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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 23, 2004


Stewart asks government for help
This publication understands that Sir Jackie Stewart, president of the Silverstone-owning BRDC, has renewed an approach to the government for funds.

The revelation comes after F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone, the new British GP rights holder, urged the Club to update its track facilities or lose the race.

'We're waiting for Mr Ecclestone,' Stewart countered.

He said the Briton had committed monies to build a new pit and paddock complex.

SPECIAL DEAL

Jackie, the former triple world champion, is also reported to have told the UK government that venues in Spain, Germany and France all have federal support.

'I think he wants the race to stay,' he told agencies.

But Ecclestone is adamant he does not want to be the race promoter.

'I won't do a special deal for Britain just because it's Britain,' he told The Times. 'And it's not up to the government to give money to a gentlemen's club.'








No Toyota deal for Jordan
Jordan won't be Toyota-powered in 2005, media reports now suggest.

Despite an earlier prediction that Cologne might be negotiating a customer deal, Autosport now says TMG has 'no plans' to supply F1 privateers Jordan or Minardi.

TWO ENGINES

BMW also has no intention of selling its engines to fellow teams.

Sources at Imola said the Munich manufacturer would not 'revisit the strategy' at least until Formula One has moved to a 'two or more' engine per-weekend plan.








Prost 'more skilful' than Senna
Ayrton Senna's were eyes of 'total concentration.'

That's how his final Formula One team boss, Sir Frank Williams, will remember the great Brazilian who perished in one of his cars ten years ago here at Imola.

'He showed no mercy,' the smiling boss recalled.

'He was always thinking. That awareness of absolute superiority was ahead of its time. It's something Michael Schumacher now uses to great effect today.'

Williams believes arch nemesis Alain Prost was probably more skilful than Senna.

'But Ayrton pushed himself more than Alain did,' he quickly added.

'He was flamboyant in his style and drove right on the limit.'








F1 drivers in debt to Senna
Michael Schumacher believes today's Formula One drivers owe a debt to Ayrton Senna, who perished in a shunt on this Imola race circuit ten years ago.

'Maybe there is a positive,' said a sombre German in Italy.

'We've seen a lot of action in terms of safety since that day.'

Schumacher, who was chasing Senna when his Williams speared into Tamburello, said despite some 'tough times' it was a 'privilege' to share a track with him.

'[But] I don't want to be compared,' the Ferrari star concluded.








Schu's fire still burns
Michael Schumacher's passion for Formula One still burns.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn told The Guardian that at the end of a racing season, every team member is 'fairly worn out' and goes off to recover.

'You just wait for Michael to ring and ask about the [new] car,' he smiled.

'By Christmas he really starts to pester us.'








Can Renault fight Ferrari?
Can Renault challenge Ferrari on Italian soil this weekend?

Jarno Trulli, an Italian, said his Enstone based team has a revised engine and chassis package for Imola but it's 'not going to be easy' to fight Ferrari.

'I think they've got some new things as well,' he said.

Renault, second in the constructors' championship, lost lauded tech boss Mike Gascoyne over the winter and replaced him with his former deputy Bob Bell.

Did that affect the teams' momentum?

'No. Really there is little that changed,' said Jarno. 'Mike was a loss, of course, but our performance is still very good and we have a good engine.'

* Trulli is set to debut the 'Bell Racestar HP' helmet design on Friday, the first model to pass new FIA safety standards which become mandatory from 1 July.








Blue Ferrari
A cheeky faction of the F1 paddock refer to the Sauber as a 'blue Ferrari.'

'That's not true,' said racer Felipe Massa, who is under contract to the works Maranello team and tested scarlet cars for Michael Schumacher last season.

Some suggest that the C23, which Massa says is clearly better than the older one after a recent 'back to back' test, bears an uncanny resemblance to the F2003.

Certainly, it features this year's Ferrari V10 and seven-speed gearbox.

'I think we have built our own car,' the Brazilian explained at Imola.

'It's our chassis. We built it.'








Formula 'Thrashed'
As a child, Felipe Massa used to think he might grow up and play football.

'Maybe, maybe,' the Sauber star smiled ...

'But after yesterday I have the answer. Impossible.'

A team of F1 pilots, to mark the ten year anniversary of Ayrton Senna's fatal crash at Imola, took on the 1994 World Cup-winning Brazilian football team.

'They were just having a laugh,' Felipe recalls.

EMBARRASSED

'They had to lend us some players at half time because we were losing so bad.'

Renault's Jarno Trulli was 'embarrassed' at one stage, he told reporters.

'I'm fit,' said the Italian, 'I can drive at 360kph - but they can kick a ball. I'll never be able to. At one stage we just stopped and watched ... amazing.'

Team captain Michael Schumacher stopped the game after two minutes and told the good players, like Fernando Alonso, to 'come back, you can't attack today.'

'We just had to defend, defend,' said the German. 'But it was still fun.'








Rossi's future in Formula One
Valentino Rossi put his 'racing blood' to good use.

That was the praise of world champion Michael Schumacher who lent the MotoGP champion a helmet as he got a first taste of Formula One power at Fiorano.

