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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 7, 2004


No Brit GP rescue by Friday - source
(GMM - Suzuka) Reports that the British Grand Prix will be imminently saved are a little wide of the mark, according to a source close to Silverstone's chief executive.

On Thursday, officials expressed optimism that an 'announcement' - perhaps as early as Friday - would resurrect the future of the embattled historic race at Northamptonshire.

One British media agency said an 'incentives package', involving the government's East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA), had been devised.

The package would ease the difference between the BRDC's failed offer to promote the grand prix, and the asking price of F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone, reports suggested.

''It's not done yet,'' said BRDC president Sir Jackie Stewart, ''but we're heading in the right direction.''

A government source, meanwhile, was quoted as saying sport minister Richard Caborn is now 'more confident' about the race's future and that talks were back on.

But a source very close to the BRDC's CEO Alex Hooton denied all knowledge of an impending 'announcement.'








Dallara to announce F1 entry
(GMM - Suzuka) Dallara may announce its participation in the 2005 or 2006 Formula One world championship as soon as this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, internet speculation said on Wednesday.

The reports said the Italian-made car, perhaps funded by consortiums in Russia or Canada, would be powered by a Cosworth engine, despite Ford's recent announcement that the company would not receive backing in 2005.

Earlier speculation said F3000 team boss Adriano Morini, and ex-Jordan man Gary Anderson, were involved in the project.

Sources said the only way 'Dallara' could be ready to go for Melbourne 2005 was if it bought Jaguar and ran with the well-advanced 'R6' model.

Dallara was involved in the abandoned Honda F1 car project of 1999.








'Suzuka Special' nears 1000hp
(GMM - Suzuka) Honda may become the first Formula One engine manufacturer to break the 1000hp barrier since the turbo-powered mid eighties, the Japanese company's Takeo Kiuchi said on Wednesday.

He suggested to UK magazine 'Autosport' that the latest development of the 2004 unit, dubbed 'Suzuka Special' for Honda's home grand prix, tops the field with a clear 960hp.

Honda's F1 project leader said, even despite longer life regulations for 2005, 1000 horse power will be 'within reach' some time next season.

''There are several difficulties to conquer first,'' he told the magazine. ''But it could be possible.''

BMW, Ferrari and Toyota were thought to lead the way with the highest revving and most powerful V10 engines, but Kiuchi reckons the Honda will be F1's 'number one' in 2005.

He continued: ''The gap between this year's engine and next year's is bigger than between this year's and last year's.''

The Honda engine in Jenson Button and team-mate Takuma Sato's BAR cars in Japan will have about eight horse power more than at Shanghai, Autosport concluded.







Alonso eyes podium to mark 50th GP
(GMM - Suzuka) 23-year-old Fernando Alonso had no idea he'd achieve so much in just fifty grands prix.

The Renault star, who vividly remembers driving out of Melbourne's pitlane in a Minardi three years ago, notches up the half century milestone at Suzuka this Sunday.

''It's nice to have some records,'' he said of the feat of becoming the youngest ever pole sitter, fastest lap holder and GP winner, ''but on the track, it counts for nothing.''

Alonso recalls his Formula One debut with clarity, as he drove out of pitlane a brand new Minardi car he hadn't even tested over the winter.

He explained: ''The team couldn't afford to test -- I was really thrown in at the deep end. But I knew I was doing what I had dreamed of.''

The young Spaniard lapped Michael Schumacher on the way to dominant victory in Hungary last year, but he's more proud of chasing the world champion to second place at Barcelona.

''I was on the podium at my home race,'' said Alonso, ''with all the flags waving -- it was unforgettable. I felt so proud and humble.''

He targeted a Japanese podium to help celebrate on Sunday night.








'Mixed feelings' about coming home - Sato
(GMM - Suzuka) Takuma Sato would enjoy coming home to Japan even more if he was less popular, the Formula One driver confessed on Wednesday.

F1's most successful-ever Japanese driver reported 'mixed feelings' about being in home city Tokyo, whilst buried in PR and media commitments.

''I know I can catch up with my family and friends and that is important,'' he told reporters. ''But I'm so busy, so it is hard work too.''

Sato revealed that there is a downside to becoming Japan's only podium winner, a feat he achieved at Indianapolis in June.

