F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 19, 2004
Webber respects FIA decision
Jaguar Racing driver Mark Webber has declined an invitation to join
the bandwagon of criticism for Formula One's new back-to-back
The Australian praised the governing-FIA for trying to make F1 more
'I respect them for that,' he said in Malaysia.
The new two-lap Saturday system took longer to complete than Sunday's
actual grand prix in Melbourne and also was criticized for lacking
WHAT PUBLIC WANTS
'It doesn't matter what I think,' Webber, 27, continued. 'What we
should take note of is whether it's what the public wants and whether
Mark's boss Tony Purnell doesn't agree and said the race-fans 'didn't
understand what was going on' at an overcast Albert Park as forty
'If you asked me to vote,' he said, 'then I'd go for the free-for-all
BAR ace Takuma Sato said he doesn't like the system because it has
totally removed the concept of 'taking the fuel out of the car' and
World champion Michael Schumacher sees it Webber's way and denied that
Formula One would be right to change it before at least a few grands
prix have passed.
Coulthard waits on F1 future
Race-veteran David Coulthard is waiting on his Formula One future.
The Scot urged disgruntled BMW-Williams star Ralf Schumacher to 'make
up his mind' whether to spend season-'05 at Grove, or with F1-rivals
Renault or Toyota.
'For God's sake, Ralf,' DC joked in Malaysia, 'just hurry up and
32-year-old Coulthard is set to leave McLaren-Mercedes at the end of
this season as Juan Pablo Montoya arrives as a feisty team-mate for
Finn Kimi Raikkonen.
The ten-season veteran is also interested in the Williams or Toyota
'It is my intention to be on the grid next year,' Coulthard continued,
'and obviously that means finding the most competitive drive that I
Schumacher gets new Williams offer
Ralf Schumacher does not have as many options in Formula One as his
management would have us believe, according to current race-employer
Sir Frank Williams.
The German has been linked to Renault and Toyota for 2005 as he tries
to convince BMW-Williams to accept his new and higher contract salary
'At the moment I am talking to BMW-Williams,' Schumacher said on
'I'd like to stay and we're still talking about it.'
Renault driver Fernando Alonso doubts whether 28-year-old Schumacher
is likely to take the spot of his current Italian team-mate Jarno
Trulli next season.
NOTHING BUT NONSENSE
'I don't think so,' said the Spaniard in Malaysia.
'I'm very happy with Jarno and I hope he's staying at Renault.'
Frank Williams said the Ralf-to-Renault rumour was 'nothing but
'Toyota are his only [other] option,' he told German 'Kicker'
Williams revealed that he had made Schumacher a new offer involving
'The decision is his,' said the Briton, who has reportedly installed
an April 4 (Bahrain Grand Prix) deadline for a final decision -
'Williams or Toyota.'
Ralf threatens to have Montoya off
Ralf Schumacher has re-opened a war of words with team-mate Juan Pablo
Montoya by threatening to 'have him off the track' in this Sunday's
After the opening race in Melbourne, BMW-Williams' Montoya was quoted
as accusing 28-year-old Ralf of nearly punting him into a crash at
'It was a pretty strong move,' German-born Schumacher retorted on
'Next time I WILL have him off the track.'
Ralf said Juan came up his inside with all guns blazing and tried to
perform an overtaking manoeuvre that would have been based on 'me
making space for him.
'I did not,' Schumacher continued. 'I just think that move was not the
right thing to do at the time, that early in the race. That's all I
have to say.'
He intimated that Montoya braked into the corner with the 'intention'
of either crashing or assuming his team-mate would give him space to
complete a move.
'That's brilliant,' veteran David Coulthard beamed of the Ralf
'Normally you'd have to wind a driver up to get that response!'
Predictably, Colombian-born Montoya, off to McLaren in 2005, reacted
to the news of Ralf's comments by inviting his outspoken team-mate to
'deal with it.
'Shit happens,' he added. 'He's complaining about what ... that I
Stoddart regrets shedding workers
Formula One boss Paul Stoddart is 'deeply' saddened' to have had to
axe around 90 percent of the total workforce of his small airline
'This decision comes only after examining all other possible options,'
the Australian said in a statement whilst preparing for a race in
AGREED TO SELL
Stoddart, who runs Minardi, agreed to sell European in November '02
but said it had embarked on a program of 'ambitious but ultimately
He confirmed how he had returned as the company's chief executive.
