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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 14, 2004


Renault enhance 3D deal
Renault has announced an 'enhanced' deal with partner 3D Systems.

The US-based company provides solid imaging solutions to the F1 outfit for its wind tunnel, and now it has added two selective laser sintering (SLS) systems.

CAR PARTS

It'll allow Renault to manufacture more car parts in-house.

'Working with innovators like Renault ... provides us a glimpse towards a future alternative manufacturing environment,' said 3D Systems' CEO Abe Reichental.








Schu nearly quit after Senna death
When Ayrton Senna's Williams speared off the Imola race circuit a decade ago, the next man down the road was a young German by the name of Michael Schumacher.

Today, the six-times Formula One champion remembers that lap well.

'I can still see the crash,' he said as the 2004 circus moves on to San Marino.

'I was right behind it. When I learned what happened I was upset - for the first time I was confronted with death in my sport. It was a shock for me.'

Schumacher, now 35, admits that he considered his future at 200mph.

He added: 'I didn't know whether I wanted to continue or not.'

Roland Ratzenberger also died on that 1994 weekend in Italy, and Schu's current team-mate Rubens Barrichello broke his nose in a crash at the final chicane.

Weeks later, Karl Wendlinger nearly died in a F1 shunt at Monte-Carlo.

'It left me speechless,' Schumacher continued. 'Senna was an inspiration and gave so much to the sport. I think it's right that F1 is safer because of him.'








Coulthard on top in France
McLaren's race pilots led the pace as F1 testing kicked off at Paul Ricard.

David Coulthard was 3-tenths quicker than Kimi Raikkonen on the Le Castellet track, configured in the 2.5-mile 2E layout with Toyota also in action.

Cristiano da Matta lapped his repackaged TF104 six tenths adrift.

FOUR MORE

The Brazilian grand prix driver amassed a mammoth 144 laps in France.

He was trailed by Australian test driver Ryan Briscoe.

On Wednesday, four more teams - including Renault and BMW-Williams - join in.
Pos Driver Chassis-engine Tires Time Laps
1 David Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes M 1m07.833s 97
2 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes M 1m08.075s 61
3 Cristiano da Matta Toyota M 1m08.687s 144
4 Ryan Briscoe Toyota M 1m08.967s 102







Dixon trip was ... hard work
Scott Dixon's first 'proper' F1 test was hard work before a wheel had turned.

The New Zealander turned up at Indianapolis airport for a flight to Chicago, but it was delayed, so Dixon hopped into a car and drove to the American city.

>From there, he had scheduled a flight to Milan, Italy.

But it, too, was delayed - for four hours.

Once on the plane to Europe, the Boeing developed a mechanical problem halfway across the Atlantic Ocean, so it turned around and landed ... in Boston.

Scott couldn't wait 14 hours, so he boarded a flight for New York City.

Finally, he found a direct route to Barcelona; home of the Circuit de Catalunya.








Ferrari to run Bertolini
Ferrari is to give an Italian a run in its F1 car, this publication can reveal.

The Maranello team has vowed to pit former GT racer Andrea Bertolini alongside regular tester Luca Badoer as Ferrari takes a F2004 car to the Vairano circuit.

30-year-old Bertolini used to drive a 360 Modena in the FIA GT championship.

He is now contracted as 'sports car test driver' for the Ferrari-Maserati Group, and will alternate with his countryman at the Italian track starting Wednesday.

FIORANO

Meanwhile, at Fiorano on Tuesday, Rubens Barrichello continued development of the latest F2004 model under cloudy and often rain-filled skies in Italy.

The Brazilian racer also tested Bridgestone tyres over 46 laps.

* And F1 team Jordan ran alone at the Silverstone circuit starting Tuesday.

Racers Nick Heidfeld and Giorgio Pantano, who stopped with a mechanical problem, tested the EJ14 and worked on Bridgestone tyres, on the first of three days.








Williams work to close Ferrari gap
The speed at which Williams can develop the FW26 is just as important as the speed at which its drivers take it through a corner, according to Sam Michael.

He knows the BMW-powered 'tusk nosed' car is not as quick as Ferrari's.

'I hope Ferrari can't develop its car as we can,' said the operations engineer.

'We have a gap to close. But they'll still be developing as well.'

NOT EASY

Dr Mario Theissen believes Williams must close the time gap to the scarlet cars as quickly as the Oxfordshire-based team were able to last Formula One season.

