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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 22, 2004


Unofficial Brit GP?
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Silverstone might stage a 'non-championship' British grand prix next season, it has been suggested.

F1 rights holder Bernie Ecclestone and the circuit-owning British Racing Drivers' Club appear unable to reach agreement over a new contract for the historic race.

So the BRDC might just negotiate a separate Formula One event, that would not contribute points for the world championship, with the teams and manufacturers.

''We've heard that,'' BRDC chief executive Alex Hooton said on Thursday. ''That would have attractions as we wouldn't have to pay the fees to Formula One.''

The BRDC met at Silverstone on Thursday for a board meeting, and the embattled grand prix was top of the agenda.








'Family affair' for Barrichello
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) The Brazilian grand prix is set to be a 'family affair' for home hero Rubens Barrichello.

The Ferrari driver, who grew up just a short bike ride from the 'Ayrton Senna S' curve, has invited his mum, dad and sister to the Interlagos track near Sao Paulo.

He beamed on Thursday: ''Even my son (Eduardo) is asking to come! I feel this will be a week where I will be under pressure, but I know it will go very quickly so I will enjoy it.''

31-year-old Barrichello, meanwhile, hopes organizers have solved a drainage problem that claimed a scrap-yard of grand prix cars at Turn Three last year.

''I know they've done a lot of work to improve (water) drainage,'' he told reporters.








Bertolini again
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Andrea Bertolini returned to Ferrari's test track at Fiorano on Thursday for another 'electronic solution' shake down.

The Italian sports car driver completed twelve laps in a current F2004 single-seater.

Formula One teams are only allowed to collect fifty kilometers of track miles in the week preceding a grand prix.







Mexico to stage grand prix
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Mexico has signed a provisional agreement to stage a grand prix at Cancun, governor Joaquin Hendricks revealed at a news conference.

The inaugural race would be run in mid-2006, at a purpose built $80 million circuit, with further details - such as who is funding the project - still 'to be worked out.'

Cancun is Mexico's top tourist spot. The last grand prix in the country was staged in Mexico City, in 1992.

Thursday's news comes in the same week that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said he would call off survival talks with British grand prix organizers because a seven-year deal elsewhere was being considered.








New tire supplier by 2007
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) As reported in early September, F1 might get a third combatant in the 'tire war' by 2007.

Korean tire manufacturer 'Kumho' wants to race against Michelin and Bridgestone at the pinnacle of motor sport.

It has started to implement necessary changes in the R&D department, and should begin in-house testing next year and track running in 2006.

''We will invest several million (dollars) just to develop the (F1) tire,'' said Kumho USA president Kyu Cho. ''We are looking at the pros and cons of getting involved with the series.''








Midland might debut next year
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) As predicted, F1's new Russian team could be ready to debut in the 2005 Australian grand prix.

Alex Shnaider, a naturalized Canadian, now admits he might buy Jaguar and Cosworth, which current owner Ford says it'll only sell as a going concern.

Midland F1's co-founder told Autosport: ''Our number one choice is to build a team from scratch. But if there's an interesting situation that could arise within Jaguar and Cosworth, we would consider buying it.''

Snapping-up Cosworth would solve Midland's quandary of who to buy a customer F1 engine from.







McLaren's new sponsor
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard's helmet and drink bottle will display 'Nescafe' stickers this weekend in Brazil.

It's a 'sneak preview' of F1 team McLaren's new-for-2004 sponsorship deal with the coffee brand's 'Xpress' drink.

A statement said the 'long term' partnership is with a joint venture company between Nestle and Coca-Cola.

''Formula One is an ever expanding sport that will open up growing markets,'' said the company's chief executive Hans Savonije.








BRDC urge Brit GP 'support'
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Sir Jackie Stewart has urged F1 principals to offer 'positive support' for the embattled British grand prix.

The Scot is president of Silverstone's owner, the British Racing Drivers' Club, which on Thursday met for a board meeting at the Northamptonshire circuit.

Stewart, a former triple world champion, said: ''We agreed (at the meeting) to explore all other avenues by talking to (F1) teams, manufacturers and sponsors.''

Formula One's ten teams, six of which are based in England, will meet commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone near Sao Paulo on Friday.








Kimi to attend 'Stars & Cars'
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard will be the main attraction at Mercedes' annual 'Stars & Cars Day.'

