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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 21, 2004


Sauber unveil improvements
Like many other Formula One teams, Swiss-based Sauber is shaping to unveil a raft of modifications to its C23 challenger on the Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit.

Tech director Willy Rampf says Hinwil has been busy in its new wind tunnel.

'We were able to continue the [aero] programme,' he said.

POWER STEERING

'We'll have several new aerodynamic components on the car in Imola.'

Sauber tested at Barcelona in the week following the Bahrain Grand Prix where it made a few improvements to the new power steering system, debuted in the Gulf.

Rampf confirmed: 'From Imola it will be used at every race.'








Imola is tough, says Massa
Imola is a tough Formula One circuit, according to Felipe Massa.

The Sauber star feels a 'strong affinity' for Italy, having raced F-Renault and F3000 in the country and working as test driver for Ferrari throughout 2003.

'But overtaking at Imola is very difficult,' said the young Brazilian.

Imola puts a premium on supreme qualifying pace, the Paulista continued.

STRATEGY

'And strategy is also crucial. It's also hard on brakes and we feel very high G-forces under braking, because it's done in a straight line, unlike Sepang.'

The track's notorious kerbs also give the driver a bashing.

'That's really tough,' Massa smiled. 'Especially in the chicanes.'

Following the San Marino GP, F1 team Sauber is scheduled to test at Fiorano.








Bernie takes control of Brit GP
Bernie Ecclestone has assumed control of the British Grand Prix.

It was announced on Tuesday that former rights holder Interpublic 'sold' the event to F1's impresario by handing him a cheque worth $ninety-three million.

Ecclestone, 73, is a staunch and historic critic of the Silverstone race.

But analysts expect that Bernie actually supports the event held in summer in rural Northamptonshire and could use his clout to improve the track facilities.

The BRDC, Silverstone's landlords, hesitantly welcomed the news, saying it 'looks forward' to hearing Ecclestone's plans for the grand prix's stability.

Silverstone MD Andrew Waller expects that the British GP is now in 'safe hands.'

Interpublic CEO David Bell, meanwhile, said when he took control of the US-based advertising giant he deemed it 'inappropriate' to be involved in motor racing.








Brawn tells rivals to 'take risks'
Ross Brawn has a bit of advice for Ferrari's F1 chasers - 'take more risks.'

The technical director at Maranello, whose team cleaned up the first three races of 2004, said he would adopt such a strategy if he led BMW-Williams or McLaren.

'Other teams have ... other priorities,' he told the Telegraph.

'Until you're faster, you're not going to beat the rest.'

EVOLUTION

Brawn hinted that the top Formula One rivals' current strategy of making careful steps of 'evolution' towards the chequered flag is perhaps not the bravest one.

He added: 'Our competitors have to take more risks to progress more quickly.

'I would do [that] if I were in their position.'

Brawn did say, however, that he expected the teams to 'get their acts together' when the grand prix comes to Imola, for the first 'normal' race of the season.








Michelin eye Imola win
Three brand new Michelin tyre compounds will debut in Imola.

Asked whether the marque can win its first race of 2004, motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier referred to a 'considerable amount of testing' since Bahrain.

'The results are most encouraging,' said the Frenchman.








Fisi fond of Imola
Imola holds fond memories for Italian F1 pilot Giancarlo Fisichella.

The Sauber ace was born not far away in Rome, but his affection for the 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' circuit, home of the San Marino Grand Prix, runs deeper than that.

'I won my first F3 race there,' he smiled.

And his first F1 points, in 1997 for Jordan, also were won at the track.

But the best memory of all occurred just last year when Fisichella was handed his first-ever winner's trophy for belatedly trumping at the previous Brazil GP.

Kimi Raikkonen gave the Roman his prize on Imola's front straight.

'It was moving,' said Giancarlo, 'and deeply satisfying.'







Prost remembers Senna
Alain Prost had an extraordinary relationship with the great Ayrton Senna.

As Formula One recalls the tragic events at Imola one decade on, France's four times world champion said Senna was motivated by trying to beat him on track.

'I was the target,' Prost told L'Equipe.

Alain said he advised McLaren's Ron Dennis to sign Senna for the 1988 season.

'I never imagined what would happen,' said Prost of their fierce and unfriendly rivalry throughout 1988 and 1989, 'but I don't want to say I regret anything.'

I MISS YOU

The Frenchman left for Ferrari in 1990, and Senna - from Brazil - deliberately forced Prost off the track at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

After 1993, Prost retired.

On the morning of Sunday, May 1, 1994 - just before the start of that fateful Imola race - Ayrton stared into a TV camera with a message for his old mate.

He said 'Alain, I miss you.'

'It wasn't a joke,' recalled Prost. 'It came from within.'








