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