F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
September 16, 2004

Trulli to join Toyota on Thursday
(GMM) Jarno Trulli, who raced for Renault in last Sunday's Monza GP, will test a Toyota grand prix car at Silverstone on Thursday.

On Thursday, the Cologne-based team is also expected to confirm Trulli, 30 and from Italy, as a full-time Toyota racer for 2005.

The news came a day after Renault announced it had 'released (Jarno) from his obligations' for the final months of this year.

A statement said the parties reached a 'mutual agreement.'

''(We) feel that an early separation,'' said Flavio Briatore, ''will allow both ... to conclude the year in (a) positive way.''

Jarno Trulli said he was 'very comfortable' with the decision.

Jacques will race in China
(GMM) Renault will soon confirm that Jacques Villeneuve is Jarno Trulli's race replacement for the final three grands prix of '04.

A spokesman said 'no decision' has been taken, but the same representative earlier insisted the Canadian would not even test.

Jacques, 33 - and Sauber's newly-signed driver for 2005 - 'acclimatized' to the Renault on Wednesday, and went slowest.

He spent much of the day on the seat and driving position, working with race team-mate Fernando Alonso's chassis set-up.

''Today wasn't about lap times,'' Villeneuve said at England's Silverstone circuit, in rural Northamptonshire, in the evening.

''I expected a tougher day physically, because the lap times in F1 are at least three seconds quicker, but I actually feel fine.

''The R24 is quick and handles well.''

Button's CRB hearing delayed a month
(GMM) Jenson Button will not find out if he is a Williams driver until after the final grand prix of 2004, it emerged Wednesday.

Reports said the Swiss-based 'Contract Recognition Board,' initially scheduled to meet next Sunday, has delayed the hearing.

BAR and Williams both claim a deal with the 24-year-old.

A source said the CRB will now meet in Geneva on October 24, the same day as the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo.

The news is likely to further delay the stalled F1 'silly season,' with a key race seat also to be filled at Jaguar.

Frank Williams earlier commented that, once the CRB has met, it may take three weeks 'or longer' before a decision is publicized.

Trulli set to replace Zonta - source
(GMM) Jarno Trulli will 'definitely' test a Toyota car at Silverstone on Thursday, a source close to the team confirmed.

The fired Renault ace's debut for the Cologne-based team is set to coincide with an official confirmation of his 2005 race seat.

A team spokesman was careful not to mention Monaco-winning Trulli, but he admitted Toyota 'will make an announcement.'

Our source explained that Toyota did not plan to run Italian-born Trulli, 30, until Renault announced the pair had mutually split.

Speculation persists, meanwhile, that Trulli may even replace Ricardo Zonta as Olivier Panis' team-mate for China and beyond.

A spokesman said there's no 'plan' to change line-up, but another source 'would be surprised' if Toyota does not change its mind.

Trulli was asked how it felt to see '97 champ Jacques Villeneuve at the wheel of his blue and yellow Renault car on Wednesday.

''Fine with me,'' he smiled.

'Only Sauber respect me' - Villeneuve
(GMM) Within just a few hours, Jacques Villeneuve threw off a label as out-of-work-has-been to having two F1 deals in the bag.

On Wednesday, the 33-year-old ex-world champion tested a Renault car, and was confirmed as Sauber's race ace for 2005 and '06.

Villeneuve, from Quebec, is also expected to race in Jarno Trulli's vacated Renault shoes in China, Japan and Brazil (2004).

Back in Hinwil, meanwhile, Sauber is delighted to have a former F1 champion to replace Renault-bound Giancarlo Fisichella.

Peter Sauber said: ''It's something truly special.

''But I want to make it clear that the 'world champion' part was not the decisive factor. He is a great fighter and so keen.''

Villeneuve said he wanted to join a 'non political team.

''So I'm very happy about that. But (Peter) was the only one who treated me seriously and with respect - that's the difference.''

