F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 6, 2004
Sato to race in 2005
(GMM - Suzuka) Takuma Sato will race a second season for Formula One
outfit BAR in 2005, team members said in Japan's capital city on
The feisty Japanese, who has often been erratic but quick on the track
in 2004, will attempt to complete a hat trick of points-scoring
finishes on his home Suzuka circuit this weekend.
Sato, 27, signed a three-year contract with the Honda-powered team in
2003, the first of which was spent in the testing cockpit.
''Our partnership with Honda and local hero Takuma makes this a home
grand prix,'' team principal David Richards, who is working to retain
Jenson Button as Sato's continuing team-mate, said in Tokyo.
He added: ''Whilst Takuma will rightly enjoy the adulation of his
enormous fan base, I have no doubt that both he and Jenson will be
very focused on the task in hand.''
Montoya was 'attractive' to Ferrari
(GMM - Suzuka) McLaren signed a contract with Juan Pablo Montoya so
early because traditional rival Ferrari might have snapped him up.
Woking's CEO and team principal Ron Dennis put pen to paper with
Williams' out-of-contract Colombian even though no vacancy existed for
the 2004 season.
But the silver chief didn't want Maranello to eye Montoya as a
possible successor for Michael Schumacher, who - despite a longer
contract - may retire as early as the end of 2005.
''(Juan Pablo) would have been attractive to Ferrari,'' said Ron,
''and for that reason - as well as for his ability - he was too good
an opportunity to miss.''
Montoya, 29, and Finnish incumbent Kimi Raikkonen, will be team-mates
next season, as nine-year McLaren veteran David Coulthard is either
shown the door or relocated to a third Mercedes-powered car.
Schu arrived early in Japan
(GMM - Suzuka) Michael Schumacher touched down in Japan earlier than
usual to adjust to a 'big' time difference.
Ferrari's seven time world champion, who left Switzerland on Monday,
said jet lag and the effect of different climatic conditions 'should
not be underestimated.
''Arriving too late,'' said the German, ''can mean additional physical
stress. Getting acclimatized is important as it allows you to focus
exclusively on the race.''
Highlighting both Michael and Ferrari's commitment to the balance of
the season, even with both F1 championships in the bag, was a test -
and lap record - at Jerez last week.
He finished just twelfth in Shanghai a fortnight ago, an inaugural
Chinese grand prix in which Schumacher said 'lots of things' went
''You can look at it this way,'' said the 35-year-old. ''It is
probably normal that, for once, everything did not go perfectly. I
have no problem forgetting it and moving on.''
Sato to win home grand prix?
(GMM - Suzuka) Takuma Sato said becoming the first Japanese to win a
grand prix would be like 'a dream in heaven.'
So what would it be like to do it at Suzuka, scene of Sunday's
Japanese race at the drivers' favorite Suzuka circuit?
''I came fifth in 2002 (for Jordan),'' he remarked in Tokyo, ''and
sixth last year, and the (fans') reaction was unbelievable - they
cheered me every single lap! Winning will be extremely difficult this
But Sato, 27 - confirmed on Tuesday as a continuing BAR driver in 2005
- will not rule out another podium appearance, like the first at
Indianapolis this year.
''We always push for a win,'' he added, ''but a podium place is really
possible (at Suzuka). That is my aim.''
Nicknamed 'Taku', the little driver - who speaks with a lisp - watched
his first ever motor race at Suzuka, as a ten year old boy.
''(Gerhard) Berger won,'' he crisply recalls of the 1987 grand prix,
''in the Ferrari. I loved it. I knew right then that I had to be a F1
Brundle to launch book
(GMM - Suzuka) F1 driver-turned-commentator Martin Brundle has written
The former McLaren and Jordan star's account, written with journalist
Maurice Hamilton, is of the world's best Formula One and race
Brundle, 45, retired as a grand prix driver after the 1996 season,
joining Murray Walker in the British commentary box and also
completing a stint as chairman of the British Racing Drivers' Club.
He will launch the book, called 'Working the Wheel', in London next
Martin Brundle was sports car world champion in 1988, won the fabled
Le Mans 24-Hour event two years later, and is still an advisor to
McLaren veteran David Coulthard.
Fisi expects 'great' Suzuka tire
(GMM - Suzuka) Giancarlo Fisichella is expecting team supplier
Bridgestone to have prepared a 'great tire' for their home Japanese
The Italian driver, who will contest two last races for the marque
before switching to Michelin-shod Renault in 2005, reckons Suzuka is
traditionally a 'Bridgestone circuit.
''I think it will suit our Sauber very well too,'' he said Tuesday,
''and I am feeling quietly confident.''
