F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
November 11, 2004

Teen to test Minardi
(GMM -- Nov.11) Venezuelan teenager Pastor Maldonado was added to a growing list of drivers to feature at a big Minardi F1 test later in November.

The run at Misano (Italy) will be 19-year-old Maldonado's first flirt with a grand prix challenger.

''We always try to seek out and encourage talented young drivers,'' said Minardi principal Paul Stoddart.

Pastor, the Italian Formula Renault 2000 champion this year, only graduated from the international karting scene in 2002.

Up to twelve other hopeful drivers, including Tiago Monteiro and Patrick Freisacher, are scheduled to join Maldonado at the Italian test.

Webber stopped Pizza-delivery
(GMM -- Nov.11) Antonio Pizzonia's almost assured seat at Williams in 2005 may have been blocked by old Jaguar team-mate Mark Webber.

Asked if Australian-born Webber would be consulted for an opinion on who should get the nod, a source close to the Grove team admitted that the 'likely relationship' between drivers is 'a factor.

''The decision will mainly (be) based on competitive ability,'' he told us, ''but there are (also) many other factors.''

It was earlier reported that Webber thinks 24-year-old 'Jungle Boy' is 'vulnerable to inconsistencies' and 'can get frustrated.'

The source also revealed that Frank Williams 'has an interest' in Jenson Button - whose intended switch from BAR to the F1 team was blocked by a legal panel - 'for 2006.'

BRDC 'caution' for Brit GP
(GMM -- Nov.11) Champagne bottles remain corked at Silverstone, but the British Racing Drivers' Club is now optimistic that a grand prix will be staged there next season.

''It sounds as if the teams and (Bernie) Ecclestone have put together some ... constructive proposals,'' chief executive Alex Hooton told the BBC.

The most caution, he said, was reserved because of Ferrari, which was not represented at Tuesday's London meeting and therefore hasn't signed the key deal with F1's 74-year-old commercial rights holder.

Hooton added: ''But we (are) pretty confident Ferrari will come along.''

A little more caution, meanwhile, pends the arrival of Ecclestone's race promoters' contract, which must be signed and submitted before the definitive World Council meeting in December.

Ferrari back 19-race plan
(GMM -- Nov.11) Ferrari will put a tenth signature on Bernie Ecclestone's commercial contract and thus assure the running of French and British grands prix in 2005, a media report said Wednesday.

'Senior sources' at both the world champion team and the governing FIA told British website autosport.com that the other teams' plan would not be blocked.

''Everybody is giving a bit to keep a bloody good world championship,'' 74-year-old Ecclestone commented of the likely and unprecedented 19-race calendar.

Meanwhile, a Ferrari spokesman declined to elaborate on speculation that Jean Todt did not attend the Heathrow summit because he is on holiday in America.

''He (had) commitments,'' said the Italian, ''and the other participants of the meeting were aware of this.''

Indian to 'push' for F1
(GMM -- Nov.11) Indian hopeful Narain Karthikeyan has vowed to give Formula One 'a big try' for 2005.

The 27-year-old, who has tested for Minardi, Jordan and Jaguar in the past, raced in the Nissan World Series in 2004, winning twice.

But he told website hindustantimes.com that he is 'through' with the soon-to-be Renault-backed circuit and will 'push' for a career in grands prix.

''The outcome will obviously depend on a number of factors,'' he told the publication, ''but I will shortly travel to (the) USA to do some test driving in the Indy Racing League.''

Lyons 'deserves' F1 spot
(GMM -- Nov.11) Asked if Richard Lyons deserves a shot in Formula One, former Jordan engineer Gary Anderson replied: 'Absolutely.'

It is reported that the young Ulsterman, newly-crowned champion of Japan's premier Formula Nippon series, is back in Europe and now eyeing a BAR test run and a full time Jordan debut in 2005.

''Richard really stands out,'' Anderson - Jordan's former director of engineering - told Autosport. ''He's one of those guys who, if you give him two tenths on the car, will instantly find it out on the track.''

