F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 10, 2004

Schu debuted 2005 'hybrid' Ferrari
(GMM - Suzuka) Ferrari will start the 2005 season with a 'hybrid' version of the current Formula One single-seater, technical director Ross Brawn revealed.

''We'll introduce the new one later,'' he told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

The chassis, tire and engine regulations are changing next season, so the Maranello-based world champions will modify the F2004 so that it is legal to start the year at Melbourne.

English-born Brawn said the objective then will be to use the knowledge of the opening flyaway grands prix to 'optimize' the F2005.

The 'hybrid' Ferrari was tested for the first time by Michael Schumacher at Jerez last week.

But the German driver returned to the garage without a smile on his face. ''(Michael) said it had less grip (than the current car),'' said Brawn, ''(but) it was quite difficult to drive. (Schumacher) was a bit perplexed.''

Brawn said the goal of the 2005 regulations is to add three seconds to a lap time, but reckons Ferrari will be 'around 1.5 - 2 (seconds) slower' than in 2004.

New F1 team 'may buy Cosworth'
(GMM - Suzuka) Formula One's new-for-2006 team, 'Midland', may buy Cosworth.

Russian-born Canadian Alex Shnaider told British broadcaster 'ITV' that he has not bought Ford-owned Jaguar, but snapping-up Cosworth would solve the problem of where to find an engine in 2006.

''We are looking at (buying Cosworth),'' he admitted.

Shnaider also denied Minardi counterpart Paul Stoddart's claim that, with a diminishing grid of F1 rivals, the value of a team 'franchise' is now minimal.

''(It is) the perfect time (to enter F1),'' he countered. ''(F1) is in turmoil and we as a company are used to working in markets which are always in turmoil.''

Minardi get conditional support - Sauber
(GMM - Suzuka) Formula One cannot give Paul Stoddart unconditional support in a request to run an illegal car next season, fellow independent team principal Peter Sauber explained.

At Suzuka, Stoddart - the struggling Minardi chief - said he had found the support of only a handful of teams to run a car to faster 2004 regulations in 2005.

He claims the lateness of the 2005 technical code and the lack of affordable customer engines makes it a case of 'force majeure.'

''There is not a clear cut answer to give,'' Swiss owner Sauber said. ''On the one hand, I'd like to help him -- but on the other hand we have to be a bit careful.''

While a more competitive Minardi would never be a threat to the likes of Ferrari, Peter Sauber said it would not be fair to apply the same argument to Sauber's position.

He asked: ''What would it cost us to go closer to Ferrari?''

BAR's David Richards evaded an answer by insisting that the Minardi request is a matter 'for the FIA' to rule on.

Schu on 'awkward' pole
(GMM - Suzuka) Michael Schumacher admitted that a drying track helped him to secure pole in an 'awkward' race-day qualifying session at Suzuka.

The German, in a Ferrari, had the benefit of running second-to-last in the final run after trailing Toyota's Jarno Trulli in the re-scheduled 9am pre-qualifying.

A 'super' strength typhoon near the region in Japan, which ultimately averted Suzuka, meant Saturday qualifying was postponed and run on Sunday morning.

Schumacher will line up ahead of brother Ralf, who qualified half a second further down the road, with Jaguar's Mark Webber a surprise third.

Most qualifiers wore dry-compound tires, after seeing early runners more than ten seconds off the pace with an intermediate tread.

Bernie offers to promote Brit GP
(GMM - Suzuka) Having threatened to axe it mere days ago, Bernie Ecclestone has now offered to promote the British Grand Prix.

The F1 impresario now says Silverstone owner, the British Racing Drivers' Club, has two offers on the table -- his, and the much-publicized one involving 1992 champion Nigel Mansell.

''I have given the BRDC another option to consider,'' 73-year-old Bernie told British newspapers from London.

Ecclestone said all the teams, including seven which are based in the United Kingdom, now have to agree to the running of an unsanctioned eighteenth race in 2005.

He commented: ''With a bit of luck ... there should be a British Grand Prix.''

'It's time to race' - Ralf
(GMM - Suzuka) Officials were right to cancel Saturday at Suzuka, BAR driver Jenson Button believes.

Like most F1 travelers to the Japanese region, the Briton sheltered in a hotel as the outskirts of a 'super typhoon' brought winds of about 80mph.

''(If) there were trees flying around,'' he said, ''we definitely should not be driving.''

Ralf Schumacher, who qualified behind brother Michael in Sunday's rescheduled final qualifying, agreed that the decision to cancel Saturday was 'very reasonable.

''After breakfast,' he revealed of the revised Saturday campaign, ''I went to the gym, and we had lunch in a restaurant.

''Now I'm looking forward to the race.''

Brother Michael joked that he would spend Saturday either playing 'football or backgammon,' and it appears he had to settle for the latter.

The German, 35, tried to book a local gym so he could organize an indoor soccer match, but it was already occupied.

F1 drivers had typhoon party
(GMM - Suzuka) Most Formula One drivers spent the day with each other when practice and qualifying was cancelled on Saturday.

Pole sitter Michael Schumacher said although a 'super typhoon' was wreaking havoc outside the Japanese hotel, the drivers had a 'fun day.

''I don't think we've done that before,'' said the world champion, ''all the drivers together like that.''

Mark Webber, a surprise third on the grid for departing team Jaguar, agreed that Saturday - reportedly involving bowling and soccer - had been a 'good day.'

'Thanks, David' - Ralf S.
(GMM - Suzuka) Ralf Schumacher cynically credited David Coulthard for helping him secure a front row start in this afternoon's Japanese grand prix.

The pair collided at Shanghai a fortnight ago, putting Williams' Ralf a lucky seventeenth in the pre-qualifying order.