'I felt I had a moral duty [to do so],' said the 48-year-old.
Jordan received death threats
Eddie Jordan received death-threats for declining to sign F1 ace Jos
The Formula One boss told The Sun that a hate campaign, by letters and
email, started when he opted for Italian rookie Giorgio Pantano over
'At first I shrugged them off but they became stronger,' EJ said.
'I have been absolutely stunned by [their] menace and vitriol.'
Jordan revealed that the hundreds of emails ranged from messages of
wishing him and his family dead to hoping the cash-strapped team would
'I hope the hate mail ends,' said the Irishman in Kuala-Lumpur.
'Verstappen's management have said they are trying to calm the
Jordan said he had 'never known anything like it' in 30-odd years of
Dixon excited about F1 test
Scott Dixon can't wait to rev-up his quest for a Formula One drive
The IRL champion, who harks from New Zealand, is to step into a
BMW-Williams cockpit at Paul Ricard so that the F1 team can assess his
talent and potential.
'I'm very excited,' said 23-year-old Dixon.
'Although the real test will be in April in Barcelona.'
Sir Frank Williams said he will be 'fascinated' to see how America's
top current open-wheel driver performs at the wheel of a 900bhp
Formula One challenger.
'We're grateful to Chip Ganassi for sanctioning this test,' he said.
Former Williams star Alex Zanardi also drove for the American team
before making his F1-switch, as did current charger Juan Pablo
Montoya, the 1999 champion.
'This is a good opportunity for Scott to test his mettle,' Ganassi
'We have always encouraged our drivers to live up to new challenges.'
Schu backs teammate's claim for title
Ferrari number-two Rubens Barrichello is doing a 'fantastic job.'
That's the opinion of his world champion team-cohort Michael
Schumacher who backed the Brazilian's claims that 2004 represents his
best-shot at a title.
'He's proved to be performing consistently,' said the German.
He added: 'I hope it continues that way because if not we will both
struggle. It's going to be a long season and I think he will be tough
RULED THE ROOST
Rubens knows that Schumacher has ruled-the-roost at Ferrari and in
Formula One for the past four years 'but I'm here to change that,' he
said in Malaysia.
Schumacher isn't sure whether Rubens can make that final step-up.
'We find out,' he smiled at a press conference at the Kuala-Lumpur
'Actually, I hope not - because then I'm in trouble!'
Barrichello says he truly believes 'I am better than Michael.
'It's the only way to think,' he said, 'if I want to win races. I
never think of him as the number one - I think we are a team. I don't
have to let him win.'
Sepang is Schumacher's favorite
Malaysia's Sepang is one of Michael Schumacher's favorite Formula One
The German and his Ferrari car hasn't looked competitive at the hot
and humid location for the last couple of years, but he vowed to turn
it around in '04.
'It is one of my favorite tracks,' said Schumacher.
9.5 OUT OF TEN
'Spa and Suzuka are the best, but this is close. I give it 9.5 out of
Technical director Ross Brawn said earlier this week that one of the
reasons for starting the season with the new F2004 was because of the
notorious Sepang heat.
'All of us have to worry about reliability,' admitted Michael, 35.
'But we've simulated whole race distances and I'm not worried.'
Button still hunts for F1 podium
Jenson Button is still on the hunt for his first-ever podium-finish.
The BAR star has never had a car capable of the feat in Malaysia but
reckons sixth-place in Australia bodes well for the hotter weather
'Our car, now, is quick enough,' the Englishman told Reuters.
Button, 24, said the goal for season-2004 is to be the fourth-best
'If we finish fifth and sixth in every race,' he added, 'we've got a
chance of being in the top three. Certainly, we hope for better than
fifth and sixth.'
Alonso sports black arm-band
Spaniard Fernando Alonso sports a black arm-band in Malaysia this
The Renault star is also wearing a national-flag on his race-helmet in
tribute of countrymen who lost their lives in the recent terror
attacks in Madrid.
'It will be difficult to win,' he said in Kuala-Lumpur, 'but it would
probably be one of the best moments of the year now to have a first
AIMS FOR WIN
Alonso, 22, was in the Maldives when he heard of the horrific
'It was difficult to have any news,' said Fernando.
'I rang home on Monday and they told me. I feel so shocked and
saddened because it happened to normal people like us - workers and
kids going to school.'
