F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 9, 2004
Grand Prix cancelled?
(GMM - Suzuka) With Saturday at Suzuka called off as a 'super'
strength typhoon approaches, speculation is now entertaining the
possibility that the grand prix will also be cancelled.
Although weather conditions should have improved by Sunday
mid-morning, it is unknown what will be left in the wake of the
phenomenon that is expected to bring with it winds of up to 200km/h.
More than forty people have been killed by typhoons in Japan this
But even if Sunday clears to reveal a 'Friday like' day at the
circuit, BAR driver Jenson Button suggested a decision to stage a race
would be a marginal one.
''In the second session,'' he said after Friday practice, ''it was
really wet -- the circuit was drenched. It really was dangerous.
''I nearly ran into the back of a Minardi at one point. I just didn't
Minardi may race 2001 car in 2005
(GMM - Suzuka) Minardi has found the support of only six rival F1
teams after a request to run the 2004 car next season, principal Paul
Stoddart revealed in Japan.
The Australian owner is asking that, due to the lack of a settled
technical code for 2005 and uncertainty over an engine deal, Minardi
be allowed to run the current car.
''I am not going to name and shame,'' he said in reference to the two
or three teams who are not yet supportive, ''but there's an incredible
temptation to do so.''
If Stoddart finds unanimity in the team principals' room, Minardi then
need 'dispensation' from the governing FIA.
He continued: ''Worst case scenario is we build a car to 2005 regs
with an engine that is cobbled up into it -- we will be slow.''
If Minardi is not allowed to run the current car next season, the most
likely outcome is that the 2001-spec car - designed to fit Minardi's
own 'European' V10 - will appear again.
'I won't retire' - Coulthard
(GMM - Suzuka) Jenson Button 'holds the key' to racing veteran David
Coulthard's future at the pinnacle of motor sport.
If Williams wins a contractual dispute to run the young Briton,
33-year-old Coulthard is a contender to slot into his place at BAR.
''I don't know (what's going to happen),'' McLaren's departing Scot
admitted in Japan.
But he did suggest that Williams will not have an opening for the
nine-season McLaren veteran, even if Button is ordered to stay at BAR.
Coulthard also denied that, even if he fails to find a spot on the
2005 grid, he'll hang up his famous blue and white helmet.
News from the ... hotel - Japan
(GMM - Suzuka) Given Friday's conditions, F1 teams did not have to
select a dry tyre compound early on Saturday morning, a source in
Japan revealed. The decision will be made prior to Sunday's early
Jordan arrived at Suzuka this weekend with a different race
engineering team. ''It's an opportunity,'' said chief James Robinson,
''to get our younger engineers in there.'' Regular third car engineer
Oliver Knighton is engineering Timo Glock, data engineer Peter
Bonnington worked on Robert Doornbos' spare car, and Glock's former
engineer, Dominic Harlow, is taking on a 'more senior role.'
'Third' drivers such as Ryan Briscoe (Toyota) and Bjorn Wirdheim
(Jaguar) didn't run on Friday in case the race drivers need extra
'extreme' weather tyres in Sunday's race. ''We couldn't even consider
using intermediates,'' said Australian Briscoe. ''Usually I help the
team by running,'' joked Wirdheim, ''not by staying in the garage!''
Ferrari will not be unhappy if the skies are still raining on Sunday.
''Michael (Schumacher) managed some very good times on the (wet)
Bridgestone tyres,'' said technical director Ross Brawn. ''But even if
it's dry, we are strong in unusual situations.''
Local hero Takuma Sato felt bad for his loyal fans on Friday who sat
in the rain all day to watch ... not much F1 action. ''I feel so sorry
for them,'' said the Japanese. ''If I could do something about (the
weather), I would!''
Webber to get early Jaguar release
(GMM - Suzuka) Mark Webber will start testing for Williams in the days
immediately following this month's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.
His current team, Jaguar, confirmed at Suzuka - on a torrential Friday
- that the decision had been taken in order to 'support (Mark) in his
Webber, 27, will however remain under contract to Jaguar Racing -
which is being sold by paymasters Ford - until the final day of 2004.
He'll therefore test the Williams car 'in plain overalls,' read a
statement, and may also be asked to carry out PR obligations for
Webber used the b-spec Jaguar car on Friday, but - given the woeful
conditions and lack of dry running - he has asked that his single
engine be moved into a usual chassis for qualifying and the race.
(GMM - Suzuka) Michael Schumacher is relieved he isn't fighting for
the world championship at Suzuka.
The German, who wrapped up drivers' title number seven six weeks ago
(in Belgium), said: ''Imagine you have to fight ... in these
''That would be very tense. As it is, I can relax and take things as
Teams were told to stay in their nearby hotels on Saturday, as the
Suzuka Circuit was closed as a 'super' typhoon approached from the
Toyota rule out customer engine
(GMM - Suzuka) Toyota will not supply customer engines to Jordan or
Minardi next season, F1 principal Tsutomu Tomita said.
The two privateer teams have lost an affordable Cosworth supply for
2005, but there was talk of Toyota coming to the rescue with a $9.5
''It's too late for 2005,'' said the Japanese at Suzuka.
Tomita said a customer supply may be available in the future, perhaps
in 2006, but with two months to go until a New Year dawns, 'it is
Button brake won't break BAR's bank
(GMM - Suzuka) BAR will not suffer financially due to the probable
loss of key British driver Jenson Button, team principal David
Earlier in 2004, Richards said sponsors were almost falling over
themselves to get involved with a rising team that is building a
trendy and youthful image.
