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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
November 17, 2004


Sleeping Klien
(GMM -- Nov.17) Christian Klien is sleeping easier now that personal sponsor Red Bull is in the driving seat of the Formula One team with an HQ at Milton-Keynes.

The rookie Austrian debuted for Jaguar in 2004 but may not have been part of the formerly Ford-owned outfit's plans for next season.

''I am very glad Red Bull took this decision,'' Klien said on the Red Bull Junior Team website.

He admitted, though, that a new driving deal is far from certain. ''Dietrich Mateschitz did not buy Jaguar so that I may have a seat in a Formula One car,'' said Christian, 21.

But Klien will be testing the interim grey-and-blue 'Red Bull Racing' racer at Barcelona next week, where negotiations about the future are likely to also take place.








Red Bull to seal tire deal
(GMM -- Nov.17) New Formula One team 'Red Bull' will almost certainly wear French-made Michelin tires next year, we can reveal.

Its previous team incarnation, Ford-owned Jaguar, had an agreement with Bibendum, but the 2006 contract extension is not valid under new ownership.

But, perhaps given that 'RB1' was specifically designed for a Michelin tire, a source close to the F1 manufacturer reported that a deal would 'probably' be publicized prior to November testing next week.








Three Dutchmen and a Minardi
(GMM -- Nov.17) Two Dutchmen could line-up for Minardi next year, Paul Stoddart said on Tuesday.

It is believed that the Formula One team owner is talking again to grand prix veteran Jos Verstappen, as well as the DTM's Christjian Albers and end-of-season Jordan test driver and countryman Robert Doornbos.

''But let's be realistic,'' Australian-born Stoddart told Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.

He said: ''We're (also) talking to ten drivers of other nationalities. Everything is still open.''

But, until a contract - or two - is signed and sealed, the Faenza-based chief is keeping schtum. Paul vowed to avert more 'confusing times' like those between Verstappen and Jordan regarding 2004.








Coulthard Laud-ed
(GMM -- Nov.17) David Coulthard should be snapped up by new Austrian-owned Formula One team Red Bull Racing, triple world champion Niki Lauda said.

Lauda, the 55-year-old Austrian who once ran the ill-fated Jaguar incarnation, warned countryman Dietrich Mateschitz to sign the 'right people' to ensure timely success.

He told Der Standard newspaper: ''David Coulthard is free and would be a good solution. He is very experienced.''

The fact remains, though, that Red Bull-backed 'junior' drivers Christian Klien and F3000 champion Vitantonio Liuzzi are most likely to front the first-ever Red Bull F1 line-up.

Lauda is unconvinced. ''(Mateschitz) should give tests to youngsters but pick the fastest (driver).''








Briscoe still in Jordan frame
(GMM -- Nov.17) Toyota-contracted driver Ryan Briscoe might still race a yellow car next season, Jordan man Ian Phillips has revealed.

The team's director of business affairs denied that the newly-announced customer engine deal with Toyota will include a mandatory flow of Toyota-favored personnel to Jordan.

''(But) that doesn't mean we wouldn't look at Ryan,'' Phillips told crash.net, whilst insisting there is plenty of time to think about the 2005 line-up.

Because the engine deal has come so late in the day, Ian Phillips said the new Toyota-powered EJ15 car won't run at a test until the end of January.

He also said a short-list of driver candidates will be devised first by looking at what makes best 'business sense' for the cash-strapped, Silverstone-based team.







'I'd have a V12' - Berger
(GMM -- Nov.17) He's not a fan of making F1 slower, but former grand prix driver Gerhard Berger does support some divisive changes in the FIA rulebook.

In 2006, gone will be the current V10 engines, and in their place a widely unpopular 2.4 liter V8 formula.

''If I could choose, I'd have a V12,'' Berger - who until 2003 was joint BMW motor sport director - smiled. ''Probably a turbo.''

German car marque BMW, still run in F1 by Berger's former colleague Dr Mario Theissen, is - with Honda and Mercedes-Benz - threatening to challenge the legality of the FIA's about-face.

10-grand prix winner Berger, meanwhile, admitted that the governing FIA is right to try and cut costs. ''(Rising costs) may kill Formula One in the long term,'' he stated.








Ligier back on track
(GMM -- Nov.17) Ligier is back on track.

Former Formula One team owner Guy Ligier bought a chunk of Magny-Cours based 'Automobiles Martini' earlier in 2004.

The JS47, a brand new Formula 3 contender, will contest various international championships next year.

''This new F3 car sets the precedent for design and marketing of racing cars of the future,'' said Ligier managing director Philippe Ligier.

The car was debuted by Alexandre Premat and Tristan Gommendy this week.

Ligier contested 324 grands prix between 1979 and 1996, and continued after the Alain Prost buyout.








RTE lose Irish TV deal
(GMM -- Nov.17) The Republic of Ireland's new television channel 'Setanta' has won the multi-million dollar exclusive broadcast rights to Formula One.

The three-year deal follows a higher bid than incumbent Irish rights holder, state channel RTE.

''This is a significant milestone for (our) development,'' said Setanta chief Niall Cogley.

Setanta vowed to cover practice, Saturday and Sunday qualifying, and the (live) grand prix.

An RTE spokesman said the network was 'disappointed' they lost the rights. ''(F1) viewing figures recently have dropped ... and Irish interest in the sport is dwindling,'' he added, defending the lower offer.







'No problem' with tire deal
(GMM -- Nov.17) Earlier in 2004, it was reported that several Michelin-shod Formula One teams were being wooed to switch by tire rival Bridgestone.

A source said Grove-based BMW-Williams was one to respond to Bridgestone's advance with a request 'for more information.'

But Michelin competition director Pierre Dupasquier said this week that there are 'no problems' in the long and strong collaboration between Sir Frank Williams' team, Michelin, and engine partner BMW.

