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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
September 20, 2004


Ford demise swipes at F1 minnows
(GMM) Ford's decision to sell Jaguar and Cosworth has taken a swipe at two more teams' precariously-dangling Sword of Damocles.

Ford-owned Cosworth, without backing beyond next month's Brazilian Grand Prix, supplies subsidized F1 engines to both.

Minardi recently signed a new Cosworth deal for 2005.

''There is a contract in place,'' an excerpt from a statement insisted, ''for the supply of engines to the team in 2005.''

A Minardi spokesman, meanwhile, added that the Faenza-based F1 squad will 'work closely' with Cosworth to 'find a solution.'

Principal and Minardi owner Paul Stoddart added: ''We are confident of being able to arrive at a suitable arrangement.''

He explained that Minardi will probably still run a Cosworth.

''It may not be a 'Ford' Cosworth,'' Paul said.

''But it will be a 'something' Cosworth.''

Eddie Jordan's team also has a Ford contract, and the Irish owner said he will 'analyze [our] position' with regard to 2005 power.








'Ralf will race' - Williams' Michael
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher will return to grand prix service this weekend in China, Williams' technical director has confirmed.

Sam Michael said the injured German's sub, Antonio Pizzonia, 'exceeded expectations' in the four F1 events since July.

''I felt ok physically (at last week's Silverstone test),'' Schumacher said, ''thanks to the (recent) training I'd done.''

Meanwhile, 31-year-old Michael announced that the FW26 has undergone 'some further ... improvements' since the Monza race.








Renault sign Villeneuve for final races
(GMM) Renault chief Flavio Briatore has confirmed that Jacques Villeneuve will race the final three grands prix of season '04.

The French-Canadian driver tested at Silverstone last week following another lackluster showing for Jarno Trulli at Monza.

''(Jacques) has impressed us with his performance this week.''

Briatore also thanked fellow F1 boss Peter Sauber, who's snapped-up the 33-year-old for 2005 and 2006, 'for his collaboration.'

A Renault spokesman said Toyota-bound Trulli was let go in accordance with the objective to beat BAR-Honda to second place.

Villeneuve had not driven an F1 car since September 2003.

''I needed time to play myself back in,'' he said on Friday, ''as well as adjusting my style to using a semi-automatic gearbox.''







China race is 'sold out'
(GMM) China's first ever grand prix is sold out.

Organizers in Shanghai said about $36 million has been made by selling all of the available 150,000 tickets for Sunday's event.

''It's a decent sum,'' said the track's Yu Zhifei.

He didn't want to say exactly how much the race has cost.

''All I can say,'' said the deputy general manager, ''is that Shanghai (will make) a great achievement through the event.''

The circuit cost is estimated at more than $300 million.

But it's worth every cent, said Mercedes' Norbert Haug, as China is hosting maybe the 'most important race' in motorsport history.

BMW counterpart Dr Mario Theissen agrees, as does BAR-Honda boss David Richards, who said the race will 'broaden (F1's) horizon.'

But he denied he'll get an influx of Chinese corporate interest.

Richards said it's more likely 'to attract sponsors in the West' who are hoping to get a foothold among China's burgeoning market.








Trulli might race in Japan
(GMM) Jarno Trulli will not race a Toyota in the final three grands prix of 2004, the former Renault driver has confirmed.

He tested a red and white car at Silverstone last week but, despite having a 2005 deal in the pocket, 'I prefer to wait.'

Asked if he's waiting for Japan or Brazil, or 2005, he indicated the latter. ''But I have started to prepare early,'' said Jarno.

The 30-year-old said he signed a Toyota contract at the beginning of July 2004, thus contradicting new principal Tsutomu Tomita.

Trulli said he got the contract 'at Magny-Cours (July 2-4)'.

He said there was not enough time to get ready for Sunday's Shanghai event, but left the door open for a debut in Japan.

''I don't know,'' he told a reporter in the UK, ''honestly.''







Stewart, Purnell, say 'no' to Jag buy-out
(GMM) Sir Jackie Stewart and Tony Purnell have ruled out making bids for Ford's Formula One team Jaguar, which is for sale.

Purnell, Milton-Keynes' current boss, said he can't afford it, and team founder Stewart's response was 'been there, done that.'

It's reported that about $100 million is the off-the-record asking price, up $10m since Ford bought 'Stewart' back in 1999.

Ford's Richard Parry-Jones justified the US manufacturer's decision to pull out by claiming F1 is now 'too expensive.'

He added: ''F1 generates a lot of income (but) it is not distributed equitably to the various stakeholders.''

Parry-Jones' comment brings into stark reality the almost identical statement of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.

Red Bull magnate Dieter Mateschitz, and F3000 team owner Christian Horner, are also touted as possible Jaguar buyers.








Three car teams will be good for F1 - Bernie
(GMM) The loss of Jaguar, Jordan or Minardi (or all three) will mean up to six F1 teams may have to race a third car next season.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said there 'could be an upside' to Ford's decision to quit the sport and sell Jaguar and Cosworth.

He said the teams are contracted to run a third car if required.

''That would (mean) that we would have probably twenty competitive cars on the grid (in 2005),'' the FOM chief added.

The teams to run a third car would be decided either by ballot or by their finishing order in the constructors' world championship.

Bernie said he'd rather see 'three Ferraris and three McLarens' at the front of the grid 'than a Jaguar fighting with a Minardi.'

Ecclestone also accused Ford and Jaguar of 'bad management.

''I'm not sorry to see them go,'' he fumed. ''(Jaguar) came into F1 to suit themselves and will leave to suit themselves.''








Button saga settled this week
(GMM) BAR and Williams have convinced the Geneva-based Contract Recognition Board to settle the 'Jenson Button-saga' this week.

