F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 8, 2004

Mansell part of Brit GP rescue
(GMM - Suzuka) 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell is part of a rescue package for the embattled British Grand Prix.

The popular British driver, and Kim Cockburn - as well as a former racer and a photographer - have set up 'Brand Synergy' to buy the promotional rights for the Silverstone race.

''I am confident that (they) can get the job done,'' said F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone. ''There is a deal on the boardroom table,'' Cockburn confirmed.

She said the deal is for a seven-year contract, but a source close to British Racing Drivers' Club CEO Alex Hooton said the BSL talks are just one of a 'number.

''There is no (formal) agreement at the minute,'' he insisted.

Brand Synergy said it had the backing of a 'major British development company' and funding to build a new pit and paddock complex at Silverstone.

Jaguar 'R6' to be raced - Webber
(GMM - Suzuka) Jaguar's well advanced plans for 2005 car 'R6' may be raced next season, departing driver Mark Webber said in Japan.

The Australian, who switches to Williams after this month's season ending Brazilian Grand Prix, said it is possible that the 'whole team (will) go forward' with a new owner.

''I think there are a few offers floating around,'' said the 27-year-old, ''so the team are still in a pretty good frame of mind.''

Webber will race an 'interim' version of the car, dubbed R5b and debuted by team-mate Christian Klien in Shanghai, at Suzuka.

He explained: ''It's not multiple tenths quicker, not a huge step. It's more a case of looking towards next year, really.''

Sato vows 'stability' for BAR
(GMM - Suzuka) Takuma Sato said BAR's decision to honor the third of a three-year contract will give the team 'stability' despite the Jenson Button saga.

BAR, led by David Richards, confirmed in Tokyo this week that the Japanese racer will race again in 2005.

''I am not surprised that they confirmed me,'' 27-year-old Sato said at Suzuka on Thursday, ''as I had a three year contract so it should be confirmed automatically.''

'Taku', as he is known in the Formula One paddock, predicted a crowd of 160,000 countrymen for Sunday's grand prix.

FIA will make wet race safe - Schu
(GMM - Suzuka) Michael Schumacher is not worried that the Japanese grand prix looks set to be a wet'n'wild affair.

The German was quickest in a sodden Suzuka practice on Friday morning, and has confidence that the FIA will do 'everything' to ensure a safe race.

F1's governing body, for example, mandated the running of an 'extreme' weather tire in practice, but only seventeen - of a possible twenty five - cars completed a timed lap.

Ferrari driver Schumacher joked that he thought his dinner drink had been spiked when an earthquake measuring 5.7 hit Tokyo on Wednesday night.

''I was in bed,'' he said, ''and everything was moving -- it was very strange.''

'Midland' team to race in 2006 - official
(GMM - Suzuka) 'Midland F1' will put two Dallara-built cars on the Formula One grid in 2006, it was announced on Friday.

Official website F1.com said the team has been co-founded and will be established by 36-year-old Alex Shnaider.

'Midland' has heavy Russian involvement but the team is to be based near London.

Shnaider said details such as engine supply will be unveiled in January or February 2005.

The F1.com website quoted him as commenting: ''It is very likely that Formula One will see its first Russian rookie (driver).''

He said the team's annual budget would be about $100 million.

Schu to start Suzuka twelfth?
(GMM - Suzuka) If heavy rain forces the cancellation of qualifying at Suzuka, sources say Michael Schumacher may start the Japanese grand prix from twelfth.

The Suzuka grid, they explained, will probably be formed on the basis of the finishing order at Shanghai.

''Great,'' beamed Juan Pablo Montoya. ''I'm fifth and Michael is way down -- let's do that!''

Williams' Colombian driver said the arrival of 'Typhoon Number 22', though, may mean that track sessions have to be stopped.

He commented: ''If you get a 40mph wind, you don't want to go through 130R in the rain. If everyone decides not to go out, that's reasonable.''

Mark Webber, one of eight drivers who didn't bother completing a timed lap on Friday morning, described the track conditions as 'crazy.

''It was hard work just going in a straight line,'' said the Jaguar driver.

Renault is Fisi's 'last chance' - Briatore
(GMM - Suzuka) Next year is Giancarlo Fisichella's 'last chance' to make it in Formula One, Renault principal Flavio Briatore said.

The Italian has signed his countryman to drive a second tenure at Enstone from 2005, but warned that the eight-year F1 veteran risks becoming the next Jean Alesi.

Briatore told Autosport: ''Fisichella has the talent, but if he misses this train, in three years nobody will remember him -- he's done absolutely nothing (in F1).''

Bernie bashed by British paper
(GMM - Suzuka) F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone has taken a bashing in UK newspaper The Guardian's leading article on Friday.

It said the 73-year-old billionaire is 'holding the British grand prix to ransom' by leaving it off a provisional calendar for the 2005 season.

Silverstone, and Ecclestone, are arguing over a final $3 million in the price to promote the historic race - which has been on the calendar since 1950 - next year.

The demand 'is tiny' compared with the 'importance of the motor racing industry' to Britain, The Guardian said, and should be picked up by a mogul with 'billions in the bank.'

The newspaper also reminded readers that, in 1997, Ecclestone donated a large sum of money to the government, 'which had to be returned amid suspicion that it was a million quid pro quo in return for the exemption of F1 from the tobacco advertising ban.'

Rubens has been 'better' - Schumacher
(GMM - Suzuka) Rubens Barrichello has been the 'better' Ferrari driver in the latter part of 2004, world champion Michael Schumacher admitted.

But the German, who has failed to find the checkered flag first since August's Budapest race, denied that watching a team-mate secure back-to-back victories is unpleasant.

Schumacher said: ''Of course not.

''Rubens was evidently better than me in the last two races but the most important thing now is that Ferrari has a driver on the top step of the podium.''

