F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 19, 2004
Rubens not F1's 'nice guy'
Is Rubens Barrichello really Formula One's nicest 'nice
Before an interview with an Aussie TV network, the Brazilian
was quizzed by a reporter who noted that Rubens might not be
tough enough to win a championship.
'That's not true,' said the Ferrari star, team-mate of
He added: 'Maybe I am a nice guy, and I'm that way because
my mother and father brought me up to be that way. But get
me in the paddock and I'm different.'
Barrichello reckons his pitwall personnel know the 'racing'
'If you heard some of the things I say on the radio during
the race,' the Paulista continues, 'you'd think 'ok, Rubens
really is a tough, tough guy'.'
Weather halts French test
Bad weather halted the final day of Formula One testing at
'It can be dangerous to drive in these conditions,' Olivier
He said on Friday: 'It was gusting up to 65 knots so it just
A Renault team spokesman added that the 'appalling weather'
also included torrential rain and neither test driver
completed even a single timed lap.
BMW-Williams similarly abandoned the test, but only after
Juan Pablo Montoya and Antonio Pizzonia had done some work
on traction control and practice starts.
Takuma Sato, of the BAR camp, headed to the French circuit
for just one day in the Honda-powered car but he said Friday
was 'over pretty much before it began.'
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Jaguar decided to pack up for a
different reason - rookie ace Christian Klien suffered a
rear suspension failure at high speed.
Panis expects no Imola cure
Olivier Panis does not expect a miracle to cure his Toyota
The Frenchman tested a TF104 at Paul Ricard last week but he
isn't particularly looking forward to the Imola race - in
the past, Cologne has really struggled.
'But we just have to keep pushing,' he said.
'We'll be looking to make the best out of our package there
Some reliability gremlins might also be creeping into the
red and white challenger, as Panis pulled over in France on
Thursday with a gearbox problem.
On Wednesday, team-mate Cristiano da Matta's engine blew up.
'Hopefully we'll now have an easier time adapting the car to
different situations,' said the Brazilian, 'and getting the
maximum out of the car.'
Meanwhile, a day earlier, tester Ryan Briscoe also had a
'We've only made small improvements [on the car] so far,'
said the Aussie.
Williams fix JPM's Bahrain glitch
Juan Pablo Montoya has never 'monstered' at the Imola race
Last year was not a great Formula One event for the
Colombian in picturesque Italy - he finished just seventh
after pit problems and less than sterling pace.
On Sunday, though, he hopes colder weather affects Ferrari
'Our car should go well,' Montoya, 28, predicted.
'Maybe I'll have better luck this year.'
In Bahrain two weeks ago, Juan lost a probable podium
placing when his Williams-made gearbox packed up and sent
him ailing down the order to finish thirteenth.
Operations engineer Sam Michael said the team has
'rectified' the problem.
'We've also made some aero improvements,' said the
Australian team chief, 'and we'll run them in Imola and hope
these will improve our competitiveness.'
At Imola, BMW-Williams finds itself in the role of Formula
The hunted? - a hat-trick winning Ferrari steered by Michael
BMW motorsport director Dr Mario Theissen said Grove must
again take up the challenge of 2003 - to steadily close a
performance gap to the scarlet team.
'But for San Marino,' he said, 'I regard Ferrari as having
the best chance.'
Hill's life changed on May 1
Damon Hill reckons his 'whole life' changed on Sunday, May
Ten years ago, Hill - in his second year of Formula One -
was team-mate at Williams to race legend Ayrton Senna who
crashed and died at the Imola track.
He now admits that he would 'never have been world champion'
if Senna had lived.
And Hill told The Times that Williams had reduced the
thickness of the Renault-powered car's steering column so as
to give Ayrton more room in the cockpit.
But he thinks that's a 'red herring' as to the real cause of
the fatal shunt.
Damon said Ayrton, in the drivers' briefing, brought up the
new 'Safety Car' because he thought it reduced F1 tyres to
'dangerously' cool temperatures.
Hill believes cold tyres 'contributed' to Senna's accident.
New Renault not as 'stable'
This year's new Renault car as not as 'stable' as its
Franck Montagny, the Enstone-based team's test driver, got
his first taste of the R24 at Paul Ricard last week and said
it was immediately quicker than R23.
'But because you go through the corners quicker,' said the
French-born star, 'you need to be a bit more careful - the
car is not yet as stable as the R23.'
Montagny said the new engine is also better with a 'more
linear' power curve.
F1 boss eighth on 'rich list'
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has a personal fortune of £2.3
That puts him 8th on the latest 'Sunday Times' rich list,
down from 3rd in 2003.
The next man to represent Formula One is Eddie Irvine -
267th with £153m, earned not only with drives at Ferrari and
Jaguar but thanks to property investments.
1979 champion Jody Scheckter has £90m, and is ahead of both
team bosses Ron Dennis, with £82m, and the 527th ranked Sir
Frank Williams who has £76m.