The hearing to decide which team the 24-year-old will drive for next season was last week delayed for a month until late October.

But it is now reported that the FIA-sponsored CRB, comprising three lawyers, has decided to revert to a September 22 session.

Moreover, a final decision is expected just three days later, which, coincidentally, is the first-ever Chinese Grand Prix.







Battle heats-up for F1 runner-up
(GMM) The final three grands prix of 2004 will stage a crucial battle for second, behind Ferrari, in the constructors' title.

At Monza, BAR moved clear of Renault.

The former, Brackley-based, team is bringing 'some new aero parts and engine developments' to Shanghai in a bid to keep that lead.

''We know we'll have to work hard to keep second place,'' said technical director Geoff Willis, ''for the last three races.''

Renault demonstrated how important the tussle is by, after Monza, firing Jarno Trulli and signing '97 champion Jacques Villeneuve.

The team will run a new front and rear wing at Shanghai, and also two 'new lightweight chassis' tested at Monza and Silverstone.

Bob Bell said the innovations, so late in the season, indicate 'how hard we are pushing to regain our position in the' title.'

The technical director admitted that while BAR 'have the edge on us' at some tracks, Renault 'hold an advantage at others.'








No engine for Minardi, Jordan - Ford
(GMM) Ford will not be in a position to subsidize the cost of engines for small teams next season, Richard Parry-Jones has said.

Cash-strapped Minardi and Jordan both race powerplants prepared by Ford-owned Cosworth - to be sold - at a reduced price in 2004.

Parry-Jones, Ford's group vice president, said Cosworth must be sold as a 'profitable company (with) ... profitable contracts.'

He added: ''Therefore we cannot subsidize ... prices for other F1 teams in the future.''

But F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said Cosworth is no major loss to small teams as they were 'ripping' them off anyway.

The 73-year-old said the Cosworth unit cost more than Sauber's Ferrari deal 'but (are) not capable of running near the front.'

Max Mosley, meanwhile, said 'multi race' engine rules starting in '05 will '(prepare) the ground' for the day of fewer carmakers.








F1 is too expensive - Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has admitted that Formula One is a 'very expensive business.'

The F1 supremo said there is interest in Ford's up-for-sale grand prix team but is unsure if any have the financial clout.

His comments follow accusations that Bernie should share more of F1's revenue, particularly with teams struggling for cash.

Ecclestone does not lament the demise of Ford and Jaguar in F1 but admits 'we (do) need to reduce the (cost of being) competitive.'

Bernie, 73, wants to see top teams spend as much money as they want 'but the amount of money needed to compete would be less.'

Ford's executive vice president in charge of Ford of Europe, Mark Fields, said Jaguar can 'not afford' to spend $300 or $400m a year.

Group VP Richard Parry-Jones said Ford thought about re-branding Jaguar as 'Ford.'







F1 is boring, says Jacques Villeneuve
(GMM) Renault's temporary driver, Jacques Villeneuve, watched every grand prix this season and found most of them boring.

The former world champion, who'll drive Jarno Trulli's Renault from China to Brazil, said today's races are struggling for 'rhythm.

''It's the pit stops,'' said the Canadian.

''They all start pitting on lap eight and then all you see is stop, stop, stop.''

Asked how that is a problem for the TV spectacle, Villeneuve, 33, said the interest of racing can be to follow a star's progress.

He added: ''You think 'ok, he's lost 10 seconds but he's got 15 laps to catch up.

''You don't seem to see that any more.''








Jordan's not going broke - EJ
(GMM) Jordan is not going broke.

Majority shareholder Eddie Jordan laments that Ford's F1 pull-out has returned his team to the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

''Nothing has changed,'' he insisted, despite engine supplier Cosworth losing Ford backing.

Jordan was linked, albeit not admittedly, with a Dubai-funded buy-out, but the sale seems to have lapsed on any timescale.

EJ admits the Silverstone-based team is 'looking for a significant partner.

''(But we are not) in danger of bankruptcy.''

Jordan concluded: ''It is misleading and grossly incorrect to suggest so.''

Meanwhile, it appears Minardi will raise a bit of money - up to $5 million - by selling old Tyrrell, Minardi and BAR cars at auction.

Team owner Paul Stoddart will put half of his own Formula One collection under the hammer in England (Ledbury) this November.








Ford pull-out is F1 'wake up call'
(GMM) Ford's decision to quit Formula One should be seen as a wake-up call for a badly structured sport, Richard Parry-Jones said.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said the news serves as a reminder that manufacturers enter and leave grands prix 'to suit themselves.'

But the US-owned marque's group vice president, Parry-Jones, said if Ford can't make F1 work, then 'reform is needed.'

He added: ''I think this (shows that F1) needs to get on with it at a faster rate.''

RPJ said Ford has long been associated with Formula One but it become 'too expensive.'







Shanghai was a 'swamp' - track designer
(GMM) When F1 track designer Hermann Tilke first looked at China's proposed grand prix site, he thought it looked like a swamp.

''It was,'' the German laughs.

''It was very flat so we added a hill and some incline -- it was very challenging.''

The load bearing was too heavy for the 'swamp,' so a track foundation of polystyrene piles is some forty to eighty meters deep.

Shanghai's track layout is shaped like a Chinese character -- 'Shang' ('To Rise').

All the team buildings have been put inside a 'lake,' Tilke said, and the track should inspire overtaking at the end of straights.

Turn One looks punishing; it's a never-ending right-hand bend with a very long g-loading.

''They'll be at more than 2g,'' said BAR's Geoff Willis, ''for about four seconds.''

Tilke thinks Shanghai should be overtaking friendly, with mostly slow corners but three straight sections leading into a tight bend.

''I think it'll be difficult to overtake,'' said Williams' technical boss Sam Michael.

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