Records tumble in UK, Spain
(GMM) With 'Trulli' and 'Villeneuve' hogging Wednesday's headlines, it was easy to miss some baking pace in F1 testing.

At Silverstone, where Jacques' Renault went slowest, Kimi Raikkonen set a new unofficial track record in the McLaren.

BAR, Toyota and Williams were also in action.

Ralf Schumacher's second day back from injuries turned out less successful than the first when a technical problem struck.

''He had to miss most of the morning,'' said a spokesman.

Over at Jerez (Spain), meanwhile, Rubens Barrichello did a tire program in a Ferrari and also set a new unofficial record.

Michael Schumacher is set to take over on Thursday.

Sauber's Felipe Massa was the only other Spanish runner.

Meanwhile, at Fiorano, Luca Badoer shook down the China-bound red cars, while Andrea Bertolini collected the miles at Mugello.

Zanardi reveals discrimination
(GMM) Almost three years ago to the day, former Formula One driver Alex Zanardi lost both legs in an horror Champ Car shunt.

Now, in a new book, the affable Italian has revealed some of the 'ridiculous' discriminations he faces as a disabled person.

''I once went to the emergency department in Indianapolis,'' he wrote, ''and spent 640 dollars on an antibiotic prescription.''

Zanardi said: ''My wheelchair - a few pipes and wheels that have deflated - cost 3700 euros. These are the real humiliations.''

The 37-year-old claimed some companies 'exploit' disabled people.

But Alessandro, who drove a Williams in 1999, has overcome the odds and now races a hand-controlled car in a European series.

His book is called 'Zanardi - My Story' (Haynes Publishing).

Sponsor 'annoyed' at JV signing
(GMM) F1 sponsor Red Bull is annoyed that Peter Sauber has opted to sign Jacques Villeneuve over F3000 champion Vitantonio Liuzzi.

The latter Italian arrived in Spain last night and is scheduled to test the Ferrari-powered car at the Jerez track on Thursday.

But a source said the run was threatened because team and Liuzzi-sponsor Red Bull thought it was to assess his potential as racer.

Liuzzi may still end up as Sauber's 'third' driver in 2005, but he is also highly-rated and courted by Ferrari's chief Jean Todt.

Villeneuve to find $5m in sponsorship
(GMM) '97 champion Jacques Villeneuve has vowed to find $5 million in sponsorship for new Formula One employer Sauber.

It's part of the Quebecois' two-year, $4m a year race deal.

He admitted a drive for any team, particularly Williams and BAR who he talked to most, was beginning to look quite unlikely.

Villeneuve said at Silverstone, where he is testing the Renault car in a separate agreement: ''(But) I am always optimistic.

''It doesn't always happen, as my career shows, but you shouldn't give up -- and training for nothing would have been difficult.''

The 33-year-old said the Sauber deal happened 'very quickly.

''I dealt with one or two other teams since March, but only Sauber seemed to respect me -- they seem totally non-political.''

Jacques, who won 11 races in a Williams-Renault, admitted he hasn't agreed to drive for Peter Sauber to collect even more.

''That would require a lot of luck,'' he confessed. ''As long as we're improving as a team and I am happy, that's all I want.''

He also promised he isn't trying to copy Giancarlo Fisichella by using Ferrari-powered Sauber as a springboard to a works team.

Irony not lost on Jacques
(GMM) The irony of finding a home at Renault for '04's final grands prix is not lost on BAR's former ace Jacques Villeneuve.

Villeneuve, 33, will almost certainly be invited to race the R24 as the team bids to win back second in the F1 carmakers' chase.

In October last year, JV quit Brackley-based BAR on the Tuesday before Japan when David Richards opted against him for 2004.

Now, DR's call may come back to bite the F1 principal.

Villeneuve admitted that revenge will be sweet if he gets the nod. ''It would be great,'' the Canadian beamed yesterday.

''Just because of ... the way it ended (at BAR).''