Technical director Willy Rampf, meanwhile, said tire degradation is a
concern at the abrasive Suzuka venue.
''(Also) because Suzuka has many corners,'' he added. ''The more you
can do to preserve the efficiency of the tires, the better.''
Sauber was competitive on other higher speed circuits such as
Spa-Francorchamps, Monza and Shanghai.
''I love Suzuka,'' Fisichella concluded. ''It's maybe the best (venue)
Tropical storm in Japan
(GMM - Suzuka) Following a report of likely rain at Suzuka, it appears
that a tropical storm - called Ma On - is on the way to the Japanese
Meteorologists say the storm is moving north from the Philippine Sea,
and therefore is likely to bring wet weather for all three days of the
grand prix meeting.
Meanwhile, organizers of the MotoGP (motorcycle) world championship
said Sunday's race in Malaysia has been delayed more than an hour to
avoid a TV clash with the F1 action at Suzuka.
F1's Japanese Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 2.30pm, a half-hour
later than usual to better accommodate European television
Bridgestone woo Michelin-shod team
(GMM - Suzuka) Williams, Renault and Toyota are all linked with a
possible switch from Michelin to Bridgestone next season.
Ferrari's Japanese tire supplier, Bridgestone, have made an approach
to all six Michelin-shod Formula One teams, also including McLaren,
Jaguar and BAR.
But the (initially) aforementioned three are thought to have responded
with requests for more information, according to a source in the
The source said Bridgestone wants at least one carmaker-backed
Michelin team to switch camps, to thus contribute to development of
next year's F1 product.
New rules in 2005, requiring a Formula One tire to have a longer life,
will mean that the quality (and quantity) of winter development is
even more crucial to success.
World champion team Ferrari is currently Bridgestone's only
Montoya unmoved by Brit GP axe
(GMM - Suzuka) Juan Pablo Montoya will not weep if the Formula One
bandwagon skips Silverstone next season.
The Colombian, whose next British GP would have been at the wheel of a
McLaren, says he turns up to steer a 900bhp car 'wherever (the race)
He said at the Northamptonshire track last week: ''Will I be sorry not
to drive here next year? It's always been fun. (But) we go here, we go
there - I do whatever they tell me.''
Montoya, 29, said the current circuit's actual layout is not as good
as traditional drivers' favorites such as Spa-Francorchamps, or
''(Silverstone is) a great track,'' said Williams' star, ''apart from
the last three corners -- long, boring and pointless.''
Montoya's PR day in England consisted of driving a group of
journalists and competition winners around Silverstone in a new Mini
He said he'd outline a stronger opinion about Bernie Ecclestone's Brit
GP axe if it would make a difference. ''It's not my problem,'' said
''If my opinion could change it, then I'd probably say (more).''
Tobacco could thwart Africa GP
(GMM - Suzuka) An obstacle to taking Formula One to the African
continent in 2007 is the country's prohibition of tobacco advertising.
Spokesman for the bidding consortium, 'Omega', confirmed on Tuesday
that the body will apply to Bernie Ecclestone for a race just outside
With the exception of Antarctica, Africa is now the only continent in
the world not represented on the annual grand prix schedule.
The spokesman, David Gant, said 'Omega' was hoping the government will
allow a South African Grand Prix to run with some sort of reprieve of
the tobacco ban.
''(F1) has huge economic implications for the country,'' he insisted.
Gant confirmed that Omega officials have met with government
ministers, Cape Town's mayor, and South Africa's motor sport governing
'Max and Bernie conspired to axe Brit GP'
(GMM - Suzuka) Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley conspired to spell an
end to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Sir Jackie Stewart said
The triple world champion, who is president of the circuit-owning
British Racing Drivers' Club, accused F1's most powerful men of
staging a 'vendetta' against the historic race.
''Bernie has got a vendetta going on against us,'' said Stewart, ''and
so has (FIA president) Max. I can't take the credit for it because it
was going on way before my time.''
Asked why F1's powerbrokers would intrinsically oppose the BRDC, or
the British Grand Prix, the Scot said it was definitely not just about
Jackie explained: ''Look at Interlagos and Monza. What are the toilets
like there? (And) you've got to be a mountain goat to get around Spa.
(I don't know) what it's about.''
Stewart pleaded to British Prime Minister Tony Blair this week to help
save the F1 event, and - if successful - promised the government
'complete (financial) transparency' and a share in the business.
BAR sign Epson
(GMM - Suzuka) Epson will be a one-race sponsor at the Japanese Grand
Prix, Formula One team BAR confirmed on Tuesday.
Epson, famous for computer printers, and the Brackley-based squad, see
Suzuka as a chance to 'explore and develop' a longer term deal, BAR
explained in a statement.
