F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
November 19, 2004

Button's new management
(GMM -- Nov.19) One of the highest-profile RP representatives in Formula One, Nav Sidhu, may be involved with the management of Jenson Button in 2005.

''No comment at this stage,'' he said on Thursday. ''I'm helping with (the) transition from Jaguar to Red Bull right now and we'll see what the New Year brings.''

Sidhu, whilst not referring directly to 25-year-old English driver Button, admitted - in the fallout of Ford's decision to sell Jaguar and quit F1 - that there are one or two 'options to consider.'

Nav, who was 'Head of (F1) Communications' at Jaguar Racing, worked with the BAR-Honda ace at Williams in 2000.

Button earlier revealed dissatisfaction with the way his current management handled a fouled switch to Williams.

Red Bull deal 'highly likely'
(GMM -- Nov.19) A deal between new Formula One team 'Red Bull Racing' and tire supplier Michelin is looking 'highly likely.'

A spokesman at Clermont-Ferrand admitted that an agreement 'needs' to be in place before post-season testing begins at Barcelona next week.

''(But) we can't confirm anything,'' he told us.

The spokesman also enthused about the collaboration with BAR, who switched from Bridgestone to the French tire company for the start of 2004. It is reported that Bridgestone made an offer to woo Dave Richards' team back to Japanese rubber.

''BAR gave us our most consistent results in 2004,'' said the spokesman, ''and, by switching, (helped) us prove that our tires really are competitive.''

BAR and Honda - 'no comment'
(GMM -- Nov.19) BAR and Honda have separately refused to comment on the reported 'buy-out' of the Formula One team.

''We're not in a position to comment at this stage,'' said a Honda spokesman.

Numerous media outlets claimed on Wednesday and Thursday that Honda bought between a forty per cent and full shareholding of the team presently led by David Richards.

A spokeswoman at Brackley, meanwhile, sung from the same 'no comment' hymn sheet.

''My comment,'' she said by telephone, ''would be 'BAR has no comment to make on the subject'.''

Arbitration 'undecided'
(GMM -- Nov.19) F1 engine suppliers Mercedes-Benz, Honda and BMW 'have not decided' whether to advance a threat to legally challenge the governing FIA.

It is reported that the three carmakers, allied respectively with grand prix teams McLaren, BAR and WilliamsF1, may take the Paris body to arbitration over the imposition of 2.4 liter V8's in 2006.

They argue that, under the otherwise binding Concorde Agreement, a 3.0 liter V10 formula is guaranteed until the end of 2007.

''For the time being,'' Daimler Chrysler rep (Mercedes-Benz) Wolfgang Schattling told us on Thursday, ''nothing has been decided on this issue so far.''

A BMW spokesman at Munich, meanwhile, confirmed the line by reiterating that talks with Mercedes-Benz and Honda about how to handle the situation are 'still taking place.'

Fisi to tackle tricky test
(GMM -- Nov.19) One of Giancarlo Fisichella's most difficult tasks this winter will be adjusting to the Michelin tire.

The highly rated Italian, who is returning to the top Formula One team based at Enstone next year, drove Japanese-made Bridgestone rubber for Jordan and Sauber in 2002-2004.

''I think it will be quite a difficult element of our program,'' the 31-year-old admitted, ''to work out and understand (the Michelin tire's) behavior as well as testing the new specification tires for 2005.''

He denied, though, that adapting to a different tire is a long-term problem for any F1 pilot. ''We have enough time ... to get on top of it,'' said the Roman.

Fisichella will drive the Renault for the first time next Wednesday, at Circuit de Catalunya (Spain).

Winning F1 merchandise
(GMM -- Nov.19) BAR's is winning F1 merchandise.

Fitch, the London design firm responsible for the Formula One team's clothing range, took home two prizes from the annual marketing 'Brand Design Awards.'

In the 'Advertising and Sponsorship' class, BAR/British American Tobacco beat an entry by Vodafone Ferrari.