''Being out late like that,'' said the German, ''definitely helped me -- so thanks to David. It was good to be fast there and then I could go out late in the second (session) and also be fast.''

Schumacher, 29, said despite the typhoon and overnight rain, the track was mostly dry - apart from some 'wet patches' - in morning qualifying.

Zsolt to start from pitlane
(GMM - Suzuka) Zsolt Baumgartner will start Sunday's Japanese grand prix from the Suzuka pit lane.

The Hungarian driver spun his Minardi in the early morning pre-qualifying session, which was run at 9am after a typhoon warning compelled Saturday's total cancellation.

''We got the car back (to the garage) just a few minutes before final qualifying,'' said a team spokesman, ''so (we) elected to miss the run.''

Baumgartner said he just lost the back end in pre-qualifying.

Montoya under pressure
(GMM - Suzuka) Juan Pablo Montoya blamed bad tire pressure for a poor qualifying effort at Japan's Suzuka circuit.

The Colombian driver will line up a lowly thirteenth on the grid, as Williams team-mate Ralf Schumacher found the front row.

''It went wrong in pre-qualifying,'' he told reporters afterwards. ''I think the (tire) pressures were not right.''

Technical director Sam Michael backed the 29-year-old's pressure claim by admitting the team 'made a mistake.

''That's why he was slow,'' said the Australian engineer.

Old Honda F1 cars at Suzuka
(GMM - Suzuka) Four former GP drivers are showing off a flock of Honda-powered Formula One cars at the Suzuka circuit.

The Japanese engine manufacturer, this weekend, is celebrating forty years (1964) since it became involved at the pinnacle of motor sport, on a track it owns.

1964 world champion John Surtees, and Jacques Lafitte - who last raced in 1986 - joined Japanese stars Aguri Suzuki and Satoru Nakajima on the old Honda test circuit.

An old Williams and McLaren were among the Honda-powered cars on track.

Webber devotes third to Jag 'guys'
(GMM - Suzuka) Mark Webber dedicated third place on the Suzuka grid to Jaguar mechanics, who face an uncertain future in Formula One.

The Australian driver took advantage of a drying track to put his 'Leaping Cat' third, just one position behind his best-ever GP start, at Malaysia (2nd).

Webber, 27, vowed to push for a point or two in this afternoon's grand prix -- the Milton-Keynes' penultimate.

''It's probably going to be a tough race for us,'' he said in Japan, ''but we'll give it everything and see where we are.''

The Williams bound star offered a special cheerio to his number one mechanic, 'Paddy' (Alan Maybin), who will retire after the 53-lap event.

''He has been in Formula One for a long time,'' said Mark, ''so good luck, mate.''

Coulthard to build more hotels
(GMM - Suzuka) F1 veteran David Coulthard, and business partner Ken McCulloch, are set to build twelve more 'Dakota' hotels.

The first Dakota was built in July, in Nottingham (UK), and the next should be ready in spring 2006, according to the 'Scotland on Sunday' newspaper.

McCulloch and Coulthard already own the luxury 'Columbus' hotel in Monte-Carlo.

Brit GP not 'saved' - BRDC spokesman
(GMM - Suzuka) The BRDC has denied that a little known group, which hastily recruited Nigel Mansell to give it credibility, has 'saved' the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

'Brand Synergy' chief Kim Cockburn claimed that a seven year deal has been agreed with F1 impresario and current rights holder Bernie Ecclestone.

''We're keeping (the race) at Silverstone,'' she told British radio. ''I can confirm (that).''

A spokesman for the Northamptonshire circuit's British Racing Drivers' Club, though, said the claim is 'not correct' and 'mere speculation.'

''Discussions continue with all parties,'' said the spokesman, ''but no agreement has yet been reached.''

The BRDC's CEO Alex Hooton, meanwhile, said he has now met with Cockburn and can confirm that 'Brand Synergy' has no 'proper business plan' or confirmed financial backing.

Jaguar 'not sold' to Red Bull
(GMM - Suzuka) Jaguar Racing has not been sold to energy drink brand Red Bull, the F1 team's managing director David Pitchforth insisted.

Web reports said the sale of the Ford-owned team to Austrian magnate Dieter Mateschitz is now 'complete.'

But Pitchforth told sources at Suzuka that the report only surfaced after a radio interview was translated into German text, and then re-translated back to English.

Team principal Tony Purnell is not in Japan this weekend, but said recently he was 'sifting' through the realistic team buyers from the 'chancers.

''I think one has to be fairly confident,'' he added, ''that a (buyer) will be found.''

2005 Ferrari 'felt strange' - Schu
(GMM - Suzuka) Michael Schumacher said the 2005 technical regulations feel 'strange.'

The world champion tested a 'hybrid' Ferrari car, modified to emulate the slow-down aerodynamic, tire and engine regulations, at the Jerez (Spain) track last week.

Schumacher, 35, said the biggest difference he noticed was the lack of power, after Ferrari de-tuned a current V10 unit to last the mandatory-in-2005 two GP weekends.

He remarked: ''The first session was difficult, but I soon got used to it.''

Technical director Ross Brawn, meanwhile, confirmed that Ferrari will kick off 2005 with the 'hybrid' car, and an evolution of the current single-race engine.

Schumacher ends losing streak
(GMM - Suzuka) Michael Schumacher ended a two month drought of F1 wins on Sunday when he won the season's penultimate Japanese grand prix from pole.

His younger brother, Ralf - who returned from injury two weeks ago in the Williams - joined the Ferrari champion on the Suzuka podium, as did BAR's Jenson Button.

Local favorite Takuma Sato was fourth.

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