F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
September 10, 2004
Villeneuve deal 'not done' - Peter Sauber
(GMM - Monza) Jacques Villeneuve is hopeful of making a
return to Formula One next season, with Peter Sauber's
The French-Canadian, 33, has praised the German-speaking
principal, claiming he 'didn't believe all the crap' about
''He is the only one, actually,'' the '97 world champion
Villeneuve, dumped by BAR last year, said: ''(Sauber)
doesn't get too involved in the politics. He's a very
Asked at Monza if a two-year deal, perhaps involving Jacques
selling sponsorship space on the car, was done, Sauber
''No, nothing. It is a possibility, I will say.''
A team spokesman, meanwhile, warned the racing media to step
cautiously with headlines, given the track events of next
''Wouldn't you agree,'' he asked the media, ''that it's
strange we will test Liuzzi if a deal's done? We must watch
BAR drop legal challenge for Button
(GMM - Monza) BAR will steer clear of the courts after the
'Contract Recognition Board' serves a verdict in two weeks'
The F1 team and fellow British-based rival Williams are in a
tug-of-war for English driver Jenson Button's service next
Button, 24, wants to go to Grove but BAR says it has a
This week, Williams - after a lengthy delay - finally lodged
its own Button agreement with the FIA-sponsored 'CRB' in
BAR said in a statement this 'set in motion' the
The team also vowed to 'abide by the outcome.'
Meanwhile, if Button is ordered to stay at the Honda-powered
outfit, BAR said it would 'look forward' to having him back.
Panis to become Toyota's test driver
(GMM - Monza) Olivier Panis will retire as a Formula One
race driver after October's Brazilian Grand Prix near Sao
But the Frenchman has signed-on to stay as 'third' driver.
A statement said the oldest driver in pitlane, at 38,
decided to retire 'over the summer period' but Toyota wanted
to retain him.
''His excellent technical feedback,'' commented F1 principal
Tsutomu Tomita, ''will be highly beneficial in a testing
Panis' test role will be in addition to becoming an
'advisor' for the Toyota young driver program, and he'll
race if so required.
But he will not test the 'spare' car on the Friday of grands
prix as the rules stipulate he is too recently experienced
as a racer.
Olivier said he decided to retire 'some months ago.
''I thought about it very deeply,'' the F1 veteran added.
Panis, who debuted for Ligier in 1994, will leave F1
champion Michael Schumacher, 35, as Formula One's oldest
Trulli - 'I have a 2005 contract'
(GMM - Monza) Italian driver Jarno Trulli has not been left
standing in Formula One's annual game of musical chairs.
Renault's current star said he has a signed contract in his
pocket ''but I'm going to have to wait ... to announce it.''
Speculation is adamant, now even more so with Olivier Panis'
decision to retire, that the 31-year-old is going to Toyota.
''All I can say is I will be driving next year,'' Trulli
Asked if it might be a different challenge to the
Monaco-winning one at Renault, he replied: ''It will always
be Formula One.
''I will always challenge for a top position.''
Meanwhile, Toyota tried to quell the Trulli-gossip by
insisting the F1 team has not finalized a team-mate for Ralf
''(We) will make an announcement,'' a spokesman told this
publication, ''once all the relevant details are
Schu 'worried' about F1 safety
(GMM - Monza) World champion Michael Schumacher has admitted
he is a bit 'worried' about the recent spate of F1 tire
The German, who also shunted his Ferrari at Monza last week,
said he is most concerned about what happened at
There, at least four Michelin rear tires were punctured.
''There's really nothing I want to discuss (about it)
here,'' he said in a news conference at the Italian track on
''In the end it is up to the FIA.''
Schumacher denied it would be the right thing to scrap the
'safety car' and stop races after crashes to clear-up
''We have all learned that knee-jerk change is not wise.''
He added: ''The GPDA has regular meetings with the FIA and I
think this is productive, not making statements in the
Will a beard make Jarno go faster?
