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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 27, 2004


GPWC to 'break away'
(GMM -- Oct.27) Four F1 carmakers' plans to leave the sport in 2008 are still on track, the 'GPWC' group reiterated in a statement Tuesday.

Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Renault, who want a bigger share of Bernie Ecclestone's revenue-pie, revealed they had now appointed a company - 'International Sports and Entertainment' - to organize an alternate championship.

GPWC, who has lost Ford and never gained the support of Honda and Toyota, said ISE's 'single goal' is to create a 'new pinnacle of motor sports.'

''We have been patient with the current management and governance (of Formula One),'' said GPWC chairman Jurgen Hubbert, ''but recent developments have underlined the need for a structure that guarantees a stable and prosperous future.''

ISE president George Taylor, then - a Dutchman - may now be seen as the GPWC equivalent of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.








Sauber 'not worried'
(GMM -- Oct.27) F1 owner Peter Sauber is unfazed that 2005 driver Jacques Villeneuve failed even to score a point in the same car Jarno Trulli drove to victory at Monaco in May.

Analysts had said the Swiss chief's decision to snap-up the French Canadian, who spent 2004 on the bench after a firing by BAR, was therefore a bit 'premature.'

''When I first spoke to Jacques,'' Peter Sauber revealed on Tuesday, ''I pointed these things about -- his comeback (for Renault) was exactly as I'd expected it to be.''

Sauber said it's 'normal' for even a former world champion to need more mileage in order to get back up to speed after a long cockpit absence.

He added: ''I'm not worried.

''Jacques will be in top shape for our winter tests.''








'Poor decisions' - Michael
(GMM -- Oct.27) BMW-Williams made a sequence of 'poor decisions' in the design of the 2004 car, technical director Sam Michael has admitted.

The Australian engineer, who took over team shareholder and F1 veteran Patrick Head's top posting earlier in the season, said the Grove-based team should have challenged for more than a single grand prix win.

''There were some aero and mechanical decisions,'' he explained, ''that took us all year to correct -- and there were two or three things that just had to just wait for the design of the (2005) car.''







Flavio's future - 'we'll see'
(GMM -- Oct.27) Flavio Briatore has refused to respond to speculation that Renault F1's 2005 world championship campaign may be his last at the helm of the French-owned team.

Whispers that former four time world champion and Frenchman Alain Prost was eyeing the role were cannily brushed aside by Renault president Patrick Faure at Interlagos.

''We are straightforward and don't seek to muzzle people,'' he said in Brazil. ''Perhaps that also means we are more exposed to rumors.''

But newspapers continued to wonder if there was any truth to their 'Flavio-to-be-fired' hypotheses.

''I don't read (newspapers) anymore,'' Briatore, an Italian, snapped prior to leaving Brazil on Monday. ''I've been (linked to) Toyota, (to) Ferrari -- it is something that people talk about. I don't know what is going to happen. We have a tough winter ahead and then we'll see.''








Coulthard's 'one regret'
(GMM -- Oct.27) David Coulthard's career may never have recovered after he earned the reputation as a Formula One driver who'll pull over for his team-mate.

The Scot, who may not find alternate employment in 2005 after nine years at top team McLaren, admitted that letting Damon Hill and Mika Hakkinen win grands prix he comfortably led is his 'only regret.

''I let Damon go in Monza and Mika in Melbourne,'' said Coulthard, whilst forgetting the McLaren request in late 1997 ordering Hakkinen to drive past and claim a gift win from Williams' Jacques Villeneuve.

Coulthard said: ''I won those races, but the record book says I didn't.''

This week, McLaren chief executive Ron Dennis paid tribute to 33-year-old Coulthard, the 'gentleman' racer.

The team principal commented: ''He has been a fantastic ambassador to our team and to Formula One in general.''








Webber's Williams welcome
(GMM -- Oct.27) Mark Webber will debut at the wheel of a BMW-Williams car on November 24 at the Circuit de Catalunya (Spain), it has been revealed.

The rated Australian driver has now been released to test by former F1 employer Jaguar, whose carmaker owner Ford vowed in September to quit Formula One.

Technical director and compatriot Sam Michael revealed that one of 27-year-old Webber's first tasks will be to assist the team in selecting his 2005 team-mate.

''(Mark) will drive the old car,'' said the 31-year-old, ''on (the) 2004 tires, so that we can get two or three points of reference to cancel (some candidates) out of the equation.''

Webber, meanwhile, flew to the United States (Texas) right after crashing in Sunday's Brazilian grand prix, to commence a cycling tour with friend and six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.







Pizzonia 'will drive'
(GMM -- Oct.27) It'll be 'some weeks' before Williams decides who will race a sister FW27 alongside Australian driver Mark Webber next season.

BMW's motor sport director, Dr Mario Theissen, revealed that - with 'several candidates' on the Oxfordshire-based team's short list - 'there is no need for a rush decision.'

The FIA's contract recognition board last week scuppered Williams' desire to put BAR driver Jenson Button in the 2005 car.

Theissen said: ''I'm sure that (the new short listed drivers) will still be available in some weeks' time.''

Continuing team tester, and Webber's disappointing 2003 Jaguar team-mate, is top of the list to resume a full-time role on the racing grid.

''He will drive for us,'' confirmed technical director Sam Michael, ''as either a race or test driver.''








Max Mosley writes
(GMM -- Oct.27) Max Mosley has written a scathing letter to Britain's authoritative newspaper 'The Times.'