Not even F1 will entice
(GMM -- Nov.11) Even the pinnacle of motor sport will never entice one of the world's top touring car drivers.

The reigning champion in Australian V8 supercar racing, Marcos Ambrose, told local publications here he is not interested in jumping on a plane bound for America or Europe.

''I can race anywhere in the world,'' said the Tasmanian in his home state. ''I just don't want to.

''We have a lifestyle here that you can't beat.''

Formula One world champion of 1980, Alan Jones, similarly selected the Oz sunshine - and the country's top racing category - over Europe soon after wrapping up the title.

Cosworth sale '90 percent'
(GMM -- Nov.11) The sale of Formula One engine supplier Cosworth is 'ninety percent there,' Minardi owner and principal Paul Stoddart revealed on Wednesday.

The Australian millionaire told autosport.com that he is therefore almost certain that a contract to fit a Cosworth powerplant in the black cars in 2005 can be honored.

It is strongly suggested that Ford-owned Cosworth is being bought by Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven, whose series' field is totally powered by the fabled engine firm.

Stoddart, though, has entered the 2005 world championship as 'Minardi European', just in case the deal falls through and his own two-seater Cosworth stockpile is put back into competitive service.

F1 fraudster in jail
(GMM -- Nov.11) A man who pretended to be a McLaren driver in Formula One has won a five-year stay in a Belgian jail.

38-year-old Paul Jones, who also often posed as an English premier league soccer player and airline pilot, defrauded Belgium to the tune of 700 000 euros, a court found.

The Belga news agency said Jones, a Briton, asked victims for large loans and promised to pay them back with hugely escalated interest.

Unanimity to be defeated
(GMM -- Nov.11) The days in which a single team can unilaterally block necessary changes to the Formula One rulebook may soon be over, Paul Stoddart said this week.

The Australian owner of back-of-the-grid Minardi hinted that, at the next team principals' meeting, 'something' will be pushed through so that a near-impossible unanimous vote, and subsequent 'veto' power, no longer impedes the sport.

He told autosport.com: ''Unanimity has screwed (Formula One) for years now.''

In future, the 49-year-old millionaire suggested, a majority of seventy percent could rubber-stamp changes such as the reduction of expensive tyre testing.

Ironically, though, F1 would require an implausible unanimous vote in order to defeat unanimity.

Want to take Schu on?
(GMM -- Nov.11) Think you could beat world champion Michael Schumacher at the wheel of a go-kart? A computer game developer will allow confident challengers to discover the answer.

New PC game 'Michael Schumacher's Kart Challenge 2005', designed by 10tacle Studios, was created by analyzing actual historic data of the German legend's former kart career.

10tacle CEO Michele Pes said the game is 'endorsed' by the 35-year-old Ferrari star.

Irvine back in court
(GMM -- Nov.11) A bitter legal battle between former Formula One driver Eddie Irvine and ex-business partner John Foley, continued in Ireland this week.

Foley is suing Irvine, who incidentally celebrated a 39th birthday on Wednesday, in the Employment Appeals Tribunal, for 'wrongful dismissal' as manager of the trendy co-owned Cocoon bar in Dublin.

He did, though, drop a defamation lawsuit.

F1 'door open' for Rossi
(GMM -- Nov.11) Formula One team Ferrari has vowed to 'leave a door open' for flamboyant motorcycle champion Valentino Rossi.

The 25-year-old star of MotoGP said in October that a speculated switch to a four-wheeled category may have to wait until at least 2007.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, asked to comment on the Italian's apparent decision to put F1 on the back burner, said Rossi has 'plenty of time' to consider grands prix in the future.

He told RTL television: ''We will always think about a future with Valentino.''

Ferrari's open pursuit of Rossi appears to follow the apparent approach of rival F1 teams BAR-Honda and Toyota.

Massa to race in France
(GMM -- Nov.11) Sauber's Felipe Massa is the latest Formula One driver to sign up for the novel 'Race of Champions' event in Paris.

