F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 5, 2004
Fans urged to save Silverstone
(GMM) Fans of the British Grand Prix are using an online petition to
urge Bernie Ecclestone to reinstate the axed Silverstone race.
The petition is addressed to the 73-year-old's 'Formula One
Management' company following last Thursday's news that an offer to
promote the race in 2005 was not accepted.
''Britain is the home of motorsport,'' read the petition's prefix,
''(and) Silverstone is buried deep in tradition.''
At time of publication, the Brit GP petition - run by free online
petition service PetitionOnline.com - was nearing 1800 signatures.
''The (British GP) will be a tragic loss to Formula One,'' said the
'comment' on one signature, ''since it is home to several ... teams
and always provides some of the best (racing).''
To add your signature to the petition, go to
Webber to race b-spec Jaguar
(GMM) Mark Webber will race in a new lightweight car this weekend as
Jaguar reaches the penultimate grand prix of a five-year team career.
The Australian driver, in his home country this week for a bout of
pre-Japanese GP training and holidaying, is set to drive the 'R5b-06',
which was debuted by team-mate Christian Klien in China.
''The guys (in the team) have all really pulled together over these
last couple of weeks,'' said Webber, 27, apparently referring to
Ford's recent decision to pull out of F1 after the final GP in Brazil.
He added: ''I would like to reward them with points before the season
A team statement said the 'focus' back at Milton-Keynes has been the
'fine tuning' of Webber's b-spec Jaguar chassis.
''(Suzuka) is a tough track,'' Webber continued, ''but (it) allows us
to really test ourselves.''
Sato feels home race 'pressure'
(GMM) Japan's Formula One hero Takuma Sato does not know Suzuka as
well as many racing people imagine.
The little 27-year-old, who scored points at his home track for Jordan
in 2002 and on BAR debut late last year, started a busy week of
pre-race PR in Tokyo on Monday.
''I did most of my junior racing in Europe,'' 'Taku' smiled, ''not in
Sato will be a busy boy leading up to Sunday's big race - interviews,
photo shoots and television appearances dominated Monday's tour of the
Asked if the week will disrupt his mental and physical preparation for
the grand prix, Takuma replied: ''I am busy, obviously -- very busy,
and there is also some extra pressure. But the support here is so
great, you can really feel (the fans') energy.''
Senna to drive uncle's F1 car
(GMM) Bruno Senna will drive a Lotus Formula One car, raced by his
late uncle in 1986, around the Interlagos circuit near Sao Paulo later
The demonstration run, to coincide with the final grand prix of the
2004 season in Brazil, was - according to a source - suggested by F1
impresario Bernie Ecclestone.
In April, Sao Paulo-born legend Senna's old F1 team-mate Gerhard
Berger demonstrated the Lotus at Imola, which claimed the great racer
at Tamburello corner in 1994.
Following a decade-long family ban on motor racing, 21-year-old Bruno
Senna recently debuted in Formula BMW in Britain.
Bernie's dog 'should be put down'
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is in trouble - but, this time, his rivals are
not the ones at the working end of the F1 impresario's grand
British media reports are claiming that his dog, named Brulee, has
attacked other dogs and local residents in Chelsea (England).
Some neighbors say Brulee, a chow, should be put down.
''There's only been three attacks that I know of,'' Ecclestone, 73,
said in London's 'Evening Standard' newspaper.
''It's a petty neighborhood argument and typical of the people in
The latest row appears to have been sparked by an incident last week,
in which neighbor Alan Nash - a banker - had to have a tetanus
injection after being bitten on the leg.
The Chelsea Square Garden Association, chaired by Nash, has written to
Bernie threatening to revoke his right to use the garden.
Montoya and Mercedes
(GMM) Juan Pablo Montoya became more acquainted with future employer
Mercedes- Benz at the weekend, as a guest of McLaren's F1 engine
partner at Hockenheim.
The Colombian, still racing in BMW-branded Williams overalls at grands
prix, headed to the German circuit to cheer brother Federico's
progress in a Formula BMW car.
But Montoya, set to switch to McLaren around Christmas time, was
actually an official guest of Mercedes as the marque competed in the
German touring car (DTM) main event.
1982 world champion Keke Rosberg and 2002 Toyota driver Allan McNish
were also spotted at the circuit.
