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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 15, 2004


'Academy' stars enjoy F1 nibble
(GMM - Oct.15) Franck Perera and Katsuyuki Hiranaka got to compare the performance of a Formula One car with their regular F3 mount at the Jerez track this week.

''I did a straight line test a fortnight ago,'' said French youngster Perera, ''but this was my first chance to drive on a circuit -- and it was a big change to what I'm used to.''

He said the braking and 'speed into fast corners' was most impressive. ''I could certainly feel it in my neck,'' Perera smiled.

Japanese-born Hiranaka, meanwhile - who moved to Europe two years ago with the ultimate goal of driving in F1 - took over the TF104 car on Wednesday.

''I didn't push too hard,'' he said, ''but it was a lot of fun. I feel confident in the slower corners but still have to get used to the quick stuff.''

Hiranaka tested his F3 car at Hockenheim in the week after his original Vairano F1 test 'and it felt like I was going so slow!

''We brake much earlier (in F3), too.''








Renault zip is 'compromise'
(GMM - Oct.15) Renault's car can spring off the start line because its designers opted to 'compromise' elsewhere, an unnamed rival technical director has claimed.

Britain's Autosport magazine said the Enstone-built racer is the quickest to the first corner because of a rear-heavy weight distribution and a torque-biased engine.

Previously, the amazing Renault start system - the envy of pitlane - was one of the public mysteries of modern Formula One.

The technical director told the magazine: ''(Renault have) chosen a fundamentally different philosophy from their competition.''

He said a 'more robust (heavier) transmission package' meant Renault had to compromise the aerodynamic spec.








Two-day weekend is 'okay' - Panis
(GMM - Oct.15) Newly retired grand prix racer Olivier Panis reckons F1 teams could get on 'perfectly okay' with a shorter weekend.

At Suzuka, incidentally the Frenchman's last ever race in Formula One before becoming a test driver, the two-day format was trialed unintentionally due to a severe weather warning.

''We proved (that a two-day weekend) is certainly feasible,'' said the 38-year-old, who will leave world champion Michael Schumacher as the oldest driver on the grid next season.

Panis admitted that the loss of Friday practice, and a crammed qualifying the following day, would definitely leave teams under 'additional pressure' and with less media coverage.

He said: ''(And) we would need to ensure we had sufficient running prior to the qualifying session.''







Honda to 'fight' for V10 formula
(GMM - Oct.15) Honda is one of three manufacturers planning to take the governing body of Formula One to court, the Japanese marque's VP Otmar Szafnauer has confirmed.

He said the FIA is 'not honoring' a commitment, in the binding Concorde Agreement, to maintain engine stability - the current 3.0 liter V10 format - until the end of 2007.

FIA president Max Mosley is adamant that, for the sake of safety, he is justified in pushing for a reduction in power, to 2.4 liter V8, in 2006 by invoking an emergency clause.

''Honda joined F1 on the basis that we would have (a V10 formula),'' Szafnauer told Autosport. ''We now have to fight -- this could split the sport.''

BMW, Williams' engine partner, and McLaren's Mercedes-Benz are part of the proposed three-carmaker arbitration action.








Prince of Monaco won FIA 'Gold'
(GMM - Oct.15) Monaco's Prince Rainier has won the first-ever 'FIA Gold Medal.'

To coincide with the governing body's 100th anniversary, it vowed to annually pay tribute to someone who makes an 'outstanding contribution' to motor sport.

''Since 1922 (Monaco) has hosted arguably the world's most famous motor race,'' read a statement which referred to the grand prix of Monte-Carlo.

Monaco, a tiny Principality, also stages a round of the FIA-sanctioned World Rally championship.

The FIA statement continued: ''None of this would be possible without the long standing support, enthusiasm and leadership and of His Excellency Prince Rainier.''








Impasse over Brit GP deal - BRDC
(GMM - Oct.15) The consortium involving 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell has not given up a tussle for control of the British grand prix.

