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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
November 2, 2004


A1 and F1's Alan Jones
(GMM -- Nov.2) 1980 world champion Alan Jones will run the Australian franchise of the inaugural 'A1 Grand Prix' winter championship next year.

He will be helped by fellow Australian and Mark Webber's old F3 chief Alan Docking.

1964 Formula One champion John Surtees, it was earlier reported, is fronting the British 'A1' team entry.

South African president Thabo Mbeki unwrapped his country's A1 franchise on Monday, while former Minardi driver Alex Yoong is to head the Malaysian team from 2005.

Portugal and Canada will also enter teams, the statement revealed. ''We subscribe to the need to spread motor racing ... into the developing world,'' said South African Tokyo Sexwale.








Toyota-Jordan deal 'close'
(GMM -- Nov.2) Denying that a customer Toyota V10 engine deal is already tied up, Jordan's Ian Phillips nonetheless admitted that a former arrangement is 'close.'

The struggling F1 team's commercial director told Reuters that 'a lot of paperwork' must now follow a basic agreement between Jordan and the Cologne-based grand prix car manufacturer.

''It's going to be a couple of weeks before it's all absolutely certain,'' he added.

Meanwhile, fellow F1 minnow Paul Stoddart - who runs the other back-of-the-grid outfit - said there was 'no doubt at all' that Minardi will be on the Melbourne grid.

''If we were to fall down to nine teams it would be a sad day,'' the Australian entrepreneur told BBC.








'Time running out' for Jaguar
(GMM -- Nov.2) Time is running out for beleaguered Formula One team Jaguar to find a buyer and keep racing - with a different name and owner - in grands prix next season.

Team spokesman Nav Sidhu told The Guardian newspaper that an earlier deadline for a final deal was extended by 10 days to November 9 (next Tuesday).

He explained: ''Entries for next year's world championship have to be in by November 15.''

It is suggested that Brand Synergy, the consortium involving 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell and a failed bid for the British grand prix, may now be trying to buy Jaguar and Cosworth.

Meanwhile at Jaguar HQ in Milton-Keynes, staff continue to work on the 2005-spec R6.

''In any other year,'' said managing director David Pitchforth, ''we would be extremely excited about our prospects for next season.''







Rossi 'should switch'
(GMM -- Nov.2) Motorbike champion Valentino Rossi has scotched speculation he may make a much-speculated switch to Formula One as early as 2006.

The flamboyant Italian confirmed at the weekend's MotoGP race that he'll stay with current team Yamaha next year before yet 'another year' in the two-wheeled grand prix category.

He told the BBC: ''I don't know about my future, but after two more years, (then) I will decide.''

Meanwhile, the only man to win world championships on a bike and in a car - John Surtees - warned 25-year-old Rossi to make the switch sooner rather than later.

The Briton told The Sun: ''He needs to move while he is still getting better on a bike. (He) would add a whole new dimension to Formula One.''








'Sorry' to see Juan go
(GMM -- Nov.2) Sir Frank Williams has recorded his disappointment that Juan Pablo Montoya's Brazilian GP win was his last for the Grove-based team.

''He drove flawlessly,'' Williams' owner and principal said. ''He is a natural born racer and I am really truly sorry that he is leaving.''

The McLaren bound driver's victory was Williams' first - and only - in a 'tough' 2004, but, as ever, with one door closed, another one has opened -- for former Minardi and Jaguar star, Mark Webber.

Sir Frank revealed that the highly rated Australian will make a BMW-powered debut at Barcelona, on 23 November.








Ferrari's 'unrepeatable' year
(GMM -- Nov.2) Ferrari may not ever repeat an 'unique' dominance in Formula One, team principal Jean Todt admitted during an end-of-season event at Monza.

''The car world is a difficult one on all levels,'' the Frenchman warned.

He added: ''The future will be very competitive, given who we are up against, in commercial or sporting terms.''

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, also present at the scene of the annual Italian grand prix, agreed that 2004 was an 'exceptional year,' and 'probably unrepeatable.'

World champion Michael Schumacher, team-mate Rubens Barrichello, and two Ferrari testers rounded out the Monza showing with a unique demonstration of four F2004 single-seaters.

''It is great to be part of a day like this,'' said Schumacher, the 35-year-old German.







Villeneuve 'not to blame'
(GMM -- Nov.2) Renault is not blaming the loss of second place in the constructors' world championship on Jacques Villeneuve, Flavio Briatore reinforced.

Team president Patrick Faure admitted last week that replacing a fired Jarno Trulli with the out-of-work 1997 world champion had been 'a mistake.'

But Briatore, team principal, said 33-year-old French-Canadian Villeneuve's task for the final three grands prix of 2004 'was enormous.

''We were a bit disappointed (with Jacques),'' said the Italian chief, ''(but) he was learning about a car he had never driven, and circumstances (at grands prix) didn't help him either.''








Klien may test in 2005
(GMM -- Nov.2) A top testing role is more likely than a second season on the Formula One grid next season, Jaguar rookie Christian Klien has admitted.

The young Austrian vowed to 'chase' any racing vacancy ahead of 2005, but said a test spot with a 'bigger team' would help him gain vital experience.

''We will be looking at that (option) too,'' he commented.

One possibility for next season is that Christian's energy drink sponsor remains involved with the eventual Jaguar buyer, but it is true that Red Bull is pushing the credentials of F3000 champ Vitantonio Liuzzi much harder.

