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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
November 22, 2004


Romania building F1 venue
(GMM -- Nov.22) F1 is looking to stage two more grands prix in Eastern Europe.

In 2005, only Hungary will represent the region on the grand prix calendar. But both Romania and Bulgaria have expressed interest in welcoming the traveling circus to town.

A Romanian race may take place in the Arad region, with HOK - the company involved in Arsenal's new football stadium - commissioned to design a track.

''There's no reason why we can't have a circuit with as much character as Spa (in Belgium),'' said architect Clive Brown.

Up to $100 million may have been put aside for the project by the Romanian government.








'Biggest ever' F1 sale
(GMM -- Nov.22) The biggest-ever auction of F1 memorabilia - including grand prix single seaters - was wrapped up in Ledbury (England) on the weekend.

Minardi's Paul Stoddart sold about half his personal collection.

Bids ranged from $8, for a t-shirt, to $180,000, for a 1997 Tyrrell 025 Formula One car in running order, according to a statement.

2004 Minardi racer Zsolt Baumgartner and former team star Nicolas Kiesa attended the auction, while $70,000 was raised for charity through the auction of two-seater F1 rides.

''I'd like to thank Zsolt and Nicolas,'' said Stoddart, ''who gave freely of their time.''








More to test Jordan
(GMM -- Nov.22) Dutch driver Christijan Albers will not be the only F1 hopeful to test a Jordan car next month.

The 25-year-old star of German DTM racing, who had a seat fitted at Silverstone last week, is scheduled to run at Jerez (Spain) on 1 December.

''Drivers for the remainder of the (four day) test will be announced shortly,'' said a Jordan spokeswoman.







Richards 'not fired'
(GMM -- Nov.22) David Richards was not 'fired' as BAR principal because of the recent Jenson Button-shambles.

Indeed, the Prodrive-leading Englishman said in a teleconference that he was the 'only person' involved who emerged smelling like a rose.

''I came out as cleanly as one would expect,'' said Richards, who'll be replaced in February by former managing director Nick Fry.

Richards' Prodrive arm was commissioned in 2001 to lead a five-year recovery plan for the struggling Formula One team.

''We've done it in three,'' DR smiled.








Monteiro at Misano
(GMM -- Nov.22) Portuguese driver Tiago Monteiro will test the Minardi PS04 Formula One car at Misano (Italy) on Monday.

The 28-year-old former Champ Car star said his job is to 'prepare the car' so Paul Stoddart's locally-based team can assess up to twelve more race hopefuls prior to season 2005.

Monteiro, who tested the Renault F1 car at Barcelona a couple of years ago, finished second in the open-wheeler Nissan World Series.








BAR to go into administration
(GMM -- Nov.22) F1 team BAR are prepared to go into administration in order to protect the intended 45 per cent buy-out by engine partner Honda.

Current owner British American Tobacco is trying to buy the last 10 per cent from original shareholders including ousted founder Craig Pollock, Adrian Reynard and Rick Gorne.

A BAT spokesman said the BAT/Honda venture 'expects' to acquire the shares in British American Racing GP Limited 'from the administrator.'

''This is an important step for both partners,'' said Honda's managing director Takanobu Ito in the Friday statement.







'We'll race more' - BMW
(GMM -- Nov.22) F1 engine maker BMW is prepared to race more than a 19-grand prix calendar.

Never before has a (2005) season schedule looked so busy, but - to spice up the show - Williams' team partner agreed that more races and less track testing is a good idea.

Motor Sport director Dr Mario Theissen also reiterated BMW's contempt for the contentious shift to 2.4 liter V8's in 2006.

''We'll have to build a completely new engine concept,'' said the German, ''and (teams) will have to develop new chassis. We think this will escalate costs, rather than reduce them.''

Theissen said a wasteful 80 per cent of all Formula One running occurs away from the racing action.