But that's not going to be easy, says Michael, an Australian.

'You could say it was easier,' he started in reference to season 2003.

'... because, then, there was such a big difference.'







BAR likes Takuma Sato
BAR's bosses like what they see in new Japanese racer Takuma Sato.

Earlier, principal David Richards outlined his belief that the 27-year-old, who was criticised for crashing too much as a Jordan driver, was 'overdriving'.

'Taku is a really aggressive fighter,' DR now tells Espn.com.

'I'm so impressed by him. He doesn't take any prisoners.

WORK ETHIC

'He attacks and fights with anybody.'

The Honda-powered team's technical director Geoff Willis is also impressed, particularly with Sato's dedication to improving the 006 race challenger.

'He did an enormous amount of testing over the winter,' said Geoff.

'He really thrives on it. It is almost difficult to get him out of the car he is so enthusiastic about testing. And he's just getting quicker and quicker.'








Ralf urges F1 team to 'work harder'
Ralf Schumacher believes BMW-Williams can claw back the deficit to Ferrari.

The German has scored only seven points in the three 'flyaway' races so far this season but he is adamant that Grove will improve the FW26 car 'step by step.'

'Last year, we made it from zero to hero in a very short time,' he said.

The difference this time, is that the 'tusk nosed' car is already a good one.

'So we have to work harder,' Schumacher insists.

TAKE TIME

'But I'm sure that at the end of the day we will make it.'

Some analysts reckon the fight back to Ferrari, already miles ahead in the drivers' chase with Ralf's elder brother Michael, is a straight forward thing.

'You're in for a disappointment,' Schu Junior told the 'analysts'.

'Michael will not rest on his laurels. It may take a bit of time to make the [car] refinements. But on the other hand we haven't really got too much time.'

Ralf won his first ever grand prix at Imola in 2001.








F1 cars are too fast: Marc Gene
Marc Gene agrees that Formula One cars are becoming too fast.

The Spanish test driver for top team BMW-Williams sided with Renault racer Jarno Trulli in saying the current crop of F1 car is cornering at a 'dangerous' rate.

'Especially in high speed corners,' he said.

Gene told Autosport: 'It's getting quite dangerous.'

Marc, whose opinion is backed by a resolute FIA president Max Mosley, said the biggest problem is that the cars are difficult to correct at such high speeds.

MORE PHYSICAL

He added: 'I think the speed is coming more from the tyres than the downforce.'

It's also becoming more physical to handle the 900bhp racers, said Marc.

He referred to the big shunts of Ralf Schumacher in testing at Monza last year, and Ralph Firman at Hungary, which put both men out of their cockpits for races.

'I've been thinking about this for over a year,' said Gene.

'If we don't do something, someone will be [seriously] hurt.'








Even Schu couldn't win in a Minardi
Even Michael Schumacher could not turn the fortunes of F1 minnow Minardi.

The six-times world champion said the pinnacle of motor sport, in the modern era, offers the chance of championships to teams only with the biggest budgets.

'I know [owner and boss] Paul Stoddart,' Michael told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

'I like him very much. But if you don't have certain means, it is impossible.'

Schumacher, 35, was asked whether a black and white racer built in Faenza would scale the heights of his winning Ferrari - if steered by the German superstar.

'Me as the driver,' Michael said, 'is just one single element.

'It can't make up for a whole team any more.'








Irvine slams quali format
Former F1 winner Eddie Irvine dislikes the 'back to back' qualifying format.

In fact, the Ulsterman believes 'everyone' hates the new Saturday system.

'It's boring,' the 1999 title runner-up wrote in his column in The Sun.

But, even still, the FIA has vowed to stick with it for the next Imola race.

Irvine added: 'They've missed the point big-time. People want to see the cars ... in a frantic dash for pole with some drivers caught in traffic.'

The controversial format was introduced so all cars, even back of the grid minnows like Minardi and Sauber, get equal television time for sponsors.

But Irvine asks 'what's the point' if no one is watching ... ?

Jaguar's driver of 2002 said the old 60 minute system was 'fascinating.

'This just leaves me bemused,' Irvine added. 'Drivers are scared of spinning and we don't know their real speed because they're all on different fuel loads.'








Senna's legacy is safety: Mosley
Formula One has not lost a driver on the race tracks for a decade.

