F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
November 10, 2004

Teams agree test cut
(GMM -- Nov.10) Every team except Ferrari will cut their testing program in half next year.

Minardi principal Paul Stoddart, after a meeting at London's Heathrow airport on Tuesday, said an earlier plan for a 10-day in-season restriction was diluted, to twenty four days.

The money saved will go towards an eighteenth and nineteenth grand prix next year -- in Britain and France. ''(A commercial) deal (with Bernie Ecclestone) is done,'' Australian Stoddart revealed at the Hilton.

''We will all lose money, but we want to do those races. It's safe to say (those races) will take place because I cannot imagine that Ferrari will say they won't turn up.''

Stoddart also said a future aim was to further reduce in-season testing by getting rid of a tire supplier.

Minardi lodge FIA entry
(GMM -- Nov.10) Minardi, Formula One's poorest team, will definitely contest the 2005 world championship, owner and principal Paul Stoddart confirmed in London.

The Australian businessman, ahead of a November 15 deadline, said he lodged a $500,000 team entry with the governing FIA.

''I've entered as Minardi European,'' he told news agency Reuters.

On-the-market Jaguar Racing, and Minardi's fellow privateer Jordan, are yet to submit an application to race.

Stoddart entered the 2004 championship as Minardi Cosworth, but the engine supplier - owned by Ford - also faces an uncertain future. If required, Minardi can run its own engine program.

Michelin team to switch?
(GMM -- Nov.10) Ferrari's tire supplier 'will not hesitate' to negotiate with a rival-clad Formula One team about switching allegiance in 2005, a top Bridgestone man vowed this week.

Head of tire development, Hirohide Hamashima, responded to speculation that fellow Japanese outfits, (BAR-) Honda and Toyota, were being pressured to leave Michelin.

''We want to respect the contracts they have with Michelin,'' he told website F1Racing.net at the Formula Nippon final at Suzuka, ''however if there are teams that want to (switch) we won't hesitate to talk with them.''

With Ferrari-powered Sauber's surprising decision to leave the Japanese camp, Bridgestone are left with just Jordan and Minardi as secondary Formula One clients in 2005.

A Bridgestone spokesman said: ''We have the capacity to work with more than three partners next year.''

Kyalami 'missed out'
(GMM -- Nov.10) Bernie Ecclestone personally requested that an African grand prix be put together in Cape Town, not at the historic Kyalami circuit near Johannesburg, we can reveal.

David Gant, spokesman for a 2007 bid for the F1 supremo's world championship race, said a rival consortium - including former Kyalami executive Dave McGregor - had definitely missed out.

''We'll support (a Cape Town event),'' said McGregor. ''We'll support any bid that has a chance of getting (an African grand prix).''

Kyalami first staged a grand prix in 1967, but the event fell apart in the mid eighties in the midst of anti-apartheid campaigns.

Dominguez and Midland
(GMM -- Nov.10) Champ Car driver Mario Dominguez may join the Formula One grid in 2006.

It is reported that a representative of the touted 'Midland' team met with the 29-year-old Mexican as he raced in home city Mexico City on the weekend.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone recently said that Cancun, the Mexican tourist destination, will host a grand prix from 2006.

''It seems like a very serious project,'' Dominguez said of Russian-born Alex Shnaider's Midland F1 team plan.

He added: ''It's always been my dream to drive in Formula One.''

Mario is contracted to Herdez-backed Keith Wiggins' Champ Car team for both 2005 and 2006, but it is suggested that the Mexican food sponsor and co-owner may pull out.

F1 faces in Bahrain
(GMM -- Nov.10) Two former Formula One drivers will star at Bahrain's inaugural 'GT festival' later in November.

Karl Wendlinger, who nearly died in an horror Monaco shunt in 1994, and David Brabham - son of triple F1 world champion Sir Jack Brabham - are set to compete on the purpose-built grand prix track.

39-year-old Brabham - who'll drive a Melbourne-prepared Ferrari 550 Maranello - raced in F1 for Brabham and Simtek in the nineties, and said: ''The track looks amazing -- it's big, wide and fast.''

Porsches, a host of Ferraris and the Chrysler Viper will feature at the Stephane Ratel-organised festival late this month.

''This is part of a longer term agreement with the (Bahrain) circuit,'' said Ratel.

Three-seater F1 car
(GMM -- Nov.10) Former F1 test driver Laurent Redon is planning to unveil a three-seater Formula One car.

The Frenchman, also with experience in the Indycar championship, founded 'LRS-Formula' in 2002 -- a F1 driving school based at Magny-Cours.

A statement said the 700hp three-seater, to be built by British firm 'Design Tech Centre', will include a passenger seat in both of the open-wheelers' sidepods.

''The first inductions (of) the F1 LR3S will be in April 2005,'' said the statement.

Redon's driving school also includes Benetton, Prost, Larrousse and Arrows Formula One cars, and travels to circuits like Monza, Barcelona and the Nurburgring.

Bourdais phoned Sir Frank
(GMM -- Nov.10) Sir Frank Williams picked up his ringing office telephone on Monday morning. On the line was newly-crowned Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais.

The Frenchman said after wrapping up the title in Mexico City that he wanted to ask the wheelchair-bound Formula One owner if he'd seen his latest victory.

''Why?'' 25-year-old Bourdais rhetorically asked Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. ''Because it was a good example of what I am capable of.''

Williams has a long list of candidates for the seat alongside Mark Webber in 2005, and a 'shoot out' between Anthony Davidson and this year's Jordan driver Nick Heidfeld will take place in December.

Bourdais ruled out a debut for F1 minnows Minardi or Jordan next season. ''I don't have five million Euros,'' he told the newspaper.

