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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 24, 2004


Minardi run new aero package
Minardi showed off a range of aerodynamic developments at Imola on Friday.

A statement said the pieces resulted from the team's 'recent wind tunnel programme' but they still left the three black-clad drivers slowest of all.

'I got stuck in traffic on my fastest lap,' said Gianmaria Bruni.

'I'm very happy the team is pushing really hard at the moment.'

LUNCH BREAK

Some of the pieces on Zsolt Baumgartner's PS04B were still being manufactured at Faenza on Friday morning and were only fitted to the car in the lunch break.

'Now we just need to find a good chassis balance,' said the Hungarian.

Boss Paul Stoddart, meanwhile, found inspiration nearer the front of the grid.

The Australian was delighted to note that 'one of the front-running teams' has adopted vertical slotted rear wing end plates a Minardi aero innovation.








F1 reform surprise
The Formula One fraternity was as surprised as the rest of us by FIA president Max Mosley's raft of radical 2008 technical regulations announced at Imola.

'It's too early to react,' said Michelin boss Pierre Dupasquier.

'We knew nothing about it until today so I'd rather not comment.'








GPWC lied, says Jordan
Five F1 manufacturers 'lied' to everybody, according to Eddie Jordan.

The team boss said he's come across secret information authored by the GPWC.

'They fooled us,' he told the Telegraph.

EJ said GPWC told teams they would get a bigger share of the pot if they signed up for a series in 2008, and cheaper engines if they voted for traction control.








Race rain for Imola
Showers are forecast for Sunday's first European F1 race of 2004.

A weather source said a 'more than fifty percent' chance of rain exists.

On Saturday in Imola, a partly cloudy day with a top of 18 degrees is forecast.








F1 faces series split
Formula One again faces the threat of a rival world championship.

The GPWC group, comprising five carmakers, said it has cancelled a 'memorandum of understanding' and thereby ceased all negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone.

A spokesman said the 2008 series is again on the agenda.

NOT MET

Chairman Jurgen Hubbert said the MoU was 'not met' by other parties.

Ecclestone, F1 supremo, believes GPWC's threat to split is 'probably' real.

'If they want to organize their own [championship],' he said, 'they can.'








F1 reacts to radical reform
Norbert Haug was one leading light of the F1 circus who reacted positively to Max Mosley's radical plan for a new wave of sporting regulations beyond 2007.

'I think there are some good ideas there,' said the Mercedes-Benz chief.

Manuel gearboxes, wider tires at the rear, and smaller engines topped the bill.

'We think the aim of the proposals is positive,' said Ferrari's engine boss Paulo Martinelli, who added, 'we have to consider ... the future of the sport.'

BAR's Dave Richards was one of six principals invited to a Monaco meeting.

REVIEW

'I'm sure this is just a start,' said the Briton.

'But it is about time we had a general review of Formula One.'

Mario Theissen, of BMW, said he would support the 'two engine per weekend' plan.

'... and maybe even beyond it,' the German added.

'It would be a massive cost cut and that's what we need.'








ITV wins F1 until 2010
British broadcaster ITV has won a new contract to televise F1 until 2010.

'I think you do a great job,' F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told the network.








McLaren confirm Maik split
McLaren has confirmed the departure of Ilmor chief Hans-Ulrich Maik.

'There was an agreement,' said Mercedes-Benz boss Norbert Haug in Italy.

Following its worst start to a Formula One campaign, McLaren has completed a management rearrangement with Martin Whitmarsh taking on the 'F1 CEO' role.








Ferrari aims for clean sweep
Ferrari intends to win all 18 rounds of the 2004 F1 season.

'We should certainly try and do it,' said technical director Ross Brawn.

But that's not to say it's likely, according to the burly Englishman.

WEAK AREAS

'We've tried to strengthen our weak areas. Have we done it? I'm not sure.'

Hockenheim and Hungary were a couple of Ferrari 'low points' of season 2003.

'You often get to a level where you think you've achieved a package that is capable of [winning] everywhere,' said Ross. 'Then the others get stronger.'








