F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
September 9, 2004

Ford to abandon 'Jaguar' project
(GMM) Jaguar still does not have a budget for 2005.

Speculation is now rife that the Leaping Cat, owned by car manufacturer Ford, will not wear a green livery beyond Brazil.

The team will be branded 'Ford F1'.

It was agreed that the Jaguar brand is unattractive to prospective backers because of the marque's dominant persona.

And, coupled to a lack of results since 2000, it is thought a more neutral look might land the team a new title sponsor.

British media sources said managing director David Pitchforth met with 'potential sponsors' on Wednesday for the new 'Ford' look.

The story also gained momentum on Wednesday when Ford Rally director Malcolm Wilson expressed doubt about season 2005.

It's thought the Ford F1 project will dampen the Rally coffers.

Confirmation is expected within days.

F1 boss Tony Purnell, meanwhile, is confident. ''Other teams will be envious (of our plans),'' he told F1 Racing magazine.

Villeneuve to sign two-year Sauber deal
(GMM) Peter Sauber has admitted it would be 'nice' to have a world champion drive a Swiss-built car in Formula One next year.

He is surely referring to French-Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, who recently toured Sauber's F1 factory in picturesque Hinwil.

'Sources' are now telling an authoritative British publication that the 33-year-old will sign a 'points-bonus' two-year deal.

Sauber said in Autosport: ''We have to look for a fighter.

''(But) there is some advantage in deciding on an experienced driver. A young driver means you lose part of the year.''

The comments will be a blow for F3000 champion Vitantonio Liuzzi, DTM star Gary Paffett, and BAR 'third' driver Anthony Davidson.

Jacques' manager Craig Pollock, meanwhile, is letting nothing out of the bag. ''(If I had a deal) I wouldn't say,'' he smiled.

''I've got nothing, really, to say about that.''

Asked directly if JV was still an option, Sauber said: ''Yes.

''He is intelligent enough to come back with high motivation.''

F1 rules are 'stupid,' says former champ
(GMM) The last thing Formula One needs is more and more regulations, according to 1964's world champion John Surtees.

Britain's grey-haired legend said last Sunday's race in Belgium demonstrated that even the current rules are 'totally stupid.

''So why go for even more?'' he asked of this week's news that FIA chief Max Mosley will compel changes ahead of season 2005.

Surtees, 70, said he was riding an MV Augusta around the fabled Spa-Francorchamps track two weeks prior to the 2004 grand prix.

''I got the same sort of weather,'' he smiled.

''We should get rid of a few regulations.

''It's stupid to see a driver run in the rain with dry set-up because the weather said it was going to be dry the next day.''

He refers to the 'parc ferme' rule which forbids alterations to a car's fuel level or set-up following Saturday's single-lap dash.

Surtees said that rule, in particular, is even 'dangerous.

''It's ridiculous. If it's wet you should run a wet setting -- this is not befitting of the world's top motor racing series.''

Briatore dating Nicole Kidman
(GMM) F1's Flavio Briatore has a new girlfriend.

UK magazine 'New Woman' reported on Wednesday that Australian actress Nicole Kidman was spotted at dinner with the Italian.

Briatore, Renault's flamboyant boss, last dated super model Heidi Klum but dumped her following the birth of their child Leni.

Oscar-winning Kidman, who was married to Tom Cruise, is indeed spending time with Briatore in Venice (Italy), a 'friend' said.

''I can't see this ... being more than a passing fling.''

The grey-haired millionaire, who has a yacht called 'Lady in Blue,' has also dated models Eva Herzigova and Naomi Campbell.

Ferrari confirm Puma deal
(GMM) Ferrari has confirmed last week's speculation that it would sign a new sponsorship deal with top sport clothing brand 'Puma.'

The new licensing agreement, which also makes Puma an Official Supplier, is for three seasons starting on 1 January 2005.

A statement said Puma, to replace current sponsor Fila, will 'produce and sell replica collections' of Ferrari team F1 gear.

Puma now sponsors eight of the ten Formula One teams.

Meanwhile, at Ferrari's track at Fiorano on Wednesday, Luca Badoer did a 'shakedown' of the three F2004 to be raced at Monza.

McLaren has 'long way to go' - Raikkonen
(GMM) He may have raced a winning McLaren in Belgium, but Kimi Raikkonen said the team has a 'long way to go' on reliability.

The Finn told Italy's 'Gazzetta dello Sport' that Monza, China, Japan and Brazil 'should match' the pace of the MP4-19B car.

''When we got the 'B' car,'' the 24-year-old said, ''we made a big step. We are now much faster than at the start (of '04).

''But Michael (Schumacher's) Ferrari never breaks down.''

Kimi does not subscribe to the theory that because Schumacher is a seven times world champion, he must be F1's quickest driver.

