F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 22, 2004

F1 aces play soccer for Ayrton
Formula One drivers paid tribute to Ayrton Senna ... by playing soccer.

At the Stadio Morgani in Forli, near Bologna, world champion Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa and Rubens Barrichello took on the 1994 Brazilian 'World Cup' team.

Senna, Brazil's race legend, died at the nearby Imola circuit ten years ago.


The trio of Brazilian drivers were joined by Italian Jarno Trulli, Spanish star Fernando Alonso and soccer legends such as Aldair, Dunga, Careca and Leonardo.

All proceeds of the match, attended by 6000 and kicked off by Senna's sister Viviane, went to the Ayrton Senna Foundation which helps Brazilian children.

* Old McLaren team-mate and friend Gerhard Berger will drive a lap of honour at the 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' track on Sunday in Ayrton's winning Lotus 98T (1986).

Pantano's familiar territory
Giorgio Pantano hopes familiar territory inspires him to speed in Formula One.

The Italian pay-driver has struggled alongside Nick Heidfeld in the EJ14 so far this season but the return to Europe means he at least knows the race circuits.

Pantano tested at the Silverstone track last week under a cloud of speculation as team boss Eddie Jordan travelled to Holland to meet Jos Verstappen's agents.

'It was good,' said Giorgio said, 'as more time in the car is definitely a help.

'I'm glad we're in Europe where I know the tracks a bit more.'

Formula One's European season kicks off on Friday at the Imola track in Italy, and Pantano knows all of these circuits following his recent campaigns in F3000.

Giorgio, 25, said the event dubbed the 'San Marino GP' is like a home race.

'And I even tested here in the Jordan in both wet and dry conditions.

'So this should be better than the first three races.'

McLaren step was 'too big'
McLaren tried to step too far ahead with the uncompetitive MP4-19 car.

Engine partner Mercedes-Benz's competition chief Norbert Haug revealed that the silver collaboration wanted to take a 'giant stride in development' this season.

'Yes, we made mistakes,' the German told Stern magazine.


'We have problems with the whole package.'

This publication has revealed that an innovative carbon/titanium gearbox is just one of the '19' car's many problems, including a temperamental Mercedes V10.

Haug admitted that McLaren's anticipated step in 2004 was 'perhaps ... too big.'

Rossi tries Ferrari for size
On Wednesday, MotoGP champ Valentino Rossi tried a Formula One car on for size.

The Italian accepted an invitation of the title-winning Ferrari team to take to the wheel of an older F2003-GA model in an unannounced maiden test at Fiorano.

One notable analyst in Italy lauded Rossi's performance as 'very impressive.'

Although Ferrari didn't release any lap times, Italian media sources said 25-year-old Rossi did a few more than 20 tours with a best time of 59.5 seconds.

Michael Schumacher, by contrast, lapped at a tad over 58 seconds on Wednesday.

'It was a very exciting day for me,' Rossi said in a statement.

'Driving an F1 car was an amazing experience.

'It was great for me to follow in Schumacher's footsteps for a day.'

Also at the sunny circuit was Luca Badoer who shook down the Imola-bound F2004s, and Rubens Barrichello who, like Schumacher, did a few laps in a Maserati MC12.

Rain not expected at Imola
Despite previous reports, rain is not really expected at Imola this weekend.

A weather source at the 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' circuit near Bologna (Italy) said a partly cloudy sky and about 16 degrees lingered at the F1 venue on Wednesday.

And the overcast conditions are expected to clear somewhat later on Thursday.


17 degrees and a mostly sunny day is forecast, before some cloud returns to the region on Friday as Michael Schumacher starts a defence of his 2004 clean-sweep.

A 15-20 percent chance of rain persists for Friday and Saturday.

That probability is set to rise to around 30 percent on Sunday, as the circus goes racing at Imola, where cloud and 16.5-degree ambient temperatures await.

Britain set to lose GP in 2005
Britain will not host Formula One beyond July if a new promoter fails to step forward and vow to immediately bring the Silverstone circuit up to scratch.

That's the latest warning of F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone.

The FOM chief acquired the promotional rights to the race earlier this week in a move which put it in real danger of making a hole for his new wave of F1 venues.

'I'd be delighted if [F1] were to go ahead at Silverstone,' said Ecclestone.


He told the Daily Telegraph that Silverstone, located in rural Northamptonshire and owned by the British Racing Drivers' Club, should look closely at Bahrain.

'That's what facilities should look like,' Bernie, 73, continued.

'Silverstone has to fall in line. I put a chunk of money into it and all I saw were new car parks - they're nice but we need a new pit and paddock complex.

'Unless the BRDC do this, there will not be a grand prix in the UK in 2005.'

Schu plans on 'four from four'
Michael Schumacher plans to make it four from four this weekend in Italy.

The world champion revealed that his Ferrari car, which won the opening three grands prix of 2004 from pole, is to wear a new 'aerodynamic setup' at Imola.

'Imola puts the brakes and the engine under some stress,' said the German.


He added in nearby Bologna: 'I think we can approach [the race] in a positive frame of mind, particularly after the good start to the season we have had.'

Schumacher, who is an Ambassador for nearby San Marino, said the first race in Europe is the 'natural place' for the first 'big phase' of car development.

He concluded: 'We'll do everything here to continue our series of victories.'

Theissen supports Imola axe
Deserting Imola is probably a good thing, according to Dr Mario Theissen.

The BMW chief told reporters he is glad the Italian circuit near Bologna is a European event, because the F1 facilities are 'not really state of the art.'

It is therefore favourite to make way for the inaugural Turkish GP in 2005.

After the three 'exotic' overseas races of '04, F1's move to Imola means outfits can finally take their own transporters and motor homes to the grands prix.

