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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 25, 2004


'Dangerous' Kimi fined
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) Formula One drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Nick Heidfeld are both $10,000 poorer after separate fines for 'dangerous driving' in Sunday's year-ending Brazilian grand prix.

McLaren's Raikkonen, a Finn, narrowly failed in a challenge for victory at Interlagos, but - earlier - beat Juan Pablo Montoya in a wheel-to-wheel tussle in pitlane.

''I did what I could to keep him behind me,'' explained the 24-year-old driver. ''Luckily, we didn't hit each other.''

Heidfeld, who drives a Jordan, was also fined following a near pitlane crash.








Minardi celebrate 20
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) Minardi's grand prix at Brazil marked the conclusion of twenty seasons for the little Italian team in Formula One.

''Let's hope next year (we) can find improved performance and continue as F1's fourth oldest team,'' said Paul Stoddart, who bought the Faenza-based outfit from Gian Carlo Minardi in late 2000.

Minardi's sporting director John Walton died in July.








Massa led a lap
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) For the first time in his career, 22-year-old Brazilian driver Felipe Massa led a lap of a grand prix on Sunday.

In a Sauber car, the youngster - who qualified fourth - was the last of the leading clan to pit for dry tires at his home Interlagos circuit.

''I will never forget that lap,'' enthused Massa, who scored a point at the end.

He will stay at the little Swiss-based team in 2005, as team-mate to 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.







Happier Jacques
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) Canadian driver Jacques Villeneuve looked tired, but less depressed than after qualifying - or at Suzuka a fortnight ago - at Sao Paulo's Interlagos F1 circuit on Sunday.

The 1997 world champion did not score a point for Renault, but his race pace was closer to that of highly-rated cohort Fernando Alonso throughout the Brazilian grand prix.

''I think my performances got better and better with each grand prix,'' said the French-Canadian, who was employed to race in Jarno Trulli's fired boots in China, Japan and Brazil.

Villeneuve said: ''It turned out to be very tough to adapt.''








Button disappointed
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) Jenson Button failed to conceal his disappointment about smoking to a halt with a broken Honda V10 after just three laps of the season-ending Brazilian grand prix.

''I'm pretty sure another podium was on the cards,'' said the BAR driver, whose intended move to Williams in 2005 was blocked last week by the contract recognition board.

The bigger picture, though, was that the team based in Brackley (UK) put the lid on a best ever second, over Renault and behind Ferrari, in the constructors' world championship.

Principal David Richards reckons that achievement means the six-year-old team 'earned a place' alongside Formula One's 'established elite.'








Jordan 'heartened'
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) Eddie Jordan is heartened that 'progress' behind the scenes at Interlagos this weekend may just secure the future of his beleaguered grand prix team.

The Irish chief executive battled not only at the back of the grid in 2004, but also innuendo followed by rumor about Jordan's possible sale or survival.

''These have been very tough times,'' Eddie said in Brazil, ''but maybe it has strengthened us.''







Webber fumes at Klien
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) Mark Webber blamed Christian Klien for an ominous end to Jaguar's ill-fated five year career in Formula One.

The Australian driver said his 21-year-old team-mate, a rookie, 'turned in on me' at the Senna-S corner.

''Unbelievable,'' he commented after sitting the rest of the 71-lap race on the grass outside turn one.

Williams-bound Webber said the young Austrian, whose Jaguar debut was funded by energy drink Red Bull in 2004, later 'apologised' in the team garage.

''We just didn't want to end (Jaguar's career) like that,'' the angry driver continued. ''We really didn't.''

Team managing director David Pitchforth admitted that Jaguar's mechanics 'chins started to drop' within an hour of the chequered flag near Sao Paulo.








DC's rueful farewell
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) David Coulthard was gutted after failing to make an impact in his last grand prix for McLaren.

The Scot is hoping to secure the vacant Williams drive, but his resume suffered a blemish when he did not round out a 150 grand prix tenure at Woking with a single point.

''Once everything settled down after the first few laps,'' 33-year-old Coulthard said at Sao Paulo, ''I was too far back to do anything.''

He had shared a tearful 'farewell' moment with the McLaren boys, in the team motor home, on Sunday morning.








'I still feel fresh' - Schu
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) World champion Michael Schumacher wishes a rain shower at Sao Paulo had been 'harder and longer.'

The Ferrari driver, forced to start from eighteenth on the grid following a mixed weekend in Brazil, took heart in Interlagos' pre-grand prix precipitation.

''I thought 'this is my opportunity'. But it would only have worked out if (the rain) had kept going. Now we must take a break before next season even though I still feel fresh.''