''I don't think so,'' started Raikkonen.

''He is very good, of course, but he has the car. I do not think he is unbeatable but to beat him you need a very good car too.''

The 'iceman' admits the start of the season was galling.

''No matter what we tried,'' he said, ''the car didn't get better. But I remained calm -- I knew it wasn't my problem.''

Raikkonen's Mercedes-powered car has broken down 10 times in '04.

He concluded: ''If it is not the engine, which is now okay, it is something else. That is hard to take but we just work harder.''

F1 to get third tire supplier
(GMM) F1 might have a third combatant in its 'tire war' by '07.

'Autosport' is reporting that Korean tire manufacturer 'Kumho' wants to race against Michelin and Bridgestone in grands prix.

A spokesman said: ''The timing ... will be revealed after a thorough analysis of ... gains compared to the ... investment.''

It is believed some $27 million is set aside for initial development and about $54 million for season-on-season costs.

Kumho, not in the list of the world's top-eight tire makers, is now run by a newly-appointed president and CEO, Dr Sae-Chul Oh.

''I feel a great responsibility,'' he said in January, ''to take a step further and leave (Kumho) in better shape in the future.''

Sato wins Schu's old prize
(GMM) Takuma Sato has won the 'Confartigianato Motori' prize.

The award, to be handed to the Japanese at Monza, was previously won by drivers Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Mika Hakkinen.

'Confartigianato', devised in 1983, is voted annually by a panel including former Italian drivers, officials and top journalists.

Sato's prize is for 'standing out' in modern Formula One.

''It's good to be recognized for such an important award,'' said the exciting BAR driver, ''by ... an important panel of people.''

Former F1 racers Ivan Capelli and Gabriele Tarquini, as well as Monza's director Enrico Ferrari, were among the judging panel.

Sato will get his award on Friday.

BMW repeat threat to quit F1
(GMM) BMW has repeated a threat to quit Formula One if new regulations set for 2005 and 2006 'penalize' carmakers too much.

Board member Burkhard Goeschel said in April that the engine supplier to Williams 'could change' to another form of racing.

BMW is most alarmed at the proposed move to 2.4 liter V8.

''Racing is important for us,'' he has now told the Gazzetta dello Sport paper, ''(but) we may ... put our effort elsewhere.''

Goeschel said a V8 is 'too close' to a normal road car.

He added: ''As for the money and safety aspect, it would be better to research in carbon fiber, the aerodynamics - tires.''

The BMW man said Mercedes, Toyota and Honda share the opinion.

He said they are committed to the 'breakaway' GPWC, set for '08, as Bernie Ecclestone has 'no idea' about the real future of F1.

''This is unacceptable,'' Burkhard Goeschel said.

''We need long term certainties.''

'Nothing signed yet' - Eddie Jordan
(GMM) Contrary to recent strong speculation, the sale of Formula One team Jordan to Dubai's ruling family is not yet complete.

51 per cent owner Eddie Jordan met with the investment group last week, where - it was reported - the $90 million deal was sealed.

But EJ has told Irish radio 'nothing is (yet) signed.'

Jordan, meanwhile - who would remain principal - did admit the survival of his struggling private team 'depended' on its sale.

Kimi is journalists' dream - manager
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen gives journalists 'really good feedback and information,' according to the F1 ace's manager Steve Robertson.

Veteran hack Murray Walker once remarked that McLaren's 24-year-old makes fellow Finn, Mika Hakkinen, sound like a 'politician.'

Robertson admitted Kimi had some problems when he entered F1.

''He came out of Formula Renault,'' he told F1 Racing magazine, ''where he did perhaps one interview at most when he won a race.

''I think, initially, he was a little overwhelmed.''

Raikkonen's manager said 'most journalists' would now agree that the blonde-haired star does a 'good' job when he is interviewed.

Just don't ask ITV reporter Louise Goodman what she thinks ...

At Hockenheim, after Kimi's rear wing failed, she asked the 'Iceman' if McLaren might have to also retire his team-mate.

''I don't know,'' he barked. ''Ask someone.''

Traction control should stay - Ross Brawn
(GMM) Ridding F1 of traction control and other 'driver aids' would not markedly improve the racing, Ross Brawn has warned.

Ferrari's technical director told 'Autosport' he is concerned that fans' widespread opinion is that the aids should be banned.

''We do have to appeal to the public,'' he admitted.

''(But) I think we're doing a bad job if that's what the public believes -- I don't believe (the aids' banning) would do that.''

Brawn said F1's support category, F3000, has no traction or differential control but 'there's no difference in the racing.'

He reckons a modern GP car is just more stable than in the past.

Ross said: ''If you want more overtaking, look at the circuits, the GP format -- but we just need some more competitive teams.''

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