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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
September 23, 2004


Glock, Doornbos, in for Jordan
(GMM - Shanghai) Timo Glock will race the second Jordan alongside Nick Heidfeld in China this Sunday, the Formula One team announced on Wednesday.

Rome-born Giorgio Pantano has been ousted due to 'contractual' issues, and Glock's 'third' driver slot filled by F3000 Spa winner Robert Doornbos.

Eddie Jordan said the Pantano split was 'unavoidable.

''We wish him every success in the future,'' the Irish team owner added.

Glock, 22, stepped up when Pantano's management dispute first appeared at Montreal, and his driving on Friday has been 'first class,' Jordan continued.

F3000 'rookie of the year' Doornbos, meanwhile - a Dutchman - will turn 24 on Thursday, and described the unexpected Shanghai call-up as a 'fantastic opportunity.'

He thanked sponsors Muermans and Burgfonds.








'Schu, why do you race in red?'
(GMM - Shanghai) Michael Schumacher cringed but retained his composure as he took on the role of Formula One teacher for a flock of uninformed Chinese journalists.

The Ferrari driver was asked at Shanghai's Grand Hyatt International Hotel: ''Why do you always race in red - is it a lucky color?''

Schumacher, 35 - who mocked a hack who asked him about retirement in Italy a fortnight ago - just smiled and answered that Maranello's cars have always been that color.

''I hope it brings us luck,'' he said. ''It's great to be here with this color and hopefully we can do well. We want to win this race.''

Next, someone asked Michael if he thought he could win the drivers' world championship at the new $304 million Shanghai circuit.

Again, with poise, Schumacher kept calm and said that feat - his fifth in succession - had been in the bag for more than a month.

The ruse went on - what did the seven-times title winner feel when he discovered that Ford-backed Jaguar, his 'old' team, would not compete beyond October's Interlagos race?

Schumacher was polite when he pointed out that he had never even sat in a green F1 racer.







Button decision delayed
(GMM - Shanghai) Formula One's Contract Recognition Board met but decided to adjourn the BAR versus Williams dispute over Jenson Button on Wednesday.

The three-man, FIA-sponsored, panel postponed the hearing until October 16, instructing the teams' lawyers to collect more information.

''(The meeting in Milan) is anticipated to deliver a final decision,'' Williams said in a statement.








Coulthard could still race a Jaguar
(GMM - Shanghai) David Coulthard is 'fifty percent' sure he will have the option to drive for a Jaguar team with new owners next season, the Scot said in Shanghai.

McLaren's departing veteran revealed that he has been 'approached' by an 'interested party' that is keen to buy the beleaguered Ford-backed team.

''They are serious players,'' Coulthard was quoted as saying in UK newspaper The Telegraph.

He added: ''I'm not 100 percent confident that Jaguar will be saved.''

Earlier this week, the 33-year-old - to be succeeded at Woking by Juan Pablo Montoya in 2005 - staked a claim for Jenson Button's likely vacant seat at BAR for next season.

But if the Englishman is forced to stay at Brackley, a key seat will open at Williams, where Coulthard debuted as a 23-year-old after the death of Ayrton Senna.

''I've been there before,'' said DC, ''(and) there's no way they won't have a competitive car next time.''

But he is preparing for the possibility that he could be left standing in the latest edition of Formula One 'silly season.'

''I don't want it to be over,'' David said. ''But if it (is), I'll just have to handle it and move on. I'd be very, very disappointed.''








Rubens wants to beat Schu again
(GMM - Shanghai) Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello is looking to repeat victory over Michael Schumacher at the virginal Shanghai circuit this Sunday.

The amiable Brazilian beat his world champion team-mate in Italy a fortnight ago and said another win is more important to him than securing second in the drivers' championship.

He agreed at a 'Grand Hyatt' hotel press conference on Wednesday: ''Second place is better than third.

''But for the next three grands prix, I'll be fighting to win. That gives me the most pleasure.''

Barrichello smirked throughout the conference, attended by 400 mostly Chinese media, as they asked colorful questions such as, to Schumacher, 'Why do you always wear red?'

Rubens was asked if the driving duo spend time together away from the circuit. ''We go drinking Caipirinha together,'' he exploded in a fit of laughter.

Another wanted to know if Rubens would like a corner at Shanghai named after him. ''To be honest,'' he smiled, ''(drivers) refer to 'turn one, turn 2.

''But it would be an honor.''








BAR turn blue
(GMM - Shanghai) BAR's F1 garage has turned blue as the sport prepares to race in China.