(GMM - Monza) 'Perhaps a beard will make me go faster.'
That's what the journalists at Monza wondered on Thursday
afternoon when Jarno Trulli strolled in for a news
The Italian has had a torrid time at Renault of late, even
to the point of suspecting the team is sabotaging his final
''After the (Spa) race,'' he explained, ''the car was fine,
so we don't know what was wrong. That is probably the worst
Renault confirmed it has built a brand new car for Trulli.
But, clearly, someone forgot to tell the 31-year-old when he
arrived at the 'Autodromo Nazionale Monza'. ''I don't
Trulli added: ''Do I have a new car? I don't think so.''
So what about that beard? Some kind of aerodynamic aid ... ?
''No, no, no,'' JT laughed. ''My hair is a new look but this
beard is easy to explain -- I did not have the time to
''I wanted to shave yesterday but I had a football match and
I was late, so I didn't do it. I promise I'll do it
'I want to keep racing' - Minardi's Bruni
(GMM - Monza) Minardi racer Gianmaria Bruni, from Italy,
wants to keep driving for Paul Stoddart's back-of-the-grid
The 23-year-old admits it is 'difficult' arriving at every
grand prix circuit knowing that second-to-last will be a
''You've (also) got to watch the mirrors all the time,''
said the Roman, ''and watch the blue flags and let the quick
But F1 is still F1 and Bruni has no plans to leave.
''My goal is to stay and show I can do it,'' said 'Gimmi'.
''I can show small things now, because this car is a bit
slow, but we have a better engine coming (for 2005), and a
''For sure we should go forward (in 2005).''
Ferrari staff get Monza grandstand
(GMM - Monza) Every Maranello-based Ferrari worker will
watch Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello in action
Sporting director Stefano Domenicali, born in Imola, said
they've been given a free grandstand 'to live the grand
prix' at Monza.
''They don't get to come to every race,'' said the Italian,
''but they have the same passion and the same objectives.
''It will be a great sight -- the red grandstand, the
Domenicali believes Michael Schumacher, already with a
seventh F1 title in the bag, may take a 'different approach'
''I'm sure he'll enjoy it,'' he said, ''maybe even more.''
Schu's 'not champion yet' - Ecclestone
(GMM - Monza) Michael Schumacher has denied Bernie
Ecclestone's claim he is 'not (2004) champion' until the end
of the season.
Ferrari's German has turned-up at Monza with a brand new red
cap, bearing seven stripes in tribute of his seventh
''He is only champion,'' F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone
told 'Sport Bild' this week, ''when the FIA confirms it. Not
Bernie is right -- in 1997, Schumacher had second in the
standings taken-away after a clash with rival Jacques
Schumacher, 35, said he has not seen Bernie's comments but,
given the current points table, ''I think I can feel like
''You (the media) have all said I am the champion,'' he
Schu should have waited for crown - Montoya
(GMM - Monza) Michael Schumacher should have waited and
wrapped-up the title here at Monza, Juan Pablo Montoya said
The Colombian was astounded when Ferrari's ace drove home
second place at Spa-Francorchamps, thus clinching the '04
He wondered: ''Why there?
''You had the Olympics everywhere in the newspapers,
marketing-wise it was totally not wise. He should have done
Montoya, 28, was amused to read a transcript of a Schumacher
news conference last week at Monza. ''He talked about ...
Juan added: ''I guess they needed more press coverage.
''Imagine, Ferrari do it here, home crowd -- but there you
Williams' JPM, off to McLaren in '05, also knocked critics
who say he's on the decline after a while as F1's
''Actually, I don't care at all (how I'm seen),'' he
''But I think they know nothing. I have done really well in
qualifying this year and I'm better than I was back in 2001.
''I think a lot of (the media) who say 'this guy is great,
that guy is crap' are stupid. I guess they know nothing at
France at 'low point' in F1 - Lafitte
(GMM - Monza) Former F1 driver Jacques Lafitte claims
Olivier Panis' retirement is a low point for motor racing in
The six-time grand prix winner of the 'seventies and
'eighties said there were always 'seven or eight' Frenchmen
on the F1 grid.
