F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 12, 2004

Webber burns treated by doctor
(GMM - 12 Oct.) Mark Webber received medical treatment after burning his right hip and backside in Sunday's Japanese grand prix.

The Australian driver climbed out of the Jaguar in the team's Suzuka garage shaking his head in apparent agony.

''It hurt so much I started to think 'this is starting to burn my skin' so that's why (I retired),'' said the 27-year-old.

He added: ''Apart from the pain, which was excruciating, it was starting to affect my concentration and you can't really drive in those circumstances.''

A doctor treated Webber's blistered skin in the Suzuka medical centre and informed the Williams-bound racer that he would not suffer permanent skin damage.

But the heat was so hot inside Mark's F1 cockpit that it had started to melt the molded carbon-fiber seat, a race observer reported.

Coulthard backs sabbatical-Jacques
(GMM - Oct. 12) David Coulthard has leapt to the defense of similarly-aged friend Jacques Villeneuve, who took heat for failing to shine after a one-year absence from Formula One.

McLaren's Scot said if he, like Villeneuve in 2004, does not find a competitive seat on the racing grid next season, he will follow the French-Canadian's example and prepare a post-sabbatical return.

Renault insiders expressed disappointment with 33-year-old Villeneuve's pace at Shanghai and, on Sunday, on the Suzuka circuit, because he twice finished but failed to score a point.

But Coulthard, also 33, insisted that Jacques' pace in a damp Japanese qualifying, which was not preceded by any meaningful practice, was impressive.

JV out qualified team incumbent Fernando Alonso.

David said: ''In those conditions, on a difficult track, Jacques was pretty strong. I think he's a pretty good benchmark on pace.''

BAR will go for Brazil win - boss
(GMM - Oct. 12) Beating highly-motivated home town hero Rubens Barrichello and his world champion team-mate Michael Schumacher won't be easy in Brazil.

That's F1 boss Dave Richards' verdict after Jenson Button aimed for maiden victory over Ferrari in, potentially, the team driver's last grand prix for BAR in a fortnight.

''Maybe finishing second (to Michael in Japan) has given us the opportunity to fight for it,'' Richards said. ''We have to go for it, but it will not be easy.''

BAR, with a career best eleven podiums from seventeen grands prix in 2004, is undoubtedly the biggest improver - and surprise - of the season, but that elusive first win is still missing.

Richards said Brackley-based BAR has shown its true colors in the latter part of the racing calendar, where closest rivals - like Renault - have faltered.

He commented: ''Everyone said 'what a tough end to the year you have'. But we have held it together, in defiance of what everyone might expect.''

Bernie's Brit offer 'for free'
(GMM - Oct. 12) The British Racing Drivers' Club is unlikely to accept Bernie Ecclestone's offer to promote the embattled Brit GP.

A source close to the Silverstone-owning Club's chairman, Ray Bellm, said neither of the F1 impresario's offers are workable.

The first, well-reported, proposal, the BRDC could not afford. But a second would have cost nothing.

Ecclestone, 73 and already holding the rights to the British Grand Prix, offered to promote the race for free -- but Silverstone would have to hand over the entire lease of the circuit, and all of its facilities, for seven years.

Brit GP is 'important' - F1 chief
(GMM - Oct. 12) Formula One should think carefully before moving away from the 'homeland' of motor sport, team owner Peter Sauber said.

He responded to a 'super typhoon'-strength political storm that moved into the paddock following the apparent demise of F1's historic British grand prix.

''We do not really want to have more than seventeen races,'' said Sauber. ''But on the other hand I think (the British GP) is important to have on the calendar.'

Sauber's colleague Tsutomu Tomita, Toyota F1 principal, doesn't want to weigh into the argument, but agrees that Silverstone is a 'very famous' battleground for top motor races.

The Japanese added: ''We would hope to keep (the British GP).''

BAR's David Richards, though, tempered any nostalgia for F1's oldest grand prix by hinting that the teams will require compensation if Bernie Ecclestone wants an eighteenth race in 2005.

He said: ''We see very little of the money that goes towards staging grands prix.''

F1 chief behind Russian grand prix
(GMM - Oct. 12) Formula One's newest big player, Alex Shnaider, may be behind plans for a Russian Grand Prix.

''Of course, the team will have a Russian flavor,'' the co-founder of 2006 entrant 'Midland F1' hinted last week.

Shnaider, although a naturalized Canadian, was born in St. Petersburg (Russia) and outlined an early team target to bring the country's first rookie to the grid.

He said: ''I do hope eventually there will be a grand prix in Russia. It's a large market with a growing middle class and a lot of international companies are looking at it as a future market.''

