F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
October 28, 2004

BAR's winning gearbox
(GMM -- Oct.28) Formula One team BAR has won the British Royal Automobile Club's annual 'Simms Medal.'

A statement said Brackley's David Richards-led outfit earned the plaudit after it developed the 'carbon fiber gearbox' in 2004.

RAC's 'Motoring Technical Committee' said BAR is about 'two years ahead of its (F1) competitors' in being the first to fully integrate a carbon fiber gearbox into the overall design of the '006' car.

''A number of teams have attempted carbon-fiber gearboxes,'' said the technical committee's John Wood, ''but it is the small, dedicated team (at BAR) who have actually achieved it.''

BAR's deputy technical director Gary Savage, meanwhile, revealed that his team is currently working on an 'even smaller and lighter' carbon fiber gearbox for 2005.

GPWC 'is serious' - Faure
(GMM -- Oct.28) Renault's Patrick Faure has dismissed claims that the 'GPWC' carmaker group is not serious about leaving the Formula One world championship in 2008.

F1 Commission member Ron Walker, of Australian grand prix fame, said Wednesday that the breakaway threat is a 'game of cards' designed to lever more money out of F1's Bernie Ecclestone.

''We are absolutely not ready to accept that there (cannot be) better redistribution among the teams of the money generated by Formula One,'' Faure, the president of Renault F1, told Eurosport.

He said GPWC - now also involving BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari, following the withdrawal of Ford - gained credibility in the appointment of a respected commercial rights holder.

Webber eyes Melbourne win
(GMM -- Oct.28) Australian Formula One driver Mark Webber wants to win his home grand prix in a Williams next March.

The 27-year-old, who has never finished higher than fifth in Formula One, is moving from Ford-backed Jaguar Racing to the respected BMW-powered team in 2005.

And he hopes Juan Pablo Montoya's farewell victory for Grove at Interlagos last Sunday was a sign of more to come.

''I couldn't ask for a better start to the winter,'' Webber - who'll start testing in plain white overalls next month - told Australian agencies on Wednesday.

He said: ''Coming second helps for the championship, but wins are bloody important and we have to be doing that from the start.''

Australia's last drivers' champion, 1980 winner Alan Jones, secured Sir Frank Williams' first ever drivers' triumph.

Toyota power Jordan's future
(GMM -- Oct.28) Jordan's future on the Formula One grid has almost certainly been secured, it was reported Thursday morning.

Eddie Jordan appears to have tied up a 2005 deal to fit a customer Toyota engine to the rear of a Ryan Briscoe-steered EJ15 car.

Briscoe, 23 and a long-term contracted Toyota driver and 2004 tester, would - with Mark Webber in the BMW-Williams next season - be Australia's second F1 racer.

''We are now 99 per cent certain that we will be on the grid (in 2005),'' Jordan's commercial director Ian Phillips told British newspaper The Guardian.

He admitted: ''It has been a nerve-racking few weeks.''

It's expected that the Toyota engine deal is even more affordable than the annual $10m fee charged by Jordan's beleaguered former supplier Cosworth.

US-based buyer for Cosworth
(GMM -- Oct.28) Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven, an Australian, will shortly announce that he has bought Ford's Cosworth.

The loss of the historic company, threatened by Ford's shock decision to withdraw it and Jaguar from Formula One after the Brazilian grand prix, would also have been disastrous for the entirely Cosworth-powered US-based championship.

The news is also good for back-of-the-grid F1 team Minardi, whose principal Paul Stoddart was preparing to dust off the old '01-spec 'European' (Cosworth) V10 engine to race in 2005.

Toyota 'low point'
(GMM -- Oct.28) Toyota's situation in Formula One is no different to the one Mike Gascoyne corrected in the past, the technical director has insisted.

Gascoyne, who joined the Cologne squad from Renault (nee Benetton) last December, said his former team had similar problems at the start of the 2001 season.

He said: ''This year was always going to be difficult. What we have to deliver now is the same amount of progress, for 2005, that we had at Benetton (in 2001-2002).''

Toyota's biggest problem is still aerodynamics, Gascoyne also admitted.

''It's the key area of development on the chassis for next year,'' he confirmed. ''We're pushing very hard.''

Gascoyne said potential point scorer Ricardo Zonta's blow up at Spa-Francorchamps, with two laps to go, was the low point of the 2004 season.

''If we hadn't done that,'' said the Toyota technical director, ''it would have helped us.''

New quali 'better' - JT
(GMM -- Oct.28) F1's new Saturday and Sunday 'aggregate' qualifying is likely to be an improvement, Toyota driver Jarno Trulli stated Thursday.