Brazilian-born Barrichello, meanwhile, scoffed at speculation the 35-year-old champion has 'given up' or decided to slow down now that five consecutive drivers' titles are in the bag.

''It's just been a coincidence,'' said Rubens of Michael's run of dry form.

Last year, Barrichello won the Japanese grand prix. ''Never two without three,'' the 31-year-old beamed in reference to the back-to-back victory in September a year later.

He said: ''But I'm keeping my feet on the ground. My main goal is to win (home race) in Brazil -- I'm not sure if I can expect to do both!''

'Michael makes mistakes' - Montoya
(GMM - Suzuka) Michael Schumacher makes mistakes when things are not hunky-dory, rival Juan Pablo Montoya said at Suzuka.

The Colombian driver scoffed at claims that Schumacher, the drivers' world champion for the fifth year in succession, spun deliberately in qualifying at China.

''Rubbish,'' he said. ''(Michael) screwed up -- he just screwed up the (first) corner. He's very hard to beat when he's up front, but when things start to go wrong, he makes mistakes.''

Since late August, when Kimi Raikkonen broke the German's three-month winning streak, Michael Schumacher has failed to win a race.

Webber seeks 1980 champion's advice
(GMM - Suzuka) Mark Webber turned to Australia's last Formula One champion, Alan Jones, for advice on how to get the most out of new employer Williams.

Jones, 57, won Sir Frank's first world title in 1980, and caught up with Queanbeyan-born Webber in China a fortnight ago.

''(Alan) was full of advice,'' Webber smiled at Suzuka, ''but there was nothing (he said) that really surprised me. Frank and Patrick (Head) are racers, straight up and down -- it's a dream for me to drive for Williams.''

The Grove-based team, though, has had a tough season, and crucial preparation for 2005 was not helped by Sir Frank's decision to sign a second driver - Jenson Button - who is under apparent contract to another team.

Webber said: ''I hope (the dispute) is settled soon. It's not helpful, that's for sure.''

The Australian ace, seeing out a two-year stint at beleaguered team Jaguar, said Jones' best advice about how to get along at Williams is to produce 'fast lap times.'

'Midland' did not buy Jaguar - founder
(GMM - Suzuka) Alex Shnaider has confirmed that 'Midland' did not buy Formula One team Jaguar.

The new-for-2006 F1 team's co-founder said the Russian-funded, London-based operation will be built 'from scratch.'

He added: ''By creating a brand new team we are creating value.''

Shnaider, who will not be Midland's team principal, revealed 'extensive talks' with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

''We have exchanged ideas on various subjects,'' he explained.

Mr. Shnaider, who was born in Russia but is a naturalized Canadian citizen, also confirmed that Midland will have a 'Russian flavor.'

He may also be interested in helping to organize a grand prix in the country, according to speculation.

Sato to prove 'what he's made of'
(GMM - Suzuka) This year's Japanese grand prix will prove what local hero Takuma Sato 'is made of,' his BAR team-mate said at Suzuka.

Jenson Button kept an eye on the 27-year-old cohort on the PR circuit on Wednesday and Thursday, and said he'd hardly seen a busier or more popular grand prix driver.

''We'll see how ('Taku') performs under pressure,'' said the Englishman. ''A home race is tough, especially given how much of a following he must now have after a good year.''

'Not much fun in the rain' - Trulli
(GMM - Suzuka) Formula One drivers do not enjoy driving in a deluge, Jarno Trulli said at a rain swept Suzuka circuit.

The Italian driver, a director of the F1 drivers' safety body GPDA, said focusing through a wall of spray is even more treacherous at the Japanese track.

''It's an older circuit,'' said Toyota's new star, ''so it probably needs more run-off area. But there's just not much more space we can gain (here).''

Sacked by Renault after Monza, 30-year-old Jarno Trulli said he enjoyed watching the Chinese Grand Prix on television.

''You can argue that Jacques (Villeneuve) could have done better,'' he said, in reference to the 1997 world champion who is driving his old R24.

Trulli completed more laps than any other contender in Friday's morning practice session (10).

'Ralf and I will get along' - Trulli
(GMM - Suzuka) New Toyota driver Jarno Trulli is adamant he'll form a good relationship with 2005 team-mate Ralf Schumacher.

Since 2001, it has been an easy headline to thump the doleful camaraderie between the German, Ralf, and current Williams team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya.

''It's about how you deal with people,'' said Trulli, known as one of the nice guys of the Formula One paddock.

The Italian said he bumped into Schumacher, 29, in the Suzuka hotel the other day.

''I stopped and we had a chat,'' Jarno explained, ''about (Toyota) and things -- honestly, I can't see we will have any problems.

''(Ralf) got along with Jenson (Button), didn't he?''

Pescara-born JT, and Schumacher, will be teamed at the Cologne-based outfit at least until the end of 2006.

BAR won't win 100th GP - Button
(GMM - Suzuka) Jenson Button has ruled out securing a win for BAR as the Brackley-based team celebrate a century of grands prix.

He might be trying to leave the team for Williams in 2005, but 24-year-old JB said he'd happily climb the podium if only the Honda-powered car was a match for the leading Ferrari.

''They're stronger (than us) in every area,'' Button - who was second to Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello in Shanghai - said in Japan.

Jenson said the 006 is flattered over a single lap, for example in final qualifying, but in the race BAR is trailing 'about half a second' off Ferrari's pace.

Button also agrees that former BAR team-mate Jacques Villeneuve has 'mellowed' as the French-Canadian lurches back into F1 with Renault and, in 2005, Sauber.

JB said: ''(Villeneuve) said to me on the (drivers' parade) truck in Shanghai, 'everyone wants me to be 'bitter Jacques' but I've got no reason to be'.''

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