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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 26, 2004


'04 won't be beaten - Brawn
(GMM -- Oct.26) Six time constructors' F1 champion Ferrari is unlikely to ever match the success of season 2004, technical director Ross Brawn has admitted.

The Maranello-based team won fifteen of the eighteen grands prix since Melbourne in March, topping even the almost unparalleled dominance of two years ago.

''After 2002,'' Brawn said before leaving Brazil, ''I must say I didn't imagine we could repeat that -- but this has been just as good.''








'Well rounded' Coulthard
(GMM -- Oct.26) Unemployed F1 veteran David Coulthard is a 'gentleman,' McLaren principal Ron Dennis said.

The 33-year-old concluded an historic 150 grand prix stint for Dennis' Woking-based team in Brazil, but is desperate to prolong his F1 career elsewhere in 2005.

''We're working on that,'' DC's advisor Martin Brundle revealed in Brazil on Sunday.

Ron Dennis referred to Coulthard's podium record as a 'most impressive' statistic.

''Every third race for our team,'' said the Briton, ''he has been on the podium -- that's a pretty incredible achievement.''

The McLaren chief executive also referred to Coulthard's notorious good manners and 'well rounded' character.

He said: ''If I look back, I can think of only a few occasions on which he was annoyed, and I can't ever remember him losing his temper.''








Mexico's back in F1
(GMM -- Oct.26) Mexico will race back onto the Formula One calendar after a 12-year absence in 2006, officials confirmed on Monday.

Construction of a purpose-built circuit near Cancun's international airport is set to commence in January.

''We concluded our negotiations ... with the Formula One authorities on October 7,'' said promoter spokesman Luis Silveira.

Unlike China's more-than $300 million bill for its fantastic new grand prix track, the Cancun circuit - to also be designed and built by German architect Hermann Tilke - will cost about $75m.

The 2006 Mexican grand prix will be staged around October, Silveira stated, but Bernie Ecclestone's FOM assistant Pasquale Lattuanedu hinted that a 2007 debut is perhaps more likely.

Tilke has designed a track layout based on the character M.







Friday to seal Jag's fate
(GMM -- Oct.26) The fate of Jaguar's staff at Milton-Keynes will probably be sealed by Friday, according to Ford's Tony Purnell.

''Things ... could go either way,'' the ill-fated Formula One team's principal revealed.

Entries for the 2005 championship must be lodged by November 15, so time is running out for a potential buyer to write a cheque.

Purnell said: ''We could be popping champagne corks but I don't know. (Jaguar) does have people pursuing (it) but it is (a) complex situation.''

US carmaker Ford announced in September that Jaguar and F1 engine supplier Cosworth would lose its financial support beyond the final grand prix of 2004.








Montoya can be 'even better'
(GMM -- Oct.26) Juan Pablo Montoya could become an 'even better' Formula One racer at the wheel of a McLaren, Woking CEO Ron Dennis said prior to returning to Europe.

The 29-year-old Colombian driver, who concluded a four-year stint at Williams with a win at Interlagos, will be Kimi Raikkonen's F1 team-mate from next season.

Dennis sat down with Juan Pablo in the Brazilian GP paddock. ''It became apparent to me,'' the boss said, ''that (he) is actually very receptive to our thinking.''

Insiders claim that Montoya's often acerbic personality, which clashed famously with team-mate Ralf Schumacher and Williams chiefs, may clash even more markedly with the 'McLaren' way of going about business.

Dennis retorted: ''We don't tell drivers what to do -- we try to help them understand why adopting a different approach or attitude is in their best interest.''








Schu 'sorry' for teammate
(GMM -- Oct.26) Ferrari's Michael Schumacher was disappointed for Brazilian team-mate Rubens Barrichello after the 71-lap grand prix near Sao Paulo.

The world champion endured a difficult weekend and failed to even sniff a podium finish, but reckons he was 'more disappointed' for Barrichello, who was born a stone's throw from the Interlagos venue.

''It would have been great for him to win his home race,' said German Schumacher, ''and I am really sorry he didn't. We wanted to win the last race of the season but the weather conditions did not help us.''

Schumacher also denied that, at the end of an unprecedentedly-long grand prix calendar, he feels the need for a holiday, 'but I know it is important to have now a quiet winter.'







Toyota rue 'freedom' demise
(GMM -- Oct.26) Toyota is 'disappointed' with the FIA's blueprint for new engine regulations in 2005 and 2006, technical director Mike Gascoyne has revealed.

The Briton said Formula One's newest team does not have a problem with the two-race or 2.4 litre V8 format, but dislikes the loss of 'freedom' in engine design.

''That's where (Toyota is) at odds to what's happening,'' he said in Brazil. ''We want freedom to put technology in the engine -- it's one of the fundamental reasons that Toyota came into Formula One.''

Ferrari's Ross Brawn, though, said the current engine freedom was 'not sensible' given the huge restrictions on the design of a grand prix chassis.

