F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
September 14, 2004

Ferrari could lose Shell
(GMM) Ferrari could lose petrol sponsor Shell in 2005.

Sources at Monza on the weekend said the 'Royal Dutch'-owned company is beginning to sell various interests around the world.

It's part of a global company overhaul, one source insisted.

Rumor also said Shell over-estimated oil reserves, meaning that large sponsor deals - like the $53m Ferrari one - may have to go.

It's also suggested that oil company 'Total' CEO Thierry Desmarest may be looking to buy the 'Royal Dutch/Shell' Group.

Spain's 'Repsol' is the most likely oil replacement at Ferrari.

F3000 team in Jordan F1 buy-out
(GMM) F3000 team owner Christian Horner held talks with Eddie Jordan at Monza on the weekend, the British press said Monday.

'Daily Telegraph' reported that Dubai's ruling 'Al Maktoum' family is no longer the sole bidder for the beleaguered F1 team.

The newspaper's journalist Kevin Garside said the Arden boss, Horner, has stepped-up following a delay in the Maktoum sale.

Horner, 30, has talked about a 2005 F1 entry, but the FIA's mandatory $48m bond makes starting a new team near impossible.

Jordan could be purchased for around $90 million, debt free.

But the Telegraph said that, unlike in Maktoum talks, Horner would require that Eddie Jordan step down as team principal.

Monza staged the last ever F3000 race on Saturday, prior to the commencement of the new 'GP2' F1 support-category next season.

Fittingly, Arden champ Vitantonio Liuzzi won.

Ralf has to feel 'ready' - Williams
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher will race in China if he feels 'ready' following a three day test at Silverstone starting on Tuesday.

A Williams spokesman told us that the German, laid-off with fractured back bones since June, has passed a medical exam.

Ralf's Monza return, he said, was only halted when insurers insisted the race driver rest for the full prescribed 12 weeks.

''He is beyond (that) period,'' said the spokesman, ''so we hope he'll be ok for China. It obviously depends a bit on the test.''

It's understood Schumacher must also complete a pre-Shanghai check with FIA doctor Prof. Sid Watkins prior to a race return.

Technical director Sam Michael said the team had missed Ralf.

''He has a lot of experience,'' said the Australian, ''so it has been detrimental. We will feel more comfortable (with Ralf).''

Renault deny Trulli talk
(GMM) Renault has dismissed as 'media speculation' claims that Jarno Trulli will be dumped prior to next Sunday's Chinese GP.

It was reported on Monday that Jacques Villeneuve, Giancarlo Fisichella or Allan McNish were now more likely to race the R24.

Websites said Trulli, 30 - upset at apparent favoritism within Renault - had riled Flavio Briatore by driving inconsistently.

The Italian hinted Fernando Alonso was now the 'only' driver.

Monday's speculation said Villeneuve had flown to the venue of this week's testing action to try the controls of the blue car.

''We strongly deny that any replacement will take place.''

But a Renault spokesman also confirmed that, curiously for this time of the year, Trulli is not scheduled to test at Silverstone.

Trulli said compatriot Briatore had accused him of being a 'different driver' ever since he was dropped for season 2005.

JT added: ''Only when things go wrong, is it the driver's area.''

Sato to stay at BAR, hints Richards
(GMM) Takuma Sato will remain at BAR next season, the team's principal David Richards hinted after Sunday's race at Monza.

The Japanese has been erratic at times in 2004, and Brackley could let him go, with a contract 'out' clause, it if wanted to.

But asked, given Jenson Button's likely defection, if that was likely, DR replied: ''I think (this) is a ... good indicator.''

He was referring to Sato's strong fourth in the Italian GP.

Richards added: ''He has been very solid, he's improving all the time. The pressure is lifting, a bit, off his shoulders now.''

The team's employed chief said a 'young driver' often makes mistakes when in the formative phase of his Formula One career.

''You need to support them in that period,'' suggested David.

''It's early days -- but he's heading in the right direction.''