Montoya was obliged to return from Asia to Europe in between the
Chinese and Japanese grands prix, but was not invited to test the FW26
as Williams has ceased Juan's development program.
He retired whilst leading the Japanese GP last year. ''I've always
done fairly well at Suzuka,'' said Montoya.
''The track should suit the Williams car, so I'm pretty confident of a
Brit GP shortfall 'was $1.4 million'
(GMM) Richard Caborn has denied that a more than $5 million shortfall
scuppered Silverstone's British Grand Prix for 2005.
Rather, the UK sport minister said the track-owning British Racing
Drivers' Club refused to stump up with a 'petty' $1.4 million that
ultimately came between the race and F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone.
What's more, he said, 73-year-old Bernie has agreed to 'split the
difference' to ensure that Britain does not have to go without a
'jewel' in its motor sport schedule.
Caborn scoffed at the miserly $1.4 million as approximately 'what
Michael Schumacher earns every minute' he is at the wheel of the red
Asked if the government would be coming to the rescue, the sport
minister bluntly replied: 'No,' whilst implying that Silverstone has
already received enough.
Israeli tests Jordan car
(GMM) 41-year-old Chanoch Nissany returned to the wheel of a year-old
Jordan car at the F1 team's local Silverstone track last Tuesday.
The F3000 test driver, who lives in Budapest but is an Israeli
national, did more than 100 laps on the shorter 'National Circuit'
layout in central England.
Nissany drove 'consistently strongly throughout the session,' said a
The last time Chanoch tested the Jordan, in July, it was pointed out
that team owner Eddie Jordan was in talks with a Dubai-based buy-out
Button laments Brit GP axe
(GMM) The loss of the F1 race at Silverstone will be a disaster for
current and future British drivers, Jenson Button said.
The English star of Brackley-based Formula One team BAR, and
(probably) next year Williams - which finds an HQ in Oxfordshire -
hopes parties see sense on the exclusion of the British GP for 2005.
Button, 24, told UK newspaper 'Mirror': ''The greatest feeling, apart
from winning the world championship, would be to stand on the top of
the podium at Silverstone.''
The circuit-owning British Racing Drivers' Club, though, said Bernie
Ecclestone wants the BRDC to sign either a seven or five-year contract
to promote the race.
''We really would be betting the bank (if we agreed),'' said chief
executive Alex Hooton.
He commented: ''(Bernie) wants us to commit to a loss making position
at a time when we have not got planning permission for a major
South Africa GP 'on track' - spokesman
(GMM) Plans to bring Formula One to South Africa in 2007 are still on
track, a bidding consortium's spokesman reported.
David Gant, representing the 'Omega Consortium', said the body will
apply to Formula One Management to stage a race in Cape Town.
''Everyone we have had discussions with recognize the economic
benefits (of a grand prix),'' he said on Monday.
He said Omega is now 'seeking financial partners.'
''A number of countries are very keen to host (an) event,'' Gant
commented, ''but we are aware of the very strong support for Cape Town
amongst the Formula One decision makers.''
Africa is the only continent in the world, except Antarctica, that
does not host a round of the world championship.
But Gant warned that the consortium must quickly make 'meaningful'
progress, during a 'respite' of an expired FOM deadline, to get
detailed plans of the race bid to Ecclestone.
Ferrari show 'no fatigue' - Schu
(GMM) A record-breaking lap at Jerez last week proved that Ferrari and
Michael Schumacher have not run out of steam, despite already tying-up
both F1 championships.
Unlike most grand prix drivers following last Sunday's race in China,
German-born Schumacher chose not to dodge the jetlag and flew back to
Spain for a pre-Japanese GP test.
''Tests like that are fun,'' he said.
Schumacher, 35, smashed the unofficial lap record at the sunny
southern circuit. ''(Doing that),'' he added, ''makes you feel like
you are making progress as a team.''
The seven time world champion said despite 'winning everything' in
2004, he and the Maranello-based team is showing 'no signs of fatigue.
''We're all full of ideas and drive,'' he explained, ''and there's no
stagnation at all.''
For Japan, Schumacher - who had a bad race at Shanghai - targeted his
first win since August, on a circuit (Suzuka) he singles-out as one of
two or three personal favorites.
