F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 20, 2004
Schumacher 'went over the roof': Montoya
Ralf Schumacher 'went over the roof' in a pre-event press conference.
That was the reaction of team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya who laughed-off
the German's threat to have him off if he tries an overtaking
manoeuvre this Sunday.
'I think he was just a bit too excited,' said the Colombian.
'I think the reporter asked the right question and wound Ralf up, that
Montoya, 28, slid up the inside of Schumacher's identical BMW-Williams
FW26 in Melbourne but the pair banged-wheels before the overtaking
move was complete.
BOSS WON'T CONTROL
Team boss Sir Frank Williams said he would not try to 'control' his
'Words are easy,' the Englishman reacted to Schumacher's JPM-threat.
'Under racing conditions they are free to race, they are free to bump
wheels if that's the only way. What they're not allowed to do is push
each other off.'
Williams' reluctance to do much about the internal-spat might be
because certainly one, and perhaps both, team-drivers is leaving at
the end of the year.
'A naive man might say it's difficult [to control them],' said
'But I think they both raced well in Australia - they did real
overtaking, Ralf moved up quite a few places. You couldn't criticise
their dedication at all.'
Jaguar is 'punching above' its weight
Mark Webber's promising early-Malaysian pace is genuine, the Aussie
He powered his Jaguar R5 to third-place, behind only the McLaren of
Kimi Raikkonen and Ralf Schumacher's BMW-Williams, at the end of
'I feel so confident in the car,' said Webber, 'which allows me to
Mark, 27, said not only was the one-off performance of the heat-loving
Michelin tyre good, but the consistency of his twenty-odd laps was
also very impressive.
'But it was so hot out there,' said Webber.
BRING IT ON
'I'm not sure how significant the times are - but bring it on!'
Team boss Tony Purnell said Jaguar is satisfied with their work so-far
but worries about the car-reliability that let Webber down at the
'It's nice to be in the company that Mark is enjoying,' he beamed.
'But I think we're punching above our weight slightly.'
Purnell said Jaguar was operating on a fraction of the cost of the
pace-setting teams and one of the first compromises is guaranteeing
'You can't do everything,' he said. 'We can't test like the big-guys
Bahrainis rip-off F1 clients
Some Bahrainis are taking-advantage of their upcoming Formula One
Private landlords are jacking up prices, and others are refusing to
book-out hotel rooms until the last minute to ensure the highest
There is a chronic accommodation-shortage for the inaugural grand
Prices are going as high as 800BD (about $2000) for a one-bedroom
'Customers are not prepared to pay more than a certain amount,' a
source told Gulf Daily News. 'Some have said they might change their
A spokesman for the $150m Sakhir-F1 circuit, however, rejected the
criticism and said a hotel room in Monaco on Grand Prix week costs up
to $5000 for one-night.
Only the brave bet against Ferrari
Only a brave man would bet against Ferrari at this weekend's hot
Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne reckons the field has
closed-up since Australia but warned there is more to the situation
than practice-times show.
'We've got good first lap performance,' he said of the
Michelin-clad Kimi Raikkonen led the stifling pace at Sepang on Friday
and the top Bridgestone runner, Michael Schumacher, was good only for
NO NEW BRIDGESTONES
But Gascoyne says Ferrari's tyres work well on the longer stints.
'After one lap, we get quite a big drop-off,' he continued, 'whereas
the Bridgestone seems to be very stable. So I think we'll have to wait
Bridgestone technical manager Hisao Suganuma, meanwhile, confirmed
that the company had not taken its latest-spec, hot-weather tyres to
the Malaysian event.
'We have a programme to reduce temperature,' said the Japanese.
'But that is still ongoing. Here, we've got an improvement of the
Leinders owns F1-superlicense
Bas Leinders is the proud owner of a new Formula One superlicense.
The Belgian wasn't allowed to run in a Minardi two weeks ago but he
has since collected the requisite 300kms of F1-testing and debuted in
Malaysia on Friday.
'I'm very satisfied with the way things went,' he said at Sepang.
'I started off gradually and just worked on picking up time with each
Leinders tried-out development parts for the PS04 which should
eventually find their way onto the race-cars of drivers Gianmaria
Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner.
Minardi sporting director John Walton was pleased with Leinders' first
'Thanks Bas,' he said, 'for a mature job. He played himself in
steadily, produced consistent lap times and provided useful feedback
to the engineers.'
Leinders lapped three-seconds off the pace of the nearest Minardi
charger, and no less than seven-point-five seconds per-lap slower than
the leading F1-pace.
Ralf smiling despite stifling heat
Ralf Schumacher is a happier man despite the stifling heat of
The German star lapped second-fastest in Friday practice but,
crucially, his Michelin-tyred BMW-Williams fended-off the Ferrari
challenge by a few tenths.