Team driver Jenson Button is apparently unhappy with the uniform switch from BAT-owned cigarette brand 'Lucky Strike', which is not sold in the country, to blue and yellow '555'.

FIA regulations forbid a wholesale race livery change, so the predominantly white car will stay the same, but blue and yellow '555' logos for the 006 racer have been unveiled at the Shanghai circuit.

The team's garage, meanwhile - including equipment and pit crew apparel - has undergone a radical 555 transformation.

It is understood that Anthony Davidson's 'third' car, excluded from the race livery regulation, sports a full blue paint job.







'I have no F1 enemies' - Villeneuve
(GMM - Shanghai) Jacques Villeneuve said he received a 'nice welcome' when he strolled into the Formula One race paddock for the first time in a year.

In China, the French-Canadian will drive the first of 2004's three final grands prix for Renault before returning full-time for the Sauber crew next season.

''Every comment I've had so far,'' the former world champion said on Wednesday, ''has been positive -- so it's been good.

''There are always people who are negative, but it's the same everywhere you go.''

Villeneuve, 33, walked out of the BAR camp after a season-long spat with principal David Richards in October last year.

Takuma Sato, who succeeded JV at BAR and will now battle the Renault driver for second in the constructors' championship, admitted Jacques might spice-up the challenge.

''We don't know just how quick he'll be,'' said the Japanese, ''but a driver of his experience should be able to get straight back on it.''








Ferrari are 'selfish' - Ecclestone
(GMM - Shanghai) Ferrari are 'selfish' in not being willing to compromise for the sake of Formula One's show, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Wednesday.

In an interview with UK's Guardian newspaper, the 73-year-old race mogul said their refusal to shift on one-lap qualifying is an example of Ferrari's self-interestedness.

''One-by-one qualifying,'' Bernie said, ''has been a complete disaster, (but) Ferrari ... won't agree to change anything.''

Ecclestone also said Ferrari's top driver, seven times world champion Michael Schumacher, would not have been so successful if one Brazilian had stuck around as his main rival.

''I'm a Schumacher fan,'' said Bernie, ''but I doubt if he would have won as many championships if Ayrton Senna had not left us.

''Michael has (also) never had anybody in his team who has been able, or been in a position, to challenge him.''








Schumacher - 'I'll quit when I lose'
(GMM - Shanghai) Michael Schumacher has repeated his intention to keep racing in Formula One until the tide of wins and titles finally turns.

Ferrari's German driver said in Shanghai on Wednesday: ''When I'm not competitive any more, it's time to stop.''

The 35-year-old also baulked when asked if a fourteenth win of the season, after a rare drought of two grands prix, might come his way on the impressive Shanghai track this Sunday.

Schumacher visited the $304m facility for the first time on Thursday morning. ''We'll have to wait,'' said the world champion.

''It's one thing to see the track and practice on it,'' he added, ''but it's going to be interesting to race on it and see if overtaking is possible.''

Michael also revealed that top drivers had a 'lot of input' into the actual circuit design.

''We hope we have made overtaking opportunities,'' he said, ''and we can offer a great and interesting show for China.''







Red Bull set to buy Jaguar
(GMM - Shanghai) Red Bull, the Austrian-based energy drink company, is more likely than others to buy Formula One team Jaguar.

British magazine Autosport said company boss Dieter Mateschitz has now 'ruled out' establishing a new team from scratch.

A report cited 'sources close to Jaguar' as confirming that talks are back on, despite Ford scuppering a Red Bull bid earlier this season.

Other sources told this publication that a Mateschitz-owned Jaguar team would be branded either 'Red Bull Grand Prix' or 'All American,' with an American driver guaranteed in either incarnation.

Mateschitz said he is looking for the green light within a fortnight: ''Talks are going on and at the moment there are several possibilities we are looking at.''

A customer Toyota engine is most likely, even if re-jigging the well advanced 'R6' Jaguar model for a non-Cosworth unit would likely be at a big expense.








Agency ends media dispute
(GMM - Shanghai) A ticket agency has settled a media dispute over who snapped-up the majority of the 150,000 tickets put on sale for Sunday's first ever Chinese GP.

An average Chinese family earns about $2000 a year, so most reports hinted that very few locals could afford to buy a $45 - $450 ticket.

Sponsors, businesses or the 'well connected' will dominate in the crowd, reports said, but some local media retorted that most tickets were sold to normal Chinese fans.

'Shanghai Chunqiu', the main ticket agency for the Chinese Grand Prix, was contacted on Wednesday and asked just who did buy most of the tickets for the big race.

A spokesman said around '60 per cent' of the tickets were bought by companies, with 'normal' race fans in the vast minority.








