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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 13, 2004


Did BAR consider team order?
(GMM - Oct.13) BAR could have engineered a hugely popular podium finish for Japanese hero Takuma Sato last Sunday.

The 27-year-old opted for a three stop strategy at Suzuka, unlike two-stopping team-mate Jenson Button, and had to follow the Englishman home for fourth place in front of adoring fans.

So did the F1 team, incidentally courting a one-race Japanese sponsor in view of a longer term deal and at Honda's home grand prix, ever consider swapping the positions ... ?

Principal Dave Richards told UK's Daily Telegraph: ''We don't do (that) sort of thing.'

Earlier in the race, Sato was allowed past Button to exercise the full legs of his lighter 006 car.

''The drivers succeed on merit and fight it out in the team,'' Richards - who confirmed Sato would stay at the team next season - continued.

He said: ''While we are a team, at the end of the day the drivers get the results they deserve.''








Hakkinen in 'secret' test
(GMM - Oct.13) Double F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen tested a DTM touring car on Tuesday.

The retired Finn, who had been mentioned in connection with a possible return to BAR or Williams in 2005, is understood to have driven a Mercedes-Benz at Lausitz (Germany).

''I'm doing a test in a DTM car in a secret place in Europe,'' 34-year-old Hakkinen earlier told Finnish TV broadcaster YLE.

He said he doesn't have a contract, or any concrete plans, to return full time to the race track next year.







Minardi sale to raise $5m
(GMM - Oct.13) Paul Stoddart's Formula One auction will raise up to $5 million for his struggling Minardi team, it is understood.

Auction group 'Bache Treharne' announced on Tuesday that the three-day sale, to dispose of about half the team principal's personal F1 collection, will take place from Nov. 18 at Ledbury (UK).

''(Stoddart) plans to sell the CNC and conventional machine tools formerly used by his UK R&D team,'' read a statement, ''as well as ... F1 cars, team transportation and pit equipment.''

Auctioneer Chris Hall said the sale has already attracted the interest of rival teams and collectors, and includes Arrows, Jordan, Benetton, BAR and Brabham racers.

Paul Stoddart said: ''(This is) possibly one of the most significant modern F1 collections ever offered.''







Williams land Bank cash
(GMM - Oct.13) Williams will shortly announce a new and lucrative sponsorship deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland.

It's worth about $13m annually, for at least three seasons, and should include a sizeable presence on the 2005 F1 car's livery.

Jaguar F1 board member and former world champion, Sir Jackie Stewart, guided RBS into Formula One and will continue to represent the Bank in the sport next season.

Rival British team BAR-Honda was considered for the deal, a Royal Bank of Scotland source reported.








Pizzonia's ankle healed - Jerez
(GMM - Oct.13) Antonio Pizzonia recovered from an ankle injury to go quickest as Formula One testing resumed at Jerez (Spain) on Tuesday.

Six teams and predominantly test drivers took to the overcast circuit in what is the last in-season session of 2004.

''(Antonio is) completely fine,'' a spokesman said in reference to the young Brazilian's fall in a Shanghai hotel stairwell a fortnight ago.

Renault's race drivers Fernando Alonso and Jacques Villeneuve were expected to join the action from Wednesday morning, a source said.

A notable Tuesday runner was France's young development driver Franck Perera, eighth fastest of nine runners, in the Toyota.

BAR ran former Arrows racer Enrique Bernoldi, who spent the morning 'running through a 2005 aerodynamic evaluation,' according to a spokeswoman.







Brit GP on '05 calendar - reports
(GMM - Oct.13) The British grand prix is on Bernie Ecclestone's draft 2005 calendar, which will be published after a World Council meeting in France.

Reports said a solution to the Silverstone event's apparent axe has been found after the F1 impresario and the British Racing Drivers' Club agreed a deal.

The track-owning BRDC ultimately gambled on making a loss next year by succumbing to Ecclestone's proposed race fee.

The only sticking point now is the duration of a new contract -- Bernie wants to renegotiate after just one race, but the BRDC is pushing for a two-year stint.

Kim Cockburn's 'Brand Synergy' consortium, which said recently it had 'saved' the race with the input of Nigel Mansell, is not involved.

''(The race in 2005) may be subject to contract,'' warned UK sport minister Richard Caborn.








'Welcome back, little brother'
(GMM - Oct.13) The best thing about Michael Schumacher's crushing win at Suzuka last Sunday was ... Ralf Schumacher.

