the speculation.
He concluded: 'All that matters is that we have a very good car this
year. I hope to stay at Williams, but you never know exactly what will
happen in F1.'
Ferrari Won't Survive Tobacco Ban
Even Ferrari cannot survive a total-ban on tobacco advertising.
That's the stark warning of Formula One impresario Bernie Ecclestone
who said $150 million less money for the Scuderia would cost the
'They would have to give up their wind tunnel,' he told German paper
FAZ, 'or one of their test tracks and they'd be on the same level as a
team like BAR.'
Ecclestone said Ferrari's executives would 'rather quit' than lose
* BMW-Williams driver Ralf Schumacher has promised to race-out of the
shadow of his six-times world champion winning brother Michael during
the new F1 season.
'What he has achieved is great,' said the German, 'but I am a
different person. When he retires somebody will take his place - maybe
me, maybe before then.'
* Juan Pablo Montoya is very pleased to put a winter of 'unrewarding'
pre-season testing with the new BMW-powered FW26 Williams car behind
'It's hard work and you can't even tell where you are,' said the
Colombian. 'Only at the first race can you see what everyone else has
done in the winter.'
* F1 team BAR-Honda is all-set to slot into the 'surprise of the
Boss Dave Richards, who is vigorously talking-up driver Jenson Button,
said his outfit based at Brackley has 'improved considerably' and
'done its homework.'
Gascoyne Puts New
Parts On Toyota Car
Toyota's new Formula One car is already benefiting from the
highly-paid input of technical director Mike Gascoyne, who last year
held down the job at Renault.
'The car is reliable,' he told reporters ahead of the weekend's
opening Australian GP, 'but now we'll find out our true level of
Gascoyne, from Britain, said the TF104 already has 'several new'
aerodynamic parts set to debut on the car from this Friday in opening
Ricardo Zonta will drive a 'third' Cologne-built chassis.
He added that the new aero-parts represent a 'reasonable step
Brazilian race-driver Cristiano da Matta marks his one-year
anniversary as a Toyota Formula One star with the long-haul trek 'Down
Under' to Melbourne.
'We should be aiming for reliability and a points finish,' he said.
'I believe I've improved in every area as a driver.'
Japanese Tsutomu Tomita is Toyota's new team principal, taking over
from Ove Andersson, the 65-year-old Swede who built the Cologne
operation from scratch.
'It is an absolute privilege to be the guiding force,' said Tomita,
'and I hope we can challenge for points at every race starting this
weekend in Melbourne.'
* Albert Park never used to be Michael Schumacher's Formula One track.
'But it's quite good, I'd say,' said the German, 'especially for a
city circuit. Also the safety improvements which have been done were
* Renault's new sponsor deal with Spanish communications giant
Telefonica will see the brand feature notably on the R24's rear wing
and front-wing endplates.
Button Flattered By Top-Team Interest
English F1 driver Jenson Button is flattered by speculated interest in
The 24-year-old started his career at BMW-Williams (2000) but overcame
the hassle of two intervening years at Renault to emerge as
BAR-Honda's top dog.
Now, there's a vacancy - or two - at a top-team again from 2005.
'All this talk hasn't changed the way that I've worked or feel,' he
told reporters ahead of the weekend's opener, 'because people can say
what they want.
HAD IT HARD
'It's actually quite flattering when Ron Dennis and Frank Williams
have something good to say about you. I've had it hard over the last
* Michael Schumacher feels 'totally charged up' for the Australian
The reigning champion relaxed, as he always does, over the winter and
even had a day in the south of Italy testing tyres for Bridgestone -
in a Tony Kart!
'I kept up my training routine,' said the German, 'but did maybe a bit
less in November - about two hours a day. Now I am fully ready to
* Jordan's new head of engineering James Robinson expects the
Ford-powered minnows to shape-up 'around the pace of Sauber' come this
weekend in Oz.
He said the EJ14, which has enjoyed very few test-days, is 'better
than the one it replaces' but warned that the first few races are the
best chance to shine.
Robinson was quoted by the BBC as saying: 'Once everyone is back in
Europe and locked into reliability, as many as the top 12 places could
Trulli Lines-Up Maiden Win
Jarno Trulli thinks his new Renault racer might be on for a win this
The Italian arrived in Australia early to adjust to the time
difference and spent some time in the city and training for the big
Melbourne race outdoors.
'It does not bring added pressure just because the management
announces big ambitions,' he said at the 'Trulli Karting Drivers'
meeting in Geelong.
'Us drivers always push so if you're not giving maximum, why bother at
Everyone in pitlane is wary of Renault's potential pace but Jarno -
team-mate to Spanish sensation Fernando Alonso - doesn't really know
how fast they'll be.
'So far,' he said, 'we know the R24 is quick in all circumstances.
'The engine is also performing well. We all dream of starting with a
win and maybe this time we'll be closer than ever before. We'll find
22-year-old Alonso, who'll play tennis in Melbourne with John
Fitzgerald on Wednesday, said he would only be happy with a 'podium'
this Sunday evening.
* Technical director Bob Bell reckons minor aerodynamic performance
developments have already found their way from the test-tracks to the
Albert Park package.
'The drivers are highly motivated and confident,' he said, 'and we
know how we want to run the car. I can see no reason why we can't aim
for podium placings.'
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