From Melbourne next March, drivers will do a low-fuel lap on Saturday afternoon and a race-fuel lap just hours prior to the grand prix, and the grid will be determined by adding the lap times together.

Trulli, an Italian, commented: ''I haven't had a serious think about it yet -- we will adapt to it and it will be more predictable than now, I think.''

As for a driver's approach, though, the 30-year-old said an aggregate system ensures that 'making a mistake' on track is out of the question -- but pushing the car hard is also a must.

Jarno Trulli said: ''You couldn't really risk the car in pre-qualifying this year, but next year will be completely different.''

Ferrari should 'do a Rossi'
(GMM -- Oct.28) Champion F1 team Ferrari should accept the challenge and 'do a Valentino Rossi,' rival grand prix principal David Richards has said.

BAR's chief essentially dared Jean Todt to put the final signature on the almost unanimous initiative that moves to negate Ferrari's advantage of owning two private test circuits.

''(Valentino Rossi) could have won many more MotoGP championships with Honda,'' Richards told Autosport, ''but he undertook a greater challenge by moving to Yamaha. I think Ferrari should (do a similar thing.''

Richards said if Ferrari demonstrated it could still win the constructors' title so easily with just ten days of in-season testing, they would 'prove their strength. (And) the sport needs it.'

F1 champ 'gets $22m a year'
(GMM -- Oct.28) F1's champion team receives $22 million a year in Bernie Ecclestone-prize money. Minardi gets about half that.

''Maybe you will be quite surprised at that spread,'' said Ron Dennis, whose (McLaren) team's carmaker partner - Mercedes-Benz - is one of the 'GPWC' championship members.

$22m represents about four percent of an average manufacturer-backed F1 team's annual budget in 2004.

This week, the GPWC group - also including Renault, Ferrari and BMW, but no longer Ford - appointed a respected organizing company and reiterated the threat to quit F1 'no later than' 2008.

A McLaren 'insider' hinted to UK newspaper The Guardian that it regrets signing up for the current revenue distribution system, a part of the 1998 'Concorde Agreement', which runs to 2007.

''We should have pushed for an even better deal,'' the insider said.

Brit TV lose F1 sponsor
(GMM -- Oct.28) UK Newspaper 'The Daily Telegraph' will not renew a $8.3 million sponsorship of Britain's Formula One television coverage, we can reveal.

The cut-price agreement with broadcaster ITV, who have a six-year deal with Bernie Ecclestone, was signed after former lucrative sponsor Toyota withdrew backing for 2004.

'Hakk is back' after all?
(GMM -- Oct.28) Double world champion Mika Hakkinen may still return to Formula One in 2005, we can reveal.

Prior to Sir Frank Williams' (failed, as it turned out) signing of Jenson Button, the monosyllabic Finn - who 'retired' from the sport after eight seasons with McLaren in 2001 - negotiated secretly with the Grove-based chief.

''I was totally serious (about coming back),'' he said.

But, when the Button-saga went to the contract recognition board for a protracted ruling, Hakkinen decided against waiting and simply told both Williams and BAR - who may also have had a vacancy - that all deals were off.

But that was then ...

Williams' long-time partner Patrick Head told Autosport this week that signing Hakkinen after three years on the bench would be a 'risk.'

He added: ''But you have to think seriously about a man who has the talent to twice beat Michael Schumacher to the title.''

McLaren duo 'to explode' again
(GMM -- Oct.28) Ron Dennis 'doesn't know what's going to hit him' when Juan Pablo Montoya starts motoring at McLaren, a prominent Williams 'insider' has claimed.

''Juan Pablo can be a real handful,'' the unnamed insider told UK newspaper 'The Guardian'.

McLaren CEO Dennis, though, said earlier this week that he would never shy away from the challenge of putting two explosive characters next to each other in the F1 garage.

In the late 80's, though Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna did just that - explode - the pairing netted two world championships (one each), and set yet unbroken records.

''Alain and Ayrton worked,'' Dennis told The Times. ''Frank is a good friend but he does not have a history of being particularly user friendly with drivers.''

BAR and Johnnie Walker
(GMM -- Oct.28) Formula One team BAR will race into 2005 with a mighty budget if negotiations for two new, lucrative, sponsorship deals are favourable, we can reveal.

It is rumoured that the David Richards-led outfit, based in England, is talking to current Jaguar backer Pioneer, but also a new-to-F1 company -- whiskey brand Johnnie Walker.

Sources said Diageo-owned 'Johnnie Walker' also commenced negotiations with BAR rival McLaren, but preferred the former's younger image -- and cheaper sponsor rate.

Schu to help German team
(GMM -- Oct.28) Michael Schumacher's fabled love of Germany and soccer may be put to good use, a British tabloid newspaper has reported.

