F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 13, 2004
Briatore's future formula
One engine per two-day grand prix weekend, an end to the current tire
war - this is how Renault managing director Flavio Briatore sees the
future of Formula One.
'The objective must be to reduce spending,' he told L'Equipe magazine.
'At the same time we've got to put on a better show.'
Briatore, the flamboyant Italian, believes the F1 'show' is not good
'And it costs so much that people can't understand why it isn't
He would like to see an extension to the new 'long life' engine
regulations, a reduction of the three day weekend to just two, and a
'control' supply of tires.
'And we should cut speeds too - because the FIA will crack down on us
Briatore reckons it is up to the teams to anticipate changes like
'Qualifying has got to be better,' he added. 'We've got to find new
technical ways to inspire overtaking. Our 'customers' have got to be
Button ends test on top
Jenson Button ended a busy testing week at Circuit de Catalunya on
The Briton, on Friday, led his BAR team-mate Takuma Sato and world
champion Michael Schumacher, who drives a scarlet Ferrari, by a few
tenths of a second.
'It's been a difficult test with the weather,' said the 24-year-old.
'Fortunately we've got another test next week at Paul Ricard.'
Pedro de la Rosa went fourth quickest in a MP4-19 McLaren.
Jaguar, BMW-Williams and Sauber also ran in the intermittently wet
Renault packed up on Thursday afternoon after another sodden day in
'The new engine looks promising for the next grands prix,' said chief
test engineer Christian Silk. 'We've only had a few minor problems
along the way.'
* Last week, BAR's Anthony Davidson clocked up 1100kms over two wet
days at Valencia in the 'concept' car. 'I look forward to testing in
Vairano,' he said.
And Luca Badoer kicked off a new testing week on Monday when he
started a car development programme in the F2004 Ferrari at the team's
rainy Fiorano track.
BMW-Williams spoiled BAR innovation
F1 team BMW-Williams lodged an official complaint about a radical rear
wing design that appeared on the podium-getting BAR of Jenson Button
The governing FIA reacted by banning the 'three plane' solution.
England's 'Sunday Mirror' reports that BAR argued a third element was
legal because it was only connected to the legal second wing-aspect by
'[It] has been batted around in the Technical Working Group,' said a
He said Williams 'couldn't afford' BAR having the advantage of running
Another source denied that the Brackley team would protest the FIA's
Nonetheless, BAR-Honda's development programme continues unabated.
'You have to keep finding performance,' said technical director Geoff
Willis, 'and we've got other improvements coming for the next grand
prix at Imola.'
Toyota admit contact with Ralf
Ralf Schumacher has not signed a three-year contract to drive for
The Cologne team, through a spokesperson, rejected speculation of
Munich paper TZ that a $63 million switch from F1 team BMW-Williams
has now been completed.
'We admit we have had contacts with drivers including Ralf,' he said.
'But we haven't signed him. We're not even close as far as I know.'
Schumacher, 28, flew from the Circuit de Catalunya race track on
Friday after just a few tours in his FW26 while a statement claimed he
had a back strain.
Former GP winner Johnny Herbert scoffed at reports that Ralf is worth
'There's no way he's worth anywhere near that,' he told the Sunday
'The way he's driving and behaving I'd say he's worth about $10.'
Ralf and Michael fell out
Ralf and Michael Schumacher aren't getting along as well as they used
UK tabloid 'News Of The World' claims that the German brothers didn't
sit next to each other in the Bahrain F1 drivers' briefing because
their wives fell out.
'It is obvious something has happened,' one 'driver' source told the
Ralf pulls out with back pain
Ralf Schumacher pulled out of a test session in Barcelona with 'back
A BMW-Williams statement claimed that the German was 'forced to leave
the circuit early' after just five tours of the Spanish F1 facility on
Dixon finds pace in Spain
Scott Dixon has done his Formula One aspirations no harm.
The Kiwi ran for three days at Circuit de Catalunya last week and left
the Spanish track just a tenth slower than Ferrari's Rubens
Barrichello on Friday.
His BMW-powered FW26 mount left him feeling a bit battered, though.
'Gear changing is like someone punching you,' the 23-year-old said.
And the Williams' steering wheel is slightly more complicated than his
'There are probably 40 buttons on the wheel,' Dixon marveled.
Scott also compared well to German team racer Ralf Schumacher, who
only managed to outpace the New Zealand born rookie by just two tenths
earlier in the week.
Sato likes revised BAR
Takuma Sato likes the newest aerodynamic modifications to his
'It's been a good test here at Barcelona,' the Japanese said on
Sato said the 006 racer should also have a new-spec Honda engine at
'It all looks quite promising,' he continued.
Podium-getter and team-mate Jenson Button also participated in the
Spanish session after a brief pitstop at the Brackley factory located
A statement said he 'thanked the team' for their part in his Bahrain
Honda's engineering director Shuhei Nakamoto owned up to a problem on
one engine at Circuit de Catalunya 'which we'll address' this week at
Paul Ricard (France).
BAR is also scheduled to run at the Vairano track in Italy.
Scott Dixon's mum reckons the IRL champion was a little disappointed
after testing a Formula One car over three days at the Circuit de
Catalunya last week.