No swipe at Ferrari - Sauber
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) Signing the Cost Saving Initiative should not be seen as a swipe at Ferrari, team principal Peter Sauber insisted at the Brazilian grand prix.

Ferrari's nine F1 rivals put the world champion marque under immense pressure by, amongst saving initiatives such as the desire to reduce testing, effectively putting the future of the British and French grands prix in their hands.

Ferrari-powered Sauber is unofficially known as Maranello's 'B' team.

Peter Sauber said in a statement: ''I personally have a very good relationship with Jean Todt. Therefore you can imagine how difficult it was for me to sign (the letter).''

The little Hinwil-based team, though, is desperate to save money, particularly by reducing the exorbitant costs of going track-testing.

''Cost savings are vital for the health and future of Formula One,'' Sauber concluded.








Cosworth to be sold - Purnell
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) The sale of Ford-owned F1 engine supplier Cosworth should be completed shortly, Jaguar CEO Tony Purnell has revealed.

He said the interest in the money-making venture, with ties elsewhere in world motor sport, has been 'considerable.

''We're hoping that within a week or so we can more or less lean back ... and say 'yes, the deal conceptually is struck'.''

US carmaker Ford announced last month that both Cosworth and Jaguar Racing would be closed down if buyers were not found.

As for the fate of the Milton-Keynes based F1 team, Purnell was slightly less optimistic. ''The market for (a team) is thin,'' said the Jaguar principal.

He added: ''We're entering a very critical week where it could go either way.''








Coulthard, Heidfeld, 'on list'
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.26) Up to six top drivers are candidates to become Mark Webber's Formula One team-mate at BMW-Williams next season, Sam Michael said in Sao Paulo.

The Grove-based team's technical director reckoned it would be between 'two weeks and two months' before someone is announced in the place of blocked 2005 contender Jenson Button.

Michael revealed: ''I can confirm that we are looking at the likes of Antonio Pizzonia, David Coulthard and Nick Heidfeld.''

Wisdom says BAR tester Anthony Davidson and F3000 champion Vitantonio Liuzzi are also on Sam's list.

''We will take the necessary time to get this decision right,'' the 31-year-old Australian insisted, whilst explaining that the successful applicant must fit within Williams' 'budget.'







FIA sanction unofficial Brit GP
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) Formula One's governing body would sanction a 'non championship' British grand prix in 2005, Max Mosley has confirmed.

The FIA president agreed that, if talks continue to fail between the BRDC and Bernie Ecclestone, the idea would have merit as an alternative.

He explained: ''The British teams would go (to the race) anyway, and the continental teams would probably go too.''

Mosley also revealed that the unofficial event could still be called the 'British grand prix' because Britain's Royal Automobile Club own the title.








GPWC to issue statement
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) The 'Grand Prix World Championship' will issue a statement later this week, we can reveal.

GPWC is a group of disgruntled Formula One carmakers, who may be ready to reaffirm a commitment to break away from the sport at the end of the Concorde Agreement in 2007.

Initial plans were for a rival F1-style series, but with freer technical regulations and fairer financial distribution.

The planned statement is thought to be a reaction to the weekend's confirmation that engine regulations will be more technologically restricted next year before 2.4 litre V8's are mandated in 2006.

UK's 'The Times' newspaper claims that sport marketing giant IMG may be keen to bid for the GPWC championship's commercial rights in 2008 and beyond.








Jordan might not lose B&H
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) A spokeswoman has denied that Jordan will definitely lose the title sponsorship of Gallaher International next season.

A whisper in Sao Paulo said the tobacco giant would not continue its promotion of cigarette brand Benson & Hedges in Formula One beyond Sunday's Brazilian grand prix.

Silverstone-based Jordan first raced in the bright yellow B&H livery in 1996.







Webber made 'ass' of Schu
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) Mark Webber ensured that Jaguar and Formula One maintained a good mood on Sunday by making an 'ass' out of Ferrari's world champion Michael Schumacher.

35-year-old Schumacher was a bit late for Sunday's traditional end-of-season driver photo in Brazil, so Webber placed the Jaguar mechanics' famous blow-up 'Donkey' in the German's front row seat.

When Michael did arrive, he maintained the joke by patting 'Donkey' on the head and sitting on team-mate Rubens Barrichello's lap, to the laughter of the other drivers.

''I am honestly inspired by the attitude of this (Jaguar) team,'' Formula One principal Tony Purnell said at Interlagos.








Bittersweet success
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) Meeting an ambitious pre-season target never felt so bittersweet, Renault's F1 president Patrick Faure hinted at Sao Paulo.