New venues 'threaten F1' - Surtees
(GMM) 1964 world champion John Surtees is concerned that China,
Bahrain, Malaysia and Turkey threaten the 'sustainability' of modern
The 70-year-old, who is involved in the British franchise of series
'rival' A1 Grand Prix, said in London this week that the
aforementioned venues are built with sizeable government aid.
''Vast undertakings (like that) can be created,'' said the two and
four-wheeled champion, ''but they also have to be maintained and made
He worries that, in a week that - effectively - saw Turkey steal
Britain's place on the grand prix calendar, 'commercial organisations'
can no longer justify a similar capital investment in F1.
Surtees said he would have 'hated' to have missed the old challenges
of the original Nurburgring, Monza, Spa-Francorchamps and Watkins Glen
He asked: ''At what cost are we moving with the times? Does it mean
the traditional venues have to disappear?
''Some of the best racing, recently, has happened at Silverstone, but
the British Racing Drivers' Club can't compete with the Chinese
F1 demise will not affect Olympic bid
(GMM) The loss of the British Grand Prix will have no impact on
London's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Former UK minister Kate Hoey said last week that Silverstone's failure
to keep its grand prix on the Formula One calendar does not bode well.
She commented: ''We can't go on year after year having this
(uncertainty about Britain's ability to host a major event).''
In response, Mike Lee - who is the communications director for
Britain's Olympic bid - distanced premier motor racing from the
He said: ''The finances and current dynamics (of Formula One) have a
PM asked to bail out Brit GP
(GMM) Sir Jackie Stewart has appealed directly to British Prime
Minister Tony Blair in a last-gasp effort to save the country's
embattled Formula One race.
The Scot, who is president of the track-owning British Racing Drivers'
Club, said in a letter that a modern F1 venue cannot survive without
UK sport minister Richard Caborn has already ruled out direct
government funding for the Formula One event in Northamptonshire.
But Stewart said, in the letter addressed to Downing Street policy
advisor William Perrin, that 'simply no money' comes back into the
sport from 'Mr. Ecclestone's large rights fees and (commercial)
''Almost every other grand prix in the world,'' he continued to write,
''is supplying the finances to build exciting, glamorous and expensive
Triple world champion Stewart's efforts are unlikely to be rewarded,
though, particularly as Richard Caborn said 'some people would' label
the BRDC's recent actions as resulting from 'gross stupidity.
''It is unacceptable to me,'' he added.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, meanwhile, called on the local
businesses in South Northamptonshire to make up the difference, which
may be as little as $1.4 million.
Trulli - 'I am more motivated'
(GMM) Jarno Trulli will use a race debut for Toyota this weekend to
'iron out' any problems ahead of a full time campaign in 2005.
Fired by Renault after Monza following a string of lacklustre
performances, the rated Italian has been fast tracked into Cologne's
''It will be a big challenge, these two races,'' said the 2005
team-mate of Ralf Schumacher on Tuesday.
''But I am more motivated than ever before.''
Trulli, 30, has spent just four (test) days in the Toyota cockpit, but
thinks racing in Japan and Brazil will be a 'useful' head start ahead
of next year.
Toyota's home grand prix is also a milestone for another reason this
weekend, as the German-based squad notch up their 50th grand prix.
''I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone,'' said principal
Tsutomu Tomita, ''but we have matured (since 2002) and I'm sure it
won't be long before we can reduce the gap to the front running
Panis ready for 'emotional' exit
(GMM) Olivier Panis will race in his final grand prix at Suzuka on
The Frenchman, who debuted for Ligier more than a decade ago, will
step aside after Japan so that Ricardo Zonta can compete in his home
''I love Suzuka,'' said Panis, ''and this race will be quite emotional
for me. I will miss the excitement of racing but I will still have an
input in the future.''
Panis, 37, has signed to be Toyota's 'third' driver in 2005 and 2006.
The Japan GP line-up of Panis and new Toyota driver Jarno Trulli,
meanwhile, reunites the 'good friends' who were team-mates in 1998 and
1999, at Prost.
On Sunday, Panis ran the TF104 car at Toyota's Tokyo (Megaweb)
showroom. ''It rained,'' Olivier smiled, ''but everyone enjoyed my
donuts and wheel spins!''
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