F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 16, 2004
Toyota and Minardi
Toyota might supply F1 minnows Minardi with Formula One
engines in 2006.
Speculation hinted that Jordan might get Cologne's
high-revving V10s but a report in 'Auto Motor und Sport'
reckons Paul Stoddart is pushing for a supply.
It might even be free, or in exchange for Minardi running as
a 'B' team, similar to the current union of fellow F1
privateer Sauber and works supplier Ferrari.
Toyota may also subsidise fees to Minardi in return for
Faenza trialling 'junior F1 drivers' and engineers and
getting another vote under the Concorde Agreement.
Clearly, though, any collaboration is far from a done deal.
Toyota's principal Tsutomu Tomita said supplying a second
team with customer powerplants only makes sense if 'all of
our own problems' are already solved.
Schu, Rubens, visit Rome
Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello are to hang their
testing helmets on the rack later on Friday as the Ferrari
driving pair jet in to Rome, Italy.
The F1 stars are scheduled to cut the ribbon on a new
Ferrari retail store.
They'll open the three-storey shop in Via Tomacelli and then
meet with fans.
Items range from a Ferrari notebook to the F1-2000 F1 engine
- at 40,000 euros.
'We chose Rome as the new ... location,' said president Luca
di Montezemolo, 'partly because of the special historic
links the capital has with Ferrari.'
Button can't be toppled
Jenson Button could not be toppled as F1 testing continued
at Paul Ricard.
The Briton again outpaced Kimi Raikkonen, in the perhaps
Former Jag racer Antonio Pizzonia trailed by a few tenths in
the FW26 BMW-Williams, while Fernando Alonso and Renault
test-mate Franck Montagny followed.
Williams' chief operations engineer Sam Michael said
Pizzonia, from Brazil, worked on set-up but also did long
runs with the 'most interesting' Imola tyres.
Alonso got his Imola-spec V10 engine to click over to a full
800km distance, a feat praised as 'very pleasing' by chief
team test engineer Christian Silk.
But the Spaniard was noted as pulling over with a smoky car
at one stage.
Toyota's Olivier Panis and Ryan Briscoe amassed a collective
And Christian Klien, in the Jaguar, suffered a suspension
failure after a meagre 25 tours of the southern French
facility under heavy cloud and cool conditions.
Hockenheim sees new McLaren
Press reports have earmarked Germany as the scene for a
heavily revised McLaren.
A source in the Australian media said the Woking based
outfit, so disappointing in the first races of 2004 with the
MP4-19, will unveil a new car at Hockenheim.
That race, on the redesigned track near city Mannheim, is
scheduled for July 25.
Mercedes-Benz boss Norbert Haug told German sports news
agency SID that Stuttgart and McLaren are 'doing everything'
to make the silver package better.
He said: 'We need to get back the reliability and speed.'
David Coulthard has clocked up only four world championship
points in the three flyaway events but team-mate Kimi
Raikkonen has not even seen a chequered flag.
Dixon breaks ankle
F1 hopeful Scott Dixon has crashed and fractured his
ankle in Japan.
The Kiwi, IRL champion of 2003, tested a BMW-Williams in
Spain earlier this week but spun into the wall whilst
driving his US racer at the 'Motegi Twin Ring.'
Hospital tests revealed a 'non-displaced hairline' crack of
his left ankle.
'I'm not too worried about it,' the New Zealander told the
Spotters said several drivers, including Tomas Scheckter,
spun in the same spot.
'The car just went round,' 23-year-old Dixon continued.
Scott, who got within a few tenths of tester Marc Gene's
time at Barcelona last week, was touted as a likely
candidate for the spare BMW-Williams seat of 2005.
Mosley wants more F1 teams
Max Mosley wants to see a couple more teams in Formula One
The president of the governing FIA told 'Motorsport News'
that he's pushing for both a reduction in engine capacity
and measures for drastically cutting costs.
'Things will happen ... within the next year,' he told the
Mosley has also voiced his concerns about the cars' rising
F1's binding Concorde Agreement makes provisions for 24
cars, or twelve team entrants, but the sport lost Prost in
2001 and Arrows Grand Prix during 2002.
Many highlight a $48 million 'new team' deposit as one of
the biggest obstacles to attracting new entrants,
particularly non-manufacturers, to the F1 party.
Trulli to run marathon
One of the fittest drivers in Formula One knows just how to
spend a weekend off.
Renault's Jarno Trulli is all signed up to run in the
'I love running,' the Italian said ahead of Sunday's event.