Jaguar set for Ford cash boost
(GMM) Jaguar will have an increased Formula One budget next season, managing director David Pitchforth hinted on Monday.

He responded to rumor that Jaguar has no budget at all, or may be renamed 'Ford', by revealing 'I have (now) put in my budget.

''We get a lot of money from Ford,'' said David. ''We had more this year than last, and we will become competitive (in 2005).''

It is also suggested, by sections of the media, that key sponsors HSBC, Beck's, and Christian Klien backer Red Bull, may pull out.

Pitchforth would only say negotiations are 'ongoing.'

He said speculation about HSBC started when a board member was asked at a meeting if he was happy with Jaguar's recent result.

''He said: 'No, I wasn't happy','' Pitchforth explained.

''So, that's a non-story, really.''

Pitchforth also said those who predict a complete end for the Milton-Keynes based Formula One team, are very wide of the mark.

He added: ''We're building the car, the (new) wind tunnel ... ''

Bernie - F1 carmakers 'against' Ferrari
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has denied that F1's carmakers are lining-up behind Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.

The latter Italian seemed to claim at Monza that all rival F1 players nonetheless agree with his position regarding revenue.

''In fact,'' Ecclestone told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, ''they're all against Ferrari because they win too much.''

Bernie, the 73-year-old F1 supremo, also hinted that Montezemolo does not spend enough time on Ferrari to justify an argument.

He added: ''He is now the president of Fiat.

''Anyway, he has always asked for more money.''

But what about Luca's veiled threat that Ferrari might quit Formula One if teams don't get a bigger share of the F1 pie?

Bernie replied: ''Anything can happen.

''But I think we'll find a solution.''

Williams will run 'spare' on Friday
(GMM) Williams and McLaren will not vote to overturn the Friday 'third' car ruling just because they're Formula One 'grandees.'

With one of the well-financed outfits to finish fifth in 2005, under current rules, they will be entitled to practice a spare.

Max Mosley hinted the F1 Commission will consider a rule change.

But asked if Williams, in the interest of fairness, would simply opt against the chance, Sir Frank said: ''We'd be mad (to).''

He did, however, admit that the big teams were never meant to get a helping-hand, and it wouldn't require unanimity to change it.

McLaren's CEO Ron Dennis said the most sensible rule amendment would be to bar recent carmaker champions from participating.

He said there'd only be 'two (teams) who'd vote against (that).'

Signed F1 checker to be sold
(GMM) A checkered flag autographed by eight past and present Formula One drivers will be auctioned later in September.

It was waved at the 'F1 Comes to Regent Street' parade back in July, and will go under the hammer at regentstreetonline.com.

The flag is signed by Nigel Mansell, Jenson Button, Zsolt Baumgartner, Juan Pablo Montoya, David Coulthard, and others.

The auction is being run from 20 - 30 September.

David Shaw, head of 'Regent Strategy & Development', said the sale is set to raise a 'lot of money' for a children's charity.

More than 400,000 spectators watched the Regent Street action.

F1 fans' funerals in Wales
(GMM) The funerals of three Formula One fans from Wales, killed en route to the Belgian Grand Prix, will be held later this week.

The men, in their twenties and thirties, died when their car was hit near Rotterdam, in Holland, on the way to Spa-Francorchamps.

St. David's Church, in Newton, will host the funerals.

Sauber 'no' to Pizzonia
(GMM) Antonio Pizzonia hopes four grands prix for Williams has been enough to convince a Formula One team to sign him next year.

The young Brazilian, 24, has impressed while substituting for Ralf Schumacher, but raced for the last time in 2004 at Monza.

He admitted: ''Right now, there's nothing (for next year).''

Pizzonia, who damaged his reputation in a short race role at Jaguar last season, is a test driver at the BMW-powered team.

It's a job he might have to continue in 2005.

''I have had a couple of meetings with a couple of teams,'' he told us at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza near Milan, in Italy.

But he said there's little chance of going to Sauber, and he'd rather test again than spend a year racing for Minardi or Jordan.

