F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
May 14, 2004
Sato raves about new Honda
Takuma Sato raved about Honda's Canada-spec engine on Thursday.
The Japanese managed 105 laps with the Montreal unit at Paul Ricard
(France), and went faster than all runners including BMW-Williams,
Renault and McLaren.
''It was very, very good,'' he told Autosport.
''We [even] had a chance to go for a full blast! It was really good.''
Heidfeld 'not cleared' to test
Nick Heidfeld rocked up at Paul Ricard on Thursday and expected to
But circuit doctors declined to let the German climb back into a
repaired Jordan F1 challenger after he crashed heavily in southern
France just a day earlier.
A spokeswoman told us Nick, 26, then travelled to a hospital.
Rumour has it he drove himself to Marseilles, where he got the
all-clear to resume on Friday, even if a statement said Timo Glock
would do the session.
Brazilian 'back at the races' - Rubens
Rubens Barrichello returned to the races at Circuit de Catalunya.
After struggling to meet Michael Schumacher's four grands prix-winning
pace leading into Barcelona, the Ferrari star claims he found a good
set-up in Spain.
''All weekend I was only a couple of tenths behind him,'' said the
Barrichello, 31 - second at race's end - also claims he could have
''I decided to go for something different,'' he said, referring to a
But after qualifying well off Schu's pace (fifth) on Saturday, the
media were split - some saying Rubens was still slow, some predicting
a heavy fuel-load.
''But no-one at all really thought I was making only two stops,'' he
''It was a pretty good lap, especially as the car was heavier [with
seven laps more fuel than Schumacher] than I'd ever driven it in
testing at that track.''
Schu 'sounded horrible' - Ross Brawn
For the first time in ages, Michael Schumacher's Ferrari 'sounded
That's how technical director Ross Brawn summed up his fears when the
bright red racer moaned past the pitwall from lap-20 onwards in last
Sunday's Spanish GP.
''The [broken] exhaust progressively got worse,'' the Briton told
''I really didn't think he'd finish. It was a minor miracle.''
At the time, Brawn told a pitlane reporter that the German should be
able to drive the F2004 home - he didn't, of course, want rivals to
know his worries.
He continued: ''The strange thing is the car kept working fine.
''We were just worried about not finishing. It burned a bit of
Schumacher last retired from a race with a cracked exhaust in 2000, in
the Monaco GP, when leaking hot fumes burned through a piece of rear
''Since then,'' said Ross, ''we've had sensors on the suspension.
''We were watching them. We thought maybe we'd have to call it a
Webber out to 'destroy' F1 teammate
The placid Mark Webber lets rip when asked about his Formula One
Since hitting the sport, for the struggling Minardi crew and now
Jaguar, Australia's star has 'destroyed' the fellow occupant of his
team's 900bhp racer.
Justin Wilson is ''very nice,'' he once said, ''but I've got to kick
''It's my job to destroy my teammate,'' Mark continued the theme in
Webber's four occasional team-mates from 2002 and 2003 - Alex Yoong,
Anthony Davidson, Antonio Pizzonia and Justin Wilson - are no longer
on the F1 grid.
''If I'm blown away by my team-mate,'' he adds, ''I'm doing something
''It's a driver's nightmare to get beaten with exactly the same
Sauber 'not ready' for big guns
Sauber is not ready to take on Formula One's big guns.
That's the warning of Hinwil technical director Willy Rampf who said
earlier this week that the Ferrari-powered privateer squad was now
''We're still a long way from the front runners,'' he admitted on
''We're making advances in the wind tunnel but it's not going to be
translated into huge track advances overnight. All of this takes a lot
Sauber's impressive wind-tunnel facility is now running at full steam.
Rampf said the team, one of only three remaining outfits not backed by
a giant vehicle manufacturer, is 'gaining new insights' and venturing
into new terrain.
''It's a complex tool,'' he warned, ''and it's going to take time
before it's perfect. The importance of measuring a full-size car is,
''The effects of the wind tunnel will only truly show with the C24.''
Dixon 'dreams' only of Formula One
Indy 500 favourite Scott Dixon only dreams of winning Formula One
The New Zealander, second fastest in the opening days of practice for
the fabled American open-wheel event, is tipped to fill a hole in the
''It's all about opportunity,'' he said in the Detroit Free Press.
Scott, 23, added: ''There are a lot of people banging at the F1 door.
''But, as a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a F1 driver.''