The F1 racing pair, and McLaren test drivers Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa, are set to attend the marque's annual end-of-season event at a Stuttgart factory.

''I look forward to meeting thousands of enthusiastic fans,'' 24-year-old Finnish ace Raikkonen was quoted as saying in a statement.

Mercedes-Benz's DTM drivers including Gary Paffett and Jean Alesi will also attend, the media invitation explained.







Schu expects 'strong fight'
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) World champion Michael Schumacher is not expecting an easy ride to victory in Sunday's Brazilian grand prix here.

The German, who won a record thirteenth race of the season at Suzuka a fortnight ago, said Ferrari is likely to be challenged by 'McLaren and BAR' drivers.

''I am sure they will put up a strong fight,'' 35-year-old Schumacher said at the plush Transamerica hotel.

Michael also said that brother Ralf, set to race for the last time in a Williams at Interlagos, is 'on top form.'

And then there's team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who lived in Sao Paulo for the first two decades of his life, and has been trying to win at home for the last one.

Schumacher said: ''Obviously (he wants to win). There is no reason why he cannot do it this time, after coming so close (in 2003).''








'Weather's getting better'
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Local weather boy, Rubens Barrichello, isn't so sure it'll rain in Sunday's Brazilian grand prix here near Sao Paulo.

An official forecast said the chance of rain on grand prix Sunday has been downgraded from seventy to sixty per cent.

Friday and Saturday should be cloudy but dry.

''Brazil can be funny,'' said the Ferrari driver, who was born - and still lives part-time - in the sprawling megalopolis.

He added: ''I think we're getting the bad weather right now and it's going to get better -- but that's just my gut feeling.''








Coulthard eyes Williams job
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) David Coulthard has an eye on the top Formula One race drive alongside Mark Webber in 2005.

The Scot revealed at Sao Paulo that he still doesn't have a new contract, but noted the contract recognition board's decision to block the desired move of Jenson Button to Williams.

''I think if there is a candidate (for the drive) available,'' said the unemployed McLaren driver, ''(then) my credentials are stronger than anyone's out there.''

Something that might strengthen the 33-year-old's case is that Coulthard has attracted a significant level of interest from potential personal sponsors.

At McLaren, DC's nine-year employer, they're not allowed.

Coulthard won twelve times for McLaren, and drove for Williams in 1994 and 1995.







Coulthard backs Bernie
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) BRDC member and Formula One driver David Coulthard has backed Bernie Ecclestone's apparent decision to axe his home British grand prix.

He likened the commercial rights holders' job to that of a race journalist.

''You sell your services to whoever it happens to be,'' 33-year-old Coulthard told the reporter in Sao Paulo. ''So, do you do a cut price deal with a local newspaper? You might, but it also might not sustain your lifestyle.''

But Coulthard does not agree with 73-year-old Bernie that the historic Northamptonshire circuit's facilities are among the worst on the annual F1 schedule.

He said: ''(They're) definitely not worse than these (in Brazil).''








Champ teammate 'nice' - Massa
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Felipe Massa is looking forward to having a former world champion as Sauber teammate next season.

''It's going to be nice having Jacques Villeneuve around,'' said the young Brazilian at home track Interlagos.

22-year-od Massa admits that beating the man who beat Michael Schumacher to the 1997 drivers' title could be 'fantastic' for his career.

As a prelude, he went wheel-to-wheel with 33-year-old Villeneuve, currently in a Renault cockpit, at the last grand prix in Japan.








United front at BAR
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) For a moment, all seemed well again -- team principal David Richards put his arm around disillusioned BAR driver Jenson Button.

The pair, together, faced the media's music in Sao Paulo just hours after a panel of judges refused to sanction 24-year-old Button's desired move in 2005 to Williams.

''I'm not going to lie,'' said the English driver. ''I'm a little bit disappointed. But you can't have everything in life, can you?

''I'm sure we can have a very good year together (in 2005).''

Richards, meanwhile, tried to put a brave face on the effects of the saga but worked hard to convince the press that it could ever be ideal 'team building.'

He insisted: ''I think we'll be more open and frank with one another -- look, we have a bit of repairing to do. First, we have to convince Jenson that we can give him a car capable of winning the world championship.''







Heidfeld and Williams
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Nick Heidfeld may see the outcome of the 'Jenson Button saga' as his chance to discard the label as a Formula One nearly-man.