Schumacher unfazed by terror threat
Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher is unfazed at the
prospect of racing in a region ravaged by war and on high-alert for
'I'm quite sure Bahrain will be one of the safest places,' he said.
The Middle Eastern island is the next-stop on a new 18-race F1
Schumacher's rationale is that the more alert authorities are to the
threat of terrorism, the more safety measures will be in place to
ALLY OF UNITED STATES
Bahrain is an ally of the United States, which invaded Iraq last year
and was attacked by terror-group Al-Queda in 2001 killing around 3000
Michael, who drives a Ferrari, echoed the sentiments of politicians
who insist that terrorist attacks strike without notice 'at any time
and in any place.'
He said: 'If you stop to think about it, what can you do?'
'B-version' McLaren in pipeline
One year ago, the Formula One world enthused about McLaren's young
'I didn't hear a lot of people talking about him in Australia,' noted
Rubens Barrichello as the circus prepares for the off in hot, humid
Kimi Raikkonen was often fast in winter-testing with his new MP4-19
but he struggled to get within two-seconds a lap of the Ferrari pace
Then, his Mercedes-Benz V10 engine failed.
'I was surprised that they were not fast,' Ferrari ace Barrichello
NUMBER OF CHANGES
McLaren veteran David Coulthard reckons a B-version of the '19' is
already in the pipeline and a number of other changes should come
on-line before its ready.
'I would expect that before we get halfway through the European
season,' said the Scot in Malaysia, 'we will see some significant
Team-tester Pedro de la Rosa tested a few developments in Spain last
week and they are now ready to be worn by the silver racer at the hot
Sepang F1 circuit.
'Our lack of pace in Melbourne was a bit baffling,' said team chief
The Englishman told The Guardian that the MP4-19 had looked a
second-per-lap quicker than its predecessor and perhaps it just failed
to perform in Australia.
Dennis admitted that the new Mercedes V10 engine is 'a concern.'
'... You can't carry not having the best engine,' he concluded.
BMW-Williams needs a miracle: Montoya
BMW-Williams needs a miracle if it is to compete with Ferrari in
That was the message of pessimism delivered by team-driver Juan Pablo
Montoya as a hot 30-degrees welcomed the circus to Sepang on
'It's very hard to say we're going to have a miracle,' said the
Montoya, 28, insists that the novel-looking FW26 should be stronger in
the temperatures but 'it might take some more time' to find
'We might surprise ourselves,' he continued.
'Maybe we'll win - or maybe we'll be tenth. It's hard to judge.'
Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello agrees that BMW-Williams and McLaren
are unlikely to pose the strongest non-Bridgestone challenge in the
Pointing to Renault's Fernando Alonso, he said: 'I think it will be
First qualifying is 'pointless': Rubens
The first part of 'back-to-back' qualifying is pointless.
Rubens Barrichello was the first-man on-track at Albert Park a
fortnight ago and he said there was 'no point' to push and risk the
car ahead of run number-two.
'With the heat here,' he said, 'it might be cooler at the start [of
the second session] so it might be an advantage to run then in the
'So there's no value in finishing right up the top in
Renault youngster Fernando Alonso, who scored his maiden Formula One
pole-position here in Malaysia a year ago, agrees with the
'You can't make any mistakes in the first one,' said the Spaniard,
'and that's not just my own feeling - I'm sure the team wouldn't be
happy if I crashed it.
'You'd have to take the T-car and lose places - so why push?'
Rubens favors a return to the 2003-system of Friday and Saturday
'You have time to get it in the press, you have everything,' he
'At least it gives you a chance to push.'
BMW-Williams to bounce back: Alonso
Fernando Alonso reckons BMW-Williams might bounce-back in Malaysia.
The Renault star beat Grove's two race-drivers home at the opening
Australian Grand Prix but feels they have very competitive cars for
the upcoming season.
'I'm sure we're a bit quicker than McLaren,' said Alonso, 22.
'But I think BMW-Williams is very strong.'
Alonso said Melbourne was difficult for Sir Frank's outfit because
Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya got stuck in traffic after the
'I don't think we have any advantage [over them],' he continued.
'They will be very hard to beat.'