He added: 'It's important to keep pushing yourself to new
targets - and doing preparation for events like this really
helps motivate you during training.'
Trulli, who has competed in the New York marathon, said
jogging for long distances helps enhance a drivers'
endurance fitness for long Formula One runs.
Team-mate Fernando Alonso, the winning Spaniard, told this
publication at a grand prix in 2004 that he 'envied' the way
Trulli motivates himself to train.
'I wish I could ... go through the same exacting daily
routines,' he said.
'But I have to say it is one of Jarno's real qualities.'
Sato given 'half a season' to shine
Takuma Sato has been granted a few more races to get up to
His race engineer Jock Clear, who used to work with Jacques
Villeneuve, said BAR is aiming at 'half season' before it
expects Sato to match Jenson Button's pace.
'It is going to be a process,' the Briton told Autosport.
The half-point of season 2004 is round nine - the US Grand
Prix in late June.
'Then we'll see if he can match [Jenson's] pace and
Clear said Button's podium-winning form has effectively
'raised the bar' for Sato, a young Japanese, who test drove
cars for JB and Villeneuve last season.
He also said Taku took a 'big step forward' in Bahrain.
'To get four points ... is a calming influence for him,'
Earlier, team boss David Richards reckoned Sato was
'overdriving' the 006.
Williams complete wind tunnel
Construction of a new wind tunnel at Williams' Grove factory
is now complete.
'Autosport' reports that the BMW-powered team's facility is
already undergoing calibration runs but is not expected to
go online for three or four months.
'I don't think it will come on full stream until the FW27,'
said Sam Michael.
Tech director Patrick Head, meanwhile, says his job has
changed almost beyond recognition since he joined the Sir
Frank Williams led squad in the late 70s.
'The design department was me ... and a drawing board,' the
He said a wind tunnel is vital for innovations like the
FW26's 'tusk nose.'
'If you want to play it safe,' said Patrick Head, 'you
usually won't find anything new. Those who are scared will
soon be overtaken by their rivals.'
Has Fisichella 'got his Ferrari'?
Some people believe Giancarlo Fisichella finally 'has his
The Italian desperately wants to pilot a scarlet car but
he's come as close as ever before to that dream in 2004 at
the controls of a Ferrari-powered Sauber.
'This isn't a Ferrari,' the 31-year-old told F1 Racing
'It's blue - and it's built in Switzerland.'
Fisichella, born in Rome, would take a drive at McLaren or
BMW-Williams but he re-affirms his desire to go to Maranello
- 'It's where I want to be,' he added.
'This is just where I have to be right now to prove I have
The former Benetton and Jordan ace has been promised a test
drive in a Ferrari before the season is out, albeit in an
older title-winning F2003-GA version.
Brawn regrets Bridgestone criticism
Over the winter period, F1's hacks went wild in criticism of
Finally, they said, Ferrari's rivals could set their sights
on the world championship because supplier Michelin had
found more speed in the 'tyre war.'
The so-called Bridgestone-Ferrari 'near monopoly' came under
'I was sorry to read so many critical comments about
Bridgestone during the winter,' said the technical director
at Maranello's team, Briton Ross Brawn.
All the winter pre-season test data indicated that
Bridgestone was struggling.
'In reality they were working on parallel programmes,' Brawn
He said 'compounds, constructions and profiles' were getting
a full work out, and that is evidenced in the squarer shape
of the Japanese product in 2004.
Brawn added: 'When they put everything together, the tyres
Scuderia Ferrari, with number one and champion driver
Michael Schumacher, has won the first three 'flyaway' grands
prix of the 2004 series from pole position.
Senna wanted McLaren return
Ayrton Senna probably would have driven for McLaren again.
The great Brazilian, who switched from Woking to pacesetting
Williams in 1994, died when his Renault-powered challenger
crashed into the wall at Imola in May.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis remembers a conversation with Senna
'I vividly recall being in Magny-Cours,' he said, 'at some
run down chateau.'
He told Reuters: 'We were outside talking.'
Dennis said Ayrton, then 34, 'regretted' deserting McLaren -
with whom he won all three of his Formula One world
championships - for Frank Williams' team.
'I can't remember the words,' Ron continued.
'But ... the message was 'I don't feel at all comfortable
and I'll be back'.'
Jordan quell Pantano patter
Formula One team Jordan has moved to quell speculation
surrounding rookie Italian driver Giorgio Pantano's
pedestrian start to his grand prix race career.
Paddock rumours had Augusto Farfus Jr, or even Jos
Verstappen, replacing him.