The German nearly switched to Williams earlier in 2004, but the temporary Ralf Schumacher fill-in seat was blocked by current employer Eddie Jordan.

''We're also looking at the new teams to enter (F1) in 2006,'' the 26-year-old told German press agency SID, ''but we prefer to race next season.''








DC's 'the man' - Webber
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) David Coulthard would make a good team-mate at BMW-Williams, definite 2005 driver Mark Webber said on Thursday.

The Australian asked rhetorically: ''Why not?''

Webber, to drive a Jaguar for the last time at Sao Paulo, had hoped to line up alongside highly-rated British driver Jenson Button next season.

But, hopes scuppered, he is now voting for ten-year veteran Coulthard, who will not be retained by McLaren beyond Sunday's Brazilian grand prix.

Webber said: ''He's worked at McLaren, another phenomenal team. I'm not saying DC's the man, I'm just saying he's good.''

27-year-old Webber joked about how Button's failure to join Williams has 'destroyed my life. How do I cope?

''Seriously, it's a bit frustrating, it would have been good to have 'the legend' in the other car. Hopefully we can find someone of (Button's) caliber.''








Bernie to sue Jackie Stewart
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Sir Jackie Stewart will be sued by Bernie Ecclestone, the 73-year-old F1 impresario's lawyer revealed on Thursday.

Lawyer Simon Smith said Stewart, president of the Silverstone-owning BRDC and a former triple world champion, was accused of 'libel' after making comments on a BBC radio show.

A spokesman for the commercial rights holder said Bernie was 'livid' at the suggestion that he reneged on a promise to UK sport minister Richard Caborn of a two-year contract for the British grand prix.

''He's walked away from that commitment,'' Stewart told the BBC program, ''which is unusual.''

A furious Ecclestone, who earlier in 2004 threatened to wrap Jackie's kilt around his neck, said he would drop the suit if Stewart made a public apology.

Stewart declined to comment.







Davidson and Midland
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) English test driver Anthony Davidson has welcomed interest shown in him by Formula One's new Russian-backed team.

Midland F1's new-for-2006 principal, Trevor Carlin, said he would 'love' the 25-year-old BAR star to one day race a Dallara-built machine.

''He doesn't bullshit,'' Davidson told Autosport, ''and only says what he thinks.''

The diminutive Davidson finished runner-up in the 2001 British F3 championship for Carlin.

Meanwhile, in Davidson's final 'Friday' test run for BAR this weekend, the British team will honor the talented driver with a big star - the same as his helmet design - on the third car's engine cover.








Button unhappy with 'advice'
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Jenson Button has revealed dissatisfaction with the way his management handled a fouled switch to Williams.

Not only did the move not come off, his reputation may have been irreparably damaged amid news headline descriptors including 'disloyal' and 'deserter.'

The BAR driver said in Sao Paulo: ''I think I was advised slightly incorrectly, not by just one person but by a group of people.''

Media reports, though, deny speculation that former Williams and Jaguar PR man Nav Sidhu is set to replace John Byfield as 24-year-old Button's manager next season.

However, Sidhu was quoted as explaining that the pair do intend to work together.








Schu scored a goal
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Seven time world champion Michael Schumacher scored a goal during a charity football match in Sao Paulo.

The game was promoted by UNESCO to aid the 'Crianca Esperanza' group which raises money for poor Brazilian children.

Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello, and Toyota star Jarno Trulli - who both wore soccer jerseys proclaiming the charity's name - were also spotted at the game.

''Michael's goal was on a penalty,'' 31-year-old Barrichello laughed afterwards, ''but mine was a real goal, even if someone said I was offside -- that sort of thing happens in Brazil, you see.''







F1 to ban BAR device
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Formula One technical directors have unanimously agreed to ban the controversial 'front torque transfer' system in 2005.

BAR ran the braking aid, modified to comply with the current regulations, this season but Geoff Willis bowed to the desire of the 'Technical Working Group' which met in Sao Paulo.

''It would've been easy (for him) to dig his heels in,'' Willis' Williams counterpart, Sam Michael, praised in Autosport magazine.








Bumpier than ever
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Sources at Interlagos are reporting that the track surface is bumpier than ever in 2004.

Organizers worked on the notoriously uneven tarmac after the last grand prix here about eighteen months ago.

