F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 20, 2004
'Look out' for Brazil rain
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) Springtime in Sao Paulo will dump
rain on the Brazilian grand prix, weather reports suggest.
It had been expected that an unusual season-finale slot for
Interlagos on the 2004 calendar would, unlike last April,
bring sunshine to the sprawling megalopolis.
''I spoke to some of the Brazilian drivers in Japan,'' said
Jaguar driver Mark Webber, ''and they said the weather (in
Sao Paulo) at this time of the year is quite similar to what
they have in April.
''It could be something to look out for.''
Heavy rain fell at the scene of the Formula One grand prix
on Monday and Tuesday, and a seventy per cent chance of
showers persist for race Sunday.
'I'm sorry to leave' - Fisi
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) Sadness and anticipation will
characterize Giancarlo Fisichella's last blast for the
Sauber team in Brazil this Sunday.
The Roman is looking forward to re-joining top-flight outfit
Renault next season, but feels sorry about leaving his 2004
''I will be really sorry to leave,'' the 31-year-old said on
Tuesday. ''But that's life - that's Formula One.''
Fisichella describes Peter Sauber's small and
independently-run outfit, based in Swiss town Hinwil, as a
'very, very good team.
''Considering it is a private team,'' he explained, ''they
do a fantastic job -- good development in the wind tunnel,
and one of the best atmospheres I have ever known.''
He thanks the competitiveness of the Ferrari-powered car for
the interest shown in him by Renault's Flavio Briatore, and
also Sir Frank Williams.
Brit GP is dead - Bernie
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) You've read it before, but the
historic Formula One event at Silverstone is finally dead.
F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone revealed on Tuesday that he
has told a new grand prix host - probably somewhere in the
United States - that talks with the British Racing Drivers'
Club have definitely failed.
He told the UK's The Times: ''What could I do? I have got an
offer from another country who are looking to build a lovely
venue and invest a lot of money in Formula One.
'I have to give them a year's notice to go ahead. If I miss
that because I am still messing about with the BRDC, I would
be keeping out a country that desperately wants to be in the
The 73-year-old's final decision comes only after the BRDC
told Bernie that a last and lowest offer - received by the
Club in a draft contract last week - was still not
Kimi to honeymoon
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) Don't try to phone Kimi Raikkonen
in the days following the season ending Brazilian grand
prix, he has warned.
''I'm going on a delayed honeymoon with Jenni,'' the deadpan
Finn revealed on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old McLaren driver married Mrs.
Dahlman-Raikkonen, a former Miss Scandinavia, in the 'summer
break' of grands prix and testing earlier this season.
Raikkonen, who was declared winner of the 2003 Brazilian
grand prix before the FIA admitted a timing error, will then
resume testing duties towards the end of November.
He said: ''Hopefully this time (in Brazil) I will be able to
take a good result to end the season with.''
Prost in F1 comeback
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) Former team owner and quadruple
world champion Alain Prost may yet return to the Formula One
pitlane, according to new speculation.
British magazine 'Autosport' said the Frenchman, whose Prost
Grand Prix foray collapsed in 2001, is targeting a 'senior
role in a (team) such as Renault or Toyota.'
Perhaps significantly, Prost blasted current Renault chief
Flavio Briatore - who may quit F1 management after next
season - for the decision to overlook Franck Montagny as
Jarno Trulli's temporary race replacement.
''Honestly, I cannot understand Renault's choice and
(Briatore's) decision,'' said the 49-year-old, who won his
last drivers' world championship for Williams back in 1993.
No McLaren loyalty - Montoya
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) Even though he's joining the team
next season, there will be no wheel-to-wheel loyalty if Juan
Pablo Montoya races a McLaren in Brazil this weekend.
Interlagos, the closest thing to a home grand prix for a
Colombian driver, is 29-year-old Juan Pablo's last of a
four-season race stint at BMW-Williams.
He said on Tuesday: ''Our aim (for Brazil) will be to
increase our points and maintain the gap over McLaren.''
The BMW-powered team sits thirteen points ahead of Montoya's
2005 employer in the constructors' world championship.
JPM enjoys Interlagos and says a Grove-built car always goes
well there. ''Every year I am amazed,'' he smiled, ''to see
the queues of fans outside the circuit in the early morning.
''I hope to see some Colombian flags waving.''
FIA stop 'flexible' wings
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) Earlier in 2004, the FIA introduced
a new scrutineering test to ensure that F1 teams were not
racing a 'flexible' rear wing.