Second fiddle to Ferrari?
Do Bridgestone's 'other' F1 teams play second fiddle to Scuderia Ferrari?

'They get all the specs,' said head of tire development Hirohide Hamashima.

Ferrari tech director Ross Brawn clarified that the issue is about 'timing.'

'Quite often we'll choose a tire at the last minute,' he said.

'So then at the next race that tire is available to all the teams.'








FIA to sanction GPWC series
F1's governing body would sanction a rival world championship.

President of the FIA, Max Mosley, said Formula One will go ahead in 2008 'no matter what' as Bernie Ecclestone has a contract to do so for 100 years.

'He has the right to exploit it commercially,' said the Briton.

If GPWC wants to set up its own series, however, Mosley could not stop it.

'If they ask us to sanction it,' he explained, 'we'd be happy to go ahead.'








Minardi tribute
Minardi's F1 cars carry a single word, 'saudade,' on the sidepods in Imola.

Not translated from Brazilian-Portuguese easily, it means 'missing you,' a sentiment introduced to the world as the title of a tribute song by Chris Rea.

'During that terrible week [in 1994],' said the Ayrton Senna fan, 'I just happened to see a Brazilian holding a cloth with the word written on it.'







Changes at Honda
Honda is not only benefiting from more power and less weight in 2004.

Otmar Szafnauer confirmed in Imola that the Japanese engine manufacturer, partner to Jenson Button's BAR team, has made some 'organisational changes.'

FASTEST

'I think that's helped as well,' he said.

Button and team-mate Takuma Sato were Friday's first and second fastest.








More Renault steps
Renault's new V10 engine is to get even 'bigger' steps later this season.

Engine tech director Rob White said in Imola, where Viry has unleashed the 'B spec' version worth four tenths, there are more steps planned for 'later races.'








No cheap engines
F1's privateers might have to wait a little longer for a 'cheap' engine deal.

Twelve months ago, Minardi and Jordan agreed to retain traction control in return for 'fully affordable' offers of customer Formula One power plants.

'We'd like to focus our resources on one team,' said Honda's Otmar Szafnauer.

BMW's Dr Mario Theissen agrees.

'One reason is limited production capacity,' the German said in Imola.








No Verstappen comeback
Jos Verstappen is not about to make a Formula One comeback.

Team chief Eddie Jordan visited Holland last week, but he insisted it was only to tie up a sponsor deal, admittedly with Verstappen's main race backer 'Trust'.

'I'm pleased to confirm a deal for the whole year,' he said in Italy.

Giorgio Pantano emerged as Nick Heidfeld's 2004 team-mate last winter.

'It didn't happen, for a number of reasons,' said EJ of the Verstappen drive.

'I've made my choice on drivers, and that's what will continue.'

Sources now hint that Verstappen, through his renewed association with Jordan sponsor Trust, might end up testing for another 'big' outfit later this season.








Bridgestone graining
Some Bridgestone runners experienced gaining and understeer on Friday.

'We don't expect much more of this,' said technical manager Hisao Suganuma.

The Japanese said the problem was caused by the slippery track surface.

'As the conditions improved,' he said at Imola, 'this lessened.'








F1 needs revolution: EJ
Eddie Jordan thinks Formula One probably needs a radical re-shuffle.

'Michael winning every race,' he said, 'is not really drawing people in.'

The privateer boss is reluctant to immediately embrace all changes, ranging from the banning of traction control to the end of a highly-competitive F1 tire war.

'We need to cut the costs,' he added, 'which are just silly.'

Jordan said he would 'not go on for ever' at the very back of the grid unless the governing body and the teams unite to make F1 affordable for independents.








Brundle slams Bernie
Only one man is standing in the way of a new paddock complex at Silverstone.

'It's all in place and ready to go,' said BRDC chairman Martin Brundle.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said the only way Britain would host a Formula One race beyond this July is if the circuit-owning Club builds new F1 facilities.

Brundle told Press Association: 'He's the only one holding that back.