He admitted: ''Of course I like it, the support, it is great. But I think I would maybe enjoy it more if I was not so busy. This time it is really crazy!''

Sato was born in the bustling capital city but feels more like a ''country boy. I prefer open spaces,'' smiled the BAR driver.

''I don't like the noise and bustle, and dirt. It's too hectic for me.''








Renault and Oxfam
(GMM - Suzuka) Renault has teamed up with international charity Oxfam by offering F1 car pieces and driver memorabilia for auction.

Fans can bid for the pieces, including a pair of Fernando Alonso's racing overalls and balaclava, an R24 exhaust manifold, wings, wheels and a barge board.

For the third year in a row, the money raised will go to Oxfam's project providing water for poor communities in North Eastern Brazil.

''We race in Brazil every year,'' said Spaniard Alonso, who stopped in the Philippines for a PR day on the way to Japan, ''and therefore felt it would make sense to be involved in this project.''

You can bid at oxfam.org.uk/f1







Sir Bernie
(GMM - Suzuka) Sir Bernie Ecclestone -- that's what we'll have to call F1's controversial 'supremo' if British speculation that he is heading for a knighthood is correct.

The annual New Year's honors will pay tribute to the 73-year-old author of grand prix racing's surge to the multi billion dollar sport it is today, a rumor at the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth whispered.

Ironically, given Bernie's recent chop for the British Grand Prix, UK sport minister Richard Caborn is thought to be behind the push to promote Mr. Ecclestone to 'Sir Bernie.'

If asked, insiders say Ecclestone will accept the honor.








Sacking rumor was 'nonsense' - Ralf
(GMM - Suzuka) Ralf Schumacher may not have been 'wise' to retire a healthy car at Shanghai, BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen suggested on Wednesday.

It was reported, in the wake of the German's clash with David Coulthard in China, that Frank Williams was so irked he considered giving Ralf the boot.

Schumacher, 29, vehemently stepped out of the FW26 in the team garage, saying too much time - two laps - had elapsed in checking for damage and letting Juan Pablo Montoya complete a pit stop.

''I can understand that,'' Theissen, who represents the Munich marque's collaboration with Williams, was quoted as saying by Autosport magazine.

''The question (was whether) it was a wise idea to get out of the car so quickly.''

The Oxfordshire-based team, though, has confirmed Ralf's participation in Japan and Brazil, while the driver himself dismissed most of the speculation as 'bare nonsense.

''Some papers ... wrote that I would be fired by BMW,'' said the younger brother of Michael Schumacher, ''(and) replaced by Antonio Pizzonia. Many other media simply copied that.''








Earthquake in Japan
(GMM - Suzuka) Members of F1's traveling circus were shaken, literally, as they visited Tokyo on Wednesday night.

Just before midnight, an earthquake measuring (a revised) 5.7 on the Richter scale shook buildings on the south coast of Honshu, Japan's main island.

All trains in Tokyo were briefly halted.

Meanwhile, tropical storm Ma-On is still on course to drop torrential rain on the Suzuka circuit this weekend.







'We are not liars' - F1 carmakers
(GMM - Suzuka) Max Mosley's accusation that F1 manufacturers 'are liars', was 'inappropriate,' BMW motor sport director Dr Mario Theissen claimed.

The FIA president, Mosley, said in Shanghai a fortnight ago that BMW, for example, told a 'barefaced lie' when it alleged speeds and costs can be reduced by sticking with a V10.

Theissen told Autosport: ''Such comments do not help our situation. We are all trying our best to find a reasonable compromise between all parties involved.''

What the German didn't say, however, was that - together with Mercedes-Benz and Honda - BMW is threatening to take the FIA to arbitration over the matter of extending engine life and enforcing a 2.4 liter V8 formula.

Mercedes' Norbert Haug reacted even more strongly to Mosley's accusation by claiming the carmakers, unlike the FIA chief, do not want to 'threaten' or 'provoke aggravation.

''But you have to ask yourself,'' said Theissen's compatriot, ''if a company such as Mercedes is not better equipped to compare costs of different engine concepts.

''And (we) must be allowed to give an opinion.''








Brit GP will be saved
(GMM - Suzuka) Sir Jackie Stewart has added his voice to growing optimism that the British Grand Prix will be raced in 2005.

The triple world champion, president of the club which owns F1 venue 'Silverstone Circuit', said a feeling 'deep in my stomach' makes him think a rescue is nigh.

