F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
September 12, 2004

Quick questions in Italy - Saturday 1
(GMM - Monza) The grid is incredibly close -- except pole man Rubens Barrichello, nearly six tenths clear. Any thoughts ... ?

Renault's Pat Symonds: ''We are surprised.

''We'll have to wait to see what's going on.''

Ferrari's Rubens, you've clocked the fastest-ever lap of the Autodromo. How are you SO much quicker than everyone ... ?

'''The car felt really, really good,'' said the Brazilian, 31. ''It might not have been a perfect lap, but pretty close.''

Kimi Raikkonen - happy with seventh ... ?

''Not really. It's ok.''

You've out-qualified BAR team-mate Jenson Button for the head of the third row. Pretty happy with that, then, Takuma Sato ... ?

''I thought we'd be faster,'' smiled the Japanese.

Pierre Dupasquier, you predicted on Friday that it could rain for the grand prix. So -- are the skies still turning grey ... ?

''We think it might rain in the morning,'' said the Michelin director, ''and this circuit takes a long time to dry properly.''

Kimi to Ferrari - in 2006?
(GMM - Monza) If you believe what Monza's rumor-mill whispered raucously on Saturday, Kimi Raikkonen will race a Ferrari in '06.

World champion Michael Schumacher's red contract doesn't run-out until the end of that year -- so maybe he plans to retire early?

Rumor aside, 24-year-old KR - the Finn - faces the prospect of a brand new team-mate in '05; McLaren newcomer Juan Pablo Montoya.

Some have suggested Williams' Colombian will struggle.

''Ron Dennis hired me because he thinks I can do the job,'' said the 28-year-old on Saturday, ''just as much as (Raikkonen) can.

''We get on with each other already, anyway.''

Kimi and Juan arrived in F1 at the same time (2001), with Raikkonen collecting two wins and Montoya, with Williams, three.

Kimi has scored three poles, Juan eleven.

Montoya added: ''My numbers stack up. Kimi will be a challenge, probably my hardest so far. But I do think I am up to it.''

Zsolt happy to be unhurt
(GMM - Monza) For the second grand prix in a row, Minardi ace Zsolt Baumgartner has been involved in someone else's accident.

The Hungarian driver was trundling along in second practice at Monza, Saturday, when Jordan driver Giorgio Pantano lost control.

Eerily similar to Jenson Button's close call with Zsolt's black car at Spa, Pantano - Italian - speared into the Minardi PS04B.

Neither were hurt, but the free session was stopped.

''It was a bigger crash than with Button two weeks ago,'' said Zsolt, 23. ''I am just happy that I was not hurt at all.

FIA to 'suspend' race behind safety car
(GMM - Monza) Next year, the FIA will have the power to 'suspend' the race behind the safety car, so crash debris can be cleared.

Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn said it is the first of 'two important' initiatives to make Formula One racing safer.

''When the safety car is deployed,'' said the Englishman, ''it will come round, pick up the cars, and then it can stop.''

''The cars will stop on the grid, or wherever.

''Then the track can be cleaned up.''

The move is in reaction to a recent spate of high-speed tyre failures, causing big accidents, involving sharp carbon 'shards.'

Brawn said the race 'lull' will give teams time to check a driver's tyres, ''make sure they're ok, and keep the heat up.''

Secondly, the FIA has asked teams to look at the construction method of bodywork to stop the amount of debris in accidents.

Brawn said Ferrari 'and Williams' carried out experiments where the same materials were used, but coated in 'Xylon' or 'Kevlar.'

''There seems to be less debris emission,'' he explained.

BAR system is 'illegal' - Ron Dennis
(GMM - Monza) BAR's un-powered 'torque transfer' device is still illegal, McLaren principal Ron Dennis said at Monza on Saturday.

Initially run by electro-hydraulics at Hockenheim, the system was banned, but is apparently racing at Monza with the FIA's consent.

The 'FTT' reduces front brake locking.

''We do not concur with the legality of the system,'' said Ron.

Dennis said McLaren can 'challenge' the ruling, but promised he would not protest a result, merely wait for a clarification.

BAR's technical director Geoff Willis said FIA delegate Charlie Whiting 'has seen' the FTT and is 'completely happy with it.'

Quick questions in Italy - Saturday 2
(GMM - Monza) Toyota arrived at the high-speed Monza track expecting its lauded engine to zoom on the Autodromo's curves.

Below par, Olivier Panis ... ?

''I think so. I thought we would be faster.

''I've had a few problems, though, this weekend.''

Jordan's Nick Heidfeld knew Saturday wouldn't be much fun at Monza, as the team had to replace his engine on Friday night.

Then, the EJ14's gearbox broke: ''I jumped in the spare.''

Eighth on the F1 grid -- a decent 24th birthday present ... ?

Williams' Antonio Pizzonia: ''Reasonable, I would say!''

With a better lap, could you have taken pole position, today, or is team-mate Rubens Barrichello on a different strategy ... ?

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher: ''I lost time here and there, but Rubens did a really perfect lap. I could not have matched it.''

Jarno Trulli has a newly-built Renault here -- did it work ... ?

Pat Symonds: ''He's still uncomfortable with the balance, so we chose to put him on a ... conservative route with his strategy.''

Tifosi used to 'bother' Barrichello
(GMM - Monza) Italy's Tifosi used to 'bother' Rubens Barrichello, but now the F1 pole sitter can't get enough of the Ferrari fans.

The Brazilian won here in 2002.

''I like the track and I even like the support of the crowd. It used to bother me, in the past, but now it gives me more power.''

Rubens, 31, said he was planning a run to victory on Sunday.

