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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 21, 2004


BAR win Button
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) Jenson Button and BAR principal David Richards will sit down for a face-to-face meeting in the Interlagos paddock on Thursday.

A day earlier, the FIA's contract recognition board ruled that the 24-year-old Englishman may not leave the team to drive a BMW-Williams next season.

''I don't want to say too much at the moment,'' Richards told a source in Sao Paulo Wednesday night, ''until I've spoken at length with Jenson.''

Earlier, a statement expressed the Brackley-based team's 'delight' at retaining Button, who - it said - played a 'crucial role' in BAR's success both this season and last.

Sir Frank Williams, meanwhile, confirmed that he would not fight the verdict, and other sources said Richards has told him not to bother trying to buy Button's 2005 deal, no matter how many zeros accompany a dollar figure.

''Naturally we are disappointed,'' Williams said on Wednesday. ''(But) we took the view that Jenson was a driver worth challenging for -- we have no regrets.''








F1 to vote for new qualifying
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) F1 principals will decide by Friday whether to adopt a radical qualifying system for 2005.

A FIA spokesman told us on Wednesday night that a request for a fax vote to impose a new 'aggregate' format went out to the F1 Commission.

The proposed system would see a single-lap run on Saturday, before another low-fuel session just hours prior to Sunday's grand prix, with the grid based on the outcome of the combined lap times.

It was approved by the World Council in Paris last week, but must also get a majority nod by players including bosses, Bernie Ecclestone, grand prix promoters, team sponsors and F1 (engine and tire) manufacturers.








Brit GP summit in Brazil
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) Bernie Ecclestone's suggestion that the British grand prix is now 'dead' was just another piece of political maneuvering.

That is the claim of British Racing Drivers' Club CEO Alex Hooton, who reckons a private letter to him from the F1 impresario 'leaves the door open' for continued talks.

''(Bernie's) language in the newspapers was a lot more aggressive than it was to us,'' he explained. ''It is reasonable to assume that Ecclestone's pronouncements (are) indeed strategic.''

Hooton, though, admitted that the 'situation' regarding the future of F1's most historic championship event is 'clearly serious' when the commercial rights holder is so gloomy -- even in the media.

But all may not be lost. Ecclestone, 73, has called the F1 principals to a meeting in Sao Paulo to discuss the fate of the English race, raising hopes that he is just applying pressure for an 18th grand prix in 2005 with low compensation.

Meanwhile, at Silverstone, the BRDC's board will also get together, to hash out a strategy for dealing with Ecclestone's latest offensive.







Four Ferraris at Monza
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Luca Badoer and Andrea Bertolini will simultaneously power four current F1 Ferraris around the Monza circuit next week.

The 'World Final' event, to also feature support motor races, signals a close to the Ferrari-Maserati 'Group's racing season,' a statement on Wednesday outlined.








France to host grand prix
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) France will stage a round of the world championship next season, according to a source.

Although the grand prix at Magny-Cours, along with Silverstone and Imola, were listed as provisional on a draft 2005 calendar, organizers have apparently now agreed a contract with F1 rights holder Bernie Ecclestone.

The French grand prix, shifted to an earlier race date next year, also nearly lost the event prior to the 2004 season.








'I'll win home race' - Rubens
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) Rubens Barrichello is not cursed to never win, let alone score a maiden podium finish, at his home Brazilian grand prix, the Paulista insisted.

The 31-year-old, whose granddad lived within spitting distance of Turn Two at the Interlagos circuit, has hardly even finished a grand prix here in more than a decade of attempts.

''That doesn't bother me,'' he told the media on Wednesday, ''but in the last four years, I feel I should have won once and got a podium in the other three.''

Barrichello said poor early-season reliability for lesser teams, like Jordan and Stewart, explains the dismal finishing record prior to joining Ferrari in 2000.

But he insists that's not an excuse.

Rubens added: ''I don't believe in bad luck and I will, one day, win in Brazil. This year is probably my best chance to date.''







Bertolini at Fiorano
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) Italian driver Andrea Bertolini was charged with the duty of 'shaking down' a Ferrari F1 at the team's private Fiorano test track on Wednesday.

The regular sports car tester 'carried out a shakedown of some electronic solutions' that may be raced near Sao Paulo this weekend, a statement explained.

Bertolini lapped nine times on the track's shorter layout, without a time being recorded.








BMW 'backed' Williams in '04
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) Williams' F1 rivals took a 'bigger step forward' in 2004, the team's engine partner has admitted.

BMW sport director Dr. Mario Theissen said that, since the German marque returned to Formula One in 2000, the collaboration has 'always achieved our set targets.

''For the very first time,'' said the German, ''we have failed to reach the goals we set ourselves at the start of the season.''

In a bid to, at last, curb the final gap to world champion rival Ferrari, Williams tried a radical twin-keel car concept in 2004, including the astonishing 'walrus'-like nose.

Theissen said: ''You can always say after 'we should have done differently', but we wanted to overtake (Ferrari) and that involves risk. (BMW) backed Williams all the way.''

He said the BMW engine proved the 'strongest part' of the FW26 package.








BAR lose sponsor
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) BAR has lost three-year Formula One team sponsor Brunotti.