Ferrari's seven time world champion welcomed his young brother back to the podium following a nearly four-month lay off due to injury.

''Easy,'' Schumacher replied when asked for a Japanese grand prix highlight. ''Ralf and I wondered when we last (shared the podium) and we could only recall Canada -- but the most important thing is he is back with us.''

Schumacher confirmed he will not test prior to Brazil, and vowed to spend the fortnight between Japan and 2004's finale with his wife and children in Switzerland.








FIA turn 100 at the Louvre
(GMM - Oct.13) A roll call of former world champions helped the FIA celebrate its 100th anniversary on Tuesday night at Paris' Louvre.

800 guests attended the gala dinner.

In June 1904, thirteen motor sport clubs, including the Automobile Club de France, formed the FIA's first incarnation -- the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus.

Today, there are thirty official FIA championships, ranging from karts to truck racing, and 160 member clubs from 120 countries.

''Above all the FIA strives for the maximum level of safety possible,'' read a statement.

''Much has changed in ... in 100 years, and yet the vision of the FIA's founders remains just as relevant today.''







'I can win home race' - Barrichello
(GMM - Oct.13) Rubens Barrichello is aiming to become the first Brazilian in more than a decade to win at Interlagos.

Like Ayrton Senna, who did it in 1993, Ferrari driver Barrichello lives in the nearby sprawling city Sao Paulo, and has previously said winning at home would be like 'a dream.'

But the 31-year-old, traditionally enduring miserable luck at Interlagos - such as running out of fuel while leading in 2003 - is keen to play down expectation ahead of the season finale.

He said: ''Of course, it is possible that I can win and that is my intention. I will also try to enjoy the weekend for my fans, but remember always to keep the foot down!''

Rubens denied that retiring from the Japanese grand prix after a clash with David Coulthard has resulted in even more pressure to perform in Brazil.

''I don't think so,'' he said.








Lauda's new airline to take off
(GMM - Oct.13) The first flight of former world champion Niki Lauda's new airline will take off next month.

'Niki' is a low-cost airline for the UK market, and is set to begin with a flight from London's Stansted airport to Vienna (Austria), before another is added to Warsaw (Poland).

Lauda, born in Austria and a winner of 25 grands prix, took a swipe at low-cost competitors recently when he said 'Niki' will fly 'where people want to go' rather than to distant airports.

Now 55, the triple world champion founded 'Lauda Air' in the eighties but lost control of the original airline four years ago.

Earlier in 2004, a quarter of 'Niki' was sold to Air Berlin.







BAR set for Chinese oil partner
(GMM - Oct.13) China's giant petrochemical brand Sinopec is about to hop in bed with Formula One team BAR.

A source close to the Brackley-based outfit said the sponsor of the inaugural Chinese grand prix at Shanghai will now almost certainly also become a BAR sponsor from 2005.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is understood to have advised the state-owned oil brand to sponsor an existing team before becoming more involved in the future.

Sinopec's vice-president, Li Chunguang, was quoted earlier in 2004 as heralding Formula One in China as a 'landmark' for international motor sport.








Schu to sponsor football club
(GMM - Oct.13) Michael Schumacher may become a sponsor of German football club Cologne.

Ferrari's Formula One world champion, who earns more than $50 million in a single race season, was born in Kerpen, not far from Cologne.

''It would be an honor for us to win a man like Michael Schumacher,'' Cologne's president Wolfgang Overath told a local newspaper.

Overath, according to the newspaper, sees Schumacher as part of a strategy to lift Cologne from the second division to the premier 'Bundesliga.'

'Michael Schumacher' is one of F1's most lucrative marketing brands.







'No contract' yet - BRDC president
(GMM - Oct.13) Sir Jackie Stewart is surprised at the optimism of reports that Britain will likely stage a grand prix next season.

Contrary to speculation that Bernie Ecclestone and the British Racing Drivers' Club have agreed a new deal, the BRDC's president insisted there is 'no indication' the Silverstone race will definitely be run.

The Scot was in Paris for the FIA's centenary dinner (Tuesday) but also for Wednesday's pivotal meeting of the World Motor Sport Council.

''(Everyone is) shocked that we could lose the British grand prix,'' said Stewart, a triple world champion, ''because they just can't understand the logic behind it.''

Stewart said the BRDC has not yet received a contract from Mr. Ecclestone.

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