'He didn't feel he accomplished much,' Glenys told the NZ press.
The weather in Spain was dreadful and Scott's BMW-Williams broke down
Glenys continued: 'So he didn't really get the chance to put really
good times on the board. But he was happy with the team which was very
Bernie's house sets new Guinness record
The Guinness Book of Records is likely to note the sale of a house in
F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone has just sold his 12-bedroom
residence, with a jewelled basement swimming pool, to a steel magnate
for $129 million dollars.
It is the most expensive house ever sold.
The house in London boasts Turkish baths and sits near Kensington
Lakshmi Mittal, who bought the house, said the sale is not yet
A spokesman added: 'It's a very large sum [of money] and while the two
sides have exchanged contracts, these things are never over until
The current Guinness record is for a $114 million house in Hong Kong.
Stoddart slams top team 'wasters'
Give it $184 million, and Minardi will challenge Ferrari for the F1
Team boss Paul Stoddart said cash-laden BMW-Williams and McLaren are
'wasters' for spending their money in the wrong places to win the
Formula One series.
'Ron [Dennis'] motor home cost almost more than it does to take the
whole of my team to a race,' the Australian recently told Britain's
'The People' newspaper.
'I can't believe they can't do a good enough job with the budgets they
Stoddart says his F1 drivers have completed 'more laps' than McLaren
'That shows what a great job we do,' he continued.
'Unfortunately my hands are tied with my budget.'
McLaren name 'scapegoat'
A 'scapegoat' has been named for McLaren's dismal start to the F1
England's authoritative 'The Observer' newspaper claims that engine
building firm Ilmor's managing director, Hans-Ulrich Maik, is to
shortly depart the team.
Moreover, Ilmor owner Mercedes is to order a review of its F1
In July, boss Jurgen Hubbert hands over to Wolfgang Bernhard and the
German might not be as keen on the 40 percent ownership of McLaren as
Schu denies F1 should slow down
Michael Schumacher denies that Formula One cars should be slowed down.
The six-times world champion told Autosport that he disagrees with
drivers like Jarno Trulli who reckon their 900bhp GP-monsters are
speeding out of control.
FIA boss Max Mosley has ordered technical chiefs to find a way to slow
'I don't think the speeds are dangerous or problematic,' said
The German knows that per-lap times are an average 3.5 seconds quicker
in 2004, mostly due to the Michelin/Bridgestone tyre war and advances
'I don't think we need to make a change,' the 35-year-old insists.
'There is no need to panic right now.'
Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello agrees there is 'no rush' to make
'I haven't got a problem with the speeds,' assents BAR speedster
Turkey track ahead of schedule
Turkey's new F1 circuit is speeding along two months ahead of
The country's motorsport federation boss Mumtaz Tahincioglu told
Reuters that Hermann Tilke and his team would try to have it finished
by the end of 2004.
He said the 'final layer' of the track should be down by August next
NO TOBACCO ADS
'That's when the race is planned,' said Tahincioglu.
Turkey's track, in Kurtkoy near Istanbul, is costing $110 million to
build, and Tahincioglu also confirmed that F1 tobacco advertising
would not be permitted.
'But if someone paints their car with the colours of a cigarette
company without the brand name on it,' he concluded, 'we cannot do
anything about that.'
Pantano as Ambassador
Giorgio Pantano has been named a 'Special Ambassador' for Padova.
The city mayor, Giustina Destro, said the Jordan ace, who was born in
the nearby town of Padua, should formally represent the Italian region
all over the world.
25-year-old Pantano flew direct from Bahrain to Padova last week.
In a ceremony at city hall, he was awarded a medal and Giorgio
presented some Irish Waterford Crystal glasses and a letter from F1
team boss Eddie Jordan.
'I will enjoy going around the world representing my town,' said
FIA rules out ex-drivers as stewards
F1's governing FIA has ruled out appointing former drivers as race
Race director Charlie Whiting argues that it would not stop
'controversial decisions' on the GP tracks, according to a report on
the Williams website.
'I have nothing against ex-drivers - on the contrary,' he said.
'But I don't think it would solve any problems.'
He uses, as an example, the notorious clash of Juan Pablo Montoya and
Rubens Barrichello in the US Grand Prix, in which the former Colombian
Whiting said he spoke to two 'prominent' ex-drivers about the Indy
'They had completely different views,' he said. 'We have a system that
Charlie said disagreements were 'in the nature' of any referee's
The jury's out on F1 youngsters
The jury is out on who is able to steal Michael Schumacher's Formula
Ferrari's six-times champion admits that Fernando Alonso, the
22-year-old Spaniard, and McLaren star Kimi Raikkonen, are best of the
'[Raikkonen] had a great 2003 season,' Schumacher told La Gazzetta
'... and Fernando Alonso is on the up.'
But we're not going to discover this season which is the next F1
'Only when they both have a car that enables them to consistently
fight for first place,' said Michael Schumacher, 'will we finally
understand who is best.'
Todt to succeed Mosley?