Alonso stamps on launch-suspicion
Fernando Alonso has stamped on suspicion that Renault are beating the
The Spaniard and team-mate Jarno Trulli burst off the start-line at
the season-opening Australian Grand Prix despite the winter banning of
'Obviously we've just done a very good job,' said Alonso, 22, at
'We've tested the starts a lot, and I think we've got good natural
The Formula One team benefits from a close collaboration with the
Renault Technocentre and has been trying its manual-start system in
'We've only got off the line the best once so far,' Fernando tempered.
'Hopefully we'll do it here too, but it's too early to say.'
Barrichello worried about Bahrain
Rubens Barrichello is a little worried about Formula One's next-stop.
Already, more than 33-degrees and 75-percent humidity hangs over the
Sepang F1 circuit but the circus can brace itself for even harder
weather in Bahrain.
'A guy said to me this morning that [Bahrain] is even more humid, and
even more hot, than here,' the Ferrari ace said at the race-circuit in
'I told him we are going to die inside our F1 cars!'
Most F1-players were not expecting humidity to be a problem in the
desert-location of Sakhir, some twenty-kilometres south of Bahrain
'I've only seen the racing track on paper,' Barrichello continued.
'So I'll get down there very early before the race to get a feel for
Fernando Alonso, the Spanish ace who's tipped to challenge Ferrari in
Malaysia on Sunday, is also surprised that humidity might sweat the
drivers in Bahrain.
'I heard it was hot and dry - not humid,' said the 22-year-old.
Renault's young star concluded: 'I guess we'll find out.'
Ralf vows to speed-up BMW-Williams
Ralf Schumacher has vowed to turn BMW-Williams' form upside-down.
'Clearly we are not happy with where we are now,' said the German.
The boys in BMW-blue were surprised at the cool Albert Park circuit
to, first, be so far behind Ferrari but, more significantly, trail the
pace of Renault.
Schumacher, 28, said: 'I guess it will be a bit different here.
EXPECTED MORE PACE
'We were definitely surprised in Australia because the tests had gone
well for us, we were at the top, so we expected also to be on top in
the grands prix.'
Any significant turn-around in form, though, is going to have to wait.
'We don't have anything significant (new) on the car here,' said Ralf.
'It's a bit short of time between Australia and Malaysia. For Bahrain
we expect something but for here it is basically the same package -
Is Mercedes' new engine rev-limited?
Is Mercedes-Benz's new Formula One engine rev-limited?
McLaren driver David Coulthard hinted after the season-opening
Australian Grand Prix that the F1-powerplant had been turned-down to
'Sometimes, inevitably, you get misquoted,' he said at the Sepang
Coulthard, when originally asked if the engine had been tuned-down,
said the journalist should direct his question to Ilmor, to ensure an
'Maybe it was perceived as me saying 'oh, talk to them, I'm not
David said: 'That's not at all the case.'
The 32-year-old suggests that his Mercedes unit is not 'significantly
lower' in revs or power both compared to the Formula One
race-competitors and last-season.
'I think our starting-point this year is reasonable,' said Coulthard.
McLaren's two drivers completed very few laps in official Friday
Jet-lagged Rubens deserves to win
Fernando Alonso spent his lead-up to the Malaysian Grand Prix in the
sunny Maldives; he snorkelled, played beach-volleyball and did a bit
Poor old Rubens Barrichello went round-and-round the Valencia
'Ah huh,' the Brazilian confirmed. 'So I deserve to win, then?'
Of the top four or five Formula One teams, Ferrari ace Barrichello was
the only race-driver who jetted-back to Europe to try-out new
developments for his car.
'It's a tough business,' he smiled. 'I wish I had been in the
NOT HIS CHOICE
Certainly, it wasn't Barrichello's choice to disrupt his
'On the first day, I was useless,' he said. 'I was so jet-lagged. I
was glad when it rained, because I didn't have to do many laps - I
couldn't do it.'
Rubens told Ferrari that they should rely on the feedback of tester
Luca Badoer more than him because to fly in-and-out of Asia for a few
hours was 'too much.'
Barrichello tested Bridgestone's new hot-weather tyres for the
After this race, though, Rubens is heading-off to Brazil for a break.
'Yep. So these others can go back and test - for me.'
Montoya's scared of heights
200 kilometres-per-hour around a corner? No problem, says Juan Pablo
But put the BMW-Williams star at a bungee-jump in Australia, and he's
'It was in 2000,' the Colombian told The Daily Telegraph, 'when I was
still driving in CART. I was invited to do a bit of filming on the
Montoya, 28, hates heights but agreed to the film-makers' demands to
hold out his arm on the way-down with a camera in his hand to film the
'I looked out and there's no security barrier,' he continued.