It is understood the new test, putting extra force (50kg) on
the rear wing top element, was first used around mid-August
A technical source explained that a Formula One car would be
more efficient at high speed if the elements in the rear
wing 'flexed' downward by just a few centimeters.
In the regulations, though, aerodynamic devices that move
are deemed illegal.
Doornbos will 'struggle' - EJ
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) New Jordan 'third' driver Robert
Doornbos is not ready to race in Formula One, the F1 team
Eddie Jordan advised the young Dutchman to tread water as a
test driver for at least one full season.
''He's going to struggle if he (goes) racing against the
most experienced guys straight away,'' said the Irish
principal, who is courting Doornbos' Dutch sponsors.
Jordan insisted that his words should not be taken as a lack
of confidence in the pay-driving 23-year-old, who lives in
He told Autosport: ''Really, I don't see how he could have
done a better job so far -- jumping into the car without any
Doornbos is hoping for some dry running, unlike at Suzuka,
on the Interlagos circuit this Friday. ''It's my last chance
this year to show what I can do,'' he said Monday.
Bahrain set to expand
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) Bahrain is targeting a twenty per
cent increase in attendance for next April's second-ever
Formula One race in the Middle East.
42,000 fans rolled through the turnstiles earlier in 2004.
''We expect this demand to further increase (in 2005),''
said the desert venue's general manager Martin Whitaker.
To further bolster interest in the grand prix, Bahrain has
announced two more international motor racing events for
2004 -- a two-day GT festival next month, and in December a
Formula Three 'Superprix'.
Bahrain will also expand the track facilities over the next
three years. A museum, restaurant, hotel, kart circuit, drag
strip and off road facility are all on the agenda.
Renault set for Rally switch
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) Renault Cars' new-for-2005
president plans to switch motor sport funding from Formula
One to World Rally, according to speculation.
Following rival Ford's decision to quit after the Brazilian
grand prix, whispers intensified that the French carmaker,
Renault, is also finding F1 too expensive.
It was earlier reported that Renault commissioned an
investigation into the benefits of Formula One, and medium
term participation may now depend on the increased sale of
Renault Cars' current president, Louis Schweitzer, will be
replaced next May by Carlos Ghosn, who reportedly favours
A1 signed 'several' TV deals
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) New open-wheeler championship 'A1
Grand Prix' concluded 'several major television rights
deals' at last week's SPORTELMonaco convention in
Up to 25 countries will be represented in the 'World Cup of
motor sport' by the time A1, a winter season alternative to
Formula One, goes racing in September 2005.
And, at the international sport television convention, 'A1'
also 'initiated discussion with further significant
international broadcasters,' according to a statement.
''Some deals (were) signed, and many others (are) now in
negotiation,'' broadcast director Richard Dorfman - of
Football World Cup TV rights fame - confirmed.
An A1 Grand Prix single-seater was on display at the Monaco
BRDC 'don't want' Brit GP
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) The British Racing Drivers' Club
seemed not to want a Formula One grand prix in 2005, Bernie
Ecclestone has explained.
The F1 supremo defended himself against the revelation that
he has definitively called off all negotiations to save the
oldest event in modern Formula One.
Bernie, 73, said - for example - the BRDC argued vehemently
over a contract clause about members' exclusive car parking
He told The Times: ''You can't sell something to people who
don't want to buy. I have to move on. This is not the
British Formula One championship, it is a world
Kimi's no fan of 'two day' GP
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) It seems that Kimi Raikkonen is no
fan of the proposed 'two day' grand prix weekend.
The shorter format got an unplanned trial at Suzuka when
Saturday qualifying was called off amid a severe weather
warning, and rescheduled for race day morning.
FIA president Max Mosley and Ferrari's Ross Brawn signalled
support for a format that appeared to offer a better
spectacle for fans at the circuit.
But Raikkonen, McLaren's ace 24-year-old driver, said on
Tuesday that he is 'looking forward to getting back to the
normal schedule' of Friday practice, Saturday qualifying and
the grand prix in Brazil.
The Finn added: ''Although, in Japan, it was nice to have a
Don't blame Schu - Prost
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) Michael Schumacher's incessant
dominance is 'an excuse' for a Formula One that is failing
to turn on new supporters, Alain Prost has insisted.