Nick stays positive
Nick Heidfeld is staying positive on the eve of his fourth F1 race for Jordan.

The experienced German didn't even finish the first two races in Australia and Malaysia and spent much of the Bahrain event 'working to understand the tyres.'

Finally, he took the EJ14 for a pre-race test at Silverstone last week.

'It was positive,' said Nick.

'We also tried a few new things on the car - as always you want to test them more - but I'm fairly happy with how things went. I feel quite positive.'








Hill: Senna made a mistake
Damon Hill believes 'driver error' caused Ayrton Senna to crash fatally.

The world champion of 1996 was team-mate to the great Brazilian two seasons earlier and told 'The Times' that he is 'convinced' Senna made a mistake.

'Many people will never believe that he could,' said Hill.

'But he made many mistakes in his career.'

Hill insists that it is 'inconceivable' that Ayrton's steering column could have broken with the power steering system working normally, 'and I believe it was.'








Albers and F1
If Jos Verstappen does not land an F1 seat, perhaps his countryman will ... ?

25-year-old Christijan Albers has signed a sponsorship agreement with Dutch company Trust, Jos' main backer and a partner of the Jordan Grand Prix team.

Albers drives a DTM touring car for Mercedes.








Rubens: Remember Ayrton's 'life'
Rubens Barrichello has urged commentators to celebrate the 'life' of friend and mentor Ayrton Senna rather than dwell on the anniversary of his tragic death.

The Brazilian insists he is 'excited' about Sunday's race at Imola.

'I know that everyone is going to be talking about Ayrton,' he said.

'I just hope people celebrate his life and remember the good things about him.'

Rubens, now Ferrari's number two star, curiously does not agree that a raft of safety revisions at Imola since that tragic weekend were necessarily positive.

'The track used to have very fast, nice corners,' he continued.

'But today, you need a big, big advantage to be able to pass another car.'








Jordan and Senna
F1 team Jordan is to pay tribute to Ayrton Senna in Imola this weekend.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the Brazilian's fatal accident, the Silverstone-based team and Bahrain will dedicate space on the engine cover for an emblem.

Bahrain buys space on the yellow car to promote 'humanitarian' causes.

The emblem in Imola is to be of the 'Ayrton Senna Foundation.'

It will not, however, be the only tribute to F1's late world champion at Imola; Williams' challengers have carried the Senna 'swish' at every race since '94.







Rubens wept at Senna funeral
Ayrton Senna's was the first funeral Rubens Barrichello had ever been to.

The Brazilian driver told 'The Times' newspaper that he had a 'hard time believing his friend was really in' the coffin he later carried as a pallbearer.

Barrichello told reporters in Bahrain that the tenth anniversary of Senna's death at Imola would be no different from the ninth, or the eleventh in 2005.

But, recognising the media hype already in full swing, he urged commentators to put their pencils to celebrating 'the life' of Formula One's fallen champion.

Rubens tested at Circuit de Catalunya in the week after Bahrain.

'It was slightly inconclusive,' he said, 'as I had a small problem.

'But later at Fiorano I got more running.

'We could evaluate new parts that we will use in Imola.'








What's Bernie up to?
No-one really knows what to make of news that British Grand Prix rights holder Interpublic has sold out to staunch Silverstone critic Bernie Ecclestone.

F1 boss Frank Williams laced his optimism with caution.

'You never quite know what Bernie has in mind,' he told The Guardian.

'Second-guessing him is a waste of time.'

Silverstone-based colleague Eddie Jordan, meanwhile, urged Bernie to make good on his disapproval of the track to turn it into a facility 'he wants it to be.

JEOPARDISE

'It's a great opportunity,' the Irishman added.

'I don't accept he's going to do anything which jeopardises ... the race.'

Sir Jackie Stewart, meanwhile - president of the track-owning BRDC - is worried that in 2007, Interpublic can end its long-term lease of the English circuit.

'We don't know what the deal is yet,' the Scot told Press Association.

'We have not had a business discussion yet with Interpublic about this.'








Webber: don't slow F1 down
Mark Webber violently disagrees that his F1 car is too fast.

Colleagues like Renault-racing Jarno Trulli and FIA president Max Mosley believe the modern Formula One challenger has sped out to overly 'dangerous' levels.

'We are racing drivers and we know the risks,' said Jaguar Racing's Webber.

He is one of four directors of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association.

It's a particularly sensitive issue as the sport moves to Imola for the weekend's F1 racing, a decade on from the tragic loss of two grand prix stars.

Mark said: 'I think we are happy with what we are doing at the moment.

'There's no question the cars are faster than they have ever been.

'But the tracks have been active in preparation for that.'

The Australian said creating instability by introducing mid-season regulation changes would be 'more unsafe' than going through the quick corners 5kph faster.

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