Jean Todt has emerged as favourite to succeed Max Mosley as FIA
Ferrari's current sporting director is under contract for three more
years and Mosley has earmarked the Frenchman as someone who'd be an
'But as far as I know,' said Max, 'he's happy ... in his present
F1 team boss Eddie Jordan also responded to the rumour in F1 Racing
'It seems plausible,' the Irishman commented.
'Jean is very experienced in this area, and the fact that he is on the
FIA World Motor Sport Council shines more light on him. It's a ...
Button's not too polite
Jenson Button is not 'too polite' to become world champion.
The view that a driver has to be 'bonkers' or overly aggressive to win
a fight with Michael Schumacher is pedalled by former 1996 world
champion Damon Hill.
But it's not shared by 24-year-old Button's BAR principal Dave
He told 'The Times' that signing the Briton was 'never a gamble.
'He's pleasant ... because that's his nature.
'But I see him in meetings and there's plenty of steel.'
Button, who stole debut consecutive podiums in Malaysia and Bahrain
this season, has got the perfect antidote for those who think he's too
weak for the top.
'They're wrong,' Richards continued.
DR said Jenson dealt 'comprehensively' in 2003 with ex-champ Jacques
Gascoyne installs duel design teams
Mike Gascoyne has nearly installed 'phase one' of his plan for Toyota.
The Briton, who switched from Renault on a multi-million dollar salary
late last season, is enacting the same duel design teams as is now in
place at Enstone.
Gascoyne's overlapping teams ensure that as one group of designers
develops and improves their current racer, another works exclusively
on the next F1 charger.
Team driver Cristiano da Matta knows that Toyota needs to work on
'For Imola we have quite a few modifications,' the Brazilian told
Team-mate Olivier Panis, meanwhile, said Cologne's test team is now
moving from Barcelona to Paul Ricard (France) as it boasts
similarities to the Imola layout.
'The kerbs are similar,' the French veteran noted.
'We've really struggled [over the kerbs] at Imola in the past.'
Montoya vows to stay positive
Juan Pablo Montoya has vowed to stay positive despite bad luck in
The Colombian, 28, had put his 'tusk nosed' FW26 Williams in a
comfortable third position in the Gulf state but a gearbox failure saw
him demoted to thirteenth.
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, by contrast, has scooped a clean sweep
'You've got to go for it in every race,' said Montoya.
NOT AS QUICK
'You've got to score as many points as possible on the day.'
Although he's off to McLaren in 2005, Juan Pablo is convinced that his
current BMW-powered employer has the wares to close to the gap to the
'We're not as quick as we want to be,' he added.
'But it's not like we're ten spots away.'
Schu unlikely to perform sweep
Six-times champion Michael Schumacher has sniffed at claims that he's
likely to perform an unprecedented clean sweep of victories in his
latest model Ferrari.
The German has already scooped up 2004's first three flyaway grands
'I did not expect to win in Malaysia and Bahrain,' he told La
'I have to say we had some good luck ... like with the temperatures.
'I'm certain [the clean sweep] will not happen.'
Schumacher, 35, also rejected speculation that McLaren is spiralling
into a period of reduced competitiveness from where it is unlikely to
He said the silver team is going through a 'black period.
'But recall 1996, and where Ferrari stood [then]. Look where we stand
F1 looks to Libya
Formula One might one day race in African country Libya.
It is understood that Colonel Qadhafi cancelled a scheduled visit to
the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix but instead sent his deputy, PM
UN sanctions against Libya were suspended in April 1999 when Qadhafi,
who had seized power in a military coup in 1969, decreased his support
F1 has not raced on the continent since the South African GP of 1993.
Schu rules out manager role
Michael Schumacher does not want to be a Formula One team boss.
In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Ferrari driving
world champion said when he finally hangs up his scarlet helmet, he
won't try a manager role.
'I know what my limits are,' he told the Italian publication.
GP winner Gerhard Berger, former BMW motor sport director, and failed
Formula One team owner Alain Prost are famous examples of F1
'I wouldn't like it either,' said Schumacher, 'as it's too complex.'
Minardi brings on top F1 drivers
Paul Stoddart does not gauge his own personal F1 success with world
The Minardi chief said that, in competing with the mammoth budgets of
Ferrari, McLaren and Toyota, he prefers to focus on bringing on the
sport's top drivers.
Giancarlo Fisichella and Jarno Trulli started in F1 at the Italian
And rising aces Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso got their birth in
'Every year we bring someone into the sport,' Stoddart told The
The Australian said F1's grandees don't give Minardi 'any credit' for
BAR supporters should 'wake up'
BAR is not teetering on the brink of success, Dave Richards has
The Brackley boss insisted that Jenson Button's run of podiums in
Malaysia and Bahrain this year does not indicate an imminent run to
the world championship.
'Anyone who thinks [that] is deluding themselves,' he told The Times.
Some commentators claim that Honda-powered BAR is set to join
traditional top F1 teams Ferrari, BMW-Williams and McLaren in the
sport's elite as early as 2005.
'It just won't [happen],' Richards said in the British broadsheet.
But he also claimed that Ferrari's momentum can't roll on forever.
'The day is coming when another team picks up the mantle,' said DR.
'It'll probably be a young team ... like us.'
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