F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 26, 2004
Bahrain tried to cancel grand prix
Two weeks ago, Bahrain tried to cancel its first-ever Formula One
Circuit supervisor Philippe Gurdjian had decided there was 'no way'
the $150m-facility would be ready but F1-supremo Bernie Ecclestone
simply said 'No.'
'So we just had to get more people in to get the job finished,' he
NOT 100% READY
Gurdjian told Autosport that the circuit in Sakhir, set to host
round-three of the 18-race calendar next weekend, is not '100 percent'
ready for Formula One.
But 'it's finished,' he told the magazine, 'and the race will go
The Bahrain Grand Prix is Formula One's first in the Middle East
Oastler quits Jaguar
Jaguar's chief engineer Malcolm Oastler has announced his retirement.
The Australian said he would give-up motorsport altogether in mid-June
to return to his native country because the 'lure of the southern sun'
proved too strong.
Oastler, fired by BAR in 2002, only joined the team-in-green 14 months
He spent twenty-years in motorsport but now wants to set-up a 'rural
'I don't think this is something you should do forever,' said Malcolm.
'I love the technical aspects and the people, but in the end the beach
has won the day.'
Jaguar's team-boss David Pitchforth said he was 'sad' to see Oastler
The Australian's designs spanned Formula Ford, F3000, Indycar and
Mosley meets Italian justice minister
Max Mosley sat-down with Italian justice minister Roberto Castelli on
The pair discussed the looming problem of the European Arrest Warrants
law (EAW) which could lead to F1-personnel being prosecuted in the
event of fatal smashes.
'It's a very dangerous sport,' said Mosley, president of the governing
He said he would 'lobby strongly' against what is a 'dangerous
'We want a law that makes it clear that dangerous sports will not be
subject to prosecution unless an act is committed outside the normal
realm of the sport.'
Italy is one of a few European countries yet to enact the EAW.
Castelli said the law was designed for 'terrorists' not 'Formula One
Italy hosts two grands prix per-season, at the Monza and Imola
Schumacher is just like boxer Ali
Michael Schumacher is just like boxing-legend Muhammad Ali.
That's the newest suggestion of F1-impresario Bernie Ecclestone who
insisted that the six-times world champion's dominance of the sport is
'Every sport needs superstars,' he told German magazine
Bernie said: 'Some people want them to fall from their pedestal and
taste defeat. Others want them to keep on winning and become an even
MOMENT OF GREATNESS
The 73-year-old said Ali was someone you either 'loved' or couldn't
But he added: 'Why did you stay up all night watching your
'The millions of people around the world wanted to see whether a
superstar could produce yet another moment of greatness or because
they thought he may lose.'
Schumacher, 35, dominated the first two grands prix of season-2004.
Villeneuve did not receive 'secret' payment
1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve received no such 'secret
government payment' of $12 million to wear a Canadian flag on his F1
The Quebecois' agent denied yesterday's claims of a former
Winter-Olympics gold medallist, Myriam Bedard, who spoke to a
'It's all false,' said Barbara Pollock, wife of JV's agent Craig.
She said Jacques or Craig had never received 'any funds' from the
Bedard, who also alleged government-sponsored drug trafficking, said
her former agent Jean-Marc St-Pierre had told her of the F1-scandal in
Montreal in 1998.
St-Pierre recalls informing Bedard that it would cost around $12
million US-dollars if a sponsor wanted to put its name on Jacques
'From there, it went to a secret $12 million fund,' he scowled.
'I swear on the Bible that I said no such thing.'
A federal Public Works spokesman confirmed that Jacques, who retired
from Formula One late last season, received $4500 to display the
Bahrain vows to step-up security
Bahrain has vowed to step-up security ahead of its inaugural F1 grand
Hundreds of rock-throwing demonstrators attacked the US Embassy in
capital-city Manama on Wednesday denouncing the Western world and
inciting a police-riot.
The Sakhir F1-circuit issued a statement on Thursday insisting that
security is of 'paramount importance' ahead of the race-weekend set to
start next Friday.
It said Bahrain would protect against 'vandalism to international
'The onus on the organizers is that of ensuring the safety and
well-being of those attending the event,' said a spokesman for the
Ministry of the Interior.
He said the circuit has the cooperation of various governmental
agencies, as well as the National Guard and certain assets of the
Bahrain Defence Force.
Head wants BMW-Williams to close gap
Patrick Head is leading BMW-Williams' chase of F1 pacesetters Ferrari.
The team technical-director noted that the FW26 was quicker in
Malaysia than in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix but it is
not yet ready to win races.
'We're a clear second in the constructors' championship,' said the
'But Ferrari and Bridgestone are clearly the strongest package at
Clearly, the Michelin pace was closer to Bridgestone's in the Sepang
heat and F1 analysts can expect more of the same as the circus moves
on to the Middle East.
But Ferrari and Michael Schumacher continued to pull-away.
'We can't permit that to continue,' said Williams' technical director.