'He went very well,' said the German in Imola.

'In the end he was driving very impressively.'

SORE NECK

Rossi, the motorcycling champion, has a little experience on four wheels - as a youngster he raced karts and he's also a dab hand at the wheel of a rally car.

But does he have a future on the Formula One grid?

'I don't know,' said Schumacher. 'I reckon he would come to a certain level, maybe competitive, but to come to the final tenth is usually the tricky bit.'

Michael said Valentino is probably nursing a sore neck back to health today.







Schu resists Imola axe
Michael Schumacher does not support the likely axe of Imola's F1 race.

The world champion, an Ambassador for San Marino, insisted that Formula One enjoys racing at the Italian venue on which he drove to victory last season.

According to speculation, Imola - home of the circuit named after Enzo Ferrari and his son Dino - is favourite to make way for a Turkish Grand Prix in 2005.

'From my side,' said Ferrari's star, 'I hope the rumours don't come true.

'If I can do anything I will,' he said, 'but I'm not sure what I can do.'








Was Sato 'overdriving'?
A few weeks ago, David Richards claimed that Takuma Sato is 'overdriving.'

So does BAR-Honda's Japanese star agree with the perspective of his boss?

'It's a difficult question,' Taku smiled in Imola on Thursday.

'I always try to drive as fast as I can. I'm always committed.'

Sato said, especially in '04, there is very limited time before single-lap qualifying so it might lead to a frenetic rush to set the car up in practice.

'Now we're back in Europe,' he said, 'I hope it's a bit more relaxed.'

Clearly, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher has his eye out for a couple of Honda-powered lads at the Enzo e Dino Ferrari (Imola) circuit this race weekend.

'Takuma and Jenson [Button] were very fast in the Barcelona test,' he said.

'What does it mean? I'm keen to find out!'








Don't write McLaren off: Whitmarsh
Formula One's racing media has effectively written-off the McLaren attack.

But Martin Whitmarsh, the company's former managing director, insisted at Imola that Woking is 'fully focused' on improving the competitiveness of the MP4-19.

Whitmarsh has taken on the new role of 'CEO Formula One'.

'I think we've all read the stories about us,' the Briton remarked.

'But we are developing the car.'

Team veteran David Coulthard said McLaren completed some 'encouraging test sessions' since Bahrain at the Circuit de Catalunya and Paul Ricard circuits.

'It's not been an ideal start to the year,' said team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who has smoked out of the first three grands prix with car reliability dramas.

Mercedes boss Norbert Haug said the first target at Imola is 'finishing.'

He added that Raikkonen's engine failures in Bahrain were due to a damaged inlet valve, in Friday practice, and a faulty piston cooling jet in the actual race.








Max went to Roland's funeral
Earlier this week, a member of the Formula One media attacked FIA president Max Mosley for failing to show up at the funeral of Brazilian great Ayrton Senna.

The Briton, instead, flew out to Austria in the days after May 1, 1994.

'Roland had been forgotten,' said Mosley, referring to the young Simtek driver with the surname of Ratzenberger who also perished in a F1 crash that weekend.

'So I went to his funeral because everyone went to Senna's.

'I thought it was important that somebody went to his.'








Blame Williams, says Montoya
Don't blame me for failing to win a Formula One race so far in 2004.

That's the gist of the message of BMW-Williams ace Juan Pablo Montoya in Imola.

'It's up to Williams, not me,' said the Colombian. 'I'm giving 100 percent every time I go on the circuit. But if you don't have the equipment ...'

BETTER

Juan, 28, said the 'tusk nosed' car is better than its predecessor.

'It feels good to drive. It handles well. It's just not quick enough.'

Worse still, from the perspective of improving, is that the FW26 boasts no single problem. 'Ferrari is just a little better - in every area,' said JPM.








Schu wants F1 power cut
Is the modern Formula One car too fast?

Reporters in Imola asked the man with perhaps the most valid opinion; Michael Schumacher, driver of the fastest car - the winning Ferrari - on the 2004 grid.

'I think the drivers are coping with the speeds,' said the German.

'But I think in the future we should look at reducing horsepower.'

Paddock gossip suggests that a fifth tire-groove is a real possibility.

FIFTH GROOVE

'I don't agree with that one,' Schumacher, 35, continued.

'If we wait two more years we'll be at 1000 horsepower - I think that's too much for the tires we have. So that's why I think it's something to look at.'

Track rival Juan Pablo Montoya is surprised with the 'too fast' ramblings.

'There aren't any high-speed corners as it is,' he told the Telegraph.

'Going slower is not what the sport is all about. I think it's crazy.'








Personnel changes at McLaren
David Coulthard wants McLaren to get its 'act together' in Italy.

The Scot has scored just four points since the season started in Australia while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen has smoked out of every race with MP4-19 car failure.

'Things are certainly not happy here,' DC told the Daily Mirror.

BLOWN AWAY

'We seriously need to get our act together otherwise we'll be blown away.'

Coulthard said it is not 'good enough' for McLaren, the third best-financed team in Formula One, to be only fifth in the constructors' F1 world championship.

