F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
November 5, 2004

Villeneuve at Sauber HQ
(GMM -- Nov.5) On Thursday, former world champion Jacques Villeneuve tried a Sauber seat for size at the team's Hinwil factory.

A statement issued from Switzerland said the 33-year-old, to team-mate Felipe Massa from next year, will track-debut for the team at the Barcelona (Spain) test on 26 November.

''The first day of work in a new team is always something very special,'' French-Canadian Villeneuve, who drove the final three grands prix of 2004 with Renault, commented.

Minardi sale extended
(GMM -- Nov.5) The part sale of Paul Stoddart's personal F1 collection has been extended from three to four days, auctioneers Bache Treharne announced on Thursday.

From November 17 to 20, Formula One cars, such as the first BAR - but also Jordans, Benettons, Tyrrells and Minardis, plus equipment and memorabilia - will go under the hammer at the Minardi team owner's Ledbury (England) HQ.

''It is shaping up to be the largest auction in Formula One history,'' said a statement.

One of the more interesting lots is the defunct F1 team Arrows' assets -- including 2002-spec cars, the intellectual property rights, design drawings and spares.

''I didn't realise how much I had until we started to assemble everything,'' smiled Stoddart, the Australian entrepreneur and millionaire.

Chinese F1 team 'premature'
(GMM -- Nov.5) An F1 'insider' has twaddled a Chinese consortium's effort to buy Jordan and run a Formula One team from next year.

Mark Thomas, a motor sport agent who is based in Shanghai and manages BAR's interests in the newest F1 host nation, said Chinese team ownership is a 'bit premature.

''You have to consider,'' he continued, ''the level of motor sport culture (in China) and the experience of Chinese racing professionals.''

On Thursday, it was reported that Eddie Jordan visited Beijing to meet with the head of a consortium of Chinese businessmen.

Williams and Terzi split
(GMM -- Nov.5) A spokesman today confirmed reports that Williams' chief aerodynamicist Antonia Terzi has left the Formula One team.

He said Frenchman Loic Bigois had already replaced the female Italian engineer, who formerly worked at Ferrari and departed on Wednesday.

Bigois, with experience at F1's Prost, Sauber and Minardi, joined Oxfordshire-based BMW-Williams earlier in 2004.

''There are no concerns about any rupture in the design process,'' said the spokesman at Grove. ''Loic has been working on the FW27 all along.''

It is not immediately understood why Terzi left the team, but she conceived the ill-fated 'tusk' or 'walrus' nose design for FW26, and her 'twin keel' chassis solution was scrapped after a single car.

New surface at Barcelona
(GMM -- Nov.5) Spain's 'Circuit de Catalunya' F1 track near Barcelona will, for the first time in more than a decade, get a brand new asphalt surface ahead of the 2005 season.

Work is scheduled to begin in December, after a big Formula One test later this month, to replace the 15-year-old track.

''We have decided to asphalt in December because it's the best period to do it,'' said the circuit's general manager Fidel Sust.

The renovation, including modification of a couple of corners, should be complete by mid-January, when pre-season F1 preparations get into full swing.

Coulthard at Williams' HQ
(GMM -- Nov.5) Out-of-work F1 veteran David Coulthard met for 'more than an hour' with BMW-Williams bosses at Oxfordshire this week, according to a factory source.

The 33-year-old, who debuted in one of Sir Frank Williams' cars more than a decade ago, also chatted to co-owner Patrick Head and technical director Sam Michael.

It is reported that confirmed 2005 driver, Mark Webber, favours Scottish-born Coulthard over alternatives including Antonio Pizzonia and Nick Heidfeld.

''I want the opportunity to show what I can do at a team outside the nine years I had at McLaren,'' Coulthard earlier told the BBC.

A Williams spokesman declined to confirm DC's visit.

French GP 'will go ahead'
(GMM -- Nov.5) The French grand prix will go ahead in 2005, according to the country's motor sport authority president Jacques Regis.

He told the French 'Autohebdo' magazine that reports of Formula One teams being unwilling to do eighteen or nineteen grands prix next year deceives the threat to the race held at Magny-Cours.

Regis said he 'renegotiated' a new seven year contract with Bernie Ecclestone 'around three weeks' ago, that does not allow the 74-year-old F1 impresario to simply dump the French grand prix.

He commented: ''As far as I am concerned the fate of Magny-Cours is completely clear. If the teams call the race into question, (that) does not have any legal basis.''

F1 in Court's hand - Stoddart
(GMM -- Nov.5) The very foundation of top motor racing is in the hands of the London High Court, Paul Stoddart said this week.

The owner of Formula One's poorest team, Minardi, referred to the case involving 74-year-old Bernie Ecclestone, who is being sued by three 'banks' who own the majority of the sport's commercial rights.

They say they, as opposed to 25 per cent owner Ecclestone, should be able to appoint the majority of the board of directors.

Stoddart asked in an 'Associated Press' report: ''Would we want to lose Bernie? Categorically not. Do the teams want more money? Categorically yes.''

The Australian said the strength of the 'GPWC' threat to 'break away' beyond 2007 will depend on the High Court. ''If Bernie wins (the case),'' said Stoddart, ''I don't see (GPWC) getting a hand on (F1). (But) if the banks win control, then I think a deal will be done fairly rapidly.''

Old F1 team-mates to race
(GMM -- Nov.5) A couple of old Formula One team-mates will attack the fabled '24 Hour Le Mans' race in 2006 at the wheel of their own car.

Englishmen Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell, who used to race together in Formula One for Brabham (1991) and then Ligier (1993), said in a statement they would contest the 2006 FIA GT championship.

Experienced team manager David Price is part of the project, the statement added.