''(Sauber) won't employ two Brazilians,'' Pizzonia said.

While slipstreaming on Monza's straight, meanwhile, Pizzonia established a record for the fastest ever top-speed in a GP race.

His 369.9km/h beat Michael Schumacher's old 368.0.

BAR's 'FTT' system to finish season
(GMM) BAR's controversial 'Torque Transfer' braking system is legal and will be raced in the final three grands prix of 2004.

That, despite Ron Dennis' belief that it is still against the regulations, is the insistence of tech director Geoff Willis.

He said the revised device, banned at Hockenheim because it was powered, was the subject of a 'long chat' with the FIA at Monza.

Willis told Autosport: ''I spoke to Charlie (Whiting).

''He says it's legal.''

FTT, which reduces brake locking, was debuted in Italy, where drivers Jenson Button and Takuma Sato finished third and fourth.

Rivals have 'flushed out' Ferrari
(GMM) Sunday's was an 'important' win for team driver Rubens Barrichello, according to Ferrari managing director Jean Todt.

The little Frenchman said Rubens, 32, needed to put one in the bag sometime in '04 as it is hard to always lose to a team-mate.

''It's (good) for his spirit,'' said Todt.

''(Rubens) is always close but he usually has Michael (Schumacher) ahead of him. It's a good injection of vitamin.''

Rubens suggested that it has been Ferrari's best-ever season.

''Maybe this is more spectacular,'' Jean agreed, ''but I think 2002 one was an outstanding season. Anyway, it's a close one!''

But after a few laps of the Italian GP, Todt admitted that he thought for a minute that Ferrari might not score even a point.

In the end, it was yet another scarlet one-two.

BAR's technical director Geoff Willis thinks the race 'flushed out' just how much faster Ferrari's F2004 car is than the rest.

''One of them had the wrong tire,'' said the Briton, ''and one of them spun -- yet they finished one-two. That's pretty amazing.''

Alonso - 'Renault can come back'
(GMM) Fernando Alonso is sure Renault can catch rival team BAR and reclaim second place in the constructors' world championship.

The Spaniard's spin, and Jarno Trulli's handling problem, meant the blue and yellows failed to score at the recent Monza race.

''It won't be easy,'' said Alonso, 22.

''But we are capable of coming back.''

Alonso said Monza, with long straights handing an advantage to more powerful engines, was the 'worst track' for the R24 car.

''But we did quite well (in Italy),'' the youngster insisted, ''and we have solved the reliability problems we were having.''

Fernando is scheduled to test at Silverstone, where 'more performance developments' will be tried for the final races.

BAR, though, is confident of a strong run to Interlagos.

''But this is not a time for complacency,'' warned principal David Richards. ''We'll be at Silverstone ... working hard.''

Ferrari to race 'new' tire in China
(GMM) In China, Ferrari is likely to race the 'new philosophy' Bridgestone tire it used to humiliate the field at Budapest.

It wasn't used on the high-speed Spa and Monza tracks, for safety reasons, but a developed version will test at Mugello this week.

''We can't (confirm the story) before then,'' said Jean Todt.

Prior to the Shanghai track opening earlier in 2004, the last time Ferrari's principal went to China was 'fifteen years ago.

''It was for a Rally, with another company,'' he explained.

''The evolution of China, I have to say, is simply amazing.''

No rest for Schu
(GMM) Even with the drivers' title all wrapped up, Michael Schumacher will not rest ahead of '04's final three flyaways.

The German, 35, has confirmed his involvement in the Jerez test on Thursday and Friday, and Ferrari will also run at Mugello.

Schumacher, speaking from Switzerland, said he thought of the 'sea of red' from the Monza podium on the flight back home.

''At least once in a lifetime,'' he said, ''everyone should be able to experience something like that -- I'll never forget.''

Jean Todt, meanwhile, said 'aero work' will take place in Italy, while 'some work for 2005' has been going on back at Fiorano.

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