F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 23, 2004
Paddock talk - Interlagos
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) As expected, F1 drivers found a
very dusty track at Interlagos in opening free practice.
''It was too easy to put a wheel wrong and just spin off,''
said Brazil's own Ricardo Zonta.
Furthermore, some resurfacing work here appeared to do more
harm than good. Ralf Schumacher said the bumpiness was
'massive'. The Williams driver added: ''It makes setting the
car up and choosing a tire very difficult.'' Other drivers,
though, thought the resurfacing may have helped grip levels.
Want to know how Jordan's new 'Friday' tester Robert
Doornbos (13th) lapped nearly a second quicker than rated
team-mate Nick Heidfeld at Interlagos? At the end of the
session, he tried a low fuel qualifying set-up. ''I'm
happy,'' said the Dutchman, ''also because my sponsor
Muermans is here this weekend.''
Kimi Raikkonen blamed a 'not too good' set of Michelin tires
for an afternoon spin at the circuit. ''There is no doubt
that Ferrari will be strong here,'' said McLaren's Finn,
quickest behind the red cars, ''but I believe we will be
able to battle with them.''
FIA publish new regulations
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) Formula One drivers may use only a
single set of tires for qualifying and the race next season,
the FIA said on Friday.
A statement issued by F1's governing body outlined a radical
set of 2005 regulations because teams failed to reach
agreement on their own plan to slow down the cars.
Other rule changes are to the bodywork, such as a higher
front wing and a smaller rear diffuser, while harder tires
will reduce cornering speeds.
Engine power, meanwhile, will suffer due to an extended 'one
engine per two weekends' regulation.
And, in 2006, the FIA said a 2.4 liter V8 engine formula
will be introduced, dropping power by as much as 300 horse
The statement said F1 carmakers 'promised' in 1994 that
power would not go above 650bhp following the death of
Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at Imola.
Jordan to skip 2005 season?
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.23) Struggling Formula One team Jordan
might ask if it can 'sit out' the 2005 world championship.
It is understood that, given Ford's failure to honor the
last of a three-year engine supply contract, the
Silverstone-based team is appealing to the FIA as a victim
of 'force majeure.'
Jordan's director of business Ian Phillips acknowledged that
failing to turn up is not allowed under the terms of the
binding Concorde Agreement.
He told Reuters: ''But we don't have an engine -- so what
else do we do?''
Phillips, though, said 'Plan A' is to be on the Melbourne
grid in about four months' time.
Paddock talk 2 - Interlagos
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) They sang, played music and
chanted 'Rubinho' -- it brought a smile to the face of
Friday's fastest near Sao Paulo. ''We now have to keep our
cool,'' said Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello, ''and improve the
car even more. I'm very happy.'' World champion team-mate
Michael Schumacher struggled all day in traffic.
BAR's David Richards paid tribute to Friday tester Anthony
Davidson as the young Briton completed the season as it had
started -- competitively. ''I want to thank him for his
unfailing focus,'' said the team principal.
Just to highlight the rate of progress in just eighteen
months in Formula One, Minardi's Paul Stoddart noted that
Gianmaria Bruni's Friday lap time (20th) was 'nearly four
tenths quicker' than last year's pole position. But
Michelin's Pierre Dupasquier noted: ''I suspect fuel loads
are playing at least a part in (this).''
Anthony Davidson's spare BAR car was painted 'freehand' by
renowned UK graffiti artist David Oates in the Sao Paulo
paddock on Wednesday. ''The hardest parts were the
(aerodynamic) flick ups,'' said the 28-year-old, who spent
six hours on the job.
Unhappy with V8 engine rule
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) Max Mosley's 2.4 liter V8 engine
formula for 2006 was not met with content by some
manufacturers in Sao Paulo on Friday.
It is already reported that Honda, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are
planning to take the governing FIA to arbitration over the
alleged illegal regulation reform.
Otmar Szafnauer explained that Honda's main objection to the
shift is the resultant loss of design 'freedom.
''That's what makes (F1) interesting for us,'' he said at
Interlagos. ''I hope we have enough time to find a
compromise before (the regulations) are implemented (in
BMW's Mario Theissen has no problem with the longer-life
rule, but maintains the 'legal argument' that the FIA cannot
tinker with the V10 formula until 2008.
Bigger car numbers
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) Believe it or not, one of the most
discussed topics at Bernie Ecclestone's meeting of F1
principals on Friday was -- the size of car numbers.
The 73-year-old F1 supremo would like a grand prix car's
racing number to be bigger, or at least more easily
distinguishable, from the 2005 season.
''Almost 20 minutes was given over to the subject,'' read a
Daily Telegraph press report. ''Meanwhile the British grand
prix hangs by a thread.''
Forget a sabbatical, DC
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) If David Coulthard fails to find a
spot on the 2005 Formula One grid, the Scot's career will be
That's the belief of countryman and former triple world
champion Sir Jackie Stewart, who rubbished Coulthard's idea
of a one-year 'sabbatical.'
