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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 15, 2004


Bertolini makes Ferrari debut
Andrea Bertolini made his debut in a Formula One car on Wednesday.

The Italian 'sports test driver' for the Ferrari-Maserati Group got behind the wheel of a F2004 single-seater as the Scuderia verified aerodynamic figures.

Bertolini, 30, ran up and down the long straight at sunny Vairano (Italy).

He covered a few more than 300 kilometres, said Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni, and is scheduled to continue the confirmation tests on Thursday.

Meanwhile, at the team's own circuit in nearby Fiorano, race ace Rubens Barrichello tested new components and Bridgestone tyres in another F2004.

The Brazilian's best time was a rapid 56.838.

He'll hand over to world champion Michael Schumacher on Thursday.








BAR trials 'Ferrari style' wing
Jenson Button's BAR looked a little like a Ferrari on Wednesday afternoon.

The Briton was fastest of all at the Paul Ricard test in southern France as the Brackley team tried an aerodynamic innovation just behind his car's airbox ...

... a 'F2004 style' wing mounted on the engine cover.

REVISIONS

BAR is trialling its full Imola-spec aero revisions at the High Tech Test Track this week which also includes a reworked front wing, also debuted in France.

Moreover, the 006 has a Honda power upgrade which should be ready for Imola.

Button, 24, scored maiden podiums at the consecutive Malaysia and Bahrain races.








Pantano pleased to get F1 test
For the first time since his Formula One career started last month, rookie Italian driver Giorgio Pantano is getting an in-season track test in the EJ14.

At Jordan's local Silverstone circuit, the 25-year-old lapped 55 times.

But the day was not without its troubles; a car problem cost him some time.

'I'm really pleased to get some more mileage in the car,' said Giorgio.

'But I did spend quite a lot of time in the garage.'

SPECULATION

He was also pleased to get close to Nick's best times, especially as speculation does the rounds that boss Eddie Jordan is concerned with his (lack of) pace.

'So I'm satisfied,' Giorgio concluded.

German team-mate Nick Heidfeld is also in action for the three day session in rural Northamptonshire, which offered warm and sunny conditions on Tuesday.

Both racers concentrated on a Bridgestone tire program.

Heidfeld managed 100 laps without hindrance.








Verstappen still has Trust
Jos Verstappen and estranged F1 backer Trust have 'buried the hatchet.'

A report on the Dutchman's website said he and Michel Perridon had an 'excellent' meeting and both regretted how the failed Jordan deal was handled.

They met on Wednesday at Trust HQ in Dordrecht, The Netherlands.

'We acted emotionally instead of rationally,' said Verstappen.

He confirmed that all contracts with Trust are 'still alive,' even if the Dutch sponsor pledged some financial backing to Jordan in the absence of Verstappen.

'We told each other what was bothering us. What? It's useless going over the past - we look forward to the future and I am glad we share the same vision.'

Perridon committed to supporting Jos if a chance to return to F1 arises, and Har Muermans, of Muermans Realty Group, has also reserved an amount for sponsorship.

Verstappen's manager Raymond Vermeulen talked down speculation of a return.

'It's still early days,' said Jos' countryman and joint agent, 'but we've always maintained contact with the [F1] teams, even over the past couple of months.'








Button sets pace in France
Fresh from setting the pace at Barcelona, Jenson Button moved to France on Wednesday and led a field of nine at the Paul Ricard track in Le Castellet.

The Briton, in the BAR over 136 laps, beat Kimi Raikkonen by half a second, whose team-mate David Coulthard tried new front and rear suspension pieces.

Marc Gene kicked off BMW-Williams' final Imola preparations at the cold circuit which rose to 17-degrees at lunchtime and also featured perfect wind conditions.

The Spanish tester tried numerous new Michelin compounds and constructions.

INCIDENT

Next were the two Renault cars, led by Spanish racer Fernando Alonso, and tester Franck Montagny who lapped the most times of any runner - a huge 168 (700kms).

The Frenchman conducted long runs on the new RS24 V10 engine, and nearly completed his enormous programme before a 'minor incident' in the afternoon.

It was his first proper run in the 2004 chassis.

Jaguar got running with Mark Webber, and Toyota rounded out the times.







Williams deny 'spoil' charge
Grove based BMW-Williams has denied the charge that it deliberately 'spoiled' British F1 rival BAR's attempts to introduce an innovative rear wing solution.

A spokesman confirmed that Williams did contact the FIA with a query.

But he said the approach was only in reference to its own similar wing design, whose basic inspiration admittedly came from the one on Jenson Button's car.

THIRD ELEMENT

BAR's design, and ostensibly that of Williams, featured a third element that might have been legal because it was fixed via guide vanes to the second one.

The spokesman said Williams 'had concerns' about the design's legality.

F1's governing body has vowed to issue a rule 'clarification' to all teams.








American eyes Formula One
Champ Car driver Ryan Hunter Reay has an ultimate dream - Formula One.

The 2003 Surfers Paradise winner said he turned down a ride in the oval-based Indy Racing League because Champ Car is a better 'proving ground' for F1.

'My ultimate dream is Formula One,' the American added.

'I've never made any secret of that fact.'

A rejuvenated 2004 Champ Car series opens this weekend at Long Beach, USA.








Williams still in the hunt: Theissen
BMW-Williams is still in the hunt for this year's Formula One championships.