He added: ''There will still be plenty of potential for people to create discriminating technology between the cars and engines.''








Webber's 'the man' - Purnell
(GMM -- Oct.26) After Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber is Formula One's most deserving world champion, his Jaguar boss Tony Purnell said.

27-year-old Webber is now free, as long as he wears plain white overalls, to start testing for new team BMW-Williams in preparation for 2005.

Purnell said the Australian driver is the 'best' any team could possibly have.

''He has got the mind of a champion,'' said Ford's Premier Performance Division boss.

He added: ''I wish him well at Williams and I have a feeling that one day Mark is going to be the man.''








'Piddling' plan - president
(GMM -- Oct.26) FIA president Max Mosley has dismissed nine Formula One teams' 'cost saving initiative' as 'minor' and 'irrelevant.'

Of F1's top players, including Bernie Ecclestone and nine team principals, only Mosley and Ferrari chief Jean Todt were not invited to a Saturday meeting in Sao Paulo.

''It is a completely rational plan,'' said the FIA president, ''but what would have been (more) interesting would have been a proposal to keep 20 cars (in 2005). We haven't got that.''

He said the crux of the teams' proposal is to reduce testing, but F1's endangered teams - such as Jordan and Minardi - 'don't test' anyway.

''It's a piddling package,'' said Mosley, ''when you think that the main issue should be 'how to keep those teams in business?'''







'Rip up' proposal - Todt
(GMM -- Oct.26) Ferrari's Jean Todt has told his nine Formula One counterparts to 'rip up' an almost unanimous initiative that was devised in Brazil.

The Frenchman, who complained that he - and the FIA - wasn't invited to the document's signing on Saturday morning, criticised it as 'not sensible.

''Sorry to say it,'' he added, ''but you can rip up that paper. We need to come to solutions where you can really reduce expenses.''

Todt, also furious at the apparent pressure put on him about the fate of the French and British grands prix, insisted that Ferrari does not 'stand in the way' of historic races.

''If all the teams want more than seventeen races (in 2005),'' he explained, ''then we all agree -- but we also have to talk about everything, not decide something without any detail, because you are reacting to emotion.''








New quali 'complicated' - FIA
(GMM -- Oct.26) Max Mosley has admitted that an aggregate system may be too 'complicated' for Formula One qualifying.

The FIA president said he has 'never liked' the idea that a grand prix grid position is determined on the basis of more than a single flying lap.

''I was always against aggregated times,'' he said in Brazil, ''but I have to admit that this is a good plan.''

The agreed and ratified 2005 format, to take place on Saturday afternoon and also race-day morning, will nullify the complaint that TV never captures a flat-out car on low fuel, Mosley said.

''It's good that we can answer (that objection),'' he added. 'I'm pleased about that.''

Max also said an aggregate system 'doubles the chance' that a top driver will mess up and have to start from the back of the grid.








Ford pull-out 'good for Jag'
(GMM -- Oct.26) Ridding Jaguar of carmaker owner Ford's 'restrictions' may be good for the Milton Keynes-based Formula One team, departing driver Mark Webber said in Brazil.

The Australian, off to BMW-backed Williams in 2005, said a big manufacturer can sometimes limit a team's 'freedom' to react to the hurried business of developing a motor car.

''It doesn't affect me,'' 27-year-old Webber said of Ford's decision to quit F1, ''but it does affect a lot of people I am now friends with -- (Jaguar have) been good to me.''

He hopes a new owner can bring a 'new sense of direction and purpose' to the F1 team founded in 1997 by Jackie Stewart.







Ferrari scupper BAR deal
(GMM -- Oct.26) Ferrari may have scuppered BAR's sponsor agreement with Chinese state petrochemical giant Sinopec, we can reveal.

It was earlier reported that the oil company, already title sponsor of the inaugural Chinese grand prix at Shanghai, had 'almost certainly' tied up a deal - to start next year - with the Brackley-based F1 team.

But it is now suggested that, given existing oil partner Shell's reported financial problems, world champion marque Ferrari opened a dialogue with Sinopec and may have put together a proposal for 2006 and beyond.

''Shell will be with us next year,'' a Ferrari team member confirmed.








Williams to 'correct' trend
(GMM -- Oct.26) Williams must start 2005 with a winning F1 car, technical director Sam Michael has admitted.

In recent years, the Oxfordshire-based grand prix team finished the season strongly - as in Brazil with Juan Pablo Montoya's maiden 2004 win - after a poor start.

''We want to try and correct that for 2005,'' the Australian engineer said prior to leaving Brazil.

BMW's Mario Theissen agreed that Sunday at Interlagos proved Williams' coalition has 'come back to strength.

''It is exactly the right motivation for the development of the new car and engine,'' said the marque's motor sport director.








Ferrari can 'do better'
(GMM -- Oct.26) Ferrari can do a better job in 2005, F1 principal Jean Todt has warned -- and the Frenchman wasn't even joking.

The scarlet marque may have secured both championships again this year, but - in Brazil - it missed a record-busting sixteenth grand prix win of a single season.