''I am sure that this partnership ... will further enhance our
reputation in the Japanese market and beyond,'' said team principal
BAR already has Japanese ties with engine partner Honda and confirmed
2005 driver Takuma Sato.
BAR not ready to beat Ferrari - Sato
(GMM - Suzuka) BAR has a long way to go before it can dream of
regularly beating world champion team Ferrari, 2005 driver Takuma Sato
said on Wednesday.
The Japanese driver, gearing up to race in his home grand prix this
Sunday, warned in Tokyo that UK-based BAR need to take the rise to
F1's pinnacle one step at a time.
''Before beating Ferrari, we have to catch them,'' Sato, 27, smiled.
''We have to cross the divide which remains quite big. But everyone is
working flat-out to close (the gap).''
BAR overtook Renault for second in the 2004 constructors' world
championship at Monza, but the 'divide' to winners Ferrari stands at a
dazzling 139 points.
Sato, often criticized for erratic and overly aggressive driving,
claims he will continue to 'learn and improve' throughout the third of
a three-year tenure next season.
''The (early season) reliability problems seem to have gone away,'' he
said. ''We struggled in France and Britain but I'm confident we're now
back up to speed.
''We should have an even more exciting season (in 2005).''
Schu considers Suzuka changes
(GMM - Suzuka) Suzuka is one of Michael Schumacher's favorite F1
The German had a torrid time at the Japanese venue in 2003, though,
finishing just eighth to scrape in the drivers' championship at the
end of an incident-filled contest.
''I really look forward to (Suzuka),'' said Ferrari's seven time world
''Last year it was a tough race - maybe one of the toughest (of my
career). But I really like Suzuka because it is tricky to drive.''
The track underwent some modifications ahead of the 2003 edition,
which some drivers said compromised the ultimate challenge of the
Suzuka's fabled 130R corner, for example, got a facelift, and the
'Prost/Senna' chicane at the end of the lap was eased, with a reduced
braking area and quicker entry.
Schumacher said of the changes: ''(The new chicane) makes overtaking
more difficult (than before). And 130R is now irregular and
consequently more difficult.''
Ecclestone horror at PM plea
(GMM - Suzuka) Bernie Ecclestone has struck back at accusations he
cynically plotted the demise of Britain's Formula One race with FIA
president Max Mosley.
British Racing Drivers' Club president Sir Jackie Stewart said the
sport's powerbrokers have waged a long-standing 'vendetta' against
Silverstone and its owner.
''Enough is enough,'' the F1 impresario said on Wednesday. ''I don't
mind criticism, but I am being depicted as responsible for all
(Silverstone's) problems. This mess has been coming for several
Ecclestone, 73, is horrified at news that Stewart - the former triple
world champion - wrote a letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair
asking for a hand out.
''I mean, come on,'' Bernie scoffed. ''It's the arrogance of these
people which has dragged them into this mess. (The BRDC) needs to wake
up quickly to financial reality.''
He said Stewart and other opponents have depicted 'Mr. Ecclestone' as
a greedy multi billionaire who doesn't need any more money.
But Bernie said personal issues should be left out of any political or
commercial dispute. ''I stayed here (in England) and took risks with
my own cash,'' he said.
''Jackie shouldn't argue that he and the BRDC are the innocent
parties. If he gets in touch with me, and we manage to thrash things
out, there might still be a race in Britain next year.''
Brit GP talks will fail - BRDC chief
(GMM - Suzuka) There is little hope that behind-the-scenes lobbying
can save the British GP for 2005, British Racing Drivers' Club CEO
Alex Hooton said.
He admitted the Silverstone-owning Club made an offer to promote next
year's event that fell below F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone's
''(It was made) on the basis of a full-house attendance (at the race
in) 2005,'' said Hooton, ''and we simply can not go higher than
Further negotiations are now taking place, such as BRDC president Sir
Jackie Stewart's plea to the UK government, but Hooton is not hopeful.
He commented: ''My gut feeling is that there won't be a grand prix at
Silverstone next year.''
Schu vows to break Rubens' hat trick
(GMM - Suzuka) Michael Schumacher is determined to stop Ferrari
team-mate Rubens Barrichello from completing a hat trick of grand prix
wins this weekend.
The world champion, who stood on the top step of the podium twelve
times in the first thirteen races of 2004, has not won a race since
Kimi Raikkonen stole victory at Spa.
''I would like to get back to winning,'' 35-year-old Schumacher
admitted in Japan on Wednesday. ''I'm sure Rubens wants to stop me.''
Michael said the 'most important' thing for the penultimate grand prix
at Suzuka is that a red car wins. ''We are both here to win,''
''Whether I do it, or Rubens does it, Ferrari is doing it, really.''
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