BAR chief Dave Richards is 666th and Eddie Jordan is 777th
The only other driver represented on the list is McLaren's
current star and Scot David Coulthard, with £35m, bolstered
by his ownership of a swank Monaco hotel.
Ralf eyes brother's pace
Ralf Schumacher believes 'improvements' have been made to
his FW26 racer.
The German said BMW-Williams should therefore be able to
close the gap to his older brother, who drives a three-times
in 2004 race winning Ferrari, at Imola.
Schumacher, 28, won his first ever grand prix at San Marino
'I always like to return there,' he said.
Ralf insists that a miracle should not be expected in Italy
but the 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' circuit has always suited the
BMW-powered cars built in Grove, England.
A team spokesman, meanwhile, confirmed that 'several' new
aerodynamic parts are to grace the already innovative FW26
at the first grand prix of 2004 in Europe.
'It's nice,' said Juan Pablo Montoya, 'because we can bring
our motor homes!'
Sauber to build own gearbox
Sauber has signed a new 3-year agreement with US software
The deal extends a cooperation in the field of
'Computational Fluid Dynamics' and includes Fluent getting
access to the Sauber wind tunnel and F1 marketing.
Meanwhile, the team's boss Peter Sauber told a local
publication that Hinwil is likely to build its own F1
gearbox for 2005 rather than simply buying Ferrari's.
* Juan Pablo Montoya's young brother, Federico, has finished
9th in the opening round of the open-wheeler race series
'BMW Germany ADAC' at the Hockenheimring.
* David Coulthard attended the 'Auto Mobil International
Motor Show' in Leipzig, Germany, on Saturday, and was part
of the event's official opening ceremony.
* Anthony Davidson's planned three-day aero test at Vairano
in northern Italy had to be cancelled when a fire caused by
an oil leak damaged the BAR racer.
Retired F1 racer Eddie Irvine is being sued for defamation.
Former friend John Foley claims the Ulsterman made
business-damaging comments about him in a newspaper whilst
in the process of setting up a club in Dublin.
Irvine owns the Cocoon Bar, located next door.
Foley and Irvine, who last drove a Jaguar car in 2002, fell
out last year over the running of co-owned Cocoon and Foley
is also suing for wrongful dismissal.
Irvine fired Foley for 'financial impropriety.'
'Long journey' to first win
Jenson Button disagrees that his first Formula One win could
happen in Imola.
The BAR star ran at Paul Ricard last week and was usually at
the top of the times with a new car package that includes
revised aero and a Honda evolution.
'We've shown good speed,' 24-year-old Button said on Friday.
But, despite double podiums in Malaysia and Bahrain, a long
journey lies ahead.
'We still have a long journey before we can comfortably
Button concluded, however, that he is 'encouraged' by the
Rain to fall at Imola
Rain is likely to affect this season's first F1 race in
A few spots of rain fell overnight in the quiet Italian town
of Imola and morning showers and cool weather (around 12
degrees) are expected on Tuesday.
By Thursday, scattered showers should have settled in at the
Enzo e Dino track.
And by the time Michael Schumacher gets his Ferrari into
action on Friday and Saturday, forecasters predict that
light to moderate rain might be falling.
Brazilian Ricardo Zonta completed a two-day wet Michelin
tyre test at Estoril, in Portugal, last week and hopes
Toyota get an advantage if it rains in Imola.
'The forecast currently predicts [rain],' said the Friday
* Meanwhile, world champion Michael Schumacher wrapped up a
test at the Fiorano circuit by testing wet weather
Bridgestone tyres at the rainy Italian venue.
Montoya ignores Ferrari
Juan Pablo Montoya has urged his team to ignore Ferrari's
The Williams star spent a few days in Colombia after the
Bahrain GP and returned to the cockpit of his 'tusk nosed'
FW26 at Paul Ricard (France) last Thursday.
'It's not slow,' he told reporters in Le Castellet.
'It's good, but it's just not a winning machine yet.'
Montoya insisted that the Grove/Munich collaboration won't
make up a track deficit to Ferrari by basing its efforts on
the pace of the scarlet champions.
'We can't make Ferrari go any slower,' he explained.
'All we can do is the best job with what we've got.'
Juan Pablo, 28, has never finished higher than fourth at
Dixon drives with broken ankle
Even a broken ankle can't keep Scott Dixon down.
It was expected that a 'non displaced' hairline fracture
sustained during an Indy Racing League shunt in Japan might
dent the Kiwi's Formula One ambitions.
But he put his Chip Ganassi car sixth on the grid during
'Twin Ring' qualifying.
A source explained that the reigning champion, who recently
tested a BMW-Williams, was given the all clear by circuit
medical staff prior to the session.
'I was definitely a bit cautious,' said Dixon afterwards.
Run-off changed at Bahrain
Sandy run-off areas at the new Bahrain F1 circuit are to be
According to a report on the BMW-Williams website, the
governing FIA and F1 team principals requested that the work
be done to improve the track verges by 2005.