''We scored 82 per cent of the possible points to score (in 2004),'' said Todt after the season-finale, ''which is a great achievement -- but you can also say it's 18 per cent we missed.''

Ferrari lost three grands prix in 2004 -- one to a Renault, one to a McLaren, and - at the Interlagos circuit - one to Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya.

Jean Todt commented: ''That is a reminder to us about how difficult it is to win in Formula One, and motivates us because we don't much like losing.''







Franck 'didn't deserve' seat
(GMM -- Oct.26) Frenchman Franck Montagny did not deserve to replace Jarno Trulli in the final grands prix of the season, Renault principal Flavio Briatore insisted.

Criticism that Briatore's decision to opt for sabbatical-Jacques Villeneuve over the French test driver is justified in Renault's failure to defend second in the constructors' championship.

The flamboyant Italian chief denies the claim: ''How easy is it to say something like that afterwards? The truth -- Franck's lap time was too far from the race drivers, even when he was really motivated and relaxed at the test session.

''I think we needed a change, anyway.''








Teams want to end tyre war
(GMM -- Oct.26) It is unclear whether nine of Formula One's ten teams support the elimination of one tyre supplier.

At least two versions of the controversial 'cost saving initiative' circulated at some point during the Brazilian grand prix weekend.

One version outlined the desire of all F1 teams, with the exception of Bridgestone-clad Ferrari, to make the world championship a 'single tyre' formula.

A furious Jean Todt speculated that the teams probably realised, following the distribution of the first letter, that it is 'very difficult' to send a company out of Formula One.

Minardi's Paul Stoddart, who did most of the talking for his eight F1 cohorts in Brazil, explained that the matter had been cast into the hands of F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone.

''It's up to him,'' said the Australian, ''to ask for (Bridgestone and Michelin's) cooperation and suggestions. We want to reduce the amount of tyre testing that goes on in Formula One, that's what we want.''








'I'm not a self-promoter'
(GMM -- Oct.26) F1 veteran David Coulthard has defended an extraordinary bout of self-campaigning in the Brazilian grand prix paddock.

The Scot raced a McLaren for the 150th and final time at Interlagos and ramped up an intense crusade to remain on the grand prix grid, with top team Williams, next season.

''Well, I've never done a lot of (self promoting),'' 33-year-old DC professed. ''I'm not into that, really -- so perhaps my record, my statistics, are not that well-known.''

In case you'd missed it, Coulthard has won thirteen grands prix and is sixth - ahead of triple F1 world champions Sir Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda - on the list of all-time point scorers.

He added: ''Of the guys in F1, and the guys I'm up against (for the Williams seat), only Michael (Schumacher) is ahead of me in terms of my record. I'm sure a lot of them would love to have (my record).''







Mexico not replacing Brit GP
(GMM -- Oct.26) Mexico's new Formula One circuit will be a challenge, according to a spokesman for architect Hermann Tilke's company.

''(The track at Cancun will offer) some very high speeds,'' Dirk Schneider told reporters at the Caribbean resort area on Monday.

He added: ''(It will also have) sharp curves that make cars brake at speed.''

A spokesman for the Cancun promoter, meanwhile, denied the charge that a Mexican grand prix is designed to replace Silverstone on the F1 calendar.

''(It is) a new date, a new commitment,'' he told a reporter.

The last grand prix to be held in Mexico was at the Autodrome Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, used today for Champ Car racing. In 1992, Nigel Mansell beat Williams team-mate Riccardo Patrese to the chequer.








'I don't care' about Montoya
(GMM -- Oct.26) Juan Pablo Montoya is 'looking forward' to racing alongside Kimi Raikkonen at McLaren next season.

At Interlagos, spectators were treated to a sneak-preview of 2005 when the future team-mates battled for the Brazilian grand prix win.

''I think, next year together, we could be really strong,'' said 29-year-old Montoya, who raced - and won - for the last time in a Williams car near Sao Paulo.

Finnish-born Raikkonen, meanwhile, said recently that he 'doesn't care' who is employed to drive the sister Mercedes-powered racer.

Asked specifically about Colombian Montoya, the 24-year-old replied: ''What he does won't have any effect on the way I operate -- he'll have his own engineers and I'll be doing my own thing.''

McLaren CEO Ron Dennis insisted in Brazil that the pair are already 'friends.'








'Third' car to cost $10m
(GMM -- Oct.26) Williams has calculated the potential cost of racing a 'third' car next season as about $10 million.

Grove's technical director said the cost is not only that of an extra chassis, engine and driver's salary, but additional team staff.

''You'll (also) have a third fuel rig,'' said Australian-born Michael, 31.

Renault ran a third car on Friday under last year's 'Heathrow' rule, and Pat Symonds said he was 'surprised' at how difficult - and expensive - it was.

''If you need more people at the track,'' said the director of engineering, ''then you also need more at the factory, backing up -- then simple things like modifying the transporters. It's an expensive exercise.''

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