Three years ago, aged twenty, Dixon became the youngest driver ever to
win a major open-wheel race - in the then 'CART' Champ Car series in
Sato 'leads pace in France'
Takuma Sato gave F1 analysts a taste of what we can expect for June's
Canadian Grand Prix by going fastest with a new-version Honda engine
at Paul Ricard.
The Japanese ace powered his BAR ahead of McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen.
Renault ran with tester Franck Montagny in French sunshine and
The local boy, like the other seven testers, used the 'Monaco'
configuration on the changeable Le Castellet facility - a twistier
version than on Wednesday.
''Weather was good until ... a large storm broke,'' said a Renault
BMW-Williams, Toyota and Jordan also fielded runners.
'Man Friday' Davidson's Catch 22
Doing really well is a 'Catch 22' for Friday tester Anthony Davidson.
If the young Briton helps pull BAR, who field race aces Jenson Button
and Takuma Sato, into the top-four Formula One constructors in 2004,
he'll be out of a job.
Only the 'bottom six' teams get the spare-car-in-official-practice
''I want the car to be quick,'' he smiled.
''But at the same time I still want to be doing this next year.''
Better still, though, Davidson - who raced a couple of times for
Minardi in 2002 - wants a full race drive. ''I'm trying not to think
about it,'' he admitted.
The 24-year-old continued: ''I'm pretty confident, fairly
How so? Because he's caught the eye of the F1 media, and competing
''It makes me laugh,'' Ant smiled. ''Two years ago I'd do a good job
in a test and no-one gave a monkey's. Now my name's just at the top of
the times ...''
Toyota to 'clean out' F1 line-up
Toyota is likely to perform another 'clean sweep' on the driver front.
The struggling F1 team cleaned out Cologne's starting line-up of Mika
Salo and Allan McNish in late 2002 in favor of Olivier Panis and
Cristiano da Matta.
But the latter French and Brazilian drivers are now set for the chop.
Newspaper 'The Guardian' claims that the Mike Gascoyne inspired TF105,
Toyota's fourth GP charger, will probably be driven by Williams
refugee Ralf Schumacher.
McLaren veteran David Coulthard is favorite to join him, said Alan
The British media report continues that Toyota believes Ralf and agent
Willi Weber's 'asking price of about $18m a year needs to be trimmed
A Williams 'insider' also reckons Schumacher, 28, is 'frustrated' in
He said: ''[Ralf] might be able to revitalize his form with a switch
'Arden F1 hopes fading' - report
A 'lot of good will' is pushing-on Arden's quest for the Formula One
The F3000 championship-winning team hopes to buy a customer chassis
and affordable engine from a manufacturer-squad and compete as early
Boss Christian Horner said a 'substantial amount of commercial
interest' was provoked by the governing FIA's announcement that F1
racing should be cheaper.
But a report by magazine Autosport claims Arden's hopes 'are fading.
''GP team bosses are reluctant to agree to rules changes,'' it
Formula One's smaller teams, including Jordan, Minardi and Sauber, are
unlikely to agree to remove the $48 million start-up deposit required
by new entrants.
They believe it would devalue their hard-earned spot in pitlane.
''We won't vote for this,'' Australian Paul Stoddart told the magazine
''... unless all teams receive prize money.''
Jaguar ready to update wind tunnel
Jaguar is ready to start the 'total modernisation' of its Bedford wind
Construction consultant 'Ridge' has been contracted to handle the
design of the huge structure which will eventually house a
rolling-road, according to reports.
The Milton-Keynes based F1 team hopes to have the tunnel running by
Formerly owned by DERA, Jag has finished demolishing sections of the
''It dates from the 1950s,'' said managing director David Pitchforth.
Bridgestone 'must improve' tire - Brawn
Ferrari is worried about next weekend's trek to Monaco.
Tire partner Bridgestone's technical manager Hisao Suganuma admits
that rival Michelin is likely to have vastly superior 'first lap'
performance at the track.
''We think we can solve the problem,'' said the Japanese.
He added: ''But we probably need more time.''
The biggest problem is that, so far in testing at the Fiorano and
Mugello tracks, a better 'first lap' Bridgestone tire loses
consistency over long runs.
Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said the F2004's advantage at
Formula One tracks is neglected if a quicker Michelin-shod car gets
out front at the start.
It happened at Imola (Jenson Button), and again in Barcelona (Jarno
But it might have dire consequences on the impossible-to-pass streets
of Monte-Carlo, where David Coulthard once sat 40-laps behind a vastly
''First-lap performance will be absolutely critical at Monaco,'' said
He said Ferrari is willing to sacrifice 'a little' consistency.