Dr Mario Theissen, who is motor sport director at BMW, said despite losing the first three races to Ferrari, there is still 'everything to fight for' in '04.

'But I won't make any predictions,' he said.

Theissen noted the way Williams 'turned the balance of power' last season.

Drivers Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya struggled with the FW25 early in 2003, but were later fighting at the front of the grid for spoils with Ferrari.

'This time, our gap to Ferrari isn't as big as it was,' said the German.

Theissen concluded that the only disadvantage to Ferrari is that, this year, BMW-Williams wasn't aware there was a big gap until after the Melbourne race.








Stewart champions F1 mechanics
Sir Jackie Stewart reckons F1's only 'true professionals' are mechanics.

The Scot and former triple champion hosted a reunion at Silverstone for ex-grand prix mechanics in his role as chairman of the 'GP Mechanics Charitable Trust'.

'If Schumacher didn't have the best mechanics ... the wheels would fall off.'

Stewart also told PA that mechanics are the 'unsung heroes' of motor racing.

He said they work untold hours, don't have pension schemes, and often run into real financial difficulties by operating in such a 'volatile' racing industry.








Indian races for ticket to F1
Narain Karthikeyan is still racing for his ticket to Formula One.

The best Indian race driver is gearing up for his season in the Nissan World Series and hopes officials for grand prix teams keep an eye on his progress.

'I've been trying to get into F1 for three years,' he said on Wednesday.

Karthikeyan, who has tested grand prix cars for Minardi, Jaguar and Jordan, spoke as a new sponsor (Speed) was announced for his imminent race campaign.

CONFIDENT

He added: 'I'm confident I'll make it [to F1] in the end.'

Narain also urged more companies like Bharat Petroleum to get behind him.

'It's always good to have ... people like that when you're trying to break into F1. I hope I can live up to expectations by becoming the first Indian in F1.'

He said the popularity of F1 in India would get a boost if he's on the grid.







China protests F1 tobacco branding
Ninety percent of all Chinese smokers start before the age of eighteen.

That's why the 'Chinese Smoking & Health Association' is campaigning against cigarette branding at this year's F1 race in September, according to Autosport.

The CS&HA believes Chinese kids are too impressionable to be bombarded with images of tobacco brands when they watch Michael Schumacher speed in Shanghai.

F1 is zooming out of Europe to counter an impending ban on all tobacco ads.

RUPTURE

Half of the sport's ten teams, like Marlboro-red Ferrari and Benson & Hedges-yellow Jordan Grand Prix, are backed by giant cigarette-selling corporations.

'If we lose [tobacco] completely,' F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone worries, 'there will be a rupture. People don't realise how bad it would be.'

China's new 5.4km track is to be inspected for FIA homologation next month.

Meanwhile, 2005 GP venue Turkey says its race will not allow tobacco branding, according to head of the country's 'Motorsport Federation' Mumtaz Tahincioglu.








What did Senna think of Schu?
This week, six-times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher said the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994 left him re-assessing his career in motor sport.

But just what did Brazil's late champion think of a rising German superstar?

According to Ron Dennis, Senna - who died almost a decade ago on the 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' circuit in Italy - thought Michael wanted to 'win at all costs.

'He felt there was a part of F1 that was prepared to do that,' the Briton added.

Dennis, whose team McLaren carried Senna to all three of his Formula One world titles, told Reuters that Senna's legacy was 'moments like this' in Bahrain.

The F1 principal stood and spoke to reporters for about an hour about Ayrton.

He said: '[Senna died] doing something he was passionate about and it was his life to the exclusion of many things that other drivers and individuals enjoy.'








Stewart frets ... about underwear
In Bahrain, Sir Jackie Stewart kicked up a stink ... about underwear.

Despite the searing heat in the desert location, Formula One's former triple world champion was amazed that drivers opted for short-sleeved thermal gear.

Stewart, according to Reuters, is a tireless campaigner for safety.

FULL LENGTH

'Not good,' the Scot frowned before the inaugural Gulf race.

'They should have full length thermal underwear right down to their ankles.

'I think it should be compulsory for every driver.'








Wilson happy to farewell F1
Justin Wilson is happy to farewell Formula One - for ever.

The former Jaguar and Minardi star failed to land a drive on the 2004 grid, and instead has turned his attention to the re-invigorated US-based Champ Car title.

'To be honest,' said the Englishman, 'if I stay over here and make a career out of it, that's fine by me. I'm sure it's going to be a steep learning curve.'

Wilson admires the 2003 CART champion, Canadian Paul Tracy.

LONG BEACH

'That's what I'd like to do,' he said in California as he completed his final test for the Conquest Racing squad before this weekend's race at Long Beach.

He was third fastest, behind Tracy on the 'California Speedway' infield.

JW said the Champ Car is a 'very different' beast to his Jaguar R4.

'It's a lot heavier,' he said, 'and has less grip. But it's still great fun.'








McLaren to poach Jag sponsor
McLaren is trying to poach Jaguar Racing's top sponsor HSBC.

According to F1 Racing magazine, the deal - that is worth $30 million - could go to the silver team in 2005 because McLaren offer 'more diverse' opportunities.

But Jaguar is confident that the bank will stay loyal.

A 'senior Jaguar Racing insider' told the popular British magazine: 'HSBC have told us that, if they remain in F1, it will be with us - and we believe them.'

There's also talk that Juan Pablo Montoya's popularity within North America might mean that beer brand Budweiser move with him from BMW-Williams to McLaren.

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