'All he needs to do is write his initials on a piece of paper.'








Button doubts Imola win
Jenson Button doubts his BAR can stay at the top of the times.

The Briton went quickest of all at Imola on Friday but scoffed at claims that Brackley is ready to take on Michael Schumacher and Ferrari for a race win.

'Obviously, I'd like to win any race,' said the 24-year-old.

'But this one ... I don't feel we have a chance.'

Team boss David Richards thinks Button is right to be cautious about victory.

'We've got a few more years ahead of us,' said the Englishman.

'If we can simply get the Ferraris in our sights, I'll be happy.'








Tires singled out
Tires are being singled out as a foundation for slowing down F1 cars.

It is suggested that a fifth groove might cut cornering speeds, as well as the imposition of harder compounds, enforced by banning tire-changes in pit stops.

Ross Brawn doubts the latter solution would work.

'Last year there were races where Michelin didn't change tires,' said the Ferrari technical director. 'I don't think it's enough to reduce the speeds.'

There's also a safety issue of forcing drivers to run on worn-out rubber.

A control tire is on the cards for 2008, Max Mosley confirmed in Italy.

'How can you have it,' asked Brawn, 'when there are two companies involved?'








Senna punched me: Irvine
Ayrton Senna had a 'huge flaw,' according to Eddie Irvine.

The Ulsterman told his column in 'The Sun' that as F1 honours the one-decade anniversary of Senna's death at Imola, he witnessed the blemish 'first hand.'

'[Ayrton] possessed some stunning qualities,' said retired Irvine.

'But I remember it was my first race in F1, at Suzuka in 1993. He blocked me in qualifying. Then he lapped me in the race so I tried to overtake him back.'

IDIOT

After the race, Senna crashed through the Jordan driver's motorhome.

'He called me a f*cking idiot,' Irvine recalled, 'and swung a punch at me.

'I fell off the table and onto the floor.'

Irvine, who drove for Ferrari, said the Brazilian great 'never' apologised.








Formula Ferrari
Formula One? - More like 'Formula Ferrari,' if you ask Pierre Dupasquier.

The Michelin boss says the Bridgestone-clad Ferrari team has turned the sport into something that is downright 'ridiculous - right now F1 doesn't exist.'

One of Max Mosley's suggestions to spice up the racing is a control tire.

'We'll think about this,' said the Frenchman, 'but we'll take our time.

'The president is concerned about safety and [cars] are going way too fast now. It is his responsibility. But he must make sure the driver can still drive.'








Davidson should be on F1 grid
Anthony Davidson should be on the Formula One race grid.

That's the opinion of BAR chief Dave Richards who presently uses the young Englishman as a 'Friday tester' at every round of the 2004 world championship.

'He contributes a lot to the team,' said the Briton.

COMPETENT

'He is a very competent driver and a valued asset.'

Richards says he really hopes Davidson, who raced a couple of times for back-of-the-grid Minardi in 2002, makes the final step as a full time grand prix ace.

'He's very worthy of it,' said DR, 'but I'd also be sorry to lose him.'








What went wrong?
At last, an easy question - what has gone wrong at McLaren in 2004?

'Almost everything,' said Mercedes chief Norbert Haug in Imola.

'I guess it shouldn't happen but we're trying to solve it now.'








F1 against engine change
Not everyone is happy with proposed radical changes to the F1 rulebook.

Honda's Otmar Szafnauer believes F1 should pose 'freedom' in innovation.

'So we're against anything that takes away the challenges,' he said.

He's vehemently opposed to, for example, rev-limiters, even if Honda would support the proposed reduction in engine capacity from V10 to 2.4 liter V8.

'I think those things are an anathema to Formula One in general,' said Otmar.

Mercedes' Norbert Haug doesn't think an engine change helps to save money.

'Actually, it's quite the opposite,' said the German.

BMW's Dr Mario Theissen concurs, assuaging his fear that in changing from V10 to V8, there is likely to be a costly overlap in two engine development programmes.

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