F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 1, 2004

Schumacher hates air-conditioning
Six-times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher hates air-conditioners.

The German is so averse to them that in the sticky heat of Kuala-Lumpur a couple of weeks ago he refused to ride in a cooled-car on the way to Sepang's F1 track.

His solution? - a huge, naturally-cooled Harley Davidson.

According to a Ferrari sponsor's website, fans were impressed to see the back-to-back grand prix winner roll into the car-park in Malaysia on the motorcycle.


Olympus' website added that Schumacher often asks officials to turn-off the media-centre's air-conditioning when participating in event press conferences.

* Meanwhile, the F1-circus may be in the Middle East, but the world's only 900 horsepower howls emanated from the Ferrari test-track in Italy on Wednesday.

Test-driver Luca Badoer, in an older car, put a few laps on some 'electronic solutions' that Michael Schumacher will use in the weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Schu was not offered 'preferential' treatment
Organisers of the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix have refuted claims that six-times world champion Michael Schumacher was offered 'preferential treatment.'

The German's manager Willi Weber told the media last week that Schumacher was offered one of the King's limousines, an official residence, and an armed-guard.

A statement issued on Wednesday denied that Ferrari's driver was 'singled out.'

The Ministry of Interior and race-organisers insisted that every visitor to the island, including F1-personnel, are being afforded the 'same' protection levels.


This publication confirmed earlier in the week that Jaguar's Formula One stars including Mark Webber were also provided with personal armed security-guards.

'While we have some extremely high-profile visitors,' said Colonel Bin Daineh, 'we are treating everyone with the same levels and standards of security.

'We want everyone to enjoy their stay with us.'

He added that 'extensive security plans' are to be 'as unobtrusive' as possible.

Winner to get sweeter-than-usual shower
Michael Schumacher's podium-shower is likely to be a little sweeter than usual.

Organisers of the inaugural F1-race in the Middle East on Wednesday confirmed that top-three drivers will get a bottle of 'Warrd' to spray in celebration.

Champagne is not allowed, in deference to the Islamic traditions of Bahrain.

'Warrd' has been specially-made for the inaugural grand prix and is a 'unique blend of locally-grown fruit' - pomegranate and trinj - mixed with rosewater.


'The winner's celebration ... is synonymous with the sport of Formula One,' said circuit chairman Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa at a tasting in Sakhir.

He added that Bahrain wants to maintain the 'traditional ceremony' of Formula One but to do it with a non-alcoholic beverage in keeping with Islam's laws.

The Shaikh added: 'The [podium] ceremony will be a unique occasion and a reminder of the traditions that make Bahrain a memorable place to hold the GP.'

Atmosphere 'frantic' in cloudy Sakhir
The atmosphere at the Bahrain International Circuit is 'frantic.'

A circuit spokesman on Wednesday said a few Formula One drivers have been hanging-around since Monday and the teams are busy setting-up shop in pitlane.

'It's pretty frantic,' he told local publications.

'But it is always the same wherever you go.'


The spokesman, in preparation for reporting to local media, said he had been speaking to members of certain teams and they all 'love' the desert-circuit.

'They are happy with what they have here,' he continued.

Top of the plaudits, he said, was Sakhir's warm but less-humid weather.

'They love it here,' the spokesman added, 'especially compared to Malaysia.'

For the record, a local television weather-report on Wednesday evening said Thursday is heading for a cloudy top of 32 before 30 for Friday's practice.

Schu brothers: Formula One is 'taboo'
Grand Prix racing's world-famous brothers never talk about Formula One.

Ralf Schumacher, the younger of the German siblings, told 'Bunte' that F1 is a 'taboo topic' now that he shares the top few rows of the grid with his brother.

35-year-old Michael Schumacher is Ferrari's six-times world champion.

'We still talk to each other like in the past,' said Ralf, six-years younger.


'But F1 is a taboo-topic because we've become such rivals professionally.'

Michael insists that his relationship with Ralf, the BMW-Williams driver, does not suffer just because the pair share a million-dollar salaried profession.

'I see Ralf every two weeks,' he said, according to Reuters.