Alex, who will not be Midland's F1 principal, revealed that he already has an eye on a few Russian drivers in European junior categories. ''If we find one with a bright future,'' said Shnaider, ''we will take him as a test driver.''

He said a Russian grand prix would give crucial exposure. ''It would be a pleasure for me to be instrumental in making that happen,'' he concluded.

Panis told to 'keep your F1 racer'
(GMM - Oct. 12) Toyota marked F1 veteran Olivier Panis' last ever grand prix by offering him a money-can't-buy memento.

Team principal Tsutomu Tomita told the sport's only French driver that, after climbing out of the TF104B race car at Suzuka, 'keep it.'

''It's a great car and a great gesture,'' the 38-year-old ace, Panis - who will stay in Cologne's family next year and in 2006 as a test driver - said at Suzuka.

''I am really moved.''

Toyota threw a party for F1's oldest driver at their home circuit, and all team principals - including Frank Williams, Ron Dennis and Flavio Briatore - showed up.

Panis said: ''Honda wanted to see me too. In the drivers' meeting, Michael (Schumacher) said he'd miss me -- I guess everything has its time.''

Olivier denied bowing out after the Japanese grand prix was a particularly nostalgic or emotional experience. ''Everyone has to finish eventually,'' he said.

''Maybe I'll (feel) different in the morning, but I feel quite lucky.''

Schu set to eclipse Senna mantle
(GMM - Oct. 12) Michael Schumacher has moved to within striking distance of the only significant F1 record still held by late triple champion Ayrton Senna.

At Suzuka on Sunday, Ferrari's top driver steered his 63rd pole position in a thirteen-season career -- just two short of Senna's all time record (65).

But some observers do not believe the pole mantle will automatically make Schumacher the best ever qualifier, as he took longer than Brazil's Senna to collect top honors.

Senna, who would have been 44 this year if not killed in a Williams racer at Imola a decade ago, scored his 65 poles in 162 grands prix.

Schumacher, in his 162nd grand prix, had managed 'just' 41.

Damon Hill, uniquely poised to comment on the issue as he was Senna's team-mate in 1994 - but also went head-to-head with Schumacher for the same season's title - said both have a claim as one of F1's true greats.

''If you had to have a heart operation,'' the 1996 world champion added, ''you'd ask for the Schumacher of the heart surgery world -- you can rely on him to do the job.''

Future decided 'in a few days' - Button
(GMM - Oct. 12) The sting of Jenson Button's controversial switch to Williams did not affect the way he went racing, BAR principal David Richards has conceded.

The pair exchanged media blows over the manner in which the news hit the proverbial fan in August, but the saga has tapered in the days preceding Saturday's final decision of the Contract Recognition Board.

Richards told UK's 'Daily Telegraph' newspaper: ''All credit to Jenson for the way he has behaved these past weeks.

''I'm relaxed, and confident, about the weekend.''

Formula One's rumor mill suggests that, if a favorite ahead of the hearing in Milan must be selected, it is Button's current employer, rather than Williams.

Button, meanwhile, chose not to comment on the imminent CRB meeting, after - perhaps significantly - being beaten by Williams' Ralf Schumacher at Suzuka.

''What's the point (commenting),'' the 24-year-old asked, ''when it's not up to me and the (CRB) meeting is on the weekend? I think we have all waited this long that we can wait a few more days.''

Villeneuve was 'best choice' - Sauber
(GMM - Oct. 12) Jacques Villeneuve was a better choice as race driver than David Coulthard or Nick Heidfeld, F1 principal Peter Sauber said.

He told British magazine 'F1 Racing' that, despite courting youngsters like Anthony Davidson, Gary Paffett and Vitantonio Liuzzi, 'experience' was the best option.

He also said 33-year-old Jacques' perpetual enthusiasm was the key to a deal. ''I can quote (the 1997 world champion),'' Peter smiled.

'''The (2005) car is even better than Peter Sauber thinks'!''

F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone enthused about the return of a former champion to the grid in 2005, but Sauber denied the 73-year-old was instrumental in the deal.

And he also dismissed speculation that JV's seat was influenced by manager Craig Pollock's confidence in being able to secure around $5 million in personal driver sponsorship.

Sauber said: ''No. Of course, a driver can bring us a sponsor if he has a good connection.''

Cape Town boost in F1 bid
(GMM - Oct. 12) Cape Town's bid for a South African grand prix has been boosted by the injection of $11 million.

A private international consortium involved in trading and oil refineries - 'One Vision' - said a F1 race would have a 'tangible benefit' for the country.