Panis' absence in 2005 will leave ... none.
''It's harder for them to break-in now,'' said Lafitte, now
a GP commentator. ''We have to find new opportunities for
Olivier Panis, 38, also admitted that France's decline in
Formula One racing has all happened within the past ten or
''It's a shame,'' he told the media at Monza.
The Lyon-born star blames new anti-alcohol and tobacco
advertising laws for making it 'too hard' for French
France must now pin its hopes on Renault tester Franck
Montagny, and maybe CART star and former F3000 champion
'McLaren are quicker' than BAR - Button
(GMM - Monza) Defecting driver Jenson Button claims rival
McLaren have powered ahead of BAR-Honda 'and are doing a bit
The Englishman, who wants to move to Williams next season,
said the team in silver is now more likely to challenge
''I think (Monza) is going to be difficult for us,'' he
''I think McLaren will be quick and Renault will be there.
''We are reasonably confident but I'm not getting too
Button, 24, nonetheless admitted that Brackley-based BAR has
made 'real improvements' to the car in the last couple of
''So that's good. Honda are working and the team is working
and the car is now better to drive. Consistency is the key
Ferrari 'agrees' with '05 plan - Todt
(GMM - Monza) One team not complaining about next year's
revised F1 regulations is Ferrari, headed by French
principal Jean Todt.
The 'Napoleon-like' team director said Ferrari 'agrees' with
the FIA's plan for 2005, to be ratified by the Council in
He told Italy's 'Gazzetta dello Sport': ''There is always
conflict [about] the best way to exploit the regulations.''
Todt said Ferrari has produced a 'good basis' for the new
''[It] will enable us to wait for the right time to race
Davidson 'pushing' for Button's drive
(GMM - Monza) If Jenson Button moves to Williams in 2005,
the man in pole position for his BAR seat is countryman
The 25-year-old 'third' driver admitted at Monza that
manager Didier Stoessel is still 'pushing hard' at various
''We're pushing at BAR,'' he told Autosport, ''we're pushing
Jaguar, Sauber, Williams ... everywhere!
'We'll see what happens.'
Many F1 pundits have been impressed by Davidson's antics, in
free practice sessions, in the 'spare' Honda-powered 006
'Ant' admitted he was initially hot favorite for Button's
race seat when the news first broke that Jenson was off to
But, with the tug-of-war now in place, he's just sitting
Davidson said: ''I'm pretty well positioned.
''I know the team really well, I'm comfortable, I'm fast.
And I like Taku [Sato], so no problems there. I don't see
Montoya averted huge Monza shunt
(GMM - Monza) Juan Pablo Montoya bid farewell to his
Williams testing duties by nearly destroying the FW26 at
Monza last week.
The Colombian, who won't test the BMW-powered car again, was
sweeping through the Ascari chicane on the final day in
''It was my last lap and I nearly crashed ... huge!
''A rear suspension broke. It was like, 'see you later!'''
Montoya, 28, admits - at more than 270km/h in the high speed
chicane - a brush with the barriers would have been a big
''Yeah, I thought 'ok, here comes a big bang'.
''I didn't brake, I kept my foot in it, spun.
''I came out somehow. Then I needed the toilet ...''
But, jokes aside, Juan Pablo dismissed an analysis that
quite a few shunts at the Monza test indicate the track is
''If you are going to have a failure,'' he did admit, ''you
hope it's not Monza -- and then you hope it's not at Ascari
Rivals have 'caught us up' - BMW boss
(GMM - Monza) BMW no longer has the stand-out engine in
Formula One, the marque's motor sport director admitted on
Dr Mario Theissen, who said Monza is the biggest test for an
F1 V10 unit, said 'some of our competitors' have caught-up
''And revs,'' the German quipped.