He said on Wednesday: ''I spoke to the (sport) minister Richard Caborn today and he also is cautiously optimistic that we can come to a solution on it.''

A news agency said an 'incentives package' involving the government's East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA), had been devised since Bernie Ecclestone last week vowed to axe the historic event.

Caborn was not available for comment, but a spokesman at his office said the minister and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone are 'back in useful' negotiations.

''They both know,'' the spokesman added, ''(that) the grand prix is too big to drop for both of them.''

Ecclestone confirmed that he and Caborn have been in constant contact. ''He has asked me to meet the BRDC halfway,'' said the F1 impresario, ''and I have done so.''








Davidson, not DC, for Button seat
(GMM - Suzuka) Anthony Davidson is more likely than either compatriot Jenson Button or David Coulthard to be at the wheel of a BAR racer next season.

The diminutive Briton, impressive in 2004 as Brackley's 'third' driver, is now seen by team management as the most logical replacement for Button, who is determined to drive a Williams.

Nicknamed 'Ant', young Davidson admitted in China that - given Jaguar's problems and Sauber's completed '05 line-up - BAR is now the main target for a full time drive.

''I'm comfortable, I'm fast,'' said the 25-year-old. ''And I like Taku [Sato], so no problems there. I don't see why not.''

F1 refugee David Coulthard was considered a possible successor to the Honda-powered throne, but is seemingly now resigned to taking a 'third' McLaren role or slipping into retirement.

BAR principal David Richards, meanwhile, is keeping radio silence on the 'vacant' racing role, while he maintains - at least outwardly - full confidence that the CRB will rule in his favor on October 16.







Schu cheers for Suzuka storm
(GMM - Suzuka) One man willing a tropical storm onto Japan's shores is Michael Schumacher, who believes a wet Suzuka track would be an advantage for himself and Ferrari's Bridgestone tire.

Weather reports are now adamant that all three days of the grand prix weekend, but particularly qualifying Saturday - and, to a slightly lesser extent, race day Sunday - will be affected by heavy rain.

''(That would) be even better,'' smiled the German in Tokyo on Wednesday.

F1 has not seen a wet race so far in 2004, but seven time world champion Schumacher is renowned for his skill in slippery or changeable conditions.








How long will new Brit GP deal be?
(GMM - Suzuka) The length of a new deal is one of the BRDC's last stumbling blocks on the road to a revival package for Britain's beleaguered Formula One race.

F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone last week pushed for a seven-year contract, ''because we don't want this nonsense every year or so,'' he explained.

UK sport minister Richard Caborn, though, stood firm on a two-year deal, and BRDC president Sir Jackie Stewart headed for middle ground on a contract to 2008.

Stewart explained that Bernie's seven-year arrangement involved a ten percent increase in the race fee per season. ''What (he) wants is simply not affordable,'' said the Scot.

BRDC chief executive Alex Hooton added that if the Club had agreed to that deal, the race would have lost more than $50 million by 2012.

On Wednesday, Sir Jackie was 'confident' a deal would be reached, even if the fat lady was not even warming up her vocal chords.

He said the disputed difference, around $1.5 million, may simply be found by using different 'accounting practices.'

Stewart explained: ''(It's) perfectly legal. (They would) identify previously unrecognized concessions and tax benefits.''








Bad season not my fault - Montoya
(GMM - Suzuka) With two grands prix to go, Juan Pablo Montoya has targeted beating future team McLaren to fourth place in the constructors' championship.

The Colombian driver would also like to move clear of Jarno Trulli in the drivers' chase, and curb a four point deficit to Renault's Fernando Alonso for fourth.

''It's not going to be easy,'' he said at Suzuka on Thursday, ''because we're scoring (just) three, four points here and there.''

Montoya, 29, has not won a race in the final of a four-year stint at BMW-Williams. He blames the latter.

''We finished (2003) really well,'' said JPM, ''so we were really expecting it to be our year -- (but) it took so, so long to develop the car. It has definitely been frustrating.''

Off to McLaren at Christmas, Juan Pablo dismissed a suggestion that Williams' problems in 2004 were not helped by the car component that sits between the steering wheel and the fuel tank.

He replied: ''I've won races, Williams have won races, you're going for the championship -- but suddenly you're nowhere. I think that says it all, really.''

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