Toyota has improved: Panis
Toyota made a decent step-forward between the Australian and Malaysian
Race-veteran Olivier Panis was not a happy-Frenchman last Sunday but
he did praise the technical-teams at Cologne for improving on a woeful
'I believe we showed a much improved performance level in Malaysia,'
Panis' TF104 struggled with a lack of grip on the Albert Park track.
The Toyota racer, Olivier, has ten-years of Formula One
'So you have to believe me,' he said, 'when I say that to make such
aerodynamic developments during two overseas races is a real
achievement for any team.'
OP's Toyota featured a new front wing and revised turning-vanes.
Panis' Sepang-smile turned upside-down, however, when 12-laps from the
end, while running tenth, a 'radio communication' problem brought him
into the pits.
'It basically ended my race,' he said of the incident in which he
gesticulated angrily to the Toyota pitwall. 'Needless to say, I was
not so happy.'
Wilson completes Champ Car switch
Justin Wilson will revive his flagging race-career in US-based Champ
The Englishman has signed a contract with Eric Bachelart's 'Conquest
Mi-Jack Racing' having driven for the Jaguar and Minardi Formula One
teams in 2003.
'It is a series I've always admired,' he said of the beleaguered
Wilson, 25, does not expect an easy ride but targeted a couple of
He continued: 'It would be nice to go back to Formula One if the
opportunity arose but I reckon a career in Champ Cars wouldn't be too
bad at all.'
Meanwhile, fellow beleaguered British F1-driver Ralph Firman has
completed a switch to the World Series by Nissan for title-winning
team Gabord Competicion.
The former Jordan star starts his campaign in Jarama (Spain) this
Schu offered armed-guard in Bahrain
Michael Schumacher has been offered an armed-guard for his visit to
The Formula One world champion is set to arrive in the Kingdom next
Wednesday and has been promised one of the King's limousines and an
All touring F1-personnel have been told to be alert in the Middle East
region in light of a high threat of terrorism and protests against the
'The Mirror' reports that Schumacher will not stray from the hotel or
'We are concerned about ... threats to places where Westerners might
gather,' read the latest travel-warning for Bahrain issued by the
British Foreign Office.
BMW-Williams has advised race-personnel to stay-away from capital
And the Schumacher-brothers' manager Willi Weber said he had spoken to
the secretary to the King of Bahrain and he promised the highest level
The German added: 'The King even kindly offered to let Michael stay at
the palace but, with his schedule, Michael did not want to be a
Dixon primed for Formula One shot
Scott Dixon yesterday flew from America to Europe with Formula One on
The New Zealander, reigning IRL champion, is primed to test a
BMW-Williams contender at the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Castellet
(France) later on Friday.
He told a news conference at the scene of June's Indianapolis 500 that
this season did not necessarily represent his last-shot at the fabled
Dixon, 23, laughed on Thursday: 'I'm not gone yet!
TAKE A LOOK
'Everyone's saying I'm going, but this is just a test - ok?'
Williams' technical director Patrick Head said he and team-boss Sir
Frank were keen to 'take a look' at Chip Ganassi's latest
Former Ganassi drivers Alex Zanardi and Juan Pablo Montoya wound up in
'He's openly stated that he'd like to be in Formula One,' Head
F1 cars are 'too fast': Jarno Trulli
The latest brand of Formula One challenger is 'too fast.'
It's not really the kind of opinion you normally hear from a driver
but Renault star Jarno Trulli has called on the rule-makers to curb
the rising speeds of F1.
Trulli, from Italy, is a director of the Grand Prix Drivers'
He told Autosport: 'Normally, us racing drivers are happy to go faster
'... but now the cars are too fast.'
F1 landed on the season-opening tracks at Albert Park (Australia) and
Sepang (Malaysia) and demonstrated advances of multiple-seconds
per-lap over last year.
The tyre-war and aerodynamic advances are most likely to blame.
'It's something the technical people have to sort out,' said Jarno
The F1 Technical Working Group's latest speed-curbing changes were a
single-engine formula and mainly minor-tweaks to the aerodynamic
Sauber vows to improve F1-team's pace
Peter Sauber has vowed to improve the pace of his Formula One team.
Some might assess that a single-point from the first two grands prix
of season-2004 does not represent a great start for the customer
'I've already said it would be extremely hard this year to score
The team-owner added that Sauber was 'happy to get one' in Malaysia.
Sauber, a German-speaking Swiss, is 'convinced' that the C23 has much
It has been criticized as a Ferrari look-alike but Peter prefers to
ignore the knockers and work-on giving his new Formula One drivers a
better car each race.
He said Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa both have new
'I'm sure we'll further grow together and allow us to achieve more,'
A positive sign is the apparent improvement of tyre-supplier
'In Australia we got an all-new construction,' Sauber confirms, 'and
in Malaysia we had the right compound to be competitive even in the
very hot conditions.'
Renault has 'taken it easy' on V10-revs
Jarno Trulli has predicted a 'huge improvement' for his Renault F1
The Enstone-based outfit has already confirmed a step on its new
72-degree F1-engine for the San Marino Grand Prix which takes-place at
Imola next month.
But Trulli, the Italian driver, said Renault may also have been taking
'I think the [engine] evolution will be a huge improvement,' he said.