The bidding group's spokesman confirmed that the investment is about half of the equity required for the project on behalf of the private sector.

Omega's David Gant said: ''This adds substantial impetus to our efforts to engage with government and get their commitment to the project.''

Three day GP is 'tough' on F1 crew
(GMM - Oct. 12) Further to the mere endorsement of a shorter GP weekend format, Ferrari's Ross Brawn said F1 owes its traveling personnel a lighter workload.

The technical director said, with an unprecedented 18 grand prix calendar likely to continue in 2005, rule makers should seriously consider chopping Friday practice.

''These guys are away from home so much -- it's been tough for them (in 2004).''

Formula One had the two-day weekend trialed, unintentionally, at Suzuka, when a typhoon warning relocated qualifying to Sunday morning.

Brawn said: ''(Ferrari) feel that (a format consisting of) Saturday and Sunday is perfectly adequate.''

He did, however, admit that race promoters - keen to maximize exposure and track action - perhaps rightly favor a three day format.

Prost queries Renault decision
(GMM - Oct. 12) Former team owner and F1 driver Alain Prost is at a loss to explain Renault principal Flavio Briatore's decision to replace Jarno Trulli with former world champion Jacques Villeneuve.

''Honestly, I do not understand,'' the Frenchman - who said compatriot team tester Franck Montagny would have been a better choice - told French TV.

Prost made a comeback after a one-year sabbatical in 1992/1993, and - despite winning the title for Williams - he said he struggled, like Villeneuve, to get back up to speed.

''(Jacques') talent is intact,'' the four time world champion told TF1, ''but I would have been surprised to see Jacques go, after a year away, and be immediately on the pace.''

Prost said a driver loses some 'reflex' and technical acumen even after just a few months on the sideline.

He also questioned Briatore's wisdom in allowing Villeneuve in on all of Renault's 'secrets' only to then deliver them to Ferrari-related Sauber and tire rival Bridgestone next season.

No Brazilian 'team orders' - Ferrari
(GMM - Oct.12) Ferrari will not impose special 'team orders' to aid a home win for Rubens Barrichello in Brazil next weekend, Ross Brawn confirmed.

The Sao Paulo-born driver's champion team-mate, Michael Schumacher, also denied he would pull over to let Rubens easily emulate mentor Ayrton Senna by taking Interlagos' top step.

Brawn, however, insisted the driver-rivalry at the Brazilian grand prix will be 'friendly.

''They're not nasty guys, in any way,'' said the Ferrari technical director. ''Of course, we'd like to finish the season in good spirits, but they're human and desperately want to beat each other.''

Brawn said Schumacher, who played second fiddle to a back-to-back victorious Barrichello at Monza and Shanghai, was 'hurt' by those losses.

''(The German) won't make it easy for Rubens, but on the other hand they will be tough competition for each other,'' he added.

Ross also confirmed that, like at Suzuka, Ferrari will again use a new philosophy Bridgestone tire - originally debuted in Hungary - in Brazil.

'Not guilty' - F1 magazine
(GMM - Oct.12) Britain's Autosport magazine has distanced itself from 'highly offensive and obscene' remarks on 'save Silverstone' internet chat rooms and web forums.

A rare statement issued by the authoritative motor sport publication suggested that fans posted the remarks and falsely attributed them to world champions Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill, and two prominent British journalists.

''(They) did not make the remarks attributed to them,'' said the Autosport statement.

Mansell to draw new Silverstone layout
(GMM - Oct.12) Nigel Mansell will redesign part of the current F1 layout at Silverstone if a consortium wins the right to host the British grand prix.

Kimi Cockburn, the 46-year-old woman who is heading the $300 million 'Brand Synergy' bid for the embattled race, said the 1992 world champion is part of the plan to update the track.

''Nigel will draw a new design for sections of the (Silverstone) course,'' she said, ''although much will be kept as it is.''

Cockburn also vowed to redevelop the old World War II airfield in Northamptonshire with a theme park, and possibly a casino.

Button is 'best of the rest'
(GMM - Oct.12) Jenson Button's drive to third in the Japanese grand prix nailed him to a career best third place in the drivers' world championship.

With 85 points, fourth placed Fernando Alonso - in the Renault with a tally of 54 - can no longer eclipse the Englishman's 'best of the rest' mantle behind a couple of red cars.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said Button, 24 and likely to leave BAR after the season ending Brazilian grand prix, will be an even tougher prospect in a Williams racer.

''(We'd) probably fear Jenson more in a Williams,'' he said, ''because I think Jenson in a BAR is going to be a bit of a strained relationship next year.''

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