F1's governing FIA ratified a provisional date for the embattled event on Wednesday, but the negotiations were only between Silverstone's BRDC and Bernie Ecclestone.

'Brand Synergy', though - run by 46-year-old woman Kim Cockburn and with Mansell on the board - says it has a 'fully funded proposal' that BRDC members 'should have a chance to see.'

Cockburn told the BBC: ''All we ask is that our proposal is considered seriously.''

But the BRDC would rather go it alone than join a consortium, with chairman Ray Bellm confirming he has now responded to Ecclestone's draft promoters' contract.

''He immediately responded back,'' said Bellm.

''The position at the moment is that (Bernie) steadfastly refuses to give us (a) two (year contract) and our position is that we cannot accept one (year).''







Montoya to face FIA penalty - media
(GMM - Oct.15) Juan Pablo Montoya may be summoned by the governing FIA for failing to honor a commitment last October.

According to top sport newspapers in Italy and France, Williams' Colombian driver will appear before the next meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in December.

The media sources said Montoya, 29, did not attend the launch of a 'seat belt safety' campaign in Costa Rica, despite pledging to do so.

He reportedly explained that he didn't attend because he was ill, but speculation suggests he was upset about a penalty at Indianapolis (2003) that effectively cost him the drivers' championship.

Juan Pablo then pledged to attend another event in Costa Rica, but didn't, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport (Italy).

A fine, rather than superlicense suspension, is the most likely penalty if he does face the World Council in Monte-Carlo.








One wish for Sir Stirling
(GMM - Oct.15) If a genie popped out of a lamp and granted Sir Stirling Moss just one wish, the motor racing legend would be 30 again -- just for a day.

''I would love to race against Michael (Schumacher),'' said the Englishman, perhaps the greatest driver in the history of Formula One never to win a world championship.

Moss, now 75, said the Ferrari driver and seven time world champion, Schumacher, will go down in history as in a 'class of his own' at the beginning of the twenty first century.

He wrote in an email: ''That's what racing is all about. (In) my time, we had the greatest of all time - Juan (Manuel) Fangio.''

Moss' career, which included 16 grand prix wins, ended at Easter 1962, when a crash at Goodwood left the 33-year-old with serious head injuries and in a coma.







Top driver 'unhappy' about '05
(GMM - Oct.15) A top driver in Formula One was 'really unhappy' when he tried an early version of the proposed 2005 tire specification this week.

Michael Schumacher reported despondency after a similar run prior to Suzuka, and now another said: ''(The 2005 tire) is just as quick on the first lap as the current tires.''

The anonymous driver told Autosport that the performance of the 2005-spec then diminished 'so much' after a quick single lap.

Next year, just two sets of tires - one for practice and one for qualifying and the race - will be available for each driver.

BAR's tester Anthony Davidson, meanwhile, tested a 2005-spec aero package at Jerez this week and described that it felt like a 'big Formula Ford.

''It slides around,'' said the Englishman, ''and is quite good fun.''








Williams 'on way back' - BMW
(GMM - Oct.15) Williams are on their way back to the front of the Formula One grid, the team's engine partner predicted.

BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen said the entire collaboration was 'delighted' with Ralf Schumacher's season best second place at the Japanese grand prix.

''(We) want to finish a difficult 2004 positively,'' said the German.

''Ralf delivered a flawless performance (at Suzuka).''








Mansell wins in F1 car
(GMM - Oct.15) Another 'Mansell' has powered to victory at the wheel of a Formula One car.

Teenager Scott Mansell, a Briton like namesake and hero Nigel, drove an ex-Jean Alesi Benetton car (1997) to victory in the EuroBOSS championship at Le Mans last week.

On the way, he has set outright lap records at Brands Hatch (UK), Lausitzring and Zolder.

''I think the Brands (Hatch) record means the most,'' the 18-year-old said, ''because it was only last year, I think, that Adrian Fernandez set the previous record in a Champ Car -- and they're not slow!''