In it, he challenges the publication's statements of last Thursday that F1 czar Bernie Ecclestone 'controls' the calendar, and that the Paris-based FIA is just a 'sporting anomaly.'

''The FIA's consent is required before any traditional grand prix is eliminated,'' the FIA president said, correcting the Times' claim that Bernie is moving to unilaterally dump the British grand prix.

Mosley said 73-year-old Ecclestone has just a single vote in the 26-piece F1 Commission, that - as well as the World Motor Sport Council - would have to ratify any proposed 2005 F1 calendar.

And, of The Times' 'sporting anomaly' claim, Max reckoned that the organization of Formula One is 'an example' to other governing bodies in global sport.








Another scarlet record
(GMM -- Oct.27) Italian carmaker Ferrari has almost smashed yet another record -- except that this one didn't smell the fumes of a Formula One track.

A road-going, limited edition 'Ferrari Enzo' is set to become one of the most expensive ever sales on internet auction website eBay.

The US-based black car, with 1500 miles on the clock, was listed at a tad more than $1m. Only 399 of the V12-powered, 6.0 liter cars were ever built.

The most expensive eBay sale, according to the website, was a $5m plane.

''There are no problems with the car at all,'' said the seller. ''I am just starting out as a (car) dealer, trying to get my foot in the door.''







Rules can't stop Ferrari
(GMM -- Oct.27) A raft of radical new rules will not end Ferrari's domination of Formula One, world champion Michael Schumacher warned.

In 2005, the FIA will oversee tire and aerodynamic restrictions, a new one-engine per two-race rule, and revised single-lap qualifying.

''I see the new rules as interesting,'' said 35-year-old Schumacher. ''We will all have to get used to them.''

Far from putting the Maranello-based team under pressure to react, though, the German driver said experience shows that regulations are generally 'irrelevant.

''Simple -- the best team always wins,'' said Michael, ''and we have been the best for quite a while. We want to keep it that way.''








FIA 'marginalized' - Todt
(GMM -- Oct.27) Only Ferrari did not try to 'marginalize' Formula One's governing FIA, an irate team principal Jean Todt claimed.

The Frenchman said all nine pitlane rivals' 'Cost saving initiative', signed in the absence of the world champion marque in Sao Paulo, was not 'fair and sensible.

''The role of the FIA must be re-established,'' he told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Prior to the grand prix in Brazil, the FIA revealed a radical blueprint for 2005 and beyond. It included new aerodynamic, tire and engine regulations.

Todt said the year-ending F1 event at Interlagos first saw the FIA 'legislating, (then) be marginalized.

He commented: ''I'm surprised.''

Ferrari's principal reckoned that the teams' proposal - to install Friday as a four-hour 'test' day - would have seen F1 cars 'saving their engines' in official Saturday practice.








GPWC 'bluffing' - F1 player
(GMM -- Oct.27) A group of carmakers are 'bluffing' when they say they'll leave Formula One to race in a rival world championship in 2008, according to Ron Walker.

Walker is chairman of the Australian Grand Prix corporation, and a member of the F1 Commission.

He vowed he would 'never' negotiate with the breakaway 'GPWC', even though it has commissioned a leading sport management company to organize the new structure.

''We have a long-term contract with Mr. (Bernie) Ecclestone,'' Walker told Australian news agencies on Wednesday, ''which runs until 2010 with another five year option. I (also) doubt that (GPWC) will get a license from the FIA to run their sport.'

Walker maintains a stance that the carmakers' threat to leave F1 is little more than an exercise in 'leverage' to get more revenue out of F1's 73-year-old supremo.

''This is probably (just) a game of cards,'' he speculated.







GPWC to host Brit GP - report
(GMM -- Oct.27) Historic British grand prix venue Silverstone is a 'prime target' of the threatened rival world championship GPWC, according to a report.

UK's 'The Times' newspaper said the old War airfield, potentially a victim of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's axe, could be a centerpiece of the rogue carmakers' F1-alternative in 2008.

George Taylor, a Dutchman, is charged with the task of finding circuits and teams for the 'GPWC'. Hockenheim, Imola and Dubai are also earmarked as potential race venues, according to sources.

''Since it became clear we could not negotiate with Mr. (Bernie) Ecclestone,'' said a GPWC spokesman, ''we have been very busy putting things in place so that we will be in a position to run our own (championship).''








Thanks, wind tunnel - Sauber
(GMM -- Oct.27) A new wind tunnel can be thanked for the impressive thrashing of giant carmakers Ford and Toyota in 2004, Peter Sauber said on Tuesday.

''No doubt,'' the Swiss principal and owner commented, ''(it was) the most important factor.''

Sauber, an independent - non-manufacturer - Formula One privateer, launched the multi million dollar aerodynamic research facility in March.

He said: ''I'm already looking forward to the new car, which will be the first Sauber to be developed completely in the new wind tunnel.''








Renault's 'bad' year
(GMM -- Oct.27) Renault is 'disappointed' to have lost second spot, behind world champion marque Ferrari, to BAR in the constructors' world championship.

But a frustrated Pat Symonds responded to a perception that the French-owned team, which is based at Enstone (England), has not had a good latter 2004 season.

''Well, of course we have,'' said Renault's executive director of engineering.

Renault won a grand prix, and - in terms of the constructors' chase of a year ago - significantly closed the gap to Ferrari.

Symonds said: ''One of the things I like about Renault is we don't try to hide our feelings from the press -- but it hasn't been an unsuccessful year. I'm always going to be disappointed until I have won the world championship again.''

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