''The apex of the partnership has been reached,'' read a statement issued by the sport wear brand, which added, ''the time has come to (leave).''

Brunotti, whose logo featured on the side mirror of Jenson Button's Honda-powered car in 2004, said it will choose 'brand roots' - such as snowboarding - over motor sport exposure from next year.

Brunotti managing director Henk Bergsma signed the BAR deal in 2001. He said the company had succeeded in boosting brand familiarity and export figures through F1.







Pizzonia 'top of the list'
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) Antonio Pizzonia is 'top of the list' to race for BMW-Williams next season, the young Brazilian driver revealed.

Speaking prior to the contract recognition board's decision that Jenson Button must stay at BAR in 2005, the 24-year-old admitted that a four race stint in the FW26 car this season rejuvenated his stock.

''I am waiting,'' he told a press conference in Brazilian city Rio de Janeiro.

Pizzonia added: ''The only thing guaranteed next year is that I will stay test driver -- we have to wait (for the CRB's decision).''








Future F1 star
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) Remember his name, because one day he might go wheel to wheel against Mark Webber and Jenson Button.

It's 21-year-old Daniel Clarke, the newest winner of the UK Formula Ford Festival.

At Brands Hatch last Sunday, the English youngster secured the prestigious title previously won by the aforementioned grand prix race drivers.








De la Rosa serves 626 hp
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa has treated three of the world's best tennis players to a blast around the Jarama (Spain) circuit.

Juan Carlos Ferrero, David Nalbandian and Paradorn Srichaphan were given the ride of a lifetime by the Spaniard in a Mercedes SLR McLaren.

Mercedes-Benz is a main sponsor of the 'Madrid Masters' tennis tournament.

''Pedro is an extremely skilful driver, so I did not feel at all frightened,'' said world number ten Nalbandian, 'although the speed was really very extreme.''







Bahrain drag race
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) Bahrain will take drag racing to the Formula One circuit next month.

Organizers announced on Wednesday that the first such event, to include a motor show, has been scheduled for November 18.

Earlier, it was reported that an F3 and GT race - as well as kart and off-road events - would also take place at the Middle East's purpose-built (for F1) circuit near capital Manama.








Button to join Williams in '06
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) Jenson Button is 'disappointed' the contract recognition board will not allow him to race for Williams in 2005.

But the English driver vowed, as a 'matter of principle,' to stand by the three man panel's 58-page decision and will grudgingly stay at the BAR team for at least one more season.

He said in a Williams statement: ''BAR have been extremely professional at the race track during this process, and I expect this to continue.''

Button, 24, is almost certain to join Grove-based Williams, for whom he graduated from F3 as a 20-year-old, in 2006, with Sir Frank Williams keen to point out that the CRB ruling relates only to 2005.

He said: ''We will maintain our close relationship (with Jenson) for 2006.''








'I won't accept gift win'
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) Rubens Barrichello will be reluctant to accept a 'gift win' from Michael Schumacher at his home Brazilian grand prix.

It was earlier suggested that, with Schumacher's seventh drivers' title signed and delivered, the German should pull over for his amiable team-mate on the Interlagos circuit.

''It's much better to win on your own,'' 31-year-old Barrichello, whose mentor Ayrton Senna was the last Brazilian to win (1993) at home, said on Wednesday.

He also denied that the emphasis of attention has shifted to his side of the camp since Schumacher's title triumph, or indeed that Ferrari's focus is usually on the German.

Barrichello, who admitted that two wins in September have eased the pressure of racing this weekend, regards the event near his home in Sao Paulo as 'unfinished business.

''But Senna took a very long time to win it too,'' he noted.







Typhoon 22 killed six
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) The 'super typhoon' that disrupted October's Japanese grand prix killed six people on the Pacific coast.

And, another storm on Wednesday caused flash flooding and up to 60 people died, media reports in Japan said on Thursday.

''The death toll is likely to keep rising,'' said a spokesman for the national police agency.

A record eight typhoons have struck Japan in 2004, outstripping the previous record of six, set in 1990.








Fiat launch 'Schumacher' Stilo
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) A limited edition 'Michael Schumacher' Fiat Stilo will go on sale at the end of October.

The small car, making the most of Italian manufacturer Fiat's connection with Ferrari and the seven time drivers' world champion, was launched at the Paris Motor Show last month.

Just 3,500 Stilos, featuring a 'Michael Schumacher' logo and - naturally - a special 'Racing Red' body colour, will be sold.








'One day we'll sell' - bank
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.21) One of three Formula One-owning banks has admitted it will one day relinquish shares in Bernie Ecclestone's company.

A spokesman for Munich-based Bayerische Landesbank said it doesn't 'want to go on being (a) shareholder' indefinitely.

JP Morgan Chase and Lehmann Brothers also share 75 per cent of SLEC Holdings Ltd., and 73-year-old Ecclestone owns the remaining quarter.

In March, the banks filed a High Court suit against Ecclestone, challenging his right to appoint the majority of the board of directors.

Ecclestone was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg report: ''We'll get it sorted out. There's not a lot of point getting rid of me and putting someone else in.''

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