F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 24, 2004

Paddock talk - Brazil
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) When Rubens Barrichello crossed the line in qualifying and 'P1, P1' filled his ears, 'my legs went numb,' the Brazilian explained. ''The pressure had been so high -- I felt like my countrymen would have left the grandstand and chased me into the garage if I'd done it wrong!'' The Paulista also vowed to keep a 'Caipirinha' in the fridge for after the 71-lap grand prix.

It will rain around Sao Paulo on Sunday, weather experts predicted late on Saturday. They said 26 degrees and a 'sixty five per cent' chance of rain will likely greet Brazilian pole sitter Rubens Barrichello in early afternoon. It will pour on Monday.

Renault is unlikely to secure the one-three finish it requires to snatch back second in the constructors' championship from BAR. Fernando Alonso and Jacques Villeneuve are buried in the grid's midfield. ''I think it'll be better in the race,'' said Alonso. Villeneuve (13th) admitted to a ''bad lap - it's as simple as that.''

Juan Pablo Montoya reckons pole position was out of reach in Brazil. ''I am very happy with second,'' said the Colombian, racing a Williams for the final time. ''I think Rubens was just unbeatable today. Our car, though, is definitely good.''

Renault commit to 2007
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) Renault rubbished speculation it may follow rival carmaker Ford out of Formula One by committing to the championship for at least three more years.

Team president Patrick Faure revealed at Sao Paulo that the target is to negotiate new 'long term' agreements with both drivers and F1 sponsors.

The Frenchman also scotched reports that former four time world champion and countryman Alain Prost was lining up to replace current principal Flavio Briatore beyond 2005.

''Pure nonsense,'' he barked, whilst also detailing the possibility that Italian Briatore may stay as managing director in 2006.

F1 nod for Sunday qualifying
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.23) Formula One has voted in favor of 'Sunday qualifying' in 2005.

Basically, a new format will be similar to the single-lap one in 2004, but with the two runs split over Saturday and Sunday with the grid determined by aggregate.

Sunday's session, though, will take place at 10am, and - also unlike the current system - Saturday's running-order will be the reverse of the previous grand prix' classification.

Post-qualifying 'parc ferme' conditions will be retained.

''Friday (will) be exactly as it is now, nothing changes,'' FIA president Max Mosley explained at Sao Paulo.

Paddock talk 2 - Brazil
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) World champion Michael Schumacher admitted to a simple driving error that almost certainly wiped out any chance of a podium here at Sao Paulo. ''I got a bit of oversteer,'' said the Ferrari driver of the morning shunt at turn six, ''and lost it -- it wouldn't be right to blame the bump because it's always been there.'' He'll line up eighteenth after a ten-grid penalty for changing the car and engine and a messy qualifying run.

At least Jordan's media department has a sense of humor. After stray dogs twice halted morning practice in Brazil on Saturday, the Silverstone-based team said this in a post-qualifying report -- ''Jordan may be known as F1's underdog and is certainly dogged by rumor and speculation at the moment ...'' Timo Glock, who'll line up seventeenth, said: ''I hope it's a wet race.''

Minardi's Gianmaria Bruni will start the Brazilian grand prix from pitlane. ''On my in lap,'' he said after pre-qualifying, ''I felt a problem with the car so we have decided not to take part in final qualifying.''

Kimi Raikkonen reckons he could have beaten Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello to pole. The Finn lamented a slightly 'loose' McLaren in the Senna-S. ''I think we are in with a strong chance (in the race),'' said the 24-year-old. Team chief Ron Dennis, meanwhile, offered 'commiserations' to David Coulthard, who - in his last grand prix for McLaren - qualified a sluggish twelfth.

French GP saved - Faure
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) There will be a French grand prix next season, Renault president Patrick Faure revealed at the Interlagos F1 circuit on Saturday.

Although, like Britain and San Marino, Magny-Cours' 2005 race seemed at risk with a provisional calendar slot, Faure said the grand prix' future is now 'getting clearer and clearer' by the day.

French carmaker Renault was instrumental in the salvage of July's 2004 grand prix at Nevers, a quiet agricultural spot and home of the renovated Magny-Cours circuit.

Rubens backs IRL champion
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) Indy Racing League ace Tony Kanaan is good enough to drive in Formula One, countryman Rubens Barrichello said in Brazil.

Kanaan, 29 and a champion of the US' premier oval category, is visiting the Interlagos F1 paddock this weekend.

Ferrari's Barrichello said: ''He is able to turn both ways -- not just left. I hope at least someone gives him a chance to test a Formula One car, because people are then going to recognize his talent.''

New quali is 'confusing'
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) 'Aggregate' qualifying may not be the best solution for Formula One, a couple of top drivers have suggested.

The F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council have agreed that the single-lap format should be split over two days - Saturday and Sunday - from Melbourne 2005.

But the grid will be determined after adding up the two sessions' lap times.

''I'm a bit worried that people will be confused,'' said Colombian star Juan Pablo Montoya. ''Are they going to be saying 'ok, good lap but what is the average time?'''

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, doesn't mind what the FIA settle on, so long as they settle on something -- and then keep it in motion.

The Finn said: ''It's quite tough on the fans when (the format) seems to change every single grand prix.''

Paddock talk 3 - Brazil
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) Michael Schumacher is 'praying for (Sunday) rain,' Ferrari's technical director, Ross Brawn, revealed on the evening of qualifying. The German driver crashed in morning practice, and - also after a slowish qualifying lap - lines up eighteenth. ''From my perspective,'' Ross said, ''Rubens (Barrichello) deserves to win.''