''Of course, we've got the whole race ahead,'' he said, ''but while racing in Italy used to be something bad, now it's good.''

Asked what 'bothered' him, Rubens replied: 'The pressure.

''Now it feels good, it's a good feeling.

''I'm proud to have turned the bad things away from me.''

'CRB' decide Button hearing date
(GMM - Monza) The FIA's 'Contract Recognition Board' will hear the case regarding Jenson Button on 'Chinese Grand Prix' Sunday.

Williams and BAR both claim to have the Briton under contract.

''It is an unusual date,'' Sir Frank Williams said of the September 26 hearing, ''but we hope it is a good Chinese day!''

But Button, 24 - who wants to drive a BMW-powered car - may have to wait more than three weeks before the CRB makes a decision.

Williams warned: ''Maybe even longer, I don't know.''

Ferrari president attacks Ecclestone
(GMM - Monza) Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo aimed fire at Formula One's impresario Bernie Ecclestone at Monza on Saturday.

The Italian said Bernie made 'a big mistake' when he sold the sport's commercial company, now in the hands of three banks.

He added: ''We get 47 per cent of the money and that is not possible any more. We want at least 80 per cent for the teams.''

Montezemolo said Bernie and the F1 carmakers, in a breakaway alliance known as 'GPWC,' have failed to 'find a solution.'

He added: ''(Bernie risks) losing teams.

''It is impossible for (some) to survive with this revenue.''

Ralf will test on Tuesday
(GMM - Monza) Ralf Schumacher will test in England on Tuesday.

The German's mandatory - for Williams' insurers - 12-week recovery from a back injury sustained in June, is set to end.

Dr Mario Theissen was quoted as saying the 29-year-old will drive at Silverstone to assess if he is fit enough to race in China.

Frank Williams said Ralf has already passed a medical exam.

'Fax Max' not successful - FIA's Mosley
(GMM - Monza) The 'Fax Max' campaign has not been very successful, FIA president Max Mosley revealed at Monza.

A leading F1 magazine disclosed Max's fax number in a recent edition and urged readers to support an overhaul of qualifying.

''There has not been overwhelming support for it,'' he told the media at the Italian circuit, ''I think it's fair to say.''

Mosley said the problem with qualifying is not a lack of ideas.

''Every day,'' he explained, ''I get letters with some quite ingenious ideas and I always write back and say 'great'.

''But what we are short of, is agreement.''

Changes to qualifying require total unanimity of F1 bosses.

Max said the radical qualifying will go to the F1 Commission on October 31 ''but it's nearly impossible to get all the votes.''

Quick questions in Italy - Saturday 3
(GMM - Monza) Jenson Button, you've been outqualified by teammate Takuma Sato at Monza -- problems in the final fling ... ?

BAR's man: ''It was good in pre-qualifying but the car was different in the actual run -- I had a lot of oversteer.

''Some big snaps (of oversteer).''

Renault does not have the most powerful engine, but the R24 is often top of Monza's 'speed trap' sheet. How is that so ... ?

Pat Symonds: ''It's certainly been pleasing.

''Of course, the speeds reflect the engine, but also the work of our wind tunnel. We have an extremely efficient aero package.''

Where were you when you found out Williams' regular Ralf Schumacher would not race here at Monza. How did it feel ... ?

''I thought Spa was the last one,'' said test driver Antonio Pizzonia. ''Tim Newton called me, and I was still in Belgium.

''Obviously it was great news for me.''

BAR to race '555' livery in China
(GMM - Monza) Contrary to the protest of a BAR spokeswoman, the F1 team may run an alternate blue '555' livery at Shanghai.

But only Anthony Davidson's 'third' car will be affected, said a source, due to the FIA's regulation prohibiting major changes.

BAT's 'Lucky Strike' tobacco brand is not sold in China.

Zanardi wants F1 test
(GMM - Monza) Former Williams driver Alex Zanardi, who lost both legs in a CART crash three years ago, wants to test a F1 car.

The Italian is a visitor to the Monza paddock this weekend and said Williams' engineer Patrick Head earlier promised him a run.

''I will remind him today,'' Zanardi smiled on Saturday.

Zanardi races a hand-operated BMW in European Touring Car.

Minardi stole Button tire - Michelin
(GMM - Monza) Minardi stole the remains of Jenson Button's exploded Michelin tire after the Belgian GP a fortnight ago.

That's the charge of French director Pierre Dupasquier.

He told the media on Saturday that the tire was taken off a truck when Zsolt Baumgartner's crashed Minardi was returned to pitlane.

Dupasquier said struggling team Minardi, who run on Michelin rival Bridgestone tires, have vehemently denied the accusation.

But he hinted that 'lawyers' were now getting involved.

Bernie hasn't responded - BRDC's Bellm
(GMM - Monza) Ray Bellm has denied Bernie Ecclestone's claim he has now answered the BRDC's offer to promote the British GP.

The Silverstone-owning club's chairman said he was still waiting to see if the offer, to cover the event to 2007, is acceptable.

Ecclestone hinted the offer, reportedly around $10 million, was not enough money and also needs to cover a seven-year period.

''I have not heard from Bernie,'' Bellm said Saturday.

Ferrari to race 'new concept' tire
(GMM - Monza) Bridgestone will race a 'new philosophy' tire before the 2004 season is out, Hisao Suganuma said Saturday.

The Japanese 'technical manager' said the tire, used in Hungary, is 'under development' and therefore not suitable for Monza.

''I think it will be a big step forward,'' he claimed.

Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn revealed that the tire was developed specifically to win the Hungarian Grand Prix.

''We did that,'' he said, ''but we can't use it at other tracks yet. It's the basis of the concept of tire ... for next year.''

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