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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
May 17, 2004


Montoya wants Monaco 'tire advantage'
Juan Pablo Montoya believes Michelin can find a tire-advantage at Monaco.

The Colombian, who won on superior tires here last season, said the French marque 'definitely had an advantage' in the past two years in the Principality.

''Tires make a big difference,'' the BMW-Williams driver said.

Juan Pablo, who also scored pole position in season 2002, added: ''So I'm confident Michelin will come up with some very good tires again this weekend.''

Michelin's Pierre Dupasquier said 'very soft' compounds are used in Monaco.

''I'm confident we can complete our hat trick,'' the motorsport boss continued.

Meanwhile, F1 manager Pascal Vasselon revealed that, over the past few seasons, Bibendum has 'established a system' for evaluating Monaco tire performance.

He said the system 'extrapolates data' obtained at other venues.








Michelin has 'one lap' advantage - Fisichella
Giancarlo Fisichella has supported claims from within other Bridgestone-clad Formula One teams that rival supplier Michelin has a 'single lap' advantage.

Asked why qualifying is proving so difficult, the Roman said it's 'the tires.

''Michelin seem to have an edge on one lap,'' Sauber's star continued.

''But the boys from Bridgestone are not sleeping.''

Fisichella, whose name has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Juan Pablo Montoya at BMW-Williams, said his 'favourite circuit' is at Monte-Carlo.

''You need speed and precision,'' he explained. ''Two of my best qualities.''

Meanwhile, BAR ace Jenson Button said he tested Michelin's Monaco-spec product in France 'and they look quite interesting - the consistency seems very good.'








Davidson 'on the mend'
Anthony Davidson will be 'ready and raring to go' in Monaco.

The Briton, who tests the T-car for BAR-Honda on race weekends, pinched a nerve in his back at the recent Paul Ricard test and had to be carted-off to hospital.

''This time it really hurt,'' he smiled.

Davidson, 24, said he's been having physio treatment since last Tuesday.

''It's on the mend,'' Anthony added, referring to the injury.

''I'll certainly be ready and raring to go in Monaco.''

A spokesman at Brackley, meanwhile, confirmed that the Friday tester is 'expected to be fit and well' for official practice duties this Thursday.








Honda to unveil 'Monaco' engine
Honda has a 'Monaco spec' engine to unveil in the Principality this weekend.

BAR test team manager Andrew Alsworth confirmed that the Japanese manufacturer ran two of the latest-specification V10s during last week's Paul Ricard test.

''They ran without a problem,'' said Honda engineering director Shuhei Nakamoto.

''We're in good shape and will put up a fight at Monaco.''

British driver Jenson Button, meanwhile, told reporters before leaving Le Castellet that Brackley 'tested some aerodynamic improvements' for the race.








New Monaco 'the pits' for fans - da Matta
Monaco features an all-new pit and paddock complex for the 2004 grand prix.

Land has been reclaimed from the harbour so that F1 teams no longer have to endure a long trek from the pits to makeshift garages in a multi-story car park.

''Usually it is logistically very demanding,'' said Toyota's Cristiano da Matta.

The Brazilian said 'everything has been improved' for drivers and mechanics.

But while Monaco was always the worst place for teams to work, Cologne's driving star reckons the glamorous event 'was the best one' for the event's spectators.

''Before, they could actually see something,'' he claimed.

''At most other places we're hidden. So we'll have to see what this is like.''







Button to 'knock out' opposition
Last year, BAR's Jenson Button watched the Monaco Grand Prix from the pits.

But this weekend on the streets, the Briton wants to chase a Ferrari.

During practice in 2003, he smashed at full-speed into barriers at the 'nouvelle chicane' and was knocked out, mild concussion giving him a very big headache.

24-year-old Button's Monte-Carlo relish, however, shines-on unabated.

''I think we're going to be very strong,'' he predicted on the weekend.

''Ferrari are still dominant but it'd be nice to get back on the podium.''








Webber votes for 'top ten shoot-out'
Mark Webber doesn't agree that 'one lap qualifying' should be scrapped.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is leading the push for the criticised format to be replaced mid-season with a system more reminiscent of the 2002 'free for all'.

''[But] no-one went out until the last ten minutes,'' the Australian complained.

''A lot of categories have a shoot-out which I think is a good thing.''

Webber told a Q&A on the Jaguar website that fans enjoy seeing their favourite driver 'tackling the pressure' and completing a lap that counts for the grid.

''It can be a bit long winded,'' he admitted of the current back-to-back system.