The EuroBOSS championship, featuring old pre-1998 F1, Indy and F3000 cars, was once won by Minardi chief Paul Stoddart.

Toyota's technical director Mike Gascoyne has also raced an old V10 Tyrrell in the series.







Button and a PR man
(GMM - Oct.15) Jenson Button's new manager may be Nav Sidhu, one of the highest profile PR reps in Formula One, according to speculation.

Sidhu worked with Button, who is reportedly trying to get out of a current management contract with John Byfield because he damaged his image, at Williams in 2000.

Nav's latest post, though, is as 'Head of Formula One Communications' at Jaguar, which is pulling out of the sport after this month's Brazilian grand prix.








Toyota car 'has limits' - Trulli
(GMM - Oct.15) Jarno Trulli is hoping to power further up the F1 field when his Toyota career notches a second grand prix in Brazil.

The Italian admitted he struggled at Suzuka because he was still learning the nuances of a brand new car.

''Clearly this car has its limits,'' said Trulli, who was fired by Renault and replaced with Jacques Villeneuve prior to the Chinese grand prix in September.








More support for London GP
(GMM - Oct.15) Buckingham Palace and the royal parks have 'signed up' to the idea of a London grand prix, city mayor Ken Livingstone has revealed.

While reluctant to promote it as an alternative to the British grand prix, he told UK newspaper 'The Guardian' that July's demonstration in Regent Street proved that a street race would be a roaring success.

But the proposal has opposition, like the 'Friends of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens' group.

Logistically, though, closing down one of the busiest cities in the world would not be a simple task, as Nick Lester - director of transport and the environment for the Association of London Government - explained.

''We would have to see how London could work in circumstances (like those faced in Monaco),'' he said. ''But no one would want to rule (a race) out.''







F1 fathers' boys at Macau
(GMM - Oct.15) The sons of former world champions Alan Jones, Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg will all race in next month's prestigious Macau F3 grand prix.

The famous fathers won the Formula One title, respectively, in 1980, 1981 and 1982, although Piquet also did the winning deed in 1983 and 1987.

Alan Jones' little known Australian son, Christian, will compete against teenagers Nico Rosberg and Nelson Piquet Jnr at Macau on November 21.








Bernoldi to attend Brazil GP
(GMM - Oct.15) Enrique Bernoldi will join F1 team BAR at the Interlagos circuit later this month.

The Brazilian, signed as a temporary test driver, is to help the Honda-powered team with PR duties at his home event.

''I'm looking forward to it,'' he said in Spain.

The former Arrows racer tested at Jerez this week, predominantly at the wheel of an early aerodynamic and tire package that complied with the 2005 regulations.

He said: ''It was interesting to understand how the car will work (next season).''

Asked for more information, Bernoldi smiled: ''(It) made us slower!''








Three-day weekend is 'rubbish'
(GMM - Oct.15) A three day Formula One weekend is too long and 'rubbish,' according to Renault F1 principal Flavio Briatore.

The Italian chimed in on a debate about the possibility of lobbing a day off the schedule by likening the F1 'show' to a movie.

He told Autosport: ''If you have material for a two hour movie, then great -- but it's rubbish if the movie went for three hours.''








I'm quitting at 'right time' - OP
(GMM - Oct.15) The worst thing about becoming an older grand prix driver is picking the 'right time' to stop, Olivier Panis stated.

The Frenchman, 38, enthused about another stint on the grid earlier in 2004, but is now resigned to becoming a Toyota test driver in 2005 and 2006.

He raced for the last time at Suzuka.

''I feel like I have decided to stop at the right time,'' Panis said this week. ''It's a decision that so many people find difficult.''

Panis leaves seven time world champion Michael Schumacher as the oldest - although he was already the most experienced - driver in Formula One.

Known as 'Olive' in the paddock, the veteran of 158 grands prix vowed to spend 'more time with (the) family' away from the racing track in 2005.

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