''(Williams) was one of the first teams (in 2000) to approach us with regards a tire supply,'' Dupasquier recalled. ''Frank called me twice a year at that time -- and he spoke French!''








Liuzzi will test
(GMM -- Nov.17) Images of the proposed 'Red Bull Racing' Formula One car interim livery were seen by the media this week.

The blue-and-silver paint job resembles a can of the popular energy drink, or Red Bull-backed Christian Klien's 2004 Jaguar helmet.

It will debut on an 'interim' car when Klien, and F3000 champion and fellow Red Bull-junior driver Vitantonio Liuzzi, test at Barcelona from next week.

Indeed, a spokesman for the formerly Ford-owned team at Milton-Keynes confirmed that 23-year-old Liuzzi will be in attendance at the Spanish circuit.








Ralf to test 'in white'
(GMM -- Nov.17) Ralf Schumacher will make his debut in a Toyota F1 car next week in Spain, the German driver announced.

The 29-year-old said on his personal website that, because still officially contracted to BMW-Williams until New Year's Day, he'll test at Circuit de Catalunya with a 'virgin white overall.'

''I am already very excited,'' Schumacher explained.







Coulthard as F1 manager?
(GMM -- Nov.17) Out-of-work Formula One veteran David Coulthard may be considering a 'driver/manager' role at a new team.

''(He's) really up for the idea,'' a source close to the former nine-year McLaren pilot told UK newspaper Sunday Mirror.

33-year-old Coulthard, linked already with Dietrich Mateschitz's newly-acquired Red Bull outfit, is thought also to be looking at new-for-2006 outfits Dubai and Midland F1.

The source said Scottish-born DC, though, would only consider setting up shop at a new team if he had a 'shareholding' or 'a greater involvement,' such as team management.








Verstappen had surgery
(GMM -- Nov.17) In August, out-of-work Formula One veteran Jos Verstappen, 32, had knee surgery.

The popular Dutch driver, who last contested grands prix for Minardi last year, crashed and rolled a sprint go-kart and tore knee ligaments.

''I will be fit in no time,'' he told personal website verstappen.nl.








Liuzzi back in the frame
(GMM -- Nov.17) F3000 champion Vitantonio Liuzzi is right back in the frame to land a Formula One seat next season.

In September, the young Italian thought he would test the Sauber in view of becoming a race driver. But Jacques Villeneuve had earlier locked out the Swiss team's line-up.

''I felt I was out of the frame,'' 23-year-old Liuzzi told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday. ''Now I have a concrete hope of taking part in next year's championship and my mood is completely different.''

A spokesman admitted that Red Bull-junior program driver 'Tonio' is scheduled to travel to Barcelona next week to drive the interim Red Bull Racing F1 car.







'I refused to beg' - Hakkinen
(GMM -- Nov.17) Double F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen called off a return to Formula One because he was not prepared to 'beg' for a top drive.

The 36-year-old, who lost motivation and 'retired' after a ninth season for McLaren in 2001, hinted that he came close to doing a comeback deal with either Williams or BAR.

''I'm not really frustrated,'' the 'Flying Finn' told F1 Racing magazine. ''But I could have done the job, I am probably fitter now than I ever was at any point in my (F1) career. I was 110 per cent committed.''

1998 and 1999 champion Hakkinen will contest the 2005 DTM touring car championship in a Mercedes-Benz next year.








Jordan and Horner
(GMM -- Nov.17) F3000 team owner Christian Horner will be involved with Jordan 'in some capacity' next year, a source revealed.

It was earlier reported that buy-out talks between the struggling team's principal Eddie Jordan and 31-year-old Horner - who ran the ultra-successful 'Arden' support-category outfit for champion Vitantonio Liuzzi in 2004 - ensue.








Berger's still wanted
(GMM -- Nov.17) Former driver and 'co-motor sport director' Gerhard Berger is still a wanted man in the Formula One paddock.

Newest team owner Dietrich Mateschitz, also an Austrian, said the 45-year-old - who hung up his BMW hat in September 2003 - would be a 'useful' addition to team Red Bull.

''Gerhard is an expert,'' he also stated this week.

It was reported earlier in 2004 that the 10-time grand prix winner, Berger, is first on Max Mosley's list to become a key assistant to the FIA president from 2006.







Davidson at Grove - again
(GMM -- Nov.17) Anthony Davidson will return to Oxfordshire this week to make more modifications to his new Williams seat.

The BAR tester, like Jordan's Nick Heidfeld, is scheduled to test the BMW-powered FW26 at Jerez (Spain) in December in view of winning the coveted 2005 race spot alongside Mark Webber.

''The main concern is getting (the seat) comfortable enough,'' said the 25-year-old of the next visit to Grove HQ. ''I'm clearly smaller than Ralf Schumacher so there's a bit of work to do to get it just right.''

Davidson, who will stay at BAR in 2005 if he does not land the Williams job, revealed that he's spoken to Sir Frank Williams 'a few times' since the Jenson Button-saga kicked off.








BAR star in magazine awards
(GMM -- Nov.17) Second-placed-in-2004 Formula One team BAR is arguably the star of authoritative magazine F1 Racing's 'Man of the Year' awards.

The Brackley-based outfit and its three drivers won four out of the fourteen categories, and placed runner-up in a further seven.

''It is especially rewarding,'' said BAR's marketing director Hugh Chambers, ''as these (awards) are voted for by international Formula One fans.''

BAR, powered by Japanese engine partner Honda, won the 'Most Improved Team' award, and also 'Test Driver of the Year' (Anthony Davidson), 'Overtaking Maneuver of the Year' (Jenson Button) and 'Personality of the Year' (Takuma Sato).

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