The run-off this year was a troublesome mix of sand, water
'People thought they would see lots of sand on the track,'
said advisor Philippe Gurdjian, 'but it didn't happen.
Bahrain really showed what it was capable of.'
Senna versus Schumacher
Ayrton Senna versus Michael Schumacher - as the pair crossed
the line to start lap seven of the 1994 San Marino Grand
Prix, the duel was well into a swing.
By Tamburello, it was over - Senna, the great Brazilian, was
'A competition between them would have been fantastic,'
Viviane Senna, Ayrton's sister, told the 'Sunday Herald'
newspaper as the ten year anniversary looms.
'It's sad for the world because a thrilling show would have
Schumacher, then 25, has gone on to win six Formula One
world championships but Viviane Senna believes her brother
'had the capacity' to surpass any limit.
'But he knew there were bigger issues to address, too.'
One of them, she has continued by developing the Ayrton
Senna Institute into an organisation that has helped the
lives of 390 million kids in the last decade.
'This is the legacy of which he would be proudest,' Viviane
Gordon in talks with Williams
NASCAR ace Jeff Gordon has admitted to 'discussions' with
Sir Frank Williams.
'There are discussions going on,' he told reporters at
'I'm going to the Spanish race to watch and he's getting me
Journalists, who had gasped at the first statement of the
tin-top driving American, smiled at the joke which had
started as a rumour in season 2003.
Gordon drove a BMW-Williams in a demo drive at Indianapolis
'Every time anyone asks me about F1 I say this - I had a
blast driving the car but I don't plan changing my career. I
make much more money here, thanks.'
Da Matta disillusioned
Cristiano da Matta cast a solemn face in the Paul Ricard
The Brazilian switched as Champ Car champion to Formula One
in late 2002 and expected Toyota, who spend more money than
eight teams, to quickly win races.
'So far, it's been very disappointing,' he said at the test
'I hope we can find the solutions because we're not where we
want to be.'
Toyota, based in Cologne, made a few modifications to the
TF104 ahead of Malaysia but an identical car hit the new
circuit in Bahrain a fortnight ago.
Da Matta denies that bad luck has kept the team out of the
'No I don't,' he frowned in response to the question.
'So far we finish races, which is of course ok, but the
reason we're not getting into the top eight is simply
because right now the car is not quick enough.'
Glock in action
Timo Glock burst into action as Jordan concluded a test at
The German, who is Friday tester for the locally-based
Formula One outfit, drove reliably alongside rookie Italian
racer Giorgio Pantano in the EJ14 on Thursday.
'We've made good progress with Bridgestone's tyre programme.'
Head of race engineering James Robinson concluded that
Jordan is 'fairly optimistic' as the team packs up and heads
off to Imola's Enzo e Dino circuit.
No points in sight for Toyota
Toyota might have to wait the whole season until highly-paid
technical director Mike Gascoyne's influence is felt on the
stopwatch, according to Ove Andersson.
The Swede admits that the 'speed is not there' in the new
'And that's why we have Mike,' the former team principal
One of the biggest criticisms of the Cologne-based Formula
One team might be that although the car is finishing all the
races, it is nowhere near the points.
So have Toyota been too cautious?
'No - I think the engine is quite powerful,' said Ove, a
Ferrari send F1 drivers home
Ferrari opted against the high-profile attendance of Formula
One drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello as the
'Ferrari Store' was opened in Rome.
Instead, Luca di Montezemolo and Rome mayor Walter Veltroni
hosted the event.
A statement said the changes were made in deference to the 'sombre
mood' hanging over Italy at present, most probably the
kidnapping of three nationals in Iraq.
A fourth Italian was executed on Wednesday by the captors,
said a news source.
Senna was 'pretty shaken up'
Ayrton Senna 'knew the risk' of racing his Formula One car
That is the belief of the great Brazilian's former boss, Ron
Dennis, who spoke at length to reporters as the sport moves
to the scene of Senna's fatal crash.
A few months earlier, Senna had crashed his McLaren in
The triple world champion rolled over in a gravel trap at
'He was unscathed but pretty shaken up,' Ron told the Sunday
Dennis accompanied the great driver to the circuit's medical
'Sid [Watkins] hooked a piece of gravel out of Ayrton's ear
and he reacted as if someone had re-attached a part of his
body. It had just got inside his helmet.
'But he thought it was a pain that was never going to go
McLaren's gearbox problem
Exploding engines aside, this publication can reveal the
source of perhaps the principal technical problem facing
McLaren in 2004 - its innovative gearbox.
The MP4-19 comes complete with a super-small
titanium/composite transmission but designers are grappling
with problems of heat-expansion in the two materials.
It's metal parts are expanding more than the carbon ones,
Sources in the British media reveal that chief designer Mike
Coughlan masterminded the idea which bonds with McLaren's
radical 'twin clutch' gearbox.
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