''Mark and I share a burning desire to race again,'' said 45-year-old Brundle, who - like Blundell - is today a F1 commentator for British television.

Brundle and 38-year-old Blundell both won Le Mans, separately, in (respectively) 1990 and 1992.

Jag buyer may retain backing
(GMM -- Nov.5) Some of Jaguar's existing sponsors may stay with the England-based Formula One team even with a new owner in 2005, we can reveal.

Business development manager Mark Gallagher said the appeal of the team is not in the word 'Jaguar' but 'the people' who work at Milton Keynes.

Beck's and HSBC have definitely left the Cat's livery, but other team backers - such as UGS and Du Pont, although first wooed to Jaguar by carmaker owner Ford - are believed to be waiting on confirmation of a buy-out deal before making a decision.

Gallagher commented: ''That the management of the team has remained intact definitely helps with any future commercial agreements.''

Coulthard - 'I'm staying in F1'
(GMM -- Nov.5) David Coulthard did not sign a two-year deal with Jaguar prior to Ford's bombshell that it would try to sell the Formula One team, the Scottish veteran insisted.

The 33-year-old, who this week visited Williams' English factory, told 'ESPN' that he saw the rumour in a leading racing magazine.

He told the US publication: ''I have not signed any contract with any team.''

McLaren's nine-year employee revealed that if he does not find a home on the F1 grid for next season, he will not therefore bid farewell to the Paddock.

''Quite frankly I enjoy it,'' he said. ''Why go off and do something else just because you can?''

FIA at Fuji
(GMM -- Nov.5) FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting visited Japan's Mount Fuji circuit last month, it has emerged.

Earlier reports suggested that the Toyota-owned facility, undergoing an overhaul that may be completed in early 2005, wants a spot on a future Formula One calendar.

Suzuka, owned by carmaker rival Honda, hosts the present Japanese grand prix and - with Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps - is one of the most popular layouts with grand prix drivers.

Red Bull - 'we've made an offer'
(GMM -- Nov.5) The fate of embattled Formula One team Jaguar is in the hands of carmaker seller Ford, the Red Bull drink company said Thursday.

Motor sport 'advisor' Helmut Marko told British magazine Autosport that 'an offer' to buy Jaguar is on the table.

But he said: ''Alas, Ford seem to have been unable to clearly react (to the offer).''

The Autosport report said Red Bull has met all of Ford's 'financial requirements' but still the US carmaker is 'reluctant to agree.'

Jaguar will probably run an all-black livery, and 2004 racer Christian Klien, if it resumes post-season testing at Barcelona later in November.

More carmakers quit racing
(GMM -- Nov.5) Following Ford's immediate decision to quit Formula One, world motor sport will say goodbye to three more car manufacturers after the 2005 season.

The world's second largest carmaker, General Motors, is pulling the 'Chevrolet' brand out of the US-based Indy Racing League championship.

''(The) situation was one where the investment in the series did not meet our business objectives any more,'' said GM's Doug Duchardt.

Meanwhile, the 'Peugeot Citroen' company said on Thursday it would not enter either manufacturer in the FIA-run World Rally championship beyond next season.

No Ferrari 'vendetta'
(GMM -- Nov.5) Jean Todt has been asked to relax a 'hard line' position regarding rule changes for next year.

Minardi principal Paul Stoddart said a cost saving document signed by all Formula One teams except the one based at Maranello does not indicate a 'vendetta' against Ferrari.

Stoddart told Autosport: ''(Jean) thought he was set up, but nothing could be further from the truth. These are not anti-Ferrari measures.''

It is true, however, that - if adopted - Ferrari, with two privately owned F1 circuits, would lose most from an agreement to limit in-season testing to just ten days in 2005.

Unlike the last Sao Paulo meeting, Todt has been invited to next Tuesday's gathering in London, as have F1 tyre suppliers Bridgestone and Michelin.

Gene in Argentina
(GMM -- Nov.5) Formula One test driver Marc Gene drove a 2003 BMW-Williams around Buenos Aires' old Formula One track on the weekend.

Marc's brother, Jordi Gene, was also in action at the 4.26 km Argentine venue, which last staged a grand prix in 1998, as he raced in a TC2000 event.

It was reported last month that Grove-based Williams will not renew Spaniard Gene's F1 testing contract beyond December.

He may test for Ferrari in 2005.

Jordan man to start work
(GMM -- Nov.5) Jordan's new technical director will start work next week, a source close to the Silverstone-based Formula One team has revealed.

Mark Smith, forced to take 'gardening leave' until now, was formerly one of two chief designers at Renault.

It is suggested that the odd career move, from a top three team to one of the sport's stragglers, is to circumnavigate a 'no poaching' rule in force between Renault and Toyota.

Jordan, then, might be paid by Toyota - who may be their engine supplier in 2005 - to keep Smith in circulation until he can legitimately join the Cologne-based team in 2006 or 2007.

''I'm not sure if that is true or not,'' said the Jordan source.

BAR back to Bridgestone?
(GMM -- Nov.5) It is common knowledge that Bridgestone want Toyota to switch from Michelin rubber in 2005, but the Japanese tyre supplier is also trying to re-attract F1 team BAR.

Bridgestone lost BAR, allied with Japanese car manufacturer Honda, to their French rival at the end of 2003. The David Richards-led team subsequently leapt to second - behind Ferrari - in the constructors' world championship.

But, with the new loss of Sauber to Michelin for next season, it is understood that Bridgestone is renewing a pressure-fuelled push to get either Japanese carmaker Toyota or Honda - and preferably both - on board in 2005.

''We do not intend to change tyre supplier at present,'' a Toyota spokesman said.

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