'How many others can say they see their brother that often?'

Stewart backs F1's move to Middle East
Sir Jackie Stewart has backed Formula One's move to the Middle East.

The triple-world champion Scot walked into the Bahrain International Airport's VIP-lounge on Wednesday afternoon on the arm of his wife of 42-years, Helen.

'She travels with me everywhere,' a smiling JYS told Gulf Daily News.

Stewart was on the Gulf Island two-weeks ago for the circuit's inauguration.

'I am very impressed with Bahrain, always have been,' he said.


'I believe F1 will emphasise Bahrain more to the eyes of the world.'

The former driver and grand prix team owner, still a board-member of the Jaguar Racing Formula One squad, said it 'makes sense' to have a race in the region.

'We all know what these cars use in the engine,' he said, referring to petrol.

'Well, it comes from this part of the world, doesn't it?

'This is an exciting time and I'm happy to be here to witness it.'

Talk of the desert town is ... security
The talk of the town at Bahrain's new F1 track is ... security.

Armed members of the National Guard stand at entry-points around the $150 million facility and the British government is still warning tourists not to go.

A standing statement of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office warns: '... [there is] a threat of terrorism against western, including British, targets.'

All ten F1-teams are based in Britain or other parts of western-Europe.


The warning about the Middle East island of Bahrain adds: 'We are particularly concerned about potential ... threats to places where westerners might gather.'

Bahrain's Ministry of the Interior countered the threat by insisting that 'all necessary security measures' are in place to ensure a 'safe and enjoyable' stay.

Ministry spokesman Colonel Tariq Mubarak Bin Daineh noted that the inaugural Bahrain GP is the largest sporting event of its kind to be held in the Gulf.

'We are concentrating all our resources,' he said.

'... we're trying to ensure the safety of all those involved in the race.'

Bahrain didn't try to cancel GP
Philippe Gurdjian has denied claims that he tried to cancel the Bahrain GP.

The track-consultant was reported by agencies as having asked F1-impresario Bernie Ecclestone to delay the event for one year because it was not prepared.

Autosport reported that the 73-year-old F1-boss, Bernie, simply said 'No.'

'It's all just not true,' Philippe told local publications on Wednesday.


'I've been here for a couple of months to solve all the problems so we can have a good race - to be the best in the world. I don't know where it came from.'

Gurdjian, though, confessed that 'everything' at Sakhir is not ready to roll.

'It's very difficult - we got this done in very little time,' he said.

'There are some details which, of course, are not going to be perfect.'

Not as hot as expected in Bahrain
It's not as hot in Bahrain as the world of Formula One had expected.

Japanese ace Takuma Sato was the first driver to touch-down in the Gulf Island state on the weekend and was pleased that insufferable-heat did not welcome him.

'It's cooler - a lot cooler - that I thought it would be,' said BAR's star.

'I hope it stays like that.'


In pitlane on Wednesday, Ferrari's logistics manager instructed the set-up of Michael Schumacher's garage and he, too, was surprised by the desert-town skies.

'The weather is different,' said Miodrag Kotur, 'to what we were told about.'

The Italian-based team's number-two driver Rubens Barrichello arrived in capital-city Manama on Wednesday and hoped to have a competitive car here.

'Our car was fast enough in the first two races,' said the Brazilian.

'So why should it not be the same way here?'

Stewart warns Europe will 'lose' F1-races
Sir Jackie Stewart is worried about the 'old world' of Formula One.

The Scot touched-down in Bahrain on Wednesday having attended the launch of the impressive-looking 'A1 Grand Prix' series in nearby Middle East region Dubai.

'The old world can't emulate what the new world is achieving,' he frowned.

Stewart is a triple-world champion and former Formula One team-owner, but he also represents Northamptonshire GP-circuit Silverstone as BRDC club president.


He told the Times: '... we just can't match what's going on.

'Whether it is England, Germany or France.'

Bahrain's $150m facility in the desert of Sakhir had the funding support of the government, as do a rising order of potential venues in the Far and Middle East.

'If we don't get [support], we just cannot compete,' said Jackie.