''(Merchandise) sales at Silverstone over the race weekend ... broke all team records exceeding 1 million,'' a statement explained.

BMW have 'stamina'
(GMM -- Nov.19) F1 engine maker BMW responded to the claim of Sir Frank Williams that the German marque's medium-term future at the pinnacle of motor sport appears 'undecided.'

A contract to 2009 exists between the two companies, but speculation reckons BMW's unhappiness about the debatably-illegal move to V8 in 2006 may be muscular enough to compel a 'call it a day' call from Munich.

''We know that sometimes (F1) is not easy,'' said BMW's head of motor sport communication Joerg Kottmeier, ''(but) we have a long term perspective. We have stamina.''

American up to Speed in F1
(GMM -- Nov.19) An American looks set to Speed into the pinnacle of motor sport next year.

'Red Bull' team owner Dieter Mateschitz admitted that Californian-born Scott Speed, a centerpiece of the 'Red Bull Search' for an American grand prix driver, is being considered for the 2005 F1 test driver job.

''(Vitantonio) Liuzzi and (Christian) Klien will be testing (at Barcelona) next week,'' the Austrian energy drink magnate and billionaire revealed, ''and they have a good chance of being our drivers for 2005.''

21-year-old Speed won the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2004.

Briscoe and Jordan
(GMM -- Nov.19) Jordan and Australian-born F1 hopeful Ryan Briscoe have been on the blower.

''I can't tell you much,'' the Italian-based youngster - under ten-year contract to Toyota - told Australian news agencies on Thursday.

The blonde-haired, Sydney-born 23-year-old's likelihood of sharing a Melbourne grand prix grid with compatriot Mark Webber next March were boosted last week, when cash-strapped Jordan announced a new customer Toyota engine deal.

He said talks with Eddie Jordan have been going on ''for a while. It's not looking bad -- (but) there's nothing much else to say, really.''

Speculation says Briscoe's manager Max Angelelli may be negotiating a Toyota engine 'subsidy' for Jordan if Ryan is taken on.

He's coming home for Christmas and hopes a deal is sealed by then. ''I'm pretty sure it will (be),'' Ryan told us.

Sauber tire deal limited
(GMM -- Nov.19) F1 tire supplier Michelin is worried that Sauber might transfer secret information to engine partner Ferrari.

Sauber, who buy customer engines from the world champion marque, surprised sport insiders when it reached a commercial deal to run French-made tires in 2005 after a long collaboration with Bridgestone.

But Michelin competition director Pierre Dupasquier hinted that Sauber may not receive full 'advanced technology.'

He told atlasf1.com: ''As far as development goes, it depends. Perhaps (certain things) will not be part of the deal -- we'll see.''

67-year-old Frenchman Dupasquier said one of the conditions of the Sauber supply may be that the Swiss-based team are now allowed to test at Ferrari's private Fiorano test track.

Zanardi in America
(GMM -- Nov.19) Inspirational former F1 driver Alex Zanardi will tour America in November and December.

The Italian-born touring car star, who lost both legs in an horror Champ Car crash in 2001, is promoting a new book about his career -- 'My Sweetest Victory.'

He'll be in New York and even appear on David Letterman's famous 'Late Show.'

Red Bull to stay in England
(GMM -- Nov.19) Former Jaguar F1 principal Tony Purnell denied that the team's new incarnation, Red Bull Racing, will set up shop in Austria.

''Wind tunnels are not moveable items,'' he said, confirming that Milton-Keynes (England) is remaining team HQ.

''England is the centre of the motorsport industry.''

Purnell also said Jaguar's staff foundation, with managing director David Pitchforth at the helm, is to remain intact.

'Right time' for Ralf exit
(GMM -- Nov.19) Patrick Head said he 'regrets' long-time Williams driver Ralf Schumacher's decision to leave the team for Toyota in 2005.

But Head, team co-owner and a veteran engineer, admitted that after a record six-season collaboration, it's the 'right time' for both to seek a new challenge.