Yoong in F1 paddock
(GMM - Shanghai) Former Minardi driver Alex Yoong returned to the Formula One paddock in Shanghai, where he will race in a support event for this weekend's Chinese GP.

The Malaysian, who has a Chinese heritage, is today a driver in Australia's V8 'Supercar' series, but he'll line-up on the Porsche Cup Asia grid.

''I've always had great support from the Chinese,'' said Alex, ''particularly during my F1 days.''

Yoong said part of the reason for being in China is to promote next year's V8 race at the impressive Shanghai circuit.







F1 websites launch Chinese version
(GMM - Shanghai) Grand Prix racing's official website, formula1.com, will launch a Chinese language version prior to the inaugural race.

Owned by Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Administration company, a Chinese company (SOHU) has been signed to host and manage the publication.

A statement said FOA hopes the venture can offer 'new business opportunities to Formula One associated companies in this promising market.'

Ecclestone said 'millions more' people will now be able to follow Formula One 'in their own language through the internet.'

Meanwhile, F1 team BAR's Japanese engine partner Honda is using the opportunity of the Chinese GP to launch a Chinese version website.

''HondaF1.com is one of the first F1 websites to offer news updates in Chinese every day of a race weekend,'' said a statement.








Flavio's out to sea
(GMM - Shanghai) Renault's F1 chief, Flavio Briatore, spent an unusual day mid last week -- 200km away from the nearest land.

The Italian, and the manufacturer's president Patrick Faure, headed out to one of Total's oil platforms in the North Sea, east of Scotland.

They reached the location only after a one hour helicopter ride, in survival suits. ''(The visit) gives people a feel for the oil industry,'' said team sponsor Elf's marketing manager Jean-Paul Vettier.

Test driver Franck Montagny was among the guests. ''It's like a science fiction world,'' remarked the Frenchman.

Meanwhile, Renault announced on Thursday that it will run Chinese-language branding for Korean sponsor Hanjin at the Shanghai circuit this weekend.

''On (this) occasion,'' said CEO Sooho Cho, ''we feel it is a significant gesture to address our local audience in their own language.''








Bernie defends F1 race to China
(GMM - Shanghai) F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone is unfazed by criticism that he has taken a sport to a country with a questionable record on human rights.

The 73-year-old chief of Formula One Management said grand prix racing has 'never been involved in politics.'

He told UK's Guardian newspaper: ''It's not for us to rule a country. I tell people that, when they go into a country, they should respect their laws or not go into that country in the first place.''

Bernie said China's mammoth population of 1.3 billion, but basically untapped - by F1 - commercial market, justifies the move to Shanghai.

He said the current TV viewership in China already 'exceeds the total viewership' in the whole of Europe.'

Australian senator Brian Harradine said China's human rights record is 'appalling. It conducts more executions than all other countries combined,' he explained.







Jordan land third Chinese sponsor
(GMM - Shanghai) Struggling team Jordan has landed a one-race Chinese sponsor for Sunday's inaugural grand prix in Shanghai.

Logos of 'Citibank China' will be featured on the yellow EJ14 car as it tears around the $304 million facility from Friday to Sunday.

''We are thrilled (because) we are able to play an integral role by involving Chinese business,'' said Eddie Jordan.

The deal is Jordan's third Chinese sponsorship, along with property developer Shoulo-Huayan and B&Q China.








Brit GP 'far from secure' - Bernie
(GMM - Shanghai) Bernie Ecclestone said Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo's Monza attack was fuelled by 'jealousy.'

The scarlet chief said a fortnight ago that Bernie, F1 supremo, hogs too much of the sport's revenue.

''Our company,'' Bernie told UK newspaper Guardian, ''is only making what was agreed in the first place. Nobody has stolen anything.''

Ecclestone, 73, also hinted that the Silverstone-owning British Racing Drivers' Club has not offered enough money to become the race's promoter from 2005.

''The (British Grand Prix),'' he said, ''is far from secure.''







Jordan as 'well-known as Ferrari' - EJ
(GMM - Shanghai) Jordan is 'almost as well-known as Ferrari' in China, the cash-strapped Formula One team's chief claimed.

Eddie Jordan is bubbling with excitement at the Shanghai F1 track as he enthuses about a new one-race Chinese sponsor (Citibank China).

He thinks Jordan's popularity in the country is due to the 'heavenly' symbolism of the team's yellow paint job, but also because he was the first F1 boss to visit China.

''China has emerged as a hugely important economic power,'' said Jordan, ''and Grand Prix racing is the first major worldwide sport to hold an event there.''

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