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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
September 26, 2004


'I don't give up, I'm Schumacher'
(GMM - Shanghai) Rubens Barrichello sat, silent, for nearly half a minute when world champion team-mate Michael Schumacher inexplicably spun the red car in China.

''I was shocked,'' the Brazilian pole sitter explained. ''It's not often you see him make a mistake that that in a final qualifying.''

Team players, like Ferrari chief Jean Todt, reported that there was nothing to report about the odd incident.

''Right now,'' said the Frenchman, ''we have not discovered what happened. Obviously we would have preferred both cars on the front row.''

Michael, himself, is also 'not sure' what happened, as the never-ending Turn One at Shanghai usually produces understeer, not the chronic oversteer that spun him round.

''The data is not telling,'' said the German, so we have to look very deeply into it. If there was nothing (wrong with) the car, maybe it is down to what is between the fuel tank and the steering wheel ...''

For the less astute, that's the driver.

Schumacher fought through the field in Monza to finish second, ''but I was hoping that was the last time. So I try again. I never give up. I am Michael Schumacher.''








News in the Paddock - Sunday morning
(GMM - Shanghai) Hot on the heels of F1 drivers' complaints about 'mad' Shanghai traffic, a van of Williams personnel was involved in a sizeable crash on the way to the track on Sunday. Head of marketing Jim Wright and a colleague were taken to hospital, but none of the six passengers were seriously hurt.

Shrouded by the 'front and back' Ferrari qualifiers, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen will start the Chinese GP from second place. ''I made a little mistake (in final qualifying),'' said the Finn, ''but I don't think I would have claimed pole.''

Felipe Massa is an excellent fourth on the grid for the Shanghai race. The Brazilian called the lap ''almost perfect. The new Bridgestone tires worked so well straight away.''

On the other end of the scale, tenth placed Juan Pablo Montoya - albeit promoted, like many others, after Takuma Sato's ten-grid penalty - is not happy with the Williams. ''It is too hard to drive and unpredictable,'' said the Colombian. ''Ralf (Schumacher) did a better job.''

You might have missed it, but Zsolt Baumgartner had an engine change - and therefore a quite inconsequential ten-grid penalty - in Shanghai. Minardi team-mate Gianmaria Bruni, like Michael Schumacher, spun in qualifying. ''These things can happen,'' said the Roman.








Pantano to sue Jordan
(GMM - Shanghai) Giorgio Pantano's management is considering legal action against Jordan for 'terminating' his contract prior to the Chinese Grand Prix.

Lars-Christian Brask said the 'fact' of the matter is that Eddie Jordan broke an agreement with the Italian driver.

''The most likely outcome,'' he said, ''is that we have to go through the courts to protect our investment and our driver's rights.''

Jordan replaced Pantano with German driver Timo Glock in Shanghai, but reports suggest that Irishman Richard Lyons could get a green light to race in Japan.







News in the Paddock - Sunday morning 2
(GMM - Shanghai) Michelin selected an overly conservative tire for the inaugural F1 race in Shanghai, competition director Pierre Dupasquier admitted in the Paddock. ''Things have worked out pretty well,'' he tempered. All Michelin teams selected the same compound for qualifying and the race.

Shanghai was a Sunday sell-out, but organizers have released a further 10,000 tickets to meet demand. A few are still left, but a full contingent of 160,000 is expected to watch Michael Schumacher's fight back.

Teams may opt for two or three-stop strategies in Shanghai on Sunday afternoon, according to Renault's Pat Symonds. ''The difference is minimal,'' he thinks. ''Some teams, I think, haven't decided yet so are running a fuel load to allow them to choose.''

Rubens Barrichello believes pole would have been a close-run thing if team-mate Michael Schumacher had not uncharacteristically spun the Ferrari. ''I had a pretty good lap,'' said the first placed Brazilian, ''but would Michael have beaten it? I don't know.''

Jenson Button has ruled-out catching Rubens Barrichello for second place in the drivers' world championship. BAR's Englishman is third on the grid in Shanghai but he'd have to win China, win Japan, and then finish second in Brazil to do it. ''I think I'd be dreaming if I said I could,'' Button said in China.








Williams 'focus' on Ralf - Montoya
(GMM - Shanghai) Ralf Schumacher is getting most of Williams' attention in Shanghai, slower-in-qualifying team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya said.

The English team has 'moved the focus' away from Montoya's side of the garage and onto the Schumacher camp, the Colombian driver claims.

He said: ''It is a bit frustrating, because I'm trying really hard to get good results.''

Montoya, 29, was asked whether he was happy to see Schumacher back from back injuries that might have killed him at Indianapolis. ''Good for him,'' he shrugged.

''I don't really care who my team mate is, to be honest. We're both leaving at the end of the year.''