Prior to shipping the cars to Australia for March's season-opener, Faure said beating Williams or McLaren to third in the constructors' championship was the objective.

''It's a case of mission accomplished,'' the Frenchman said on Sunday, ''but it does feel a bit strange -- we are behind BAR, a team we did not expect to be fighting this year.''








Letter is 'conspiracy' - Todt
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) A document including the signature of every F1 principal except Ferrari's Jean Todt is a conspiracy, the French chief hinted on Sunday.

Todt said Ferrari remained 'very calm' despite apparent immense pressure by its nine pitlane rivals to reduce testing and save the embattled French and British grands prix.

''I don't have very much to say now,'' Jean said prior to the race in Brazil. ''(But) when Ferrari wasn't winning, nobody made a coalition.''

He left most of the talking to Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni, who told Italian journalists - in Italian - that the other teams did not even inform F1's champion constructor that a key meeting was taking place.

Colajanni said a test cut would not save money for small teams, because some - like Jordan and Minardi - have not even used the proposed allocation of ten days in 2004.

Rather, he said the letter is a deliberate attack on Formula One's dominant outfit.







No Ferrari 'conspiracy'
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) A cost saving initiative supported by every Formula One team except Ferrari is 'not a conspiracy,' Minardi owner Paul Stoddart insisted.

Maranello's team principal Jean Todt revealed that he was not even invited to the Saturday morning meeting staged by his nine F1 counterparts at Sao Paulo.

''We love Ferrari,'' Australian-born millionaire Stoddart said on Sunday, ''but I also love this sport -- and that's why I'm doing this.''

But, despite the document's title (Teams Present Initiative for Substantial and Tangible Cost Savings in Formula One), Minardi's chief admitted that limiting in-season testing won't save a lot of money.

''Nobody will actually benefit (from it),'' he said, ''however, the entire sport will benefit if there is closer racing.''








Ford make Jordan an offer
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) Tony Purnell has denied that an offer to maintain the supply of Cosworth V10's to Jordan next year is 'double' the 2004 price tag.

''A definite offer has (now) gone out to Jordan,'' Ford's Premier Performance Division chief revealed in Sao Paulo.

CEO Eddie Jordan said US carmaker Ford, who gave seven minutes' notice of the Formula One and Jaguar pull-out, vowed to increase the customer engine programme's price to about $38m a year.

Purnell commented: ''I don't want to quote the cost. (But) it's nothing like double.''








Teams halt unofficial Brit GP
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) It would be difficult to justify the extra cost of racing in a non-championship British grand prix, Williams' Sam Michael said on Sunday.

The Oxfordshire-based team's technical director reacted to news that the FIA would sanction an unofficial round at Silverstone next year if Bernie Ecclestone and the track-owning British Racing Drivers' Club do not reach agreement.

''I would say it is very difficult,'' said the young Australian, ''because it costs a lot of money to go (to a grand prix) and (if) it doesn't even count for the championship ... I'm not sure how that would work.''

Michael said the old 'Race of Champions' and the winter Tasman series were chopped for the same reason.

Woking-based McLaren similarly dismissed the idea as 'impractical.'







Brit GP talks 'back on'
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) Talks about the embattled British grand prix are back on, BRDC chief executive Alex Hooton has revealed.

A few days ago, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said he had called off all negotiations in deference to a new and wealthy long-term grand prix host.

''We are (back) on talking terms with Ecclestone,'' Hooton revealed in England on Sunday. ''We're pretty close to resolving (the money issue).''








'Too late' for team change
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) It's 'too late' to implement the Formula One teams' new cost saving initiative for 2005, FIA president Max Mosley warned in Sao Paulo.

All F1 principals, with the notable exception of Ferrari chief Jean Todt, signed a document in Brazil proposing to limit in-season testing and install a 'Friday test day' at grand prix venues from next year.

Mosley told UK's The Times newspaper: ''This is a step forward, but a bit too late (for next year). We could do it for 2006.''

Changes in time for Melbourne 2005 would require Todt's signature.








Flavio may stay - Renault
SAO PAULO (GMM - Oct.25) Flavio Briatore may stay on as Renault's F1 principal beyond 2005, president Patrick Faure said in Sao Paulo.

The flamboyant Italian's contract expires some time next year, but Faure said he sees 'no reason' why the successful collaboration should not continue further.

He commented: ''Flavio has met every target we have set him. If he achieves that again (in 2005), then we would be pleased to extend his contract.''

Faure also scotched speculation that future Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn is ultimately planning to switch the French carmaker's motor sport funding from Formula One to World Rally.

''I recently met with (him),'' said Patrick, ''and his message was crystal clear -- 'Carry on!'''

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