'And for twelve-and-a-half years before (1994) we hadn't lost a driver,' said former triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart. 'That's pretty impressive.'

The Scot told Reuters that more people die fishing than in F1 cars.

'It doesn't mean to say that tomorrow we can't have a terrible accident.'

Stewart added: 'But what has been done for safety is immense.'

COMPLACENT

Next weekend's trek to Imola marks ten years since Brazilian great Ayrton Senna crashed his Williams at the fast bend which is now a chicane called Tamburello.

FIA president Max Mosley reckons F1 was complacent in the run to 1994.

'I don't believe that's the case any longer,' the Briton added.

He said Senna's legacy is the FIA's safety commission and the research group.

'I think (Imola) was ... when F1 woke up to the idea that safety had to be attacked scientifically and systematically and on an ongoing basis,' said Max.








Zonta enjoying Friday role
Ricardo Zonta is enjoying his new role as a Formula One 'Friday' tester.

The former BAR racer, for the past couple of years, has driven Toyotas.

But in 2004, his main job is to help race drivers Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta choose tyres and hone car set-up by driving the spare car at GP weekends.

'For me, the nicest thing is that I can drive all over the world,' he said.

JETLAG

'It's great because I can also go fast and show my speed to everyone.'

But the job also has its downsides - like all the travel, and jetlag.

'I have to go to all the races, but to all the tests too,' Zonta smiles. 'It's particularly bad with these flyaway races. I'm glad we're back in Europe.'

Last month, Ricardo drove in Melbourne and was already testing the TF104 at a European test circuit by Tuesday. He said: 'So it gets a bit easier now.'







Klien: I'm good enough for F1
Christian Klien wants the world to know he's good enough for Formula One.

The young Austrian is the latest in a line of rookies to start their grand prix race careers at Jaguar Racing - including Luciano Burti and Antonio Pizzonia.

Some believe Milton-Keynes has a habit of not making the most of an untuned ace.

Having looked out of his depth in Australia and Malaysia, Klien - backed by a reported $6 million in Red Bull energy drinks sponsorship - shone in Bahrain.

'I made a couple of mistakes,' he confessed in Autosport magazine.

EVEN KEEL

But Klien says he looked on the pace there because everyone was on an even keel.

'The track was new for all drivers,' he said. 'On Friday and in qualifying on Saturday I was ahead of Mark [Webber], so I was very pleased about that.

'I feel more comfortable in the car now.'

And he could be on for a better showing at the Imola track next weekend; not only will he be on an even keel, Klien knows the layout from Formula Renault.

'I know the track - it's one of my favourites,' said the rookie.








F1's iceman lost his cool
Kimi Raikkonen could not contain his frustration in Bahrain.

Having shoved a marshal when his Mercedes let go two weeks earlier at Sepang, the Finn really let his temper flare as Formula One went racing in the desert.

ERUPT

According to 'The Observer', Raikkonen knew his V10 was on the point of failure.

But he kept his foot hard on the throttle and 'encouraged the V10 to erupt spectacularly behind his shoulders' when it bit the dust during the grand prix.








Dixon disappointed: Part Two
As reported earlier, Scott Dixon was disappointed with his Formula One test.

The New Zealander ran for three days at Circuit de Catalunya last week but was only given a FW26 racer complete with a 'lower revving' BMW engine on day one.

'I put in a pretty good time compared to Marc Gene,' said the IRL champion.

Dixon, 23, said the Spanish tester had a 'better engine' and 'softer tyres.

'So it was good.

'They told me I was going to get the better BMW engine the next day.'

But Spain was sodden on day two, and it was still raining on day three.

The driveshaft broke in the afternoon, and it rained again before he could set a really quick lap. 'Yeah it was a bit disappointing,' said the US-based ace.

'I hope I get another go some time.'








Where did BAR find podium pace?
F1 team BAR-Honda is the big mover of the new grand prix season.

But from where did the Brackley outfit find performance good enough to lift it from behind McLaren and Renault to consecutive podiums in Malaysia and Bahrain?

'We have a lot lighter and smaller engine,' said tech director Geoff Willis.

MORE POWER

The Briton told Espn.com that the Honda is 'a lot more powerful' than in '03, and Willis and his development team has also taken weight out of the 006 car.

'The centre of gravity is lower,' he continued.

'And the absolute aerodynamic figures are a big step forward.'

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