Also representing grand prix racing in December will be seven time world champion Michael Schumacher, veteran David Coulthard, Spanish ace Fernando Alonso, the retiring Olivier Panis, Nick Heidfeld and ex-Toyota driver Cristiano da Matta.

Massa's 'Nation's Cup' team-mate will be fellow Brazilian Tony Kanaan, of American Indy Racing League fame.

''I want to beat Michael (Schumacher),'' youngster Massa beamed, ''but there will be some (other) amazing drivers there, like Sebastien Loeb and Jeff Gordon.''

The event will be staged inside the Stade de France.

Heidfeld - 'I want the job'
(GMM -- Nov.11) Nick Heidfeld will use December's one-off 'shootout' run to show Sir Frank Williams he is the man to partner Mark Webber at Grove in 2005.

The rated German, whose effort in the uncompetitive Jordan car this year went largely unnoticed, is set to complete a test at Jerez, just a few days after BAR 'third' driver Anthony Davidson is similarly evaluated by the BMW-powered team.

''I'll fully concentrate on the job from now on,'' 27-year-old Nick Heidfeld told the German media agency SID, ''and (I) want to do the best I can during the test.''

Glock in Superfund car
(GMM -- Nov.11) Jordan driver Timo Glock tested a 'Formula Superfund' car at Jerez (Spain) on Wednesday.

The rookie German, who may not find a continuing stint on the Formula One grid in 2005, said the SF01 model is the 'closest thing' to a grand prix challenger he's ever driven.

''It's incredibly powerful,'' Glock commented. 'It's looking good for next year.''

Minardi's test driver Bas Leinders will have a go at the wheel on Thursday, followed by triple world champion Niki Lauda's son Mathias.

Brit deal 'one year only'
(GMM -- Nov.11) Even if British and French grands prix are held next year, negotiations will go back to square-one when a 2006 deal is mooted.

Minardi's Paul Stoddart said an eleventh hour teams' agreement to stage the voluntary eighteenth and nineteenth events in 2005 is valid for one season only.

''We're having to do it one step at a time,'' said the Australian.

British Racing Drivers' Club executive Alex Hooton, meanwhile, vowed to negotiate for a 2006 event a 'little more quietly' than was managed this year.

'Support French talent'
(GMM -- Nov.11) French companies should be 'more active' in supporting local motor sport talent.

That is the request of Jacques Regis, who praised the achievements of Sebastien Bourdais, Champ Car champion, and FIA World Rally winner Sebastien Loeb.

''We hope that the success of these two young men will help to inspire a new generation of French champions,'' the French motor sport federation's president said in a media statement.

Following 38-year-old Olivier Panis' retirement, next year there will be an almost unprecedented vacuum of French-made talent on the grand prix grid.

25-year-old Bourdais, though, said the door at French F1 team Renault is firmly closed. ''I was not welcome (there),'' he told an Italian newspaper. ''Flavio Briatore only wants to make money.''

Jordan also enter
(GMM -- Nov.11) Like Minardi, struggling Formula One team Jordan have also officially entered the 2005 world championship, it emerged.

McLaren principal Ron Dennis told UK race magazine Autosport that, as a consequence, Eddie Jordan's Silverstone-based outfit will likely 'be at all the grands prix' next year.

On Tuesday, Faenza-based Minardi principal Paul Stoddart said he lodged a $500,000 entry with the FIA.

Ferrari 'weren't invited'
(GMM -- Nov.11) Ferrari were not invited to a meeting of Formula One principals in Sao Paulo last month, 74-year-old 'supremo' Bernie Ecclestone has admitted.

But the commercial rights holder insisted that an aide simply 'forgot' to tell Maranello chief Jean Todt.

''For the second (meeting),'' Bernie told Autosport, ''I told someone to tell everyone there would be another meeting. After interrogation, the person confessed that they forgot Ferrari.''

Subsequently, Todt - furious he was not invited and hinting at an anti-Ferrari vendetta - told his rivals to 'rip up' the landmark document signed in Brazil.

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