''But I'm convinced our engine still sets the benchmark. We
have mastered the challenge of maintaining that power over a
Brit axe will be 'strange' - Button
(GMM - Monza) It will be a 'strange feeling' if Bernie
Ecclestone applies an axe to the British GP, English ace
Jenson Button said.
Silverstone owner, the BRDC, has put in an offer to promote
the motor race for three more years but have yet to get an
A 'no' response will mean Silverstone goes without in '05.
''I don't really know what it will do (to) motor sport in
Britain,'' Button told Autosport. ''It's a fantastic
''And the crowd are definitely enjoying it.''
Meanwhile, Williams has signed-up a new official team
supplier -- 'assembly professional' company 'Adolf Wurth
GmbH & Co.'
'Wurth' already sponsors in DTM and was an F1 backer in
'I want to win a race' - Barrichello
(GMM - Monza) Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello is adamant
that season 2004 should not pass without adding another
career F1 win.
The Brazilian's champion team-mate, Michael Schumacher, has
graced the podium's top step no fewer than 12 times this
''To be second (in the championship) is only pleasing
because it is one better than third,'' Rubens smiled at
Monza on Thursday.
''But I would say that I am 'hitting the ball' very well now
and I just have to do a good job -- there are four races to
Rubens, 31, said winning just one race - perhaps at
Interlagos - would feel better than finishing second in the
Quit talk makes Schu yawn
(GMM - Monza) Why do you keep racing, Michael ... ?
The question was simple enough -- the answer, even simpler.
Ferrari's seven time world champion lifted his hand to his
mouth, stretched out his fingers, and mimicked a long,
So the German keeps going because he's bored?
''You know what I mean,'' the 35-year-old bristled at
English 'tabloid' journalist Byron Young, who writes for
Schu's title-tally, or record list of wins numbering more
than 80, means many don't understand why he doesn't call it
Money certainly isn't the answer. So -- what is it?
A huge testing shunt at Monza last week could have killed
him, but - unlike his rivals - Mr. Schumacher has nothing to
''First, I don't think I would have died (in the crash).
''Second, I love what I'm doing, even if it's difficult for
you to understand. I say it often enough. For me, it is
Schumacher also denied he is any 'tougher' than the average
''No. I spend a lot of time making my cockpit safe and
comfortable -- and, anyway, the crash wasn't that serious.''
'Risk' is part of F1 life - Trulli
(GMM - Monza) No Formula One driver loses much sleep when he
hears about a circuit rival crashing at more than 300km/h.
That's the claim of Renault man Jarno Trulli.
Last week in the Monza test, Michael Schumacher and Olivier
Panis ended up in the fence -- even Trulli suffered a tyre
''We push - develop - the cars hard and then we are
surprised when someone has a failure? No,'' said the Italian
Jarno is a member of F1's 'Grand Prix Drivers' Association,'
a body set-up to convey drivers' opinions to the governing
But they won't hear much about Schu's shunt.
Trulli explained: ''This is our job, and risk is part of it.
''Sure, Monza - because it's a bit quicker - is maybe a
bigger risk than others, but I am not more worried than
''It is true we want to improve the safety next year.''
Montoya's record set to tumble
(GMM - Monza) In 2002, Juan Pablo Montoya crossed the Monza
start-line and set the fastest-ever pole position lap time.
That average speed, a tad over 161mph, is very likely to be
surpassed at Italy's 'Autodromo Nazionale' track this
Montoya, of Williams, isn't bothered.
''It's not the goal, really,'' he shrugged on Thursday.
''My focus is racing and getting a good job done.''
The Colombian, 28, claims BAR 'and us (Williams),' are the
quickest non-Ferrari contenders for Sunday's Monza prize.
He doesn't think McLaren can win a second in a row.
''I actually think they'll be better in China than here,''
said Montoya, ''and I think we have lost our edge here,
JPM said Michael Schumacher will have a fight in qualifying,
''but they're quicker than us for the race, we think,'' he
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