'It freaks me out completely. My CART team-mate was shaking and I just
turned and said to the guys 'no way, sorry, this is not going to
F1 notes in Malaysia
F1 team BAR-Honda has a new supplier in Italian machining manufacturer
JOBS will provide BAR with a LinX Compact T3D 5-axis machining centre.
* Ford vice-president Richard Parry-Jones has warned Formula One that
it cannot simply hop outside the European Union to avoid an impending
'It won't solve the problem,' he told Autosport.
Parry-Jones said: 'Certainly Ford, and I'm sure other companies, don't
want to be associated with a sport which relies on tobacco for its
* Renault boss Flavio Briatore has become embroiled in a bitter legal
row with ex-lover and super model Heidi Klum over where their child
should be born.
Klum wants to have it in the US, but Briatore wants a German-birth.
'I suspect that this is a case of a very rich man wanting to keep hold
of most of his fortune,' said one lawyer, who said both parties are
Iceman wants more horsepower
Kimi Raikkonen wants more horsepower.
The McLaren-driving Finn admitted in Kuala-Lumpur that the most
serious shortcoming of his uncompetitive MP4-19 lies under the
'I'm sure we're not on the level of BMW or some others,' he said.
Raikkonen, 24, said the anteater-nosed chassis is at least more
NOT SO EASY
'So hopefully we can improve the speed. Horsepower is not so easy to
Last year, the monosyllabic blonde went neck-to-neck with F1 champion
Michael Schumacher all the way to the chequered-flag of the concluding
'We did not have a good start,' Kimi said, 'but there are 17 races to
Raikkonen concluded: 'You never know. We just need to improve the car
and then hopefully we can get back in the race for the world
championship a bit later.'
Schu wouldn't mind 20 grands prix
Michael Schumacher wouldn't mind if the F1 calendar expanded to 20
Race-impresario Bernie Ecclestone wants to impose a test-cap in order
to make room for more events and that's alright with the sport's
'I don't think there is a maximum number of races for us,' he said.
'It all depends how much a driver can take, physically.'
LESS TIME TO TEST
Schumacher, 35, said if there are more races on the F1-schedule, there
will be less time for the often tedious routine of track-testing,
'which is no problem.
'I'd prefer more races and less testing,' the Ferrari star added.
F1 is going to Bahrain and China this season and an ever-expanded
future-calendar would probably see the circus move further into the
Far East and Asia.
'The transition is clear,' said Michael.
'I don't mind exploring other countries, especially if the facilities
are as good as these. The only sad thing is that we will miss some
BMW-Williams stay out of driver-spat
BMW-Williams will not intervene in a new spat between its Formula One
Ralf Schumacher threatened to punt Juan Pablo Montoya off the Sepang
circuit this weekend if he repeats the 'strong' overtaking move of the
'It's between them,' chief operations engineer Sam Michael said.
The Australian told The Guardian that until both drivers clash and end
up in the kitty-litter, the team will encourage tough driving and
vowed not to intervene.
'We have absolutely no problem with our drivers racing aggressively
'... as long as both the cars stay on the track.'
At Indianapolis in 2002, BMW-Williams DID intervene when the drivers
tangled and incurred the wrath of team-chiefs Sir Frank Williams and
tech-boss Patrick Head.
'If that happens, then we do get involved,' Michael confirmed.
'But in terms of straight, aggressive racing, we don't mind at all.'
Friday in Malaysia: track notes
Felipe Massa went-off the circuit just five-laps into practice in
A weather source predicts that thunder-storms may strike in the
afternoon as the Sepang region near Kuala-Lumpur heads for a very
humid top of 33-degrees C.
* Jordan 'Friday tester' Timo Glock was presented with a cake at the
Sepang circuit on Thursday as the German celebrated his twenty-second
Race team-mate Giorgio Pantano, of Italy, surprised his friend, Glock,
when he marched into the team's hospitality area with the
'I'm not going to celebrate tonight,' said Timo, 'because I'm
* F1 champion Michael Schumacher expects BMW-Williams to fight-back in
'If they get the tyres right,' said the German, 'I wouldn't be
surprised if they outperformed Renault. They didn't do it in Australia
but they could here.'
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