Germany's national football team manager, Oliver Bierhoff, was quoted as saying the seven time Formula One world 'knows how to win' at the highest level.

It is suggested that Ferrari's 35-year-old driver, born in a small German town not far from Cologne, may help the squad with 'mental coaching.'

'We're still friends'
(GMM -- Oct.28) Flavio Briatore reckons firing Formula One driver Jarno Trulli in 2004 has not 'broken' the Italians' former close relationship.

''Not at all,'' the flamboyant Renault principal said.

He commented: ''If I want to call (Jarno) and say 'let's go out for lunch or dinner', then I can do that.''

54-year-old Briatore said he replaced Monaco winner Trulli, first with former world champion Jacques Villeneuve and then (in 2005) Giancarlo Fisichella, because the now Toyota racer 'was not motivated.'

'I just drive' - Kimi
(GMM -- Oct.28) Patrick Head has warned observers to save analysis of McLaren's new pairing, Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya, until after the first grands prix of 2005.

Williams' engineering veteran, who had several infamous altercations with the feisty South American, said 29-year-old Montoya has both strengths 'and weaknesses.'

''(Kimi and Juan) could be the best of mates until Melbourne,'' said the Englishman, ''where one of them will beat the other.''

25-year-old McLaren incumbent Raikkonen, meanwhile, vowed to not waste time this winter worrying about next year's new qualifying, aerodynamic, tyre and engine regulations.

''There's no point (thinking about it),'' said the plain-speaking Finn. ''You can't change it -- I let everyone else make the decisions so I can just drive the car when they tell me (to).''

'Thanks for Williams drive'
(GMM -- Oct.28) There is a worthy place for both Jaguar and Minardi in the Formula One pitlane, Mark Webber has suggested.

The rated driver, who started his career in one of Paul Stoddart's black back-of-the-grid cars before spending two seasons with the Leaping Cat, said he'd had a 'lucky' run to the front of the grid.

''I've got a Williams seat on the back of (those teams),'' the 27-year-old Australian star revealed.

He added: ''Every time I walk past the Minardi garage I go and see the guys, and that is something I will miss if these (Jaguar) guys are not here any more.''

Sauber survival
(GMM -- Oct.28) Formula One's 'third' independent team is in no immediate danger of going out of business, Peter Sauber has stated.

Unlike Jordan and Minardi, the only other surviving F1 competitors without the backing of an automobile giant, the little Swiss team's owner revealed that Sauber comfortably 'stood our ground' in 2004.

''We even managed to open (a lead) to the world's second and third largest automotive manufacturers, Toyota and Ford (in the constructors' world championship),'' he boasted.

Peter Sauber said the Ferrari-powered team, which is based in Hinwil (Switzerland), is accustomed to 'making highly efficient use of ... limited resources.'

Ville was 'error' - Renault
(GMM -- Oct.28) Renault 'made a mistake' in hiring Jacques Villeneuve to drive the final three grands prix of 2004, F1 team president Patrick Faure has admitted.

The Frenchman said he and Renault principal Flavio Briatore 'underestimated' how long a former world champion would take to get up to speed after a 12-month lay off.

Faure told Eurosport: ''We thought he could immediately come back and fight -- but F1 has changed. Physically, he needed many more months of competition.''

33-year-old Villeneuve himself, though, called the experience 'very useful' if only to aid the preparation of a full time return for smaller team Sauber next year.

The French-Canadian said: ''Unfortunately, there were no points to celebrate, but at least in Brazil I was competitive.''

Toyota need downforce - Trulli
(GMM -- Oct.28) Toyota will remain in the midfield until the F1 team find more downforce, Cologne's new driver Jarno Trulli said on Thursday.

The former Renault star debuted in the TF104B at Suzuka, and raced again in Brazil last weekend. ''I have noticed a high rate of (tyre) degradation at the rear,'' the 30-year-old Italian revealed.

''Generally, there is just not enough grip.''

Jarno Trulli is provisionally scheduled to participate in Toyota's first test of the pre-season period, at Barcelona in late November.

2005 team-mate Ralf Schumacher will also be present.

F1 to recoup aero loss
(GMM -- Oct.28) Formula One teams will have recovered most of the losses caused by an aero rule change by the time the circus arrives in Melbourne next March.

Alterations, mainly to the diffuser but also to the front and rear wing, compromised around 30 per cent of a car's overall downforce when tested separately in Ferrari and Williams' wind tunnels.

But Ferrari's technical director, Ross Brawn, hopes to halve that projected figure between now and the start of the 2005 season.

He said: ''We're gradually getting (it) back (in the wind tunnel).''

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