But a survey of the re-asphalted sections of the venue near Sao Paulo suggest that attempts to give Formula One drivers a smoother ride have failed.








Sympathy for Jenson Button
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Two of Formula One's most experienced drivers sympathize with Jenson Button.

This week, an FIA-sponsored body blocked the 24-year-old's desired switch to Frank Williams' team, leaving him little option - other than a sabbatical - to stay at BAR for another season.

''I think it's going to be very hard for him,'' said Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello. ''It's like kissing a girlfriend you don't like any more -- what do you do? There is the other girl.''

David Coulthard, who entered F1 a season later than Barrichello (1994), dared the ranks of journalists to ask Button how it feels to 'drive for a team you (have) lost faith in.'

The Scot said: ''He'll answer 'no comment' because his job now is to maintain some sort of relationship (with BAR) for at least another year.''







One tire 'unsafe' for F1
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Rubens Barrichello said 2005's proposed 'one tire per weekend' rule is too dangerous for Formula One.

''I don't think (F1) is prepared for that,'' the Ferrari driver said in Sao Paulo.

31-year-old Barrichello, born here near Interlagos, said the reality of such a rule is that tire manufacturers will still take a long-life design 'to the limit' and therefore risk failures and accidents.

''There is (also) not long to prepare for such a serious thing,'' he told us, ''and I think a few months is too early for that -- it leaves me a bit frightened.''








DC dislikes 'aggregate' quali
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Veteran racer David Coulthard has backed Sunday qualifying but dislikes the proposed 'aggregate' format.

Team principals have to vote by fax on the Saturday and Sunday system, to potentially be introduced next season, by Friday.

Coulthard, 33, reckons the current system - where qualifying is over on Saturday afternoon and only the grand prix takes place on Sunday - is a 'waste of life.

''Sunday morning we seem to give away half a day doing nothing -- a few waves to the crowd on the parade lap and that's it.''

Where the proposed system goes wrong, the unemployed-after-Brazil McLaren racer suggested, is that the grid will be determined by combining lap times of both sessions.

DC said: ''A sprinter doesn't win because he's been fastest over the 100 meter heats -- it's all about the final. In qualifying, it should be 'did you drive your nuts off, or not'?''








Team saga 'drained me' - Button
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.22) Jenson Button admitted that a saga surrounding his future in Formula One was 'draining.'

The 24-year-old driver may not be able to join his preferred team, but - now - at least he knows what color his overalls will be when 2005 gets racing next March.

''At the circuit it's (been) business as usual,'' Button told a media conference in Sao Paulo on Thursday, ''but it's when you go home that you feel it -- you're still thinking about it, worrying about it.''

BAR principal David Richards, meanwhile, insisted that the 'strong' boss/driver relationship can survive the hiccup of a $1 million dispute at the contract recognition board.

He said: ''Personally, I don't know a single person in a good relationship that hasn't had his ups and downs.''

But the Brackley chief refused to be drawn on whether the tug-of-war with Williams will resurface at the end of 2005.







Brazil set for close race
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.22) BAR and McLaren will be Ferrari's closest rivals in Brazil, Sao Paulo-born Rubens Barrichello predicted at Interlagos.

The 31-year-old reckons an inconsistent Renault team may or may not have a good weekend, and - likewise - Williams are often too 'up and down.'

The Ferrari driver said: ''I think BAR is going to be very strong, with that engine, and McLaren, from what I've seen in terms of aerodynamics and so on, too.''

Often, the first six or eight on the Brazilian grand prix grid are covered by as little as a few tenths of a second.

McLaren driver David Coulthard said: ''I think it could possibly be even closer (than that) this time here.''








Bruno Senna to stir 'emotion'
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.22) Thousands of Brazilians will feel 'emotional' when Ayrton Senna's nephew drives an old Lotus around Interlagos this weekend.

21-year-old junior racer Bruno Senna is scheduled to do a few demo laps at the wheel of his uncle's 1986 F1 mount on Saturday and Sunday.

''I will feel emotional too,'' said Toyota driver and fellow Brazilian Ricardo Zonta.

Rubens Barrichello, so affected when triple world champion Ayrton - also a Paulista - died in a crash at Imola in 1994, added: ''I wish I could drive the car myself.''

Former McLaren team-mate Gerhard Berger demonstrated Senna's famous Lotus at Imola in April.

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