Minardi seek 2005 rule exemption
(GMM - Shanghai) Paul Stoddart has written to all Formula One teams asking them for unanimous 'dispensation' to run an illegal car next season.

The Minardi chief said the only way the team can guarantee a grid berth in 2005 is if it does not have to build a new racer to radical new, yet clarified, regulations.

''This is a case of force majeure,'' Stoddart said, in reference to Ford's F1 withdrawal and the subsequent news that an affordable Cosworth engine will also not be available.

He added: ''We'd be competitive, but not so competitive to be a threat. The result is we'd have a transitionary year.''

Stoddart reckons Williams, BAR, Jaguar and Jordan - and probably Toyota - have (or will) responded favorably to the letter.

Frank Williams said: ''(Paul is) a nutcase - a real racer who won't give up. I'd love to help him. But we still have to talk about it in detail.''







News in the Paddock - Sunday 3
(GMM - Shanghai) Michael Schumacher will start the Chinese GP from pitlane or last place on the grid after a new engine was fitted to his Ferrari. The German spun in final qualifying, relocating him to the back. ''Depending on which strategy looks best,'' said technical director Ross Brawn, ''we will go for one or the other (option).''

Jaguar driver Mark Webber has come out in defense of F1's 'old' circuits like Monza, Spa and Silverstone. ''We can't have 18 races all like this,'' he said at the amazing Shanghai facility. ''Monza has soul, and you can't buy it - the tracks (like Monza) are the foundation of our sport.''

Never rule-out a Michael Schumacher win. His Ferrari team-mate, Chinese pole sitter Rubens Barrichello, knows that. ''He is not out of the picture completely,'' said the Brazilian, in reference to Michael's qualifying spin. ''Obviously he'll have a tough race but you can overtake here. I'm not so sure he can win the race, but he can have a good result.''








F1's carmakers are 'lying' - Max Mosley
(GMM - Shanghai) Even in the face of threatened arbitration, FIA president Max Mosley will not budge on the matter of a 2.4 liter V8 engine formula for Formula One in 2006.

''I don't want to see people pulling out, or governments saying motor sport is banned because it's too dangerous,'' the Englishman said in Shanghai on Saturday afternoon.

Mosley insisted the FIA will take a 'tough line' about engine power, despite at least three carmakers - BMW, Mercedes and Honda - vowing to take the Federation to court.

He accused BMW, for one, of telling a 'barefaced lie' when it says that manufacturers can reduce speeds - and cut costs - by sticking with a V10 formula.

''A V8 is just cheaper,'' Max said plainly. ''They're lying when they say it's going to cost them all this money to develop a new engine -- well, do you think they are going to keep their existing engine the same?''








Honda won't quit F1, until ...
(GMM - Shanghai) Honda will not quit Formula One without at least one world championship in the bag, the marque's Racing president Shoichi Tanaka said.

The Japanese said Honda is now focusing 'one hundred per cent' on grand prix racing, unlike other manufacturers who split efforts between rallying, Le Mans or Champ Car.

Through the BAR/F1 alliance, Tanaka said Honda was eyeing the constructors' championship by 2006. ''Until (we have done it),'' he added, ''we have no reason to go to another form of motor sport.''

He also said Honda want to 'win a race' before the end of the current season. ''We have three more chances to do it,'' Shoichi Tanaka concluded.







News in the Paddock - Sunday 4
(GMM - Shanghai) Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has denied he is particularly nervous about today's Chinese GP following a 12-month cockpit absence. ''I've been racing since I was 17,'' said the French-Canadian, ''so I shouldn't be too nervous. But I did not expect to race at all this year even though I feel prepared.''

Ralf Schumacher has never looked so fit, according to team principal Sir Frank Williams. The German driver has been out of action since June 20, where he cracked a couple of back bones in an Indianapolis shunt. ''When I saw him here,'' Frank said in China, ''I thought he looked very fit -- slimmer, more lean, but not more muscle bulk.''

Former McLaren and Jordan driver Martin Brundle has criticized the Shanghai circuit for boasting a Paddock that is 'too impersonal' and a lay-out that has not enough ''ballsy corners. I mean, the facility is incredible,'' said the Briton and TV commentator, ''but in many ways it's a missed opportunity. I guess you can't fault it in many other ways.''

British-based F1 teams might boycott grands prix next season if Bernie Ecclestone dumps the Silverstone round. McLaren's Ron Dennis, whose Mercedes-powered team is based in Woking, played down the Paddock rumor in China: ''I don't know -- not likely,'' he said. ''You can't really (boycott) just because you're upset.''

Williams' injured designer Gavin Fisher cannot return to Grove from the United States for a few more weeks, but he may check out of hospital and start working on the 2005 car from a hotel, Sir Frank Williams said in Shanghai. ''He has a broken hip,'' said Frank. Fisher sustained 'quite bad' injuries in a motorcycle crash, the wheelchair-bound chief revealed.

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