'So we've got to change. If we can't change, we will lose our grands prix.'

F1 teams impressed with Bahrain circuit
Formula One's ten teams are impressed with what they're finding in Bahrain.

Sauber manager Walter Totschnig is overseeing the setting-up of team-equipment in the Sakhir pitlane and he lauded the $150 million-facilities as 'fantastic.

'We're all very impressed,' he said.

'The people are also very friendly. It's the new dimension of F1.'

Logistics-manager for the world champion Ferrari team Miodrag Kotur was last here in mid-2003 and he recalls that Bahrain was 'nowhere near ready' for F1.


'Now when I see it, it is the best,' he added.

Jordan's chief mechanic Andy Stevenson stood-over the undressed yellow-cars and marvelled at the sight of the nine-storey VIP-tower and pit-straight grandstand.

'Compared to some other circuits,' he said, 'it's brilliant.

'We've been given all the help we need and working-conditions are good.'

Team-rookie Giorgio Pantano spent part of Wednesday walking the sandy-circuit.

'The first turn looks tricky,' said the Italian.

'I'm not sure how all the cars will get round it on the first lap.'

Bahrain 'glue' sand to desert surrounds
Sand is, almost quite literally, on the lips of F1-personnel in Bahrain.

Engineers are worried about what effect racing in a desert location might have on the Formula One challengers, particularly their high-revving V10 powerplant.

'Of course, we can't simulate it on the test bench,' engine manager at Ferrari, Mattia Binotto, said. 'It's something you don't want inside an engine ...

'... it can do a lot of damage to the internal components.'

The Italian said Ferrari had given the problem 'some thought' and the scarlet team's F2004 cars are likely to feature added protection to the air-intakes.


'But we won't really know what we need until we see the situation.'

Bahrain's organisers have informed all teams that a 'special glue' has been sprayed on the sand surrounding the track to stop it from blowing on the tarmac.

An additional 'film' was put on-top of the 'glue.'

But race-spokesman Martin Whitaker said Bahrain can't glue the 'entire desert.'

'It's as much as we can do,' he told The Guardian.

'The only other thing we can do is hope it will be alright.'

Indianapolis Speedway to be resurfaced
Indianapolis' fabled Motor Speedway is to get a $2m surface-repaving.

Circuit officials said the venue, home of world-famous race events including the United States F1 Grand Prix, should get its upgrade started around mid-August.

Indy's last surface-upgrade was in 1995, but that was not a complete repaving.

A spokesman told us that the Formula One infield will remain untouched.

'It's only been there since 1999,' he said.


Speedway President Tony George defended the surface as one of the world's best.

'It's just been a few years,' he said, 'and we have the opportunity.'

Sources report that the Speedway sports brittle cracks caused by cold winters and snowfall and the high-forces of suction caused by aerodynamic open-wheelers.

But IRL champion and F1-hopeful Scott Dixon has a more cynical suspicion.

'They've always got some project going,' the New Zealander said.

'I guess they need tax write-offs.'

Rubens has solution for wild drivers
Rubens Barrichello has the perfect solution for the world's wildest road-users.

'Put them on a race track,' he told local journalists in Malaysia two weeks ago.

Ferrari's star still lives in sprawling Sao Paulo and anyone who has driven in the Brazilian city knows that most young-men seem to think they are Barrichello.


Rubens refers to a current road-safety programme in his birth-city.

'We encourage youngsters to come and drive their cars on the track,' he said.

'It's done under supervision and has contributed to safety on our roads.'

Austria demolishes axed F1-circuit
Austria is re-vamping its axed Formula One venue.

The A1-Ring lost its traditional mid-year berth on the grand prix schedule this season and circuit-owners are using the opportunity to improve the facilities.

Autosport reports that demolition-work began on Monday.

200m EUROS

The pit-facilities and main-straight grandstands are the first to go on the circuit in Spielberg as part of a 200 million Euros refurbishment of the track.

Energy-drink Red Bull owns the venue.

F1-supremo Bernie Ecclestone cancelled the contract for the Austrian Grand Prix last year because the government supported anti-tobacco legislation in the EU.

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