''Nothing has changed,'' said DR in Japan.
In fact, the English chief said another sponsor - to add to one-race
backer Epson (in Japan) and the recently acquired Ray-Ban cash - may
get on board before the season's end.
Richards denied that any major sponsorship deal at BAR is contingent
on Button being in the cockpit in 2005.
He said: ''That wouldn't be the way to do things.''
BAR to win a race - Schumacher
(GMM - Suzuka) World Michael Schumacher believes it is 'realistic' to
expect BAR to win either the Japanese or Brazilian grand prix.
The German said Brackley's Honda-powered team has been 'strong' in
2004 and quite often the difference between BAR and Ferrari has been a
better scarlet 'strategy.
''Things could easily change,'' Schumacher said.
'No regret' in Villeneuve deal - Sauber
(GMM - Suzuka) It was a 'good decision' to sign a two year contract
with 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, Peter Sauber insisted at
Despite observations that the French- Canadian is not up to speed in a
front running Renault, Sauber said he does not regret asking the
33-year-old - who may bring several million in personal sponsors - to
''I am glad we are driving with him,'' the German-speaking Swiss said,
''for him and for us.''
Prior to the deal with 33-year-old Villeneuve, Sauber had arranged a
test with F3000 champion Vitantonio Liuzzi.
The young Italian still completed the single day run, even if the race
seat had been filled.
Sauber said: ''We promised him a test, and I think it was nice for
him, even if it is hard to show your talent in a short time.''
Jordan slams Ford
(GMM - Suzuka) Eddie Jordan has broken his silence and lashed out at
Ford over the withdrawing manufacturers' treatment of the struggling
Formula One team.
The Irishman is 'angered' that, after a long relationship with the
marque as engine supplier, he got seven minutes' notice prior to
Ford's decision to quit the sport.
He told British newspaper 'Guardian': ''It's now almost too late to
build a sophisticated car around a new engine.
''Ford have behaved appallingly,'' said Jordan at Honda's end of
season party. ''I can't get an appointment to talk to anybody (about)
it. This is a very sad state of affairs.''
The latest speculation is that F3000 team (Arden) owner Christian
Horner has offered to buy part of the Silverstone-based Jordan
EJ said he would sell the team if it meant it could survive.
Brit GP to move to Donington?
(GMM - Suzuka) The British Grand Prix could be moved from Silverstone
to 'Donington Park' next season, according to a consortium working to
save the embattled event.
Kimi Cockburn, of the 'Brand Synergy' group, said if negotiations with
the British Racing Drivers' Club fail, 'we have the funding' to move
to Plan B.
''Wherever the race is,'' she added, ''we will have to build a new
pits and paddock complex. It does not make any difference whether it
is at Donington or Silverstone.''
Donington last hosted a grand prix in 1993, which was famously won by
Ayrton Senna in the rain.
Another source in the 'Brand' consortium, meanwhile, said Silverstone
was 'definitely' the target and the track-owning BRDC may be offered
'equity' if it agrees a deal.
Tobacco liveries to go
(GMM - Suzuka) Ron Dennis in jail? It could happen if the UK-based
McLaren team, for example, runs with 'West' stickers beyond July next
British Formula One teams are now awaiting clarification on
legislation that, currently, will make it a criminal offence to paint
a car in tobacco colours, even outside the European Union.
''Potentially,'' said Brackley-based principal of BAR, David Richards,
''we (have) to remove the advertising after July next year at all
At the end of 2006, F1's tobacco companies have agreed to voluntarily
'There will be a Brit GP' - Stoddart
(GMM - Suzuka) If Paul Stoddart had to bet his bank, he'd put the lot
on Britain still hosting a Formula One grand prix next season.
''There will be a race,'' said the Minardi principal in Japan. ''Why
is this all happening? One word -- politics.''
BAR's David Richards is also now 'very confident' a solution will be
found to keep the historic event at Silverstone.
It was expected that the F1 principals would find a solution on the
race, such as agreeing to an eighteenth grand prix in 2005, at Suzuka
But those talks have been delayed as attention turns towards saving
the Japanese event from the wreckage of 'super typhoon number 22'.
An agreement must, though, be found by Wednesday's
calendar-ratification meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council.
Stoddart warned that, at a cost of $2 million per extra race, the
teams 'need to be compensated' if the Brit GP is to return.
Midland to race in battle 'to survive'
(GMM - Suzuka) F1's new-for-2006 team, Midland F1, are joining Minardi
and Jordan in the fight for mere survival, Paul Stoddart warned at
Following the announcement that Russian-born businessman Alex Shnaider
plans to spend $100 million a year towards success, Minardi's chief
warned that there is no quick route to the front of the grid.
''I don't believe the (team) franchises have a value (any more),'' he
said. ''When we lost Prost and Arrows, and now Jaguar, it became a
battle just to survive.''
Brit GP axe not 'acceptable' - BAR
(GMM - Suzuka) It will not be 'acceptable' if the final Formula One
calendar is published without a British Grand Prix.
That's the comment of UK-based F1 principal David Richards, who said
the home race's loss - as well as considerations of history and
nostalgia - would be felt most harshly in the 'commercial' department.
''You've got to have the traditional events,'' he added in Japan.
''I'm sure (BAR) are not alone in this -- we need to find a
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