The Quebecois insists that, although he's testing Jarno Trulli's blue car again Thursday, a decision to race has not been taken.

Jacques added: ''Right now we're just getting comfortable in the car so that if we do (race), then there's no worry about that.

''The goal is to beat BAR, basically.''

Villeneuve also said he was not planning to beat Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso to the checker in China, Japan or Brazil.

''He's very fast,'' said Jacques, ''and I'll be happy to be just a little bit behind. 'There's even stuff I can learn from him.''

Canadian promoter welcomes Jacques' return
(GMM) Normand Legault, promoter of the Canadian GP, says Jacques Villeneuve's race return is 'excellent news' for Formula One.

Legault, who saved the Montreal race from the Ecclestone axe, claims the fellow Quebecois never lost his 'deep desire' to race.

''He is joining a team that is managed with a lot of professionalism,'' said Normand, ''and driven by a strong will.''

F1 fans 'around the world' have warmly welcomed Jacques' return, said NL, which is further 'evidence' of his immense popularity.

JV left F1 in October last year, when David Richards opted to sign Takuma Sato, but Jacques has actually enjoyed his 'break.'

''I guess I should thank (the BAR principal),'' he laughed.

''I think I really needed a rest.''

France must find new F1 hero
(GMM) France's motor sport authority has vowed to do 'everything' it can to bring a new national hero to the Formula One race grid.

With Olivier Panis' imminent retirement, 2005 will be the first in forty seasons that France has lacked a driver in grands prix.

Jacques Regis said the problem is 'finance' in F1.

''Our efforts are paying off in rallying,'' said the FFSA president, ''but another priority is 'the top' (in racing).''

France's best hope for F1 next year is Renault test driver Franck Montagny, linked to Minardi, and CART star Sebastien Bourdais.

The latter Frenchman might test a Jaguar this season.

Ralf - 'I'm fit and off to China'
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher didn't realize how much he'd missed F1 until, on Tuesday, he sat in a cockpit in the Silverstone pit.

The 29-year-old has missed more than twelve months, and six grands prix, through back injuries sustained at Indianapolis.

He was fastest of all as a big field went testing.

''I didn't start the day thinking 'I'm going to be fastest','' he said on Wednesday, ''but it's not a bad way to start, is it?

''At least I haven't forgotten how to drive!''

More important than an ultimate lap time, he said, was how he felt at the wheel of the Williams -- did his back hurt at all?

''Not at all,'' said the German. ''I'm fit.''

Ralf confirmed he will fly to Shanghai at the weekend.

Trulli signs Toyota contract - official
(GMM) Jarno Trulli will be Ralf Schumacher's team-mate at Toyota next season, the German-based team confirmed on Thursday morning.

In a statement, Toyota said the recently sacked Renault winner signed a two-year contract 'on Tuesday 14 September' in Cologne.

Trulli, 30, will debut in the red and white car at the Silverstone test, but there's no word on if he'll race in China.

Team principal Tsutomu Tomita insisted the deal was only signed this week, contrary to reports it was in the bag some time ago.

''We believe he will be the perfect team-mate to Ralf,'' said the Japanese. ''They will have equal number one status with us.''

Toyota also said Ricardo Zonta will stay as Friday tester in 2005, while Ryan Briscoe is not to be retained as a test driver.

Tomita did say the young Australian, though, will 'receive support' from the team as he looks to 'find a (2005) race seat.'

Williams to race new livery in China
(GMM) Top Formula One team BMW-Williams will run a revised car livery in the first-ever Grand Prix staged in China next Sunday.

On the purpose-built Shanghai track, title sponsor 'Hewlett Packard' has requested that it display a Chinese-version logo.

Instead of the 'HP' logo on the FW26's rear wing, Ralf Schumacher's car will proclaim characters depicting 'HUI PU'.

''(China) has been ... a priority market for the company,'' said an HP spokeswoman, ''since the opening of its first office.''