''It's not realistic,'' he said. ''(Nigel) Mansell tried but
couldn't do it -- it's a sharp edge you're on in F1 and once
you're out, it's almost impossible to get back in.''
But Stewart, also president of the Silverstone-owning
British Racing Drivers' Club, lauded 33-year-old 'DC' as one
of the most 'skilled' drivers on the current F1 tour.
He added: ''(David has) has trouble with the new qualifying,
and I don't know whether he's going to recover from that --
he's had plenty of time (and) he hasn't done so far.''
Toyota to rescue Jordan
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) Toyota is likely to pull ailing
grand prix team Jordan from the very brink of F1 extinction.
Team president John Howett told Reuters on Friday that
Toyota may now be 'definitely prepared' to supply a customer
engine program to a smaller team in 2005.
Howett said the FIA's newly-announced imposition of a 'one
engine per two weekend' rule for next season had been the
''But we've probably got one week (to resolve a deal),'' he
told the news agency in Sao Paulo. ''It will compromise our
own program if we really don't decide right now.''
Bernie backs unofficial Brit GP
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) Bernie Ecclestone has described
the concept of a non-championship grand prix at Silverstone
as a 'cracking' idea.
The F1 impresario is adamant that talks between the BRDC and
him about a proper race are now definitively off.
73-year-old Bernie commented: ''They could do that for two
years and buy time to improve and upgrade the circuit for
re-inclusion in 2007.''
An unofficial British grand prix would involve a private
deal between the track-owning BRDC and Formula One teams,
six of which are based in England.
'Pizza-boy doesn't deliver'
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) Mark Webber is secretly hoping
Frank Williams does not hire Antonio Pizzonia to be his 2005
The pair raced together at Jaguar in 2003 -- and
Australian-born Webber thrashed the young 'Jungle Boy' until
he was fired.
But Williams' test driver improved his stock in 2004 by
racing impressively in Ralf Schumacher's injured shoes, and
is still regarded highly by Frank and F1 partner Patrick
27-year-old Webber said in Sao Paulo: ''(Antonio) is still
vulnerable to inconsistencies. He can get frustrated. It
sounds obvious, but he did not do a good job at all at
Pizzonia annoyed Mark when, earlier this season, he accused
Jaguar of giving 'better equipment' to Webber in 2003.
''That's bull,'' Webber said on Friday. ''He was going to
blow me away at Jaguar and he just didn't. We had the same
New Jag is 'gorgeous'
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) Jaguar's 2005 car is 'gorgeous,'
according to team managing director David Pitchforth.
Of course, it will never be seen in British Racing green,
because - this weekend - the team and carmaker Ford are
racing out of Formula One.
Pitchforth told newspaper The Times: ''The guys have been
fantastic and any buyer would be proud to take them on and
what has been built at Milton Keynes.''
In the running to buy Jaguar are, according to sources,
energy drink Red Bull, Korean manufacturer Hyundai, and
new-for-2006 Russian team Midland F1.
'05 rules 'sensible' - Brawn
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) The FIA's new regulations are
'sensible,' according to Ferrari technical director Ross
''We're trying to go faster, but every now and then you need
to slow us down,'' the burly Englishman said at Sao Paulo.
Next year, drivers will have just one (harder) set of tires
to use in qualifying and the whole race, and a single engine
must last two entire grand prix weekends.
Brawn predicted that the tire rule will lead to teams and
manufacturers developing simulation techniques to 'predict'
the performance of a new compound.
He explained: ''It won't be practical (for teams) to test
each tire for 500 kilometers.''
FIA won't budge
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) There will be no 'compromise'
regarding the 2005/2006 technical regulations, FIA president
Max Mosley has declared.
Honda's Otmar Szafnauer said the marque was not happy with
engine restrictions and the V8 formula for 2006, but
remained hopeful that further negotiations may take place.
''No,'' Mosley declared on Friday. ''I sat down (with Honda
in China) but we could not find agreement -- these are the
Testers want F1 debut
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) A couple of current 'Friday'
drivers have staked a claim for a Formula One race debut
Minardi's Paul Stoddart said Belgian team tester Bas
Leinders did a 'exemplary' job in the role in 2004.
''It was his last run today,'' the Australian principal said
in Brazil on Friday. ''We wish him every success in his
quest to become a full time F1 driver next season.''
A few more dollars, meanwhile, will put Robert Doornbos on
the Melbourne grid next March, the young Dutchman revealed
at the Brazilian circuit Friday.
''Maybe,'' the Jordan tester, who is sponsored by Dutch
companies Muermans and Burgfonds, smiled at Interlagos.