A front row grid position may have been on the cards for Sauber youngster Felipe Massa at his home Brazilian grand prix. The 23-year-old said he was 'flat out' through turn 11 all weekend. ''In qualifying it snapped (oversteer) and I lost maybe a tenth or so.'' He'll line up fourth.

Every single car on the grid for Sunday's grand prix at Interlagos would have beaten pole here in 2003. ''If the rain holds off,'' noted Michelin's Pierre Dupasquier, ''the (race) pace is going to be pretty fierce.''

F1 teams want testing cut
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) Every F1 team, with the notable exception of Ferrari, has agreed a set of proposals to reduce the cost of going racing.

The group of nine F1 principals signed a letter, proposing in particular the reduction of track testing, after a morning meeting at Sao Paulo.

They want just 10-days of testing per team (per season), with the track regulations freed for the Friday of a grand prix meeting so that it effectively emulates a test.

''At the meeting,'' read the teams' statement, ''(Bernie) Ecclestone proposed a 19-race calendar, which included the French and British grands prix as the 18th and 19th races.''

The teams said that if their proposal is also adopted by world champion marque Ferrari, they would agree to the eighteenth and nineteenth grands prix in 2005.

Ferrari under fire
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) In a swift stroke, Ferrari's rivals have put the champion marque under intense pressure to cut costs and save the embattled British and French grands prix.

All teams, except the famous one based at Maranello, agreed on Saturday to potentially limit testing to ten days a year, thus moving to eliminate Ferrari's advantage of privately owning two circuits.

They said that if their package of proposals, hinting also at a 'control' tyre, is also accepted by Ferrari, an eighteenth and nineteenth grand prix in 2005 can be run.

''I'm actually very heartened,'' said Minardi's Paul Stoddart, ''that the big teams, who do thousands of kilometres of testing a year, are joining us on this -- it's better for (the small teams) than it is for them. I've never seen this sort of agreement before.''

Renault may supply second team
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) F1's Renault outfit 'would consider' supplying a second team with a Formula One engine, Pat Symonds revealed at Sao Paulo.

The executive director of engineering admitted that there would be 'merit' in selling a customer supply to a smaller team like Jordan or Minardi.

But he warned: ''I think you'd have to look carefully at the team you're thinking about supplying -- it would make it easier (to make a decision) if they are achieving at a certain standard.''

Jag could've been 'British Ferrari'
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) If Jaguar had succeeded in Formula One, the marque might have been a British equivalent of Italy's 'Ferrari.'

That's the claim of English engineer Ross Brawn, technical director at the scarlet-clad world champion team.

''Imagine if Jaguar had created the 'Ferrari' sort of spirit in Britain,'' he wondered at Sao Paulo. ''What has happened is a shame but I just don't think F1 and Jaguar really worked.''

Ross Brawn worked on Jaguar's successful sports car program in the 80's and 90's.

Frank offers to buy Button
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) Frank Williams has offered to pay BAR more than $5.6 million for British driver Jenson Button.

Last week, the FIA's contract recognition board ruled that BAR had lodged the only valid contract for the 24-year-old's service in 2005.

Williams vowed to abide the ruling, and also resist another legal challenge, but has dipped even further into his pocket in an attempt to secure Button as Mark Webber's 2005 team-mate.

A Williams 'insider' told UK newspaper People: ''Frank (hasn't) got silly money to throw at BAR for him. So the offer is a take-it-or-leave it deal.''

Last week, BAR principal David Richards suggested that Williams would not be able to buy Button even with a blank cheque.

DC's nightmare finale
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) David Coulthard's final Saturday in a McLaren, and perhaps Formula One, was ignominious in the extreme.

Not only is the veteran Scot nearly a full second (and twelve grid positions) behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen on the grid, he made a silly - and costly - mistake in free practice.

When entering Brazil's pitlane in the afternoon practice session, Coulthard spun the silver car under braking for the speed limit line.

FIA stewards also slapped the 33-year-old with a $1950 speeding fine.

Bernie can't axe Brit GP
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) Bernie Ecclestone cannot unilaterally axe the British or French grands prix, FIA president Max Mosley reassured in Sao Paulo.

Despite the F1 supremo's threat to run a world championship without the historic races next season, Mosley said the governing body can possibly veto such a decision.

The FIA's commercial deal (separate to the Concorde Agreement) with Ecclestone, designates races in Britain, France - and perhaps also Italy and Monaco - as 'traditional' grands prix.

73-year-old Ecclestone therefore requires the FIA's permission to scrap any of the aforementioned F1 fixtures.

''It's not all in the control of one man,'' Mosley said. ''If (the FIA acts) reasonably (then) we have complete control of the F1 calendar.''

Of course, the FIA might ultimately find that Ecclestone also acted completely 'reasonably' in opting to axe, for example, the Silverstone event.

Mosley said: ''I believe (Ecclestone) offered (the BRDC) a one-year deal. It's very difficult to understand why that was turned down.''

Ferrari 'not invited' to meeting
INTERLAGOS (GMM - Oct.24) Ferrari's nine rivals did not even invite the champion marque to an instrumental Saturday meeting in Sao Paulo, an Italian newspaper has claimed.

Sunday's authoritative La Gazzetta Dello Sport cited sources who believe the F1 pitlane is out to 'humiliate' Ferrari and devalue the Maranello-based team's utter dominance.

All teams except Ferrari signed a letter in the Interlagos paddock on Saturday titled 'Teams present initiative for substantial and tangible cost savings in Formula One.'

But the newspaper also said that Ferrari principal Jean Todt was only asked to sign the cost cutting initiative after it was handed over to the media.

It should, however, be noted that Ferrari vehemently opposes any push to reduce track testing, or to nullify a potential advantage through the effectively exclusive collaboration with tyre supplier Bridgestone.

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