'We expected to be much quicker here than in Melbourne,' he said.
'So far that seems to be the case.'
Ralf's brother runs on Bridgestone tyres that revelled in the cooler
Melbourne weather but appeared to struggle on the 56-degree Sepang-F1
'I'm sure he'll be close if not quicker again tomorrow,' Schumacher
'But, on our side, it looks a bit better.
'The Bridgestone grips a lot better on a slightly dirty track but as
soon as we get rubber on the circuit then Michelin's tyres start to
pick up performance.'
Ecclestone resents F1-tobacco ban
Bernie Ecclestone resents the impending F1-ban on tobacco advertising.
'Maybe next the government will stop drinking,' a snarling
race-impresario told the Daily Telegraph, 'so they'll take-away our
drinks sponsorship too.'
To counter the looming problem, Formula One is racing out of Europe
and breaking new ground in Bahrain and China, then possibly Korea,
Turkey, India and Russia.
'The flight to Asia won't solve the problem,' is the response of
Ford's head of F1 operations Richard Parry-Jones in an interview with
HALF THE GRID
He said Ford doesn't 'want to be linked' with a sport which relies on
Most of Ford-owned Jaguar's race-rivals, such as Marlboro-red Ferrari,
West-branded McLaren and Mild Seven-blue Renault, rely on their
Jordan and BAR are also heavily-sponsored by tobacco-brands.
Ecclestone, however, worries about the post-tobacco future of Formula
'If we lose it completely,' the 73-year-old told Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung last month, 'there will be a rupture. People don't
know how bad it would be.'
Pitchforth puts his foot in it
Oops - that's what David Pitchforth would have said some-time last
The managing director of Jaguar Racing put his foot in it big-time
when he lamented the reliability problems of Aussie Mark Webber in his
home Grand Prix.
'Mark was running in a points scoring position,' he started in a
'We believe he'd have been seventh quite handsomely and, if he hadn't
had a problem with the launch control, quite possibly even higher than
Launch-control electronics were banned ahead of the new Formula One
Webber, 27, actually ground to a halt at Albert Park with a
McLaren resists test limitation
Limiting track-testing would only drive up costs, according to Ron
The McLaren chief would reject a proposal to accept less testing even
if it meant Formula One teams could do more 'free' running at the
actual grands prix.
Some F1-players reckon a test-cap would cut costs by up to
'The reason it increases costs is that you'd have to manufacture
sufficient quantities of parts so that you could introduce them at
that race,' said Ron.
'At a test, though, you only bring one example of the part.'
It was earlier thought that only Scuderia Ferrari resisted test-caps.
BMW-Williams would support a 'sensible further reduction' in summer
testing by a 'modest amount,' because Sir Frank Williams does believe
it would cut costs.
He said: 'Car building and car operation are by far the biggest
drivers of cost.
'Every year Formula One costs more but the revenues don't increase.'
Rain on way for qualifying?
It might yet rain ahead of this afternoon's qualifying-session in
A source reports that a storm is just a few hours away from the hot
and humid Sepang track and it may strike while the drivers prepare for
Otherwise, a few drops of rain fell on Saturday morning and it is
heading for a top of around 34-degrees, while the rain should
stay-away on Grand Prix day.
Not just pride that powers Sir Frank
It's not just personal pride that is powering Sir Frank Williams.
The wheelchair-bound Formula One boss told 'Auto, Motor und Sport'
that the race-series cannot afford much more domination by the
champions who wear red.
'The directors of [the car] companies will lose interest,' he warned.
'We need to at least be able to compete for first place.'
Williams said spectators are less likely to turn their television-sets
on if they know who is going to set the pace, 'so that means less
money for us.'
It's a scenario the cost-crippled race-outfits can ill-afford, he
Williams added: 'Money is becoming a problem for all the teams except
'Toyota worry me because they are advancing in giant leaps.'
He's impressed by Renault who operate on a smaller budget than the
other top-four teams but nearly out-paced the lot of them at the
opening Australian GP.
'To be honest, it makes me sick,' the bright-eyed boss smiled.
Williams also rates team-driver Ralf Schumacher even if the pair are
locked in a dispute over how much money the German should earn if he
signs a new contract.
'He's very talented,' said Frank, 'very logical and is extremely
Is there a secret to Schu's success?
There must be a secret to six-times champion Michael Schumacher's
That is what his nineteen Formula One track-rivals hope but the
Ferrari-driving German said leading the race-pace is just a matter of
hard work and dedication.
'It's about jumping about in the gym,' he said in Kuala-Lumpur.
'Or it's about running on the beach - and for several hours a day.'
The lap-records are tumbling
The lap-records are tumbling at Malaysia's Sepang Formula One circuit.
