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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
September 3, 2004


Schu 'fine' after Monza shunt
(GMM) Michael Schumacher had to lie down on Monza's grass verge on Thursday after crashing his Ferrari at more than 300km/h.

The German's left-rear Bridgestone failed on the flat-out approach to the fastest F1 track's first sequence of corners.

Medics attended to the newly-crowned seven times world champion but a spokesman said Michael, 35, did not need a medical check.

Schumacher's PR aide Sabine Kehm said the rear tire blew, turned Michael into a fast spin, ''and he hit the wall with the rear.

''He got out and laid down as a precaution,'' she explained.

Also at Monza, Williams' sub Antonio Pizzonia set the pace and a new unofficial track record as nineteen runners clocked up miles.

Jarno Trulli, in the Renault, went off track and slightly damaged the car but managed some laps on a 'Monza-specification' V10.

F1's smallest team Minardi is stretched to capacity this week with a duel test near Rome and a two-seater event in Switzerland.

Friday is the final day of the FIA-organized Monza session.








Italian to test Sauber
(GMM) Vitantonio Liuzzi will test a Sauber later this month.

The Italian, also with ties to the Swiss team's backer Red Bull, wrapped-up his dominant F3000 title in Belgium last weekend.

He'll drive the C23 at Jerez on the sixteenth.

Peter Sauber said he's had an eye on the 22-year-old for some time. ''What has impressed me most,'' he said, ''is this year.

''During the test we want to get a feeling for how he is able to apply his skills to a Formula One car,'' the Swiss-German added.

A statement issued by Hinwil-based Sauber also said the team is 'planning to invite one or two other young drivers' for a test.

Anthony Davidson and Gary Paffett are equally considered candidates to replace Renault-bound Giancarlo Fisichella in '05.








'Draco' linked to Dallara's F1 project
(GMM) F3000 team boss Adriano Morini and ex-Jordan man Gary Anderson are involved in the 'Dallara' Formula One project.

A statement issued by Morini's team 'Draco Racing' suggested it 'could be involved' in the management of the 2006 F1 outfit.

''The plan is to lead [Draco] in F1 with the new Dallara one-seater,'' it said, outlining the plot now is to form a staff.

Dallara's project is reportedly funded by a group of Canadian-based Russians, who may already have offered a 'down-payment.'

F1 driver Felipe Massa won a Euro F3000 title with Draco.

Meanwhile, UK's 'Autosport' has published a report hinting Maximillion Cooper wants to start a F1 team 'within five years.'

According to the magazine, the Briton will sponsor BAR from '05 but the longer plan is to buy a team and brand it 'Gumball.'

Cooper currently organizes the annual 'Gumball 3000' rally.







'Insurance fouled comeback' - Ralf S.
(GMM) Williams' insurers would not let 'fit' Ralf Schumacher return to the wheel of an F1 car for next Sunday's Italian GP.

The German, who fractured two back bones in June, said he had a thorough medical exam on Monday and the diagnosis 'was great.'

Ralf, 29, said: ''The exam included a spinal stress test - I have optimal healing, no pain or ailments, and the spine is stable.

''The insurers vetoed my comeback plans.''

Williams' insurance policy rests on the prognosis of doctors, who had cited a '12 week recovery' from a back injury such as Ralf's.

The twelve week period ends on the Monza race weekend.

Schumacher explained: ''But the FIA said I can only race after a test run and that would have to be in the week before the [GP].''

Ralf, off to Toyota next season, is annoyed because he said he's trained 'really hard' for 'many hours a day' since the US shunt.








McLaren should have won 'three more' - Dennis
(GMM) Formula One team McLaren may have won three other grands prix in 2004, team principal and CEO Ron Dennis said on Friday.

Kimi Raikkonen finally found the checkered flag first at Spa-Francorchamps, but the win was no 'one off,' the Briton insisted.

''It could be said we should have won Hockenheim,'' Ron added.

Dennis continued: ''We were very competitive at Silverstone and in Hungary we made a bad tire selection and paid a heavy price.''

He said McLaren, with the much-improved 'B' spec MP4-19 car, head into the final four races with a 'cautious' brand of optimism.

''[They] do all play to the strengths of the car,'' Ron admitted.