He and Spanish team-mate Fernando Alonso have been consistently
mid-pack in the speed traps at the first two races of season-2004 in
Australia and Malaysia.
The RS24 is an all-new architecture to combat single-powerplant rules.
It appears to be revving at about 1000rpm under pace-setters Ferrari
and BMW, which a source predicts could translate to an around 30-40
Trulli continued to Autosport magazine: 'At the moment, for the sake
of reliability, we've maybe been prepared to take it a bit easier than
Grass might be greener for Webber
For Mark Webber, the grass might be greener elsewhere in Formula One.
The Aussie raced onto the front-row of the grid for the Malaysian
Grand Prix and in so doing only ramped-up speculation that his future
lies at a bigger-F1 team.
We have no intention of losing him,' said Jaguar boss Tony Purnell.
Tony told Autosport that if the car goes well, 'he'll want to stay.'
The British magazine reckons Webber has asked manager Flavio Briatore
and Jaguar to 'clarify the situation over his future' by the British
Grand Prix this July.
'You always get what you deserve,' Autosport quoted Mark Webber, 27.
'If people think I can go somewhere else, then that's possible.
'You always think it's greener somewhere else but that is not always
Bernie egged-on Villeneuve's F1-rise
Bernie Ecclestone egged-on Jacques Villeneuve's rise to Formula One.
The F1-supremo liked the Indy 500-winning French-Canadian because he
was a character and would help raise the profile of Formula One in the
'Fundamentally, we decided to go with Jacques [in 1996],' said Patrick
Williams' technical-director however, told Reuters new-agency that
Bernie was certainly 'very strongly encouraging us' to run the
reigning Champ Car champion.
'I don't think he feathered our nest in any way,' said Head.
'But he was certainly very keen on that happening.'
In the same way, then, has 73-year-old Ecclestone moved his
influencing-hand to spur-on today's maiden Formula One test of
reigning IRL-champion Scot Dixon?
'He hasn't said anything to us about Scott,' Patrick Head insisted.
Zanardi makes full-time race return
Alex Zanardi makes his full-time return to motor racing this weekend.
The Italian, former Formula One star for Lotus and Williams, lost both
his legs and nearly his life in an horror Champ Car shunt at the
Lausitzring in 2001.
He is to steer a BMW in the ETCC-opener at Monza this weekend.
Zanardi debuted a hand-controlled 320i at the circuit late last
'My expectations are totally different,' the Monaco-based star
He concluded: 'I surprised everybody, including myself, with my pace
in the tests but I want to keep my feet on the ground - if I can say
Bad luck should not have surprised Ralf
A run of bad-luck should not have surprised Ralf Schumacher in
The German got a sneak-preview into the kind of weekend he could
expect in the searing Sepang-heat on Thursday when he arrived at the
track in a BMW 7-series.
Reports say the BMW-Williams star drove it straight into the
wire-fencing which separated his designated parking-space from the
rest of the Formula One paddock.
Schumacher, 28, qualified seventh for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
His race-proper started badly with a poor get-away and then, during a
passing manoeuvre with Mark Webber, he clashed wheels and damaged the
FW26 car's setup.
Schumacher's run ended with the first BMW-V10 failure in seventeen
* The German worked on traction-control at the Paul Ricard test on
Button goes to top of times: Ricard
Jenson Button went to the top of the times at the Paul Ricard test on
The BAR driver led Antonio Pizzonia, who steered one of two
'Ralf [Schumacher] joined the test today,' said Sam Michael, chief
operations engineer for one of the five Formula One teams in action
near Le Castellet.
Pedro de la Rosa put 30-laps on the experimental McLaren carbon-fibre
Frenchman Franck Montagny continued work in the older Renault R24
charger, evaluating a range of Michelin tyres for the beginning of the
'We also tested some tyre solutions for Bahrain,' said Pat Symonds.
Meanwhile, over at Mugello (Italy), Michael Schumacher ran a F2004
That test completed, the German now switches to Fiorano on Friday.
Ferrari tester Luca Badoer drove at the local circuit on Thursday with
an older F2003-GA version for a programme of mainly Bridgestone race-tyre
Jaguar is not 'proper' F1 team: Surtees
Jaguar is not a 'proper' Formula One team, according to John Surtees.
The grey-haired F1-legend, who also won titles on motorcycles, hinted
that the Ford-owned outfit has a history of not running two
'Full marks to Mark Webber,' he said of the Aussie's qualifying in
'It's just a pity [Jaguar] are not a proper two-car team.'
UP TO SPEED
Since inception in 2000, Jaguar's second-car has not been fully
Names including Johnny Herbert, Luciano Burti, Pedro de la Rosa,
Antonio Pizzonia, Justin Wilson, and now Christian Klien, spring
instantly to mind.
Nonetheless, John said Jaguar's Cosworth-powered R5 has real
Surtees, 70, also heard stories about Renault from the Sepang-race.
He told Vodafone Racing: 'I heard they had a large number of holes cut
in the bodywork because of over-heating - maybe this affected their
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