Meanwhile, F1 straggler Minardi has publicly thanked clothing sponsor 'Puma' for protecting the crew in a pit fire at Monza.

''(Puma) was a ... factor in ensuring that no serious injuries were incurred by anyone,'' said team principal Paul Stoddart.

Jag still set for 'Ford' shake-up
(GMM) All signs indicate that manufacturer Ford's Formula One programm, currently badged 'Jaguar', is set for a '05 shake-up.

The marque's Rally chief Malcolm Wilson hinted on Wednesday that Ford probably won't contest the entire championship next year.

He said it's the only way the team would race at all.

It strongly suggests that money taken out of that programm will go directly into a 'Ford' re-branded Formula One project.

Earlier, Jaguar's F1 managing director, David Pitchforth, denied that the fate of the Rally team was an indicator of anything.

''I can see why people make that connection,'' he admitted at Monza, ''but actually that is very difficult to do.''

Wednesday's news also said that Ford was about to close a Jaguar factory at 'Browns Lane' in Coventry (UK), costing 2000 jobs.

Briatore to leave Renault
(GMM) Flavio Briatore will leave Renault after 2005.

The charismatic and tabloid-page principal, under contract to next July, warned he might even quit Formula One altogether.

He told Italian weekly 'Sport Auto Moto': ''Maybe I will quit.

''2005 is my last year at Renault.

''We will see what happens (after that).''

Briatore, an Italian, has confidence in the '05 line-up but said a title bid depends on whether Michelin can build a better tire.

''(Michelin) need to understand,'' he said, ''that they are behind Bridgestone. If you stand still ... you fall behind.''

Flavio Briatore is 54.

F1 may not succeed in China - analyst
(GMM) Formula One may not succeed in China.

That's the warning of independent auto analyst Z.S. Jones, of Shanghai Automotive Consultancy, ahead of next Sunday's GP.

He told 'China Business Weekly' mag that, despite a massive national population, there's only a small fan base in China.

''(The race) will get low (TV) ratings,'' Jones predicted.

''Advertisers and sponsors will not get involved.''

Indeed, the Chinese TV broadcaster (CCTV) has landed the television rights to the grand prix, but have not paid anyone.

An official said the advertising return would not be 'satisfactory' enough to justify the 'astronomical' F1 fee.

But another expert said CCTV and Jones are missing the point.

Sun Gaoling, the director of a Research Centre in Beijing, said the 'key' to F1 in China is that it will cement Shanghai's image.

But some insist that motor racing will never turn-on the average Chinese citizen because he can not even afford to buy a car.

The impressive Shanghai track cost $317m to build.

Massa to be Villeneuve's teammate
(GMM) Lost in the melee of the recent 'Villeneuve' and 'Trulli' sagas, Sauber confirmed that Felipe Massa will race into 2005.

Indeed, '97 world champion Jacques Villeneuve will be the little Brazilian's next team-mate, the F1 squad said in a statement.

The 23-year-old debuted in F1 for Sauber in 2002, but erratic form sent him off to Ferrari a year later to be test driver.

''(It) taught him a lot,'' said Peter Sauber.

''He's also a little older now, and thus more mature.''

Jacques will race Renault - Briatore
(GMM) Jacques Villeneuve will race the final grands prix of 2004 in a blue and yellow Renault car, Flavio Briatore has admitted.

The Italian, managing director of the Enstone-based team, said it's a 'perfect chance' for JV to show he has not lost any speed.

''He can (also) help us with the constructors' championship,'' Briatore told the Italian media. ''He is fit and resolute.

''I think he will get up to speed quickly.''

Briatore defended dumping Jarno Trulli prior to China by insisting 'something has happened to the head' of the driver.

''(He) has had the same car,'' said the F1 principal, ''but he was not driving it like (team-mate Fernando) Alonso any more.

''I feel bad, but we're done with him.

''To go on, we would have just hurt each other.''

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