Klien's best result of the 2004 season was sixth at Spa-Francorchamps.








Japan to host second GP?
(GMM -- Nov.2) Two grands prix may be held in Japan in 2006, it has emerged.

Toyota's Fuji circuit, undergoing an overhaul, has staked a claim for a spot on the Formula One world championship calendar.

It is believed most likely that Suzuka, owned by Toyota's staunch Japanese (F1) rival Honda, would stay on the calendar - at least temporarily - if the Mount Fuji venue got the nod.

Aida, scene of the 'Pacific grand prix', held a second Japanese F1 race for a stint in the mid nineties.







More radio natter in '05
(GMM -- Nov.2) Television spectators will be treated to pit-to-car radio broadcasts in about half of next year's Formula One grands prix, we can reveal.

The feature was trialed in China this season after Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management company took over that race's TV coverage.

It is believed a deal is penned for the season-opening 2005 Australian grand prix, run by Ecclestone cohort Ron Walker, and advanced negotiations are ongoing with Bahrain, Turkey, Malaysia, China and Belgium.








Bulgarian grand prix?
(GMM -- Nov.2) Bulgaria is the latest country to join the bulging queue for a Formula One grand prix, a local news agency reported in a brief wire last week.

The east European country is thought to have leaked plans to build a China or Bahrain-like purpose-designed race track near a small town called Sliven.

A Bulgarian grand prix, perhaps in 2006 according to Sliven mayor Yordan Lechkov, would be financed by a consortium made up of western European businessmen, including from countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Holland.








FIA win Schumacher support
(GMM -- Nov.2) Ralf Schumacher is continuing to back FIA president Max Mosley's crusade to slow down today's 'dangerous' Formula One car.

The German driver was lucky to survive a nearly unabated 300km/h shunt into the Indianapolis wall earlier in 2004.

''Accidents such as mine (prove) that further measures are necessary,'' said 29-year-old Ralf, to next season join Toyota after a six year stint at Williams.







Webber in Texas
(GMM -- Nov.2) Mark Webber will train with six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong this winter.

The 27-year-old driver, regarded - with Michael Schumacher and Takuma Sato - as one of the fittest on the Formula One grid, has traveled to Texas (USA) for the program.

''I don't suppose I'll be leading him home,'' Mark laughed.








F1 aces to race karts
(GMM -- Nov.2) Top Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello will compete in the famous 'Granja Viana 500' go-kart race later in November.

Held in Brazil, the team event is also to be contested by countryman Felipe Massa, Colombian star Juan Pablo Montoya, and former Ferrari test driver Luciano Burti -- and some are already testing their race machine.

The 500-mile event is scheduled for November 13.








Keep 'boring' F1 - Ferrari
(GMM -- Nov.2) Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo doesn't mind if Formula One is 'boring.'

The Italian marque, dominant constructors' world champion since even before the turn of the century, is often blamed for a less than stirring title contest.

''Some people say Formula One is boring,'' Montezemolo, also president of Ferrari's parent manufacturer Fiat, said at the racing Group's end-of-season Monza event.

He added: ''All I can say is I hope to be very 'bored' in the coming years!''







Villeneuve image 'untrue'
(GMM -- Nov.2) Jacques Villeneuve's image as 'laid back' and 'undisciplined' is untrue, according to Renault's director of engineering.

Pat Symonds, who worked with the former world champion for the first time in China, Japan and Brazil, said 33-year-old Villeneuve took time to get back up to speed.

''I didn't really know him (before September),'' said the Briton. ''I'd only spoken to him here and there.

''I think the perception, largely in the press (about Villeneuve), is complete untrue. The guy works very hard. I think he's a guy with quite a lot of ability.''

1997 title winner Villeneuve will drive for Sauber in 2005 and 2006.








Ferrari's 'team order'
(GMM -- Nov.2) Ferrari will maintain a kind of 'team order' policy in 2005, technical director Ross Brawn has revealed.

He hinted that Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello can go hell-for-leather until after the final pit stop of a grand prix, where after the standing order 'hold station' applies.

''The only reason we apply any management,'' said Brawn, ''is to preserve the cars. Why abuse the car more than we have to? We have a good finishing record and that hasn't come by accident.''








Renault 'not a top team'
(GMM -- Nov.2) Enstone-based Renault is not a 'top team' in Formula One, team principal Flavio Briatore admitted last week.

The Italian, who guided the French carmaker-owned squad to third in the constructors' championship after a late-season loss to rival BAR, reckons Ferrari is the only one that can rightly claim that mantle at present.

''I don't agree,'' he answered when asked whether he's 'pleased' that Renault is now a true top team.

''We need to close the gap (to Ferrari) -- and that goes for us as well as other (teams). It is up to us to work better and challenge them in the future.''








Ralf took team to dinner
(GMM -- Nov.2) Ralf Schumacher treated BMW-Williams' key engineers to a dinner before his last of a near-century of grands prix for the Formula One team in Brazil last month.

The German, who spent fourteen weeks recovering from a back-injuring shunt at Indianapolis in June, also got a fond send-off courtesy of Sir Frank Williams, who first signed the Jordan driver back in 1998.

''(Ralf) returned to form following his ... accident,'' Frank said, ''and has put in some great races since. We wish him well with his future career.''

29-year-old Ralf said he was looking forward to 'a couple of days off' prior to commencing Toyota's winter pre-season test program.

''A lot of fans believe that I'm now on holiday,'' Schumacher smiled, ''(but) that's not true.''

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