Michael Schumacher set the best-time near Kuala-Lumpur last March; a
1.36.412 that he had already smashed by the end of the first official
The Ferrari's first-Friday time was a 1.34.437.
But Kimi Raikkonen showed the field how it was done in session-two
when he improved Schu's mantle and strolled to a 1.34.395 in his
MP4-19 McLaren car.
Come Saturday, Michael Schumacher was back at the top of the
timesheets and his best-tour of 1.33.391 is more than three-seconds
faster than his lap of 2003.
McLaren start Formula One 'fight-back'
McLaren has started a fight-back to the other top Formula One teams.
The silver cars were off-the-pace at the season-opener but Kimi
Raikkonen showed he had not given up by going quickest of all during
Friday practice at Sepang.
'We are a team that competes to win,' said team CEO Ron Dennis.
'Before Australia, we couldn't verify some new components at the
affected Imola test but we tested them in Valencia last week and
they're now on the car.
'But there were other reasons for our lack of pace.'
NEW FRONT WING
A new front-wing package adorns the MP4-19 challenger in Malaysia.
Dennis said he expected McLaren to be better in Australia but never
got depressed about the result - 'it was a good wake-up call,' the
'Sometimes good organizations get it wrong.'
The Woking-based boss referred to one or two 'oversights' within the
team at Melbourne that required mechanics to work very late in the
'So the team was very tired,' he explained. 'We just didn't have our
act together. I don't think, to be honest, we performed very well as a
McLaren's car is also lacking in the horsepower and aerodynamic
A several-hour long 'post mortem' of the issue was discussed at Woking
the day after the race where key personnel and McLaren 'made a plan,'
'So far so good,' he said. 'But it could be a long haul.'
F1 teams to green-light quali-change
Formula One's ten teams are likely to agree unanimously to a proposal
to slightly alter the format of the back-to-back qualifying system
The system will, for now, only be tweaked to better accommodate
'Very often, we can over-react,' said Ferrari chief Jean Todt.
'But I think these changes are a reasonable step forward.'
Sir Frank Williams said the criticised system was brought-in to please
the small teams who complained about not getting enough TV-exposure
'We will follow television,' said the Briton.
'That's how we get our money - so whatever works for that.'
All teams, the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone must green-light the changes,
including a longer-delay between sessions and a definitive start-time
for the second part.
'I'd like to see a [bigger] change,' Jaguar chief Tony Purnell
'I didn't find the whole thing very entertaining and in fact I found
last year's system more entertaining. So I would like to see more of a
change to that.'
Todt added that F1 officials opted for the two-lap system to give the
public 'more to look at' and more visibility for the smaller teams'
Bernie has solved F1's qualifying-bore
Bernie Ecclestone thinks he's solved the dilemma of boring
The F1-impresario told the Daily Telegraph that rather than going out
in back-to-back, single-lap processions, drivers should just draw a
number from a hat.
'Then you can't say it's not the same for everybody,' he smiled.
'Maybe poor old Schumacher will never draw pole - maybe someone will
draw it three times. But it would add to the excitement and promote
Unfortunately, or perhaps luckily, Ecclestone cannot impose his
'No - we're a democracy,' the diminutive Briton scowled.
'Actually, it's even worse - a lot of the regulations require a
unanimous vote to change them. So it's difficult to get change at
Ferrari admit performance-deficit
Ferrari has owned-up to a performance-deficit in hotter weather
Track-temperatures rose beyond 50-degrees on Friday and Saturday at
Sepang and team boss Jean Todt says it is 'useless to compare'
Malaysia to Australia.
'We have completely different tyres here,' said the Frenchman.
'But we know that when temperatures go higher it is not in our favour.'
Michael Schumacher still led the pre-qualifying pace on Saturday but
only by a few hundredths of a second to the Michelin-shod Williams of
Juan Pablo Montoya.
The next 9-cars, representing 7 F1 outfits, were covered by less than
BMW-Williams get Bahrain advantage?
BMW-Williams already have an advantage going-into the inaugural
The Grove-based team ran a 2003-specification FW25 with test-driver
Marc Gene at the $150m facility last week as part of the track's
'We were also offered the opportunity,' said McLaren chief Ron Dennis.
The Mercedes-powered team's representative at the desert-facility near
Manama was a 50-year-old W196 originally driven by Juan Manuel Fangio
to the title.
Dennis said he would have taken a new car to Bahrain but he was
invited to run his demo-racer at the Shanghai track in China - but the
event was cancelled.
The McLaren boss said BMW-Williams would have learned a little about
'But the most frustrating thing,' Ron said, 'is that we weren't
allowed to go there and survey the circuit with GPS - so I think
Williams have an advantage.'
Frank Williams, however, moved to appease his miffed McLaren chum.
'We weren't allowed to use our own proper equipment either,' said the
F1 bosses reject budget-cap idea
Formula One's top-bosses have rejected the notion of a budget-cap.