The four time world champion admitted that a regular winner
each weekend 'is hurting' the pinnacle of motor sport, but
reckons the real problem is much more fundamental.
Prost told French TV network TF1: ''The Japanese grand prix
was very interesting for the first 14 laps, but after the
pit stops you can't understand it any more.''
The 49-year-old former Ferrari, McLaren and Williams star
said the advent of 'refuelling' strategy in modern F1 has a
lot to answer.
Prost added: ''These rules absolutely must be changed.''
And, on the sidelines, a constant political war about
Formula One's financial aspect does not help either, Alain
suggested. ''It has people feeling a bit fed up,'' he
'I'll take sabbatical' - Coulthard
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) David Coulthard has vowed to spend
a year on the bench if he fails to land a seat on next
season's Formula One racing grid.
In Brazil, the Scot will contest a record 150th grand prix
for the McLaren team. ''No driver has driven more (races)
for one team,'' engine partner Mercedes' Norbert Haug noted.
33-year-old Coulthard admitted that 'mixed feelings' will
dominate his season-ending grand prix on the outskirts of
Brazilian megalopolis Sao Paulo.
He said: ''It has been a great nine seasons with the team. I
am continuing to try and get a drive next year, but if I
don't then I'll try the following year.''
McLaren's 'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh, meanwhile, praised the
team veteran as a driver who is always '100 per cent
committed' and has 'done a great job for (the team).'
Circuit preview - Interlagos
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) A dull Formula One grand prix is
seldom staged on the outskirts of sprawling Brazilian
megalopolis Sao Paulo.
Last year, a Jordan car - driven by Giancarlo Fisichella -
was belatedly declared winner after torrential rain and a
roll call of shunts, not least that of world champion
Interlagos' track surface is bumpy, undulating and abrasive,
and notoriously hard on tyres.
It is also laid-out in the rare anti-clockwise
configuration, meaning that several fast left-hand corners
test a driver's physical preparation -- such as neck
''You can (also) overtake,'' said Michelin's Pierre
Dupasquier, ''in a couple of places. (The venue) has a
Teams and drivers are likely to find a particularly dusty
track on Friday morning, partly due to the fact that the
last F1 race here was held some eighteen months ago.
''Changes in elevation and the tighter infield make wing
choice interesting,'' Jordan's James Robinson concluded,
''(and) much will depend on the rain.''
London to save Brit GP
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) With Silverstone unlikely to stage
a F1 event in 2005, all hopes will now turn to whether
London can save the endangered British grand prix.
City mayor Ken Livingstone was reluctant to push the case
for a street race in London while the British Racing
Drivers' Club worked to save their historic event.
But the UK's 'Times' newspaper reports that a delegation
from Melbourne, host of a similar street grand prix in
Australia, visited London to 'advise (Livingstone) on how (a
London GP) could be run.'
A provisional London GP track map takes in Buckingham
Palace, The Mall and Piccadilly Circus, but would not be
ready for a grand prix at least until 2006-7.
Button behaved 'impeccably'
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) BAR principal David Richards is
seemingly laying the groundwork of victory in the 'Jenson
The contract recognition board met for nearly 10 hours last
Saturday, and will on Wednesday declare if the 24-year-old
driver must stay at the team or can switch to Williams next
Following a war of rhetoric, though, Richards' disposition
seems to have calmed, as he now offers praise for the
British driver who has behaved 'impeccably' since the
bombshell dropped in August.
''All credit to Jenson,'' he told UK's Daily Mail newspaper.
''In the face of very difficult circumstances he has behaved
Richards added: ''(Button) has been very, very professional
and no-one can deny that, as has everyone around him as
Brit GP not dead - BRDC
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) The survival of the British grand
prix is 'still under discussion,' Sir Jackie Stewart vowed
The Scot, president of Silverstone's owner (The British
Racing Drivers' Club), thus denied F1 supremo Bernie
Ecclestone's earlier claim that all talks about the historic
race's future have been called off.
Britain hosted the inaugural championship grand prix at
Silverstone, a disused World War II airfield, in May 1950.
Durand to 'States
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.20) Former Jordan and Prost designer
Henri Durand has completed a move from Formula One to
America's open-wheeler scene.
He will line up as Red Bull Cheever Racing's 'technical
director' in the oval-based Indy Racing League, the team
''The Formula One experience Henri brings to this team will
help us get where we want to be,'' said Eddie Cheever.
Durand has also worked for F1 squads McLaren and Ferrari.
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