Terzi and 'the nose'
(GMM -- Nov.10) The departed Antonia Terzi's ill-fated 'walrus' F1 nose design did not seal her fate at BMW-Williams, a media report hinted.

Technical director Sam Michael was on Tuesday quoted in an article published on the Formula One team's official website as agreeing that FW26 worked better in the latter portion of 2004 with a more conventional solution.

The 31-year-old Australian said: ''In reality it (was) no different to changing a flip-up or a chimney. (But) it's 'ah-ha, they must have made a big mistake on that'.

''At the start of the year (the car) definitely worked better with (the tusked) nose,'' he added.

Quali to change - again?
(GMM -- Nov.10) Formula One qualifying could change yet again before the start of the 2005 world championship in Melbourne, Bernie Ecclestone revealed in London.

After a team principals' meeting, the 74-year-old F1 supremo said many pitlane players were 'railroaded' into agreeing to the proposed aggregate format, for fear of no change at all.

''People are still upset (about qualifying,'' said the diminutive billionaire. ''This is better than (the 2004 system) but it is still bad.''

Ferrari 'must sign'
(GMM -- Nov.10) World champion F1 team Ferrari has no option but to sign up to its rivals' plan to limit testing next season, according to an Italian source.

The source said Ferrari can ignore the agreement, but run the risk of being seen to win by a big margin in 2005 only because of an unfair advantage over everyone else.

''We'll (limit testing to 24 in-season days) with or without (Ferrari),'' said McLaren chief executive Ron Dennis after a London meeting, at which Ferrari was not represented.

Teams also wanted to make grand prix Friday a four-hour free 'test' day, but such a change would require Ferrari's signature.

New Ferrari is 'big step'
(GMM -- Nov.10) Rory Byrne has no doubt left rival F1 designers quaking in their boots by revealing that next year's Ferrari will be a 'big step forward.'

The South African told F1 Racing magazine that aerodynamic, engine and tire regulation-changes have compelled 'quite a different' car design.

He said: ''The car will be a bit slower, of course, but - technically - it will be better.''

Maranello-based Ferrari earlier vowed to start the 2005 season with a 'hybrid' version of the current championship-winning F2004. If they do, because of the two-race engine rule, the new car cannot then debut until the third grand prix.

Coulthard still in frame
(GMM -- Nov.10) F1 veteran David Coulthard may still be in the frame for a 2005 seat at BMW-Williams, a 'team source' suggested on Tuesday.

The source told UK tabloid 'The Sun' that the Scotland-born former McLaren star will wait for the outcome of a planned shoot-out run between Nick Heidfeld and Anthony Davidson at Jerez next month.

Only then, he hinted, will Sir Frank Williams make 'a decision.'

Coulthard recently met with Williams and co-owner Patrick Head, and has offered to drive without a retainer.

Ant thanks Schu
(GMM -- Nov.10) Michael Schumacher and a PlayStation helped propel Anthony Davidson to the top of a list of worthy Formula One rookies, the little Brit smilingly admitted.

The 25-year-old was BAR's 'Friday' tester this year, and - in so doing - experienced every circuit on the championship calendar.

''I learned Monaco on my PlayStation,'' he grinned. ''It was helpful apart from one section, which was flat out on the computer but I quickly found out was not (flat) on the actual circuit!'

He also jokingly thanked Schumacher, the seven time world champion, for showing him round other venues.

''On a few occasions I copied his line,'' Anthony revealed, ''and was actually quicker than him at Monaco, which is pretty cool.''

Exit praise for team duo
(GMM -- Nov.10) Williams' Sam Michael has offered a fond farewell for departing team drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher.

Between them, the (respectively) Colombian and German pair collected ten grand prix wins for the BMW-powered collaboration.

''Ralf is very good with the engineers, and understanding tires and set-up,'' said Michael, technical director. ''He contributed quite strongly.''

Similarly-aged 29-year-old Montoya, meanwhile, is a 'fantastic' racer and overtaker, Michael continued.

''They complimented each other well.''

He also denied the media perception of a teammate duo that couldn't get along. ''In a debrief,'' said Sam, ''there was never any funny business. They're both smart enough to realize that if you work together, the car goes faster.''

Brit and French GP 'back on'
(GMM -- Nov.10) Nine of Formula One's ten teams agreed to visit an eighteenth and nineteenth grand prix next year for the 'good of the world championship.'

McLaren principal Ron Dennis explained to the media that an agreement with Bernie Ecclestone, settled at a London meeting on Tuesday, 'removed' the obvious obstacles to the embattled 2005 British and French races.

One remaining obstacle, however, is the agreement of F1's tenth team -- Ferrari.

The other, it is clear, is a contract between Bernie and Silverstone. ''Maybe they won't agree,'' said the F1 supremo. ''We can't make them sign.''

Meanwhile, the teams' commercial agreement with Ecclestone is thought to involve a $1.6 million payment to each team for each race. Teams will, though, still lose money.

74-year-old Ecclestone said the governing FIA could 'make a contribution' by waiving their own fee for the extra grands prix.

Mandela and A1
(GMM -- Nov.10) Former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, threw his weight behind the Dubai-backed 'A1 Grand Prix' championship.

At last week's South African launch, winter category A1's founder, Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum, called the meeting a 'real honor.

''(Nelson's) support ... is an endearing stamp of approval from such a symbolic person,'' he said.

Later, at the Kyalami circuit, South African driver Alan van der Merwe - who is incidentally being linked with a F1 test drive this winter - drove the A1 prototype around the old grand prix track.

The 24-year-old said: ''The chance to drive (in) the series would be amazing.''

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