Ford chief Richard Parry-Jones said accountants should keep-tabs on a
maximum-expenditure for each team and impose penalties for those who
spend too much.
'No comment,' said a disinterested Ferrari boss Jean Todt. 'Not
Sir Frank Williams said competing for the 'best deals' was part of
motor racing - or indeed any business - and spending money prudently
was a good team's 'cap.'
IMPOSSIBLE TO POLICE
McLaren's Ron Dennis said the regulation would be 'impossible to
Not surprisingly, Ford-owned Jaguar's Tony Purnell likes the idea.
'It would make it a very interesting business and technical exercise
to try and do the best job on a fixed budget. It would certainly
revolutionize the sport.'
A budget-cap would, however, see an end to the idea of 'technical
'You'd have to close all the back doors,' said Purnell, 'but I don't
see it as difficult to police as some people would imagine. It would
be law of the land.'
Dennis has signed new McLaren contract
Formula One boss Ron Dennis has no plans to retire.
The CEO and part-owner of top-team McLaren rejected recent
quit-speculation in the best possible way - by announcing the
extension of a company contract.
'I'm passionate about the McLaren brand,' he said in Malaysia.
'I have no intention of walking away from the team.'
MAKING A PLAN
Dennis is, however, making a plan to generate more depth in management
so that when the day does come for him to call it a day, McLaren can
'You can fall ill, you can go under a bus ... you can retire,' he
'All of these things should be preceded by a plan.'
The McLaren chief said he does not have an intention to work for the
rest of his life 'but I have no immediate plans - and I certainly
won't retire a loser.'
F1 prone to terrorist attack: Bernie
It is impossible to protect Formula One from a terrorist attack.
That's the belief of race-impresario Bernie Ecclestone who told the
Daily Telegraph that no extra measures are to be in place for the
'I'm not going to panic,' he told the paper. 'Not at all.'
The journalist asked Ecclestone how he can simply answer in the
negative when other sports are going-crazy with terms such as
'vigilance' and 'security' ... ?
'I just say it,' Bernie insists.
'To actually police our sport is very difficult. We've got tracks with
seven-hundred to eight-hundred acres of land and an event that runs
for four days.
'We can't run a team of border police.'
Trulli bemoans Sepang 'cauldron'
Jarno Trulli was drenched in sweat as he climbed from his Renault R24
It was 37-degrees at Sepang on Friday and again more than 50-degrees
on the track in Saturday practice - conditions the Italian described
'I try and open the visor but the car has no cooling for the drivers.
'It would damage the aero performance - it's like a cauldron for us.'
Trulli enjoys the Malaysian lay-out and said it is a drivers' circuit
meaning that the better drivers can open-up a bigger advantage to
'I just wish they'd turn down the heat,' he puffed.
Saturday in Malaysia: track notes
Michael Schumacher had a harmless-spin at Turn-9 in Saturday practice.
Fernando Alonso, so far about 6-tenths slow, predicts a close
'We know what we have to do,' said the Spaniard.
Large containers holding water are giving BMW-Williams' crew respite
to cool-down at the circuit, while dry-ice equipped ventilators do the
same for cars.
Jaguar tester Bjorn Wirdheim did NOT encounter an engine-problem on
'We know that wasn't it,' said team boss Tony Purnell.
Jarno Trulli, Renault ace, said Sepang is bumpier in 2004 than in the
'Particularly under braking for Turn 4,' said the Italian. 'Fairly big
bumps have appeared on the track surface, and we have had to adapt how
Jordan's EJ14 cars carry a message of 'Equality' on the engine-covers.
The Bahrain-sponsored message is to change at every grand prix this
Meanwhile, Ferrari's pursuit for excellence seemingly never-ends with
news that tester Luciano Burti turned laps at Fiorano (Italy) on
The Brazilian shook-down some electronic solutions in an older car.
And F1 teams Toyota and BMW-Williams announced new-deals at the
Toyota has joined-forces with Toyoda, a world-leader in machine tools,
and Williams' deal is with Boysen, a manufacturer of complete exhaust
Richards slams Ferrari
An F1 boss has slammed Ferrari for resisting a change to the
BAR-principal David Richards told the Daily Telegraph that most rivals
wanted to overhaul the highly-criticized 'back-to-back' system ahead
of the Malaysian GP.
'Until the team in red are prepared to put the interests of the sport
ahead of their own nothing will change,' the Englishman said at the
Richards said a 'broad agreement' to change the format now exists.
'But it needs all the teams to vote it through,' he said.
Ferrari principal Jean Todt has defended Maranello's reluctance to
embrace change-after-change in the wider interest of giving some
stability to F1 rules.
'I can understand that,' Richards told the newspaper.
'But when something is so obviously wrong, it makes no sense to do
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