But, on Thursday, the Italian clocked up another 100 laps of
test mileage at Silverstone and even got within a tenth of
Nick Heidfeld's own best lap time.
That performance earned Giorgio, third in last year's F3000
championship, the praise of Jordan's head of race and test
engineering, Briton James Robinson.
'Giorgio is becoming more confident,' he said.
Unlike at Albert Park, Sepang and Bahrain, Pantano already
knows the Silverstone track layout and is therefore
'progressing very well,' as Robinson continues.
He said: '[Pantano] is close to Nick's lap times here.'
More anti-tobacco opposition in China
Opposition to cigarette advertising at the inaugural Chinese
GP is growing.
This publication can reveal that F1's governing body,
Federation International Automobile, has received a letter
from China's National Tobacco Control Office.
It outlines Chinese law which forbids tobacco adverts at
F1 had hoped new markets in Asia and the Arab world might
limit the damage of a total ban on cigarette advertising in
the European Union from July of 2005.
China recently signed the World Health Organisation's
A spokesman for Formula One Management said he was 'unaware'
of any issues relating to this matter that might threaten
September's grand prix in Shanghai.
Button aims for Imola win
Jenson Button might win his first grand prix at next
weekend's Imola race.
The Briton has landed on the podium twice in this season's
three flyaway rounds and gets a raft of chassis and Honda
engine improvements for the San Marino GP.
'Going back to Europe,' said BAR chief David Richards, whose
team is equal-third with Williams, 'even I didn't expect to
be where we are in the championship.'
Richards said Button, 24 and hotly tipped to return to
BMW-Williams in 2005 to fill the seat of Juan Pablo Montoya,
was 'simply incredible' in the Bahrain GP.
He told the PA news agency, 'Now we must aim for that first
Button, meanwhile, told Autosport that the Imola package
Thursday's fastest at Paul Ricard added: 'We know Ferrari
are going to be strong [in Imola] but I'm happy with what
we've done. I'm not sure about the tyres.'
Purnell drags up F1 'driver swaps'
Tony Purnell has dragged up the once-touted plans for F1
The team principal for Jaguar Racing told British magazine
'F1 Racing' that twenty top drivers would be selected at the
start of the grand prix season.
Each driver would be required to drive each team's car
during the year.
It would mean that, for example, the Ferraris could be
driven by Felipe Massa and Mark Webber and then two weeks
later by Jarno Trulli and Olivier Panis.
Minardi's pairing, meanwhile, might be Michael Schumacher
and Kimi Raikkonen.
Purnell's plan also includes an annual budget cap of $100
'The constructors' championship would really mean
something,' he told the magazine, 'because ... driver and
budget variables would have been removed.'
BRDC chairman visits Paul Ricard
F1 test track Paul Ricard welcomed a special visitor on
Ray Bellm, who is chairman of the British Racing Drivers'
Club, touched down at the southern French facility to find
out why it had become a popular test venue.
The BRDC owns the under-fire Silverstone track, located in
Bellm met with Ricard president Philippe Gurdjian as a field
of F1 runners did laps, and admitted that he wanted to 'find
out what circuits need to be like.'
He was a keen sports car racer in the 1980s.
'I also wanted to see a circuit that has Mr Ecclestone's
approval,' said Roy, in reference to the F1 impresario's
latest condemnation of 'run down' Silverstone.
'Now I understand his expectation,' he said - 'I'm sincerely
Ferrari, Jordan, test alone
Andrea Bertolini concluded his straight-line tests in the
F2004 on Thursday.
The test driver for the Ferrari-Maserati Group clocked
another 337 kilometres in Michael Schumacher's car whilst
running up and down the long Vairano straight.
A few drops of rain fell at the end of the day, read a
At nearby Italian circuit Fiorano, meanwhile, Michael
Schumacher took over the controls of another F2004 to work
on a Bridgestone tyre development programme.
And over in England, at the rural Silverstone circuit,
Jordan runners Nick Heidfeld and Giorgio Pantano ran up
miles on an unusually sunny April day.
Heidfeld, the German, led rookie Pantano's pace by a tenth
in a EJ14 car.
Head of test engineering James Robinson said they worked on
No 'B spec' car for BMW-Williams
BMW-Williams, unlike rival top Formula One team
McLaren-Mercedes, are not planning to close the performance
gap to Ferrari by producing a 'B spec' car.
Sam Michael told Autosport that there is 'nothing wrong'
with the current FW26.
'We just need to add performance to it,' said the chief
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