'Logistically,' said Theissen, 'that makes our work easier.'

Rubens in Portugal
On Monday, Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello flew out to Portugal.

There, at the old Estoril Formula One circuit, the Brazilian climbed behind the controls of a 2002-spec car and did 10 laps for a 'Shell Oil' promotional event.

Barrichello spun his Jordan in Estoril's last grand prix back in 1996.

The circuit was knocked off the F1 calendar for reasons of safety.

'I enjoyed the warm welcome that the people gave me,' said Rubens.

'I know just how passionate about Formula One they are.'

On Wednesday, prior to playing football at Forli near Bologna, Barrichello took part in a ceremony to officially 'hand over' the keys of Fiorano to Ferrari.

Schu blamed himself for Senna crash
Michael Schumacher blamed himself for the death of Ayrton Senna.

Di Spiers, who looked after the Benetton motor home in 1994, recalls that the German 'cried his eyes out' after being told that Senna had crashed fatally.

'He said he pushed Ayrton too hard,' she told The Times.


Schumacher, then in his mid-twenties, chose at the time not to attend the great Brazilian's funeral - a decision Ferrari's reigning world champion now regrets.

'I felt it was not necessary to go to church,' he explained.

'My feelings about racing were confused. It was only after a test at Silverstone that I felt I could go on. Now I regret that I wasn't there.'

Jordan lost a friend in 1994
It is still the only flight Eddie Jordan has ever endured in total silence.

The Formula One principal had lost a great friend at the Imola race of 1994.

'I think it was the only flight I've been on like that,' said the Irishman who returned to the UK with the rest of the Formula One Constructors' Association.


EJ said the world is a 'lesser place' without Ayrton Senna, who had 12 years earlier got his first ever Formula Three test in a Jordan car (September 1982).

'He was staggeringly quick,' Jordan recalled.

Eddie failed to sign him for 1983, but the titanic battle of Senna and Jordan driver Martin Brundle throughout that year is a matter of motorsport folklore.

Prince Andrew in China
Prince Andrew visited China's new Formula One circuit near Shanghai.

'Britain is the global leader in automotive innovation,' said the Duke of York.

He said he hoped Britain could therefore 'help' Shanghai make its GP a success.

Bernie's tobacco solution
Bernie Ecclestone has a solution for Formula One's 'tobacco' problem.

The supremo has reportedly offered disgruntled governments free 'anti-smoking advert' space on the F1 tracks in return for not banning cigarette logos.


Bernie's theory is that, if 'Marlboro' or 'Benson & Hedges' signage on a F1 racer is so powerful, anti-smoking health messages should be equally effective.

A total ban on cigarette advertising falls on the European Union next July.

Imola lost its spectacle
Imola lost much of its spectacle after the tragedies of 1994.

Ferrari engineer Luca Baldisserri said safety changes at the Italian track, such as the introduction of more chicanes, has made overtaking 'almost impossible.'

One plus at Imola, however, is that temperatures are much more 'F1' friendly.

'It means less of a strain on the cars,' said Luca.


'It allows us to run the car in a 'purer' aerodynamic form.'

The F2004 model has a new front wing and turning vane bodywork for Imola.

Baldisseri thinks it's a shame that Bernie Ecclestone is likely to take the 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' circuit off the calendar in '05 to make way for new races.

'I remember as a boy,' said the Italian, 'climbing over the fence to get in without paying. It's an emotional place - even if there's more pressure.'

Senna was better than Schu
Ayrton Senna was a better driver than Michael Schumacher.

That's the belief of F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone who told The Independent that Senna 'could have done better' than Michael if he'd lived beyond Imola 1994.

'I think Michael's super,' said Bernie, 73.

'But if they were in the same car, my money would be on Ayrton.'

Ecclestone, who tried to sign Senna for Brabham back in the 80s, said the late champion had an ability to focus without thinking about it 'as much as Michael.'

A1 and Bahrain
The recently launched 'A1 Grand Prix' series is likely to race in Bahrain.

A statement issued by the Kingdom's new Formula One circuit said a number of 'exploratory negotiations' are in progress to bring sports events to the region.


'Nothing has been finalized or approved,' said the statement.

A1 plans to run a single-seater category of racing in the winter period, between September and March, also in Dubai, China, Japan, Malaysia, Australia and Korea.

No F1 boycott in Spain
Formula One is not likely to boycott next month's Spanish Grand Prix.

This publication suggested that Barcelona might be the ideal venue for a strike because Spain is a signatory of the controversial European Arrest Warrant law.

But another media outlet denied it is a realistic possibility.

'It would be financial suicide,' grandprix.com quoted a 'team boss' as saying.

'It is not something over which we are going to risk our businesses.'

Williams not ready to win: BMW
BMW-Williams is not ready to win a Formula One race in 2004.

Dr Mario Theissen, director of the Munich side of the collaboration, made the claim as he also said Ferrari's rivals now have to 'close the gap consistently.'

'Our rivals made more progress than expected,' he said of the winter period.


Highlighting the need for steady chassis improvements this season, Theissen also acknowledged that there is some work still to do on the BMW P84 engine design.

He said Munich is working on delivering 'peak performance' also in the races.

'It won't be done overnight,' said Mario, 'but we're still in the early stages.'

Toyota engine is most powerful
Toyota's is the highest revving V10 engine in Formula One.

Engineers for rival teams reportedly carried out acoustic analysis of Cologne's RVX-04 at a recent grand prix and it showed up as therefore the most powerful.


Such an analysis is accurate to within 250rpm, a source told F1 Racing magazine.

In Bahrain, scene of the last race three weeks ago, Olivier Panis finished 9th, just out of the points, and Brazilian team-mate Cristiano da Matta was tenth.

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