''But I'm sure we're making it a bit more straightforward for the future.''

Webber, 27, reckons Formula One should take a leaf out of the DTM book, where a 'quick practice session' to sort out the order precedes a 'top ten shoot out.'








Sato ends French test on top
BAR star Takuma Sato finished a week of testing at Paul Ricard on top.

The Japanese led a field of nine on the final day in France which also featured McLarens, BMW-Williamses, Renaults, Toyotas and the Jordan of tester Timo Glock.

Bernie Ecclestone's French track, where runners enjoyed hot and sunny conditions but with occasional showers, was set-up in a 'Monaco specification' solution.

Elsewhere on Friday, in Italy, Ferrari wrapped up its double-circuit assault.

At Fiorano, Rubens Barrichello worked on tires while at Mugello, team tester Luca Badoer returned to action to try-out new components for the F2004 model.








Panis 'realistic' for Monaco struggle
Don't expect to see red-and-white cars near the top of the Monaco time-sheets.

Toyota driver Olivier Panis admits that, despite a four-day test in France last week, the streets of Monaco won't make the most of the difficult TF104 car.

''We have to be realistic,'' said the veteran Frenchman.

''I don't expect Monaco will be our best race of the year.''








Electronic ideas 'are limitless' - Dalla
F1's governing FIA should think again if it believes reducing 'electronic driver aids' is going to reduce the influence of electronics, according to Ferrari.

Roberto Dalla, the head of the department at Maranello, reckons the ideas that can be developed through electronics are 'almost limitless' no matter what.

''Every time an item is removed,'' said the Italian, ''it keeps on growing. There is a basic technology that can be developed outside of the regulations.''

Actually, there's more work to do since more restrictive rules arrived.

Dalla said 'parc ferme rules' mean that the electronic department delves into a 'deep analysis' because electronics is one of the areas where work can continue.







Ralf rules out Monaco victory
It's going to be 'some time' before a BMW-Williams is back at the front.

That's the warning of out-of-contract team driver Ralf Schumacher as the Oxfordshire-based operation returns to the scene of its first win of 2003.

''It was the turning point,'' agreed the German.

At Monaco, Schumacher, 28, set pole and team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya won.

But, with the FW26, Williams seems a long way from the chequered flag.

Ralf said: ''I'd like to believe in a little miracle in the Principality.

''Realistically, though, we're not going to be fighting for the victory.''








New Renault is 'harder to drive' - Bell
Renault's latest car is 'less forgiving' than its 2003 predecessor.

Technical director Bob Bell reckons the R24 has more performance than the car inside which Fernando Alonso won in Hungary, but it's much harder to drive.

''We are improving the handling,'' he insisted on the weekend.

''But we've got to transform that into a concrete development.''

Bell said Monaco 'traditionally' suits Enstone's grand prix products.








Position vacant at Renault F1 team
Want to become a Formula One engineer?

F1 team Renault and The Daily Telegraph are offering one person the chance to launch an engineering/science career thanks to the 'Altran Engineering Academy.'

The annual scheme is offering 'paid work experience' and a statement continued to explain that the prize will be a job with the Renault Formula One outfit.








Ferrari 'must improve' - Ross Brawn
Ferrari might be painting the Formula One season red, but technical director Ross Brawn insists that the championship-leading team can still improve.

Race-starts are a definitely Ferrari-weakness, the Briton admitted.

''Obviously we need to improve there,'' he told Autosport.

And, given that tyre supplier Bridgestone is out-paced by Michelin on the first lap of a new stint, Brawn highlighted the need for more 'clever' strategies.

''We've got to think much more about qualifying,'' Brawn continued.

''And we've got to think much more about some strange strategies.''








Montoya would never support Schu
Most Formula One drivers would sign a 'number one' contract.

Germany's Nick Heidfeld does not agree with his countryman Michael Schumacher's superior status at Ferrari but, given the chance, he'd sign a similar deal.

''I don't think it's fair,'' said the Jordan star.

''But if it's there and available, you have to take every advantage.''

Renault's Jarno Trulli agrees, ''but on the sporting side, I'd say no.''

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, meanwhile, claims he is talented enough to not require a driver like Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello to contractually support him.

''Don't need it,'' he snapped at reporters.

''You can either do your job or you cannot. Simple.

''It must mean you're scared, I think.''

In one swift stroke, then, the 28-year-old ruled-out the possibility of ever becoming a driver like Barrichello, even if it meant steering the fastest car.

He scoffed: ''I'd rather just race go-karts.''

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