He said: ''We really wanted to win the championship (together) -- but unfortunately we didn't succeed.''

Ralf drove nearly a hundred grands prix for the Oxfordshire-based Formula One team, winning six.

The 29-year-old, meanwhile, called the decision to farewell Head and Sir Frank Williams' company 'anything but easy.'

Head claim 'unfair' - Jacques
(GMM -- Nov.19) Patrick Head's criticism that Jacques Villeneuve made 'heavy weather' of the 1997 drivers' world championship conquest is unfair.

That's the French-Canadian's scathing claim.

33-year-old Villeneuve said Head, WilliamsF1 co-owner and then technical director, should be pleased that Grove's last title victory was won after an 'exciting' showdown.

''I don't think it's fair comment,'' Villeneuve, who next year will return full-time to the pinnacle of racing with Sauber, told F1 Racing magazine. ''But why should I care?''

The outspoken 1997 champion reckons Head spent that season working most closely with Villeneuve's then German team-mate -- Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

''(Frentzen) was always trying to keep Patrick happy,'' said Jacques, ''but it screwed him. We did better than him -- by a long way.''

Anderson working with Midland
(GMM -- Nov.19) 2006 Formula One team 'Midland' made an approach to Jordan's former technical director Gary Anderson.

The Irishman was instrumental in the formation of Eddie Jordan's fledgling outfit in 1991.

''We've had a few meetings,'' Anderson told British publication Autosport.

He hinted that a deal could be struck by the end of November, but declined to give a definitive 'yes' to speculation that he'll take up a key role.

It is reported, though, that Anderson is already in Italy, helping Dallara with the design of the first Midland machine.

Whatever happens, he will never work full-time at the pinnacle of motor sport again. ''I've done too much of that in the past,'' said veteran Gary.

'No problem' at fitting
(GMM -- Nov.19) Renault returnee Giancarlo Fisichella's seat fitting earlier in November went off without a hitch.

''There were no problems at all,'' said the Roman, who last drove for the Enstone-based Formula One team - then called Benetton - in 2001.

31-year-old Fisichella will debut in the 2004-spec R24 at Barcelona next week.

He reported: ''I left (the factory) that evening even more excited about next year. The pre-Christmas sessions will be about learning, and getting ready to evaluate the new car.''

'Pleased' with tire advance
(GMM -- Nov.19) Formula One team Williams is not looking to change tires.

It was earlier reported that the Grove-based outfit responded with a request for 'more information' after rival supplier Bridgestone's advance.

The speculation even moved Michelin competition director Pierre Dupasquier to this week state that there are 'no problems' in the Michelin-Williams collaboration.

''We will be continuing (our) partnership with Michelin next season,'' said a team spokesman, ''and (are) pleased with the significant progress and continual energies committed by (Michelin) to provide competitive advantage.''

Frank hasn't decided - team
(GMM -- Nov.19) Sir Frank Williams is yet to decide who will drive alongside Mark Webber in the FW27 car next year.

A team spokesman responded to the owner and principal's earlier comment that young test driver Antonio Pizzonia is 'most likely' to move into the racing role.

''It would be a waste of both drivers' time, and our resources, if we were not serious about offering (Nick Heidfeld and Anthony Davidson) a fair shot at the seat,'' he said.

''(Their run) is not a waste of time.''

The aforementioned pair are scheduled to complete three days each at Jerez in December.

But the spokesman in Oxfordshire admitted that 23-year-old Pizzonia is in pole position for the job because of his knowledge of the car and team.

He added: ''And by virtue of his race performances this season (when substituting for the injured Ralf Schumacher).''

Did you know ... ?
(GMM -- Nov.19) A sale deal between Red Bull billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz and Jaguar's former F1 team owner 'The Ford Motor Company' was actually agreed in July.

The Austrian energy drink magnate and Ford president Nick Scheele celebrated the coup by going out for dinner in Vienna. Scheele's Dearborn bosses in America scuppered the deal.

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