Brawn doubts 'six lap' qualifying
Ross Brawn has cast doubt on Formula One impresario Bernie
Ecclestone's intention to rid the sport of its much-lambasted
single-lap qualifying system.
Ecclestone said F1 would revert to a multi-lap format before 2004 is
He wants to impose a 'two half-hour' system where cars must complete a
full six timed laps in both sessions, to be run on Saturday and
introduced 'mid season.'
But Bernie might also scrap the mandatory 'parc ferme' stipulation.
Ferrari's technical director, however, says such a move would not be
sensible as 'most 2004 cars' are designed to run one qualifying lap
and then start the race.
''So most of us now have small fuel tanks,'' Ross Brawn told
Monaco's 'the place to win' - Webber
No contest - Monaco is the place to win your first Formula One race.
That's the belief of one of the sport's rising talents, Mark Webber.
The Jaguar star has won before in the glamorous Principality, in
''If I could pick somewhere to win my first grand prix it would be
Monaco,'' said the Aussie. ''It's akin to winning a golf tournament on
a links course.''
But he doesn't expect to do it next weekend, in the tricky R5.
''It's going to be difficult,'' he laughed. ''A good result would be
to get some points. But I always enjoy going to Monaco. It's a massive
A feature of the Monte-Carlo streets is that there's no margin for
''Absolutely,'' the 27-year-old agrees. ''The car's constantly moving
''The key to a good lap is controlled aggression.''
BAR 'think hard' about Spanish form
BAR-Honda thought it would be faster around the Circuit de Catalunya.
Technical director Geoff Willis said Brackley shipped out of Barcelona
to have a 'very hard think about' why the 006 charger had not posed a
''It's quite healthy [to think like that],'' he told Autosport.
''Let's put it in perspective - we came away with two cars in the
''So to be disappointed, you have to say, is a healthy sign.''
Team principal David Richards, meanwhile, told us after the Spanish
Grand Prix that the country had not hosted 'what we were hoping for'
after winter testing.
''At least we've strengthened our third place [in the championship],''
But somehow, the consistency expected in Spain went begging on
Willis concluded: ''We'll work hard to understand how to improve for
Williams try to 'kick Ralf out' - Weber
Williams is trying to 'kick Ralf out,' according to a new Formula One
A quote has surfaced on the internet allegedly spoken by German ace
Ralf Schumacher's agent Willi Weber, who was responding to the latest
''To kick him out,'' said Weber, ''Frank has to prove he's not
Sources close to this publication report that Schumacher, 28, has a
two-way performance clause in his Weber-inspired contract, set to
expire this season.
Ralf is off to Toyota in 2005, unofficial reports now unanimously
Weber said Sir Frank Williams will 'struggle' to objectively prove
Ralf's lack of performance 'in a court,' even if he wants to pre-empt
a Toyota announcement.
Why has McLaren failed? - analysis
An analyst close to this publication believes he has discovered the
true reasons for McLaren's startling lack of pace with the latest
He said the first evidence was the new car's very early winter testing
Winning Adrian Newey/Neil Oatley designs usually take a long time to
build, are launched late, and head off to the Australian GP with
virtually no track-time.
But '19,' a de-bugged version of the un-raced 18, was the first car to
Then, said the analyst, close inspection revealed that 19 had 'a
little too much' in common with the '03 'anteater-nose car' that was
plagued with problems.
Former Arrows and Lola designer Mike Coughlan, not Newey and Oatley,
was the guiding force behind both dreadfully slow and unreliable
silver F1 versions.
And another relative newcomer, former Indycar man Mark Williams,
Then, news filtered into the F1 paddock that McLaren had a new brake
MP4-19 soon developed a tendency to lock wheels or spin under braking
and, almost simultaneously, the first new Mercedes-Benz V10 engines
Engine blocks were 'cracking and flexing,' the British analyst
Ferrari test on two fronts
Ferrari's race drivers tested at separate Italian circuits on
Michael Schumacher tried tires and new components for Monaco at
Fiorano, while Brazilian team-mate Rubens Barrichello also drove in
light rain over at Mugello.
He also worked on 'development of new components,' according to a
Meanwhile, at the Silverstone circuit under rare sunny skies, Italian
ace Giancarlo Fisichella took over the controls of Sauber's
He completed the three-day session by assessing a new front wing.
Renault 'is F1's slickest crew'
Renault has Formula One's slickest pit-stop crew.
According to official 'Formula One Management' figures, the Enstone-based
team has achieved the 'fastest timed stop' at every racing-round so
far this season.
''The standard we're performing to,'' said technical director Bob
Bell, ''reflects our current level of motivation. We are also enjoying
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