F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
September 1, 2004

Minardi to run same engine as Jaguar
(GMM) F1's back-of-the-grid Minardi cars will be powered by the same Cosworth engine used by Jaguar next season, the team said.

Fending off speculation of a Toyota switch, a spokesman said the 90-degree 'TJ' model will be mounted in the car's rear in 2005.

Minardi are using a more than three-year-old Cosworth this year so the deal should bring 'significantly enhanced performance.'

Cosworth's commercial director Bernard Ferguson claimed Faenza-based Minardi is a 'worthy partner' due to its 'fighting spirit.'

He continued: ''We believe the Cosworth Racing TJ power unit will help to provide Minardi with a strong package next year.''

Most sources put the arrangement at between $10 - 15 million.

Schu not announcing retirement
(GMM) A source close to Michael Schumacher has denied the Ferrari driver is set to announce his retirement at Monza on Wednesday.

Publications suggested the now seven times Formula One world champion called a press conference to let the news slip in Italy.

But the source said MS's conference is to put the focus 'firmly' on the F1 drivers' crown, secured on Sunday at Spa-Francorchamps.

In Belgium, the source added, the focus was on Kimi Raikkonen and the Finn's breakthrough first victory of the season for McLaren.

Michael's press call is scheduled for lunchtime.

Ralf to skip Monza test, race
(GMM) Injured Williams driver Ralf Schumacher will not test at Italy's Monza circuit this week on the advice of his own doctors.

The German, on Tuesday, was checked at the 'Bad Nauheim' clinic in Germany ahead of an anticipated return for the Italian GP.

But a team spokesman said Ralf, 29, will not now take part in the test and, ''as a consequence, the Italian GP on September 12.''

One source said the problem was insurance-related and, indeed, the Williams spokesman confirmed RS's recovery 'continues well.

''The German driver is expected to test after [Monza].''

Pizzonia to replace Ralf again
(GMM) Williams will keep Antonio Pizzonia in the car after Ralf Schumacher was deemed unfit to race in next Sunday's Italian GP.

A team statement said the 24-year-old Brazilian 'performed strongly' at Spa-Francorchamps, his third race appearance in '04.

It added 'Jungle Boy,' the team's second test driver, would have made a debut podium appearance if not for a mechanical failure.

Williams' technical director Sam Michael admits his opinion of the fired-in-'03 Jaguar racer 'has gone up a lot' since July.

The Australian explained: ''His career has been up and down but he is now showing what he can do. Obviously he has ability.''

Pizzonia will now also test at Monza from Wednesday.

Sharp curb caused tire blow-ups - Michelin
(GMM) A sharp curb on the entry to Spa's 'La Chicane' was to blame for four Michelin blow-ups, the tire supplier said Tuesday.

F1 project manager Pascal Vasselon said analysts worked through Sunday night to study the remains of the shattered right rears.

It was deducted, he explained, that all affected drivers earlier ran over a sharp inside curb on the re-profiled 'bus stop' turn.

But Pascal admitted there is some doubt as race tires are always 'badly damaged' when a puncture or a structural failure occurs.

Vasselon said track organizers had earlier repaired a similar 'step' on the exit of the Formula One circuit's final chicane.

Jaguar to become 'Ford F1'
(GMM) F1 chief Tony Purnell has been informed by the Dearborn bureaucracy that Jaguar will in 2005 be known as 'Ford F1.'

With Ford likely to pick up the bill for lost sponsorship, the board believes it should enjoy a more direct benefit from F1.

The speculation should be confirmed by the end of September.

Schu's 'the man' - BMW's Theissen
(GMM) Michael Schumacher's 'the man.'

BMW motor sport director Dr Mario Theissen led the rivals' tribute to Formula One's seven time drivers' world champion.

''At Spa,'' said the German, ''history was made.

''This extraordinary sportsman is truly unique.

''He has become a true motor racing icon.''

Theissen doubts if the Ferrari driver's feats will ever be surpassed. ''We want to pay him a huge compliment.''

Mercedes' Norbert Haug, an old boss of Schumacher's from his pre-F1 sportscar days, also admitted the German is a 'great driver.'

Klien not to blame for Spa shunt - DC
(GMM) Christian Klien was not to blame for a frightening collision at Spa-Francorchamps, David Coulthard has admitted.

The latter's McLaren tucked in to overtake Klien's green car on the exit of Eau Rouge but in the melee clipped the Jaguar.

''It looked like he moved over on me,'' said 33-year-old DC, ''but I think he'd lost his left mirror -- and I was committed.''

The clash cost Coulthard his front wing, which folded up over the car's nose, broke the camera mounting, and lodged in the rear.

''It just missed my head,'' David smiled.

''The team did not want me to drop any debris for Kimi to pick up, but I pushed on a bit and then the Safety Car came out.''

FIA to investigate Belgian police
(GMM) F1's governing body has launched an enquiry into the behavior of Belgian police prior to Sunday's F1 race at Spa.