Todt visits hospital
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) Ferrari F1 principal Jean Todt
visited Sao Paulo's renowned 'Hospital das Clinicas' on
In his role as Ambassador of San Marino, the Frenchman
popped in on a ward of children recovering from
''He gave all the children (there) a model of last year's
Ferrari single seater,'' said a source in the Brazilian
'I'll race for free' - DC
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) David Coulthard has offered to
drive for Williams in 2005 -- and not get paid.
''If they want to pay me only when I score a point, then
I'll do that,'' the unemployed-after-Brazil McLaren veteran
The 33-year-old, who debuted for Williams in 1994, is amazed
that drivers like Antonio Pizzonia and Nick Heidfeld are
more likely than him to take the seat opposite Mark Webber
''They've achieved nothing,'' the Scot - who would almost
certainly have joined a Ford-backed Jaguar team in 2005 -
He added: ''I find it perplexing that I am having to lobby
so hard to lay out my stall and show I still want to
'Third' car rule
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) Another point of discussion in
Friday's F1 principals' meeting with Bernie Ecclestone was
the possible introduction of 'third' race cars in 2005.
It is understood that some top teams expressed the desire
for a third car's driver to be eligible for points towards
the drivers' world championship.
Presently, a third car would not score points for either the
drivers' or constructors' championships, nor would it be
eligible to earn a podium finish or see the driver in the
FIA press conference.
The rule would be invoked if the 2005 race grid falls below
ten two-car teams.
Jordan to lose title sponsor
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) F1 team Jordan may suffer a knock
out punch if the latest paddock whisper in Sao Paulo is
It is suggested that Eddie Jordan's embattled squad will
lose the title backing of tobacco giant Gallaher
International after the Brazilian grand prix.
Gallaher promote the Benson & Hedges cigarette brand in
Formula One, giving Jordan its distinctive bright yellow
livery, through the nine-year sponsorship collaboration.
Pizzonia to get the nod
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) Antonio Pizzonia is 99 per cent
guaranteed a race drive at Williams next season, the F1
paddock whispered raucously at Sao Paulo.
The team's technical director Sam Michael only intensified
the speculation by denying that going for a man who was
fired by Jaguar a little more than a year ago would be 'a
''I don't think so,'' said the Australian.
Michael is also unfazed about reuniting the young Brazilian
and confirmed team driver Mark Webber, who do not get along.
He added: ''Really, the main thing you ask about a driver is
'is he quick?' and Antonio is definitely in that category.
He's definitely on the list and we will make a decision on
that in due course.''
BMW's Dr Mario Theissen made a point on Friday of putting
German driver Nick Heidfeld's name in the hat.
The Munich-based marque obviously favors a German, but
Theissen insisted that 'nationality is not the priority --
New rules to 'clash'
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) Max Mosley's new Formula One rules
are a very bad idea, BAR-Honda technical director Geoff
Willis said Friday.
He said limiting drivers to one engine per two races and one
set of tires for qualifying and the grand prix will limit
weekend running but necessitate more testing.
''The two (rules) are going to clash,'' the English engineer
Jenson Button's 'headache'
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) A big 'headache' awaits Formula
One drivers after 71-laps at Interlagos this Sunday, Jenson
Button has claimed.
The BAR driver said, despite resurfacing work here near Sao
Paulo, the track has never been 'so bumpy.
''Turn one is very bumpy,'' said the Englishman, ''and also
turn six and the last corner. I'm sure we'll cope but
there'll probably be a few headaches at the end.''
Toyota must 'deliver' in '05
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) F1's newest and richest team,
Toyota, must start 'delivering' the goods next season,
technical director Mike Gascoyne has admitted.
At Sao Paulo, the Briton said it would be unacceptable if
the cars in red and white spend yet another calendar of
grands prix in the lesser half of the grid.
He revealed: ''There's absolutely no doubt about that. But I
think we will (succeed).''
Gascoyne said the recent addition of Jarno Trulli - like
Mike, also a former member of Renault's squad - gave
everyone at Toyota a big 'lift.'
Toyota started 2004 with an entirely different driver
line-up -- gone are Cristiano da Matta and Olivier Panis,
replaced by Ricardo Zonta and JT for the last GP.
Gascoyne said: ''Jarno, in particular, has added a lot to
Montagny 'just missed out'
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) Franck Montagny 'just missed out'
on Jarno Trulli's temporary Renault race drive, Pat Symonds
admitted on Friday.
Four time world champion Alain Prost criticized the
Enstone-based team last week for opting for 1997 world
champion Jacques Villeneuve over a rising French star.
Also, conventional wisdom converged that putting a driver
with real testing miles in a car he's going to race was
always going to be a better bet.
''It was a really close call (between Jacques and Franck),''
Renault's director of engineering revealed.
He said: ''Franck, I'm sure, would have done a great job.''
Symonds admitted that Renault may have 'underestimated' the
challenge of putting French-Canadian Villeneuve, who sat a
year out in 2004, in the car at 'such short notice.'
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