* Martin Whitmarsh has taken on a new role as general manager (CEO) of the team, thus replaced as managing director by former operations director Jonathan Neale.







Renault whiz not changing teams
Renault's electronics whiz has no plans to switch Formula One teams.

It was earlier reported that Naoki Tokunaga, who is under contract to sister brand Nissan, pioneered the start-line system of the impressive R24 model.

OFFERS

He received offers from Ferrari, BMW-Williams and BAR, said sources.

But a Renault man at Imola on Friday denied that Tokunaga is even considering changing teams and is to remain an employee of Nissan in Japan throughout '04.








Button befuddled Montoya
On the Bahrain podium, second placed Juan Pablo Montoya passed the euphoric Jenson Button, who had finished behind him in a BAR-Honda, a befuddled glance.

'I was amazed,' the Colombian said at Imola.

'I thought 'what happened here? Who won the race?'.

'The podium is nice, and he was quick, sure.

'But ... finishing second, third? I'm not happy. Once he wins he'll never be satisfied with anything less than that again. I'm doing all I can to win.'








Newey pushes 'B spec' McLaren
Adrian Newey is pushing hard to complete the 'B spec' MP4-19 design.

McLaren's designer told Autosport that the model will present more significant changes than appeared in the step between the MP4-18 and the current version.

It's likely to be ready by Hockenheim in late July.

'Right now, we're obviously doing what we can,' said Newey.

'I certainly hope the MP4-19B will represent a step forward.'








Renault clock most miles
No team has amassed more weekend mileage in 2004 than Renault.

The second-placed constructor beat Toyota and Ferrari in the face of new regulations which have led many manufacturers to preserve engines at races.

PREPARED

With a total 3476km, Renault is 29km ahead of Toyota and 98km ahead of Ferrari.

'Heathrow testing last year meant we were already used to a very strict way of working, so we were prepared,' said head of engine operations Denis Chevrier.








Mosley to end F1 tire war?
Formula One might show the door to one of its current tire suppliers.

A report in 'The Times' claims that FIA president Max Mosley is devising a radical plan to end Ferrari's iron domination of the grand prix world tour.

TRACTION CONTROL

Electronic aids such as traction control and power steering would get the chop.

And control rubber would negate the dominance of a single supplier such as Ferrari's near-exclusive tire partner Bridgestone, according to the report.








Monaco unveils F1 garages
Monaco has unveiled its new Formula One pit and paddock facilities.

At long last, permanent garages are to be ready for this year's grand prix in late May, after Monaco Automobile Club chief Michel Boeri opened the buildings.








Wirdheim could race for Jaguar
Don't be surprised if Bjorn Wirdheim contests a grand prix in 2004.

The Swede, reigning F3000 champion, signed a deal with Jaguar Racing earlier this year where he tests the spare R5 at all rounds of the world championship.

But his role also is as 'official reserve' race driver.

'Something unexpected can always happen,' he said.

Indeed, tester Marc Gene stepped into Ralf Schumacher's shoes when the BMW-Williams racer was injured in a big shunt at the Monza circuit last season.

Bjorn told Autosport, however, that his longer term future is more clouded.

'I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen next year,' he smiled.








Minardi show off new kit
F1's poorest team is showing off an advanced piece of kit at Imola.

Minardi switched on a satellite-based communications system at the circuit on Thursday supplied by new technical partners Feedback Italia and Skylogic Italia.

It allows real time, video communication between Faenza and the F1 paddock.

'Hopefully it will bode well for all of F1,' said Feedback MD Franco Fortis.








F1 aces remember May 1, 1994
An 18-year-old Juan Pablo Montoya stepped out of a go-kart in Colombia and was told his hero, Brazilian great Ayrton Senna, had died at the Imola race track.

'I couldn't believe it,' he said at Imola on Thursday, ten years later.

He added: 'Senna was my hero.'

Australian charger Mark Webber, Jaguar's driving star - then seventeen - was at home in rural Queanbeyan watching the Imola race on Channel Nine with his Dad.

SAD DAY

'I went to bed and Ayrton had been taken to hospital,' he recalled.

'Only when I woke up did I find out. It was such a sad day.'

One of then 14-year-old Bjorn Wirdheim's mates told the Swede at a go-kart circuit that Senna had died 'and I thought it was a joke ... I was so worried.

'I rushed home with my dad and we turned on Eurosport - the memorial programme was just starting. It was a long time ago but I remember it so clearly.'








F1 heads for radical shake-up
F1's governing FIA has proposed a raft of sweeping and radical revisions to spice up a Formula One gripped in Ferrari domination and spiralling costs.

Max Mosley, president, invited six F1 bosses to a May meeting in Monaco aimed particularly to 'improve the racing spectacle without ... artificial rules.'

Among the proposed changes is a engine formula cut to 2.4 litre V8, and the mandatory use of a standard 'Electronic Control Unit', supplied by the FIA.

Mosley wants drivers to change gears manually, and steer without power steering.

Brakes would be standard, the tyre war ended, spare cars forbidden, testing mileage 'drastically' reduced, and the changing of tyres at pit stops banned.

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