Police used force and threat of handcuffs and arrest to remove fully accredited F1 photographers near 'La Source' hairpin.

One photographer claims the military policemen required the group to leave because the FIA-sanctioned area was 'too dangerous.'

Veteran Mark Sutton, who stood at the exact spot during the Porsche and F3000 races, telephoned the FIA's Pat Behar.

''They wouldn't talk to (them),'' said the photographer.

He added: ''(The police) were so aggressive and threatening.''

Keith's brother Mark, also a F1 snapper, said photographers 'always have trouble' at the Belgian grand prix circuit.

He said Keith was arrested at Spa in '99 for 'simply being' at the bus stop chicane, and in 1985 there was also trouble.

BAR offer Button 'more money'
(GMM) British American Tobacco has offered F1's Jenson Button more money if he agrees to drive a BAR-Honda again in 2005.

Wednesday's speculation said BAR's owner made the pledge to the 24-year-old in Belgium so he drops a plan to join Williams.

But David Richards is no doubt preparing for the worst with one source confirming he met with McLaren's David Coulthard at Spa.

Meanwhile, rumblings suggest a Spa meeting of carmakers indicated all is still not well with regard to the '05/'06 engine formula.

A group of teams are reportedly compiling a 'compromise' so that horsepower can be reduced without big changes to the regulations.

China say sorry to F1's press
(GMM) Shanghai's foreign office has told the F1 press it can apply for a 'visa' more than one week prior to the grand prix.

Some sections of the media were galled when timely attempts to obtain access to the country were 'blocked' by authorities.

A spokesman for the purpose-built track in China, however, now says the 'original ... procedure' has 'been reinstated.

''You may (apply for a media visa) from today,'' he told us.

The SIC spokesman said the circuit 'would like to apologize' for the muddle and hopes '[we] haven't given you too many problems.'

Ferrari run FIA test at Monza
(GMM) Ferrari covered 319kms at Monza on Tuesday despite a total F1 track ban forbidding tests of more than 'shakedown' length.

The session, with Luca Badoer and Andrea Bertolini at the wheel of two F2004 cars, was specially sanctioned by the governing FIA.

Badoer and Bertolini were on track to try some of the FIA's proposed aerodynamic tweaks designed to slow F1 down next season.

One source said the Italian drivers slipstreamed one another to assess how a diffuser tweak, in particular, aided overtaking.

A Ferrari spokesman, meanwhile, confirmed the FIA had asked the Maranello-based team to provide cars and drivers for the session.

Ferrari opted for safe tire - Todt
(GMM) Ferrari opted to go slower because it knew Spa-Francorchamps would be tough on tires, according to Jean Todt.

The F1 principal said the team chose to take a less competitive tire to the Belgian Ardennes because it was more reliable.

''Performance brings a certain risk,'' the Frenchman said, 'which we didn't want to take on a circuit as quick as Spa.''

Tire rival Michelin, on the other hand, gave Kimi Raikkonen a winning tire - but the marque's product also failed four times.

Jenson Button, whose rear Michelin let go at 200mph on Sunday, was angry at the company and called it a 'serious problem.

''It needs to be sorted out,'' said BAR's English driver. ''Not before the Italian GP but before the Monza (test session).

''It can be so dangerous for us (drivers).''

McLaren team records a loss
(GMM) 'Paragon' and the MP4-18/19 car debacle saw the 'McLaren Group' record a profit almost 70 percent lower than in 2002.

'The Times' newspaper published a report claiming the parent company's pre-tax profits were down to just $2.5m last year.

It said McLaren was aware that the 'engineering and commercial challenges' of last year were a significant drain on the numbers.

The F1 team fell back from a $27m profit to a $12.6m loss.

Meanwhile, 'The Sun' said teen Hayley Swanson won a $47,000 McLaren payout after her fan club boss sexually harassed her.

McLaren said the incident was 'isolated.'

F1's TV numbers are higher in '04
(GMM) Don't believe those who say F1's popularity is waning.

New figures indicate that TV audiences for all grands prix in 2004 - except the American races - were higher than last year.

America's Speed Channel, however, said ratings for other races are up 32 per cent and only Euro 2004 affected its June events.

Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher and 150 guests partied hard after the German wrapped-up his seventh drivers' F1 title in Belgium.

''I'm one part of the Ferrari team,'' said the 35-year-old, ''nothing more. ''I can consider myself part of this family.''

Track design 'controls racing' - Willis
(GMM) Belgium demonstrated there's little wrong with F1.

After a dull Hungarian GP, analysts said the need for new technical and sporting regulations was more pressing than ever.

It's said qualifying, tire and car changes will inspire passing.

But BAR's technical director said the move from Hockenheim to the Hungaroring showed the nature of the track 'controls the racing.

''We just need the right sort of circuit design,'' he insisted.

Meanwhile, Swiss team Sauber's celebrations were wild at Spa-Francorchamps after Felipe Massa finished a career-best fourth.

The young Brazilian, certain to be retained into '05, said in an interview he feels 'absolutely happy' with his current situation.

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