Jordan win battle for Smith
(GMM) Jordan has won a battle to poach Renault's chief F1 designer Mark Smith, it was reported in the UK media Thursday.

It was earlier stated the Enstone-based team may take him to court because his Renault contract runs until August of 2005.

Another source said Smith's is a 'detour' to Toyota.

He'll be Jordan's technical director in 2005, at any rate, and strengthens the team's links to wealthy new investors from Dubai.

It is reported that, although Renault has released Smith, he'll have to sit on the bench until December before joining Jordan.







Panis to sign 'third' driver role
(GMM) Toyota's Olivier Panis is most likely to slip into the back seat in 2005, the Frenchman admitted at Thursday's Monza test.

F1's oldest driver, 'Olive,' admits he will probably sign a contract to become the team's 'third' driver from next season.

''I guess I don't want to go and Toyota don't want me to go,'' he said at lunch, prior to going fifteenth quickest in the session.

Asked if the deal is done, he replied: ''(Talks are) going on.''

Panis insisted he would not race for Jordan or Minardi, or even Ford-backed Jaguar. ''I would have to say no,'' he explained.

Jarno Trulli will be declared Ralf Schumacher's race team-mate.








Russian tests Minardi car
(GMM) Russian driver Sergey Zlobin returned to the wheel of a Formula One car on Thursday as Minardi went testing near Rome.

Whilst also on the Monza track, the cash-strapped team started a session at 'Vallelunga' with the 'SMP Bank'-backed 40-year-old.

Zlobin last drove a Minardi in late-'02.

''The driving didn't tire me,'' he said after the day, ''but the heat is draining. Hopefully next time we test it'll be cooler.''

Gian Carlo Minardi said SZ's time was 'better than we expected.'

Portugal's Tiago Monteiro will drive the PS04B on Friday.








F1 'needs Schumacher' - BAR's Richards
(GMM) Formula One 'needs' Michael Schumacher.

David Richards responded to some journalists' claims that the seven times world champion is making grand prix racing boring.

The BAR principal said: ''There's no doubt about it.

''Love him or hate him, Michael is a superstar.''

Richards, an Englishman, admitted grands prix have become a bit predictable in 2004, and that is often perceived as 'negative.'

F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone recently said, rather than lambaste boring races, the media should 'admire' Schumacher.

The 73-year-old also said Ferrari's man is a 'superstar.'







'Renault wanted me' - Mark Webber
(GMM) On home soil, Mark Webber will realize a dream.

In early March '05, at the Albert Park track, the Australian will climb into a Williams cockpit and debut for Sir Frank's F1 team.

Seven years ago, the then 21-year-old toured Grove.

Webber said: ''It's true. I was doing F3 in England and I was somehow invited to the Williams factory and even met Frank.

''I'm not sure if he'd even remember that.''

Later in the day, Mark was taken on a tour of the Williams museum by Frank's son Jonathan. ''We were looking at the current car.''

Webber explained: ''I think it was the FW19 or 20. I turned and said to Jonathan -- 'I should be about ready for the FW27'.

''I was only joking but it's turned out to be exactly true!''

The 28-year-old from Queanbeyan admitted he was also courted by Renault, whose Anglo-French team is run by agent Flavio Briatore.

''Yeah,'' said Mark, ''there was some interest there.

''But, from my side, I was always going to go to Williams.''








Ex-F1 men to race in China
(GMM) Martin Brundle and a swathe of ex-F1 chargers will race Volkswagens at China's Shanghai GP circuit later this month.

A special 'racing version' of the Polo model is being prepared for Brundle and other grand prix 'drivers-turned-commentators.'

Germany's Christian Danner, Swiss Marc Surer, French GP winner Jacques Laffite and Ivan Capelli will be among the old chargers.

The inaugural Chinese GP is set for September 24 - 26.








Ralf 'will race' in China - Theissen
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher's thirteen-week recuperation from a back injury will end after Monza, BMW's Mario Theissen said on Friday.

It was earlier reported that, although fit, Williams' insurers are insisting the German stay out of the FW26 for one more week.

''We are fully confident that (Ralf) will be back in the cockpit ... after the Italian Grand Prix,'' Theissen said in a statement.

The 29-year-old has passed his own doctors' medical exam but will also need to be checked by the FIA's Sid Watkins prior to China.

Ralf also must complete a pre-Shanghai track test.

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