'Selling' Red Bull
(GMM -- Nov.22) What does Dietrich Mateschitz want to do -- win the Formula One world championship, or sell more cans of Red Bull energy drink?

Ask the eccentric billionaire's countryman and triple world champion Niki Lauda, and the answer is simple.

''He is a marketing genius,'' said the Austrian in an AFP report.

Personally, 60-year-old Mateschitz - F1's newest team owner - has earlier said that 'everything' with the Red Bull logo on it is therefore part of the company's renowned marketing strategy.

He told Austrian economy magazine Format: ''Red Bull must be synonymous ... with spirit and creativity.''








Testing to resume
(GMM -- Nov.22) On Monday, Toyota and world champion marque Ferrari will reacquaint the sky with the scream of Formula One engines at Circuit de Catalunya.

For the first time since the '04-ending Brazilian grand prix, track action - the first pre-season test - re-starts at the Spanish venue near Barcelona.

BMW-Williams, McLaren, Renault, BAR, Sauber and newly-acquired Red Bull Racing will join the action a day later, while Minardi run at Italy's Misano venue.







No Rossi switch - yet
(GMM -- Nov.22) Race sensation Valentino Rossi will switch to Formula One when he no longer has 'the passion' for MotoGP.

The skilful Italian said at Shah Alam - not far from Kuala-Lumpur - for a Yamaha launch event, that it is 'easy' to remain motivated on two wheels 'as long as I am having fun.'

25-year-old Rossi told Malaysia's 'The Star': ''I have not lost the passion (for motorcycle racing) yet.

''I plan to continue for some time.''








Yoong and A1
(GMM -- Nov.22) Former Formula One pilot for Minardi, Alex Yoong, will probably not drive in the novel 'A1 Grand Prix' championship next winter.

The Malaysian, who snapped up the national franchise in the new Dubai-based winter category, hinted that the only goal is to 'win for (Malaysian) national pride.

''We'll get the best people to fill key roles,'' said the man who drove in Formula One in 2001 and 2002, ''(and) groom future Malaysian talents.''

28-year-old Yoong said the Malaysian A1GP franchise will select a 'main driver' and a 'reserve driver' in mid- 2005.








F1 spinners at Macau
(GMM -- Nov.22) French driver Alexandre Premat won the prestigious F3 Grand Prix of Macau on Sunday.

He beat Poland's Robert Kubica and Lucas di Grassi, of Brazil, after favorites Nico Rosberg - son of 1982 F1 champion Keke - and Lewis Hamilton both crashed.

Another son of a world champion, Australian-born Christian Jones (son of 1980 winner Alan), came to grief on the street circuit, while Nelson Piquet Jr drove from 27th on the grid to a credible tenth.







Schu is Germany's 'best'
(GMM -- Nov.22) Seven time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher is Germany's top sportsperson in a hundred years.

That is, at least, the finding of more than 100,000 voting viewers of television broadcaster ZDF.

The 35-year-old Ferrari driver, ahead of canoe star Birgit Fischer and tennis' Steffi Graf, called the 20th century accolade a 'total surprise.

''I would never have expected an honor like this,'' said Schumacher.








Bernie battle to resume
(GMM -- Nov.22) The battle for control of Formula One racing resumes in London's High Court on Monday.

74-year-old 'impresario' Bernie Ecclestone is being sued by three banks who argue that a 75 per cent share in SLEC should have bought them a louder voice.

He admitted to some consternation about potentially facing an enemy-dominated board of directors by telling the 'Scotland on Sunday' newspaper that his reign will end when he gets 'fired.

''Maybe they'll want to pension me off,'' he shrugged dismissively. ''You never know.''








One day, Ron will quit
(GMM -- Nov.22) One day, when an early March dawns, Ron Dennis will be on a boat -- not perched wearing a black leather jacket on the Melbourne pit wall.

''I want to see McLaren continue to win grands prix,'' the 57-year-old Formula One team principal told UK newspaper The Sunday Times.

He said: ''One day, (I want) it to have nothing to do with me.''

For now, though, Ron is 'happy' to be on the row of stools known affectionately in F1 circles as the 'Prat Perch.'

Meanwhile, behind Woking's multi-million Pound factory doors, engineers are hard at work on the next high performance McLaren-Mercedes road car, codenamed 'P8.'

Dennis explained of the approximately 100,000 Pound car: ''It will be our version of what other people (like Ferrari and Porsche) have done.''







Look elsewhere for BAR boy
(GMM -- Nov.22) David Richards fans have been warned to look elsewhere for the former BAR principal in 2005.

''Don't expect to see me in the (F1) pitlane too much next year,'' the 52-year-old smiled.

He, and his consultancy company Prodrive, has been ousted by the F1 team's owner - British American Tobacco - with a year to run on a contract.

But Richards refused to rule out a return to the pinnacle's Paddock, perhaps for either new team Dubai or Midland. ''You never say never,'' DR commented. ''That's something you learn pretty quickly (in Formula One).''

Prodrive, involved in World Rally, recently launched the Aston Martin Le Mans project, but Richards also vowed to spend more time with his family.








Ralf 'didn't do bad'
(GMM -- Nov.22) Ralf Schumacher didn't do a bad job in 2004.

How can the German racer, son of Ferrari's champion Michael Schumacher and just ninth in the drivers' title, be so confident? ''People seem to be a bit sad that I am leaving (Williams),'' 29-year-old Ralf described.

He'll start a highly-paid tenure at Cologne-based Toyota this week, with a test run in Spain.

Dr Mario Theissen, who fronts BMW's foray with Sir Frank Williams' F1 team, is a countryman and keen Ralf-supporter.

He said the German returned from a six-race absence due to injury ''very (strongly). We can look back to a very good cooperation,'' Theissen told ESPN.








F1 wheel nut for sale
(GMM -- Nov.22) Want a genuine Ferrari F1 engine? How about a set of overalls, worn by Jordan's fired driver Giorgio Pantano?

UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph published a run-down of the best online merchandise available at grand prix team official websites.

The Ferrari engine is a '00-spec 049, signed by Jean Todt and a cool $53,000. You can pick up a 1996 Goodyear team tire for a tad under $4000.

Jordan, meanwhile, are selling a used wheel nut for $28 and those yellow Pantano overalls are $1120.

The BAR-Honda website is offering a 2002 gear ratio for $175, and you can buy a McLaren (Silver Lake) bottle of wine for $35, the newspaper said.







Button may stay - BAR
(GMM -- Nov.22) According to David Richards, team driver Jenson Button may be convinced to stay at BAR beyond 2005.

The former F1 principal, ousted by owner BAT as engine partner Honda takes a 45 per cent team stake, reckons 'great foundations' are down at Brackley.

''I don't suppose (Jenson will) be making that decision in the short term,'' said Richards, who was locked in battle for the 25-year-old driver in 2004 with team rival BMW-Williams.

52-year-old DR predicts that BAR may be able to challenge Ferrari for the world championship next year.

He also revealed that work on a new wind tunnel was set to commence Monday.








Klien 'to race'
(GMM -- Nov.22) Christian Klien will get a second stab at a Formula One race drive next year.

A deal has not been struck, but 'Red Bull' F1 owner Dieter Mateschitz revealed in German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that the 2004 Jaguar driver has been offered 'the opportunity' to race on at Milton-Keynes.

Meanwhile, Mateschitz - Austria's first billionaire - said Red Bull Racing was looking to secure an engine deal with BMW for the 2006 season.

He said the team 'have a good relationship' with the Munich marque.








Another title
(GMM -- Nov.22) Irish racing driver Richard Lyons underlined his claim for a Formula One spot on Saturday.

The 25-year-old, who earlier sealed Japan's premier open wheeler Formula Nