F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 4, 2004
Iceman Can Melt Schumacher
An 'iceman' can wrestle the Formula One title out of Michael
That's the message grand prix racing's hot-shot hawked around-town on
Wednesday as drivers geared-up for the weekend's season-opening action
at Albert Park.
24-year-old Kimi Raikkonen, the monosyllabic McLaren driver, attended
a Mercedes-Benz event in Melbourne and was interviewed after signing
'There's only one way to go,' said the Finn, 'and that is to win the
championship. But it depends on the package and a bit of luck as
Despite earlier worrying about the pace and reliability of his new
MP4-19, Raikkonen is now thinking about challenging for wins 'at every
NOT ON TOP FORM
'That is the aim, just one aim,' Kimi continued, 'but it's difficult
to say after testing where we really are. But I guess we'll see this
Raikkonen said he had only spoken to his German-born rival 'a few
times' in three years of F1 racing but said Michael Schumacher is a
'None of us really hate each other,' Kimi quipped.
F1 legend Stirling Moss relaxed in the 33-degree heat by wearing a
Hawaiian shirt but he's not so sure that runner-up Raikkonen can go
one-better in 2004.
'He's one of my favourites,' said the knighted former driver, 'but I
don't think he's going to do it here. It doesn't appear that McLaren
are yet on top form.'
* Elsewhere in Melbourne, Jordan rookie Giorgio Pantano rode a
mountain-bike around the Albert Park lay-out. 'It looks okay,' said
the Roman. 'Quite fast.'
Sauber's new-look line-up including Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe
Massa, meanwhile, appeared on Bert Newton's TV show 'Good Morning
'That's a bit too long a pause,' Newton beamed after asking veteran
Fisichella if he's ever had an argument with his 22-year-old Brazilian
Minardi's Spare-Car Vacant In Oz?
Minardi's spare-car might stay vacant on Friday even if Belgian driver
Bas Leinders was yesterday announced as the Formula One team's
At a low-key 'launch' at Pete's Bar in Albert Park, Paul Stoddart's
back-of-the-grid team unwrapped the PS04B which is title-sponsored by
Dutch company Wilux.
Tiago Monteiro, from Portugal, was announced as another Minardi tester
but he will only 'dovetail' the part-time role with a full season in
'I'm proud of the fact that Minardi is still here,' said Stoddart,
'fighting and still doing its best to uphold the honour of the
The Australian said he would be 'more than happy' with five points all
season and retaining the 'Status Quo' of barely qualifying for all 18
He added that Wilux Benelux had secured the short-term future of
Stoddart said there was a 'slight issue' with Leinders' super-license
because he has not completed the requisite three-hundred kilometres of
If he is to drive tomorrow, the Belgian needs an unanimous call from
several rival team principals and the likes of Bernie Ecclestone and
'It is not confirmed,' Bas said in Melbourne. 'The deal was made late.
I'll drive in Malaysia but I'm disappointed. My CV is good but rules
Minardi's new title-sponsor Wilux, who joined in 2003 when Jos
Verstappen was race-pilot, said sales had increased almost double
through exposure in F1.
Stoddart said the bathroom-brand had increased its support
Brand-new UK-based drink brand 'X' has also joined as a team sponsor,
and 27-year-old pay-driver Tiago Monteiro is a second official
* Stoddart said he hoped to capitalize on the poor engine reliability
of some more competitive teams to sneak out of his birth-city with a
point or two.
On Your Bike, Mike
With eleven world championships between them, Michael Schumacher and
former motorcycling ace, Australian Mick Doohan, set off for the
Doohan picked-up the Ferrari-driving star, who later had lunch at the
Wild Oak Café, in a helicopter before tearing-up the Dandenongs on two
Mick and Michael became friends when they were neighbors in Monaco.
Their V-Rod entourage included another former 500cc star Daryl
Beattie, Schumacher's manager Willi Weber and a few other close
friends of the pair.
Doohan backed-up Schumacher's quest for a seventh F1 title-crown.
'When I was riding,' said the Aussie, 'it was a new challenge to go
for another one, even if you'd won others in the past. Just to see if
you can do it again.'
* Brother Ralf, who drives for BMW-Williams, claimed that the gap
between Schu Senior and the rest of the pack is getting smaller with
every passing season.
'He's still the benchmark,' 28-year-old Schumacher said, 'but I think
the rivals are catching up. Still, eighteen full races stand in front
of my dream.'
* Renault's pair of Formula One drivers Jarno Trulli and Fernando
Alonso warmed-up for the Grand Prix with a game of tennis against a
pair of Aussie legends.
At Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, former Oz tennis coach John Alexander
said both Italian and Spaniard were 'good athletes' even if their
technique needs work.
Storm Brews Over F1 Team 'Collusion'
A storm is brewing in the Formula One pit lane.
Team sources are reporting that a group of Formula One principals are
unhappy that Sauber's new race-version is almost a carbon-copy of the
Jaguar chief Tony Purnell told the Evening Standard that the world
champions could potentially be 'made stronger' by making Sauber their
He said Ferrari may 'have access' to all the technical information and
feedback of 'Team B' by effectively having four near-identical cars
running in the race.
Sauber's race-pilots are also likely to test works Ferrari cars in
Martin Whitmarsh, managing director at top-team McLaren, has studied
photos of the two grand prix cars in question and said 'they certainly
Purnell reckons the C23 is 'uncannily similar' to last year's scarlet
Sources close to the governing FIA insist that a protest of the
cooperation is brewing although a spokesman said an inspection left
everything 'above board'.
Ferrari-powered Sauber, meanwhile, are adamant that C23 is a distinct
A spokesman said the wheelbase is two inches shorter than the Ferrari
F2004 and other sources explained how detail-changes appear to make
the design legal.
* Efforts to promote the Malaysian GP have been struck by Prime
Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi's declaration of an
impending general election.
'Everything is already on track,' Sepang manager Ahmad Mustafa
countered. 'Promotions will go on and we remain committed to ... this
Coulthard Eyes Toyota, BMW-Williams
Embattled Formula One driver David Coulthard has earmarked Toyota and
BMW-Williams as his ideal destinations after a nine-year tenure at
The Scot said in Melbourne that Cologne-based Toyota, with the biggest
budget in pitlane, is a 'team moving forwards' and one that now needs
a 'winning driver.'
'They are committed to the long term,' DC told reporters.
Clearly, however, any switch to red overalls depends on whether Toyota
stick with veteran Olivier Panis but also, crucially, on Williams ace
Team adviser Ove Andersson said that if the possible Williams-refugee
and David knocked on the factory-door, Toyota would listen most
attentively for a German.
'I would love to drive again for Williams,' said DC who debuted in
IN MY HANDS
'This season it's in my hands to show I can still do it. Taking
something lower down the grid isn't really an option. I enjoy what I
do and I'm good at it.'
David said he found-out last July that Juan Pablo Montoya would be
taking his seat in 2005 but isn't hurt because he has no emotional
attachment to McLaren.
The 32-year-old also snubbed the advice of 1996 champ Damon Hill that
he should stick two-fingers up to Ron Dennis and now drive as
selfishly as possible.
'There's no reason for me to spit the dummy,' he said. 'Why do I have
to be a rude c*nt out of the car when I've demonstrated what I can do
inside of it?'
* David said he felt 'pretty good' when he gave Michael Schumacher the
finger whilst performing an overtaking maneuver at Magny-Cours a few
* Technology-brand AMD, which has a logo on the rear-wing endplates of
the F2004, has extended its contract with F1 team Ferrari through to
* Michael Schumacher ferried a lucky youngster in a two-seater go-kart
at 'Shell House' on Thursday before meeting with the press in
Ferrari Eye Alonso
Renault's current pacesetter Fernando Alonso, of Spain, is a candidate
to succeed Michael Schumacher as Ferrari's number-one Formula One
That was the declaration of scarlet chief Luca di Montezemolo on
Wednesday but he was quick to note that Schumacher is under-contract
for three more seasons.
'We can take our time in looking for a suitable driver,' said the
president, who is to remain in Maranello while the season-opening
Australian GP is raced.
Montezemolo told Stern: 'There is no need to rush. Ferrari has no
space for inexperienced drivers but Alonso has great potential for the
The Italian said Flavio Briatore's 22-year-old find, who became F1's
youngest-winner last season in Hungary, is similar to Schumacher in
his Benetton days.
'... A fantastic talent that needs time,' Luca explained.
Montezemolo added that Michael, 35, will definitely end his grand prix
career at Ferrari but expects the highly-rated German to keep driving
for 'many years.'
He and Brazilian team-mate Rubens Barrichello are under-contract to
* Fiat president Umberto Agnelli passed-on his good wishes to Ferrari.
He said of the opening-round in Melbourne: 'It will be hot for the
[Bridgestone] tyres and we must wait to see how they will behave in
'I still think it's hard for the opposition to beat Ferrari.'
Mum And Dad Miss Mark
Rising Formula One sensation Mark Webber's mum and dad miss him.
Alan Webber said near Melbourne on Wednesday that their Jaguar-driving
son and Australia's only grand prix star spent just one night at
'home' last week.
'This time he only got back [to Queanbeyan] for one night,' the
car-yard owner told local newspapers, 'so you do really appreciate
that time when it comes.'
Webber, 27, is based in a village near Northampton (England).
The Queanbeyan-born star's father actually spends a bit of time
following Webber to the world's Formula One race-tracks but mum, Di,
doesn't enjoy the life.
'She doesn't see that much of him,' Alan lamented.
'But it's great to see him out there doing so well.'
Mark Webber has a bit of advice for young-guns trying to tread in his
'Australian talent is impressive,' he said, 'but you guys (the
drivers) have to do something too. You have to believe in yourself and
the people around you.
'You have to go to Europe early, and then Australia should support
Webber denied that he had spent his life trying to join 'the club'
presently dominated by Michael Schumacher in order to earn money and
'I'm a relatively private guy,' said Mark. 'I like to be remembered
for my driving, not for what I get up to off the track. So I keep it
* Albert Park has a reputation for breaking cars, but statistics
actually show that it is outside the top-ten Formula One tracks to
host technical faults.
* Fernando Alonso is fetching odds of 22/1 to become F1's youngest
Walrus Made Montoya Gasp
Driving-star Juan Pablo Montoya gasped in horror when technical
director Patrick Head showed him the last BMW-Williams Formula One car
he would ever drive.
The FW26, penned by Gavin Fisher, features a tusk-like front-end
section to compliment the novel approach to monocoque chassis design
known as 'twin keel'.
'I was pretty amazed when I saw it,' Montoya, the Colombian, said at
Sandown race-track on Wednesday shortly before storming-out during a
JPM added of the 'walrus' nose: 'I thought, 'what are they doing?'
That was my first impression. But now I don't say that - it really
seems to work.
'The car felt a little bit more stable straight away.'
Montoya, 27, also warned his supporters not to panic if the
BMW-powered racer falls behind the pace of reigning world champion
team Ferrari at Albert Park.
'It wouldn't mean they are going to win it all,' he smiled. 'But at
the same time if we beat them it is not time to start saying 'ok it's
* McLaren's second test-driver Pedro de la Rosa has abandoned a
corporate line to predict BMW-Williams ace Juan Pablo Montoya as the
2004 world champion.
'I don't think Ferrari are going to win,' the Spaniard told Marca.
'Firstly because of tyres but because BMW-Williams' new car seems to
be going well.'
* The wife of Montoya, Connie, was photographed giving BMW-Williams
team-mate Ralf Schumacher's wife Cora a friendly hug-and-kiss at
Albert Park on Thursday.
* For the first time at a grand prix, all team merchandise - about
$3.5 million worth - is to be sold from the same store at Melbourne's
Albert Park circuit.
Want To Feel F1's Rush?
Want to experience the sheer thrill of driving a 900-horsepower
Formula One car?
Just hop into a 100cc go-kart, according to Renault F1 star Jarno
For the first time in a few years, the Italian driver did a few laps
in a kart built by his own company at Geelong's Beckley Park Kart Way
'I can tell you it's so tough, like you wouldn't believe,' he said.
'It's an extremely good feeling driving one of these.
'It doesn't matter how fast you're going, the feeling you get when you
go quickly in a corner in one of these is as good as driving a F1 car
Trulli, 30, agreed with local reporters who mused that his Enstone-based
grand prix team's new R24 race-car looks potentially capable of
'Winning would be good,' he smiled.
'But I'd be happy on the podium. I think the best steps have been made
on the engine but the chassis is also a lot better than the one we had
* Kimi Raikkonen lived-up to his reputation as the 'iceman' in
The young McLaren star, runner-up champion in 2003, wasn't too
interested in a question probing the significance of a sun-like tattoo
on his right wrist.
'Nothing,' he croaked. 'It's just a tattoo.'
And when asked about the arrival of feisty Colombian Juan Pablo
Montoya to the sister silver Mercedes-powered cockpit in 2005: 'I
'It changes nothing. I'll try to beat him but I'll do exactly the same
Minardi Stand Firm On Threat
Aussie-born Formula One boss of Minardi, Paul Stoddart, is
standing-firm on a threat to throw a huge spanner in the works of his
grand prix-winning rivals.
He warned that if five F1-manufacturers don't make-good on a promise
to offer affordable engines, he'll retract his crucial support for
'There was an absolute commitment in writing, a signed commitment from
the team principles on April 29 last year,' he told reporters in
Stoddart said he had received 'not one penny' of engine assistance to
date, and re-affirmed his deadline of Friday for a new binding
agreement on the deal.
'Ford have supported Minardi enormously through their Cosworth engine
supply,' said Paul, 48, 'but the others are just not coming in line.'
The Minardi boss gave notice that Eddie Jordan might also join the
party and said the governing FIA could not ignore the withdrawal of
Stoddart appeased F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone's request that he put away
Minardi's begging-bowl by insisting the he can 'afford' to go without
But he said car R&D would suffer in the help's wake.
'The testing will get cut,' said Stoddart, 'the wind tunnel will get
* American beer-brand Budweiser has renewed its deal with F1 team
A statement revealed that the 'Bud' logo will not only appear on the
FW26's airbox this season but also on the monocoque-tops and the
'Our first season in Formula One has been a great experience,' said
parent company Anheuser-Busch's global media and marketing vice
president Tony Ponturo.
Changes To F1 Rule-Book: Symonds
Sunday's season-opening Australian GP at temporary street-circuit
Albert Park heralds a new raft of changes to the Formula One rules and
Executive director of engineering at Renault Pat Symonds talks some
through, starting with the reduction of the number of allowed elements
in the rear-wing.
'Originally, [it] brought about a loss of downforce of about six
percent,' he said, 'but work in the wind tunnel means we've actually
got more downforce now.'
The single-engine per weekend regulation is the most dramatic change
An engine-failure will result in a ten grid-spot demotion.
'The team has been working on this constraint for just over a year
now,' Symonds continues, 'but we've completed now five weekend
distances without problems.'
Launch-control and automatic gear-changes are banned, and to ensure
fair play, the governing FIA has placed a black-box recorder in every
grand prix car.
'Jarno and Fernando have had plenty of practice [of manual starts],'
Symonds thinks the increase in pitlane speed-limit to 100kmh might
make the difference between opting for a three-stop strategy over a
And, finally, final qualifying all takes-place on Saturday, no longer
on Friday as well, with two back-to-back sessions separated by a
'We'll have to react extremely quickly,' said Pat, 'so that if there's
an incident, we'll alter our race strategy in the space of a few
* Christie's of London is to auction a Lotus race-suit, worn by late
F1 champion Ayrton Senna to victory in the US Grand Prix of 1987, for
What Do F1 Drivers Do In Spare Time?
Formula One drivers can do more than take a corner at 250 kilometres
Spanish sensation Fernando Alonso, the sport's youngest-ever winner,
picked up the skill of performing magic-tricks with a pack of cards
when at school.
'Since then it's something I've always loved doing,' he told The
Renault team-mate Jarno Trulli is a keen maker of red-wine and tends
to his own vineyards near his home-town in Italy when not tearing-up
His full-bodied 'Podere Castorani' can be bought in Britain.
'The whole process ... can't be hurried,' Trulli insisted.
Another racing-Italian, Sauber's new-recruit Giancarlo Fisichella, is
a dab-hand at making pizza and has an authentic pizza-oven at his
villa just outside Rome.
'The result is always crisp and juicy,' said a friend.
World champion Michael Schumacher's other passion is on the
soccer-pitch and the German is often seen scoring a goal or two for
local Swiss club Echichens.
He says: 'It's a welcome change from my normal training.'
McLaren tester Alex Wurz, in Melbourne this weekend, is a champion
mountain-bike rider but the team's race ace Kimi Raikkonen always
'When I was younger, I had to choose,' said the Finn. 'I went for
motor racing because it meant I didn't have to get up quite so early
in the morning.'
David Coulthard owns and runs a five-star Monte-Carlo hotel in his
'I don't have any direct hands-on or management control,' said the
Scot, 'but I do like to look around and make sure everything is just
McLaren chief Ron Dennis collects old microscopes and, now that Frank
Williams' jogging-days are over, the Briton records
Ecclestone: New Rules Were 'Mistake'
Formula One racing-supremo Bernie Ecclestone has admitted that F1's
introduction of a sweeping raft of new regulations ahead of last
season was a 'mistake'.
The 73-year-old Briton said the modified code for 2004 is designed to
smooth-off any rough-edges but still produce another close year of
grand prix races.
Key-changes this season include the restoration of Friday practice,
back-to-back qualifying on Saturday and the complete scrapping of
'We're always changing, trying to improve all the time,' he told the
'We hope when we make mistakes we're man enough to admit it and
Ecclestone said Formula One's recent 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points-system
might mean that the winner of the world championship may not have won
the most grands prix.
GOOD FOR THE SPORT
'So it may be interesting,' he concluded.
Bernie also fended-off a critics' chorus urging reigning six-times
world champion Michael Schumacher to retire by insisting he's 'good
for the sport'.
'Michael will be competitive whatever happens,' Ecclestone said, 'so
he should keep going for as long as he wants. He enjoys his racing and
we need him.'
* Nick Heidfeld has sided with those weather-men who reckon a few
rain-clouds should linger-around over Melbourne right up until Sunday
The Jordan driver said, whilst admitting that the EJ14 has many
technical faults: 'I'll smile if it rains. Our tyres might be better
than the others.'
* As predicted on Wednesday, an altercation did indeed take place
after Juan Pablo Montoya stormed out of an Allianz press conference
Officials tried to prevent the Colombian from leaving the function and
one of his aides was thrown against a glass door, according to one
28-year-old Montoya then banged the door with his fist and left the
venue, leaving Jack Brabham's racing-son, Geoff, to complete his PR
Glock Nervous About F1 Debut
Timo Glock is nervous about his debut as a Formula One 'Friday test
The young German has been signed-on by cash-strapped team Jordan to
drive the spare-chassis at Albert Park and offer crucial feedback to
the race aces.
'I've driven at Barcelona,' said Glock, 'but of course never on the
weekend of a race and I will be a lot more nervous. There'll be maybe
50,000 more people.'
* David Richards will try to emulate the boss-driver relationship of
Frank Williams and Nigel Mansell with his own young British star,
The BAR-Honda principal said the target might be 'a bit presumptuous'
but the aim of achieving something like their 28 race-wins is a very
* Jordan's new driving-recruit Nick Heidfeld has vowed to try and slot
his struggling Silverstone-based team into the top-five constructors
'It's realistic that we get close to Sauber,' said the German, 'but
with the new qualifying format, which I don't like, you don't really
know how fast you are.'
* A spokesman for Trust Computers appeared to confirm speculation that
'radio-silence' has now been cast against the company's spat with Jos
Jos, having failed to land a race-drive at Jordan, threatened
legal-action against his former backer when it tried to sign a private
deal with the F1 team.
* Without restrictive regulations, a modern F1 car would have
So says BMW-Williams engineer Frank Dernie who told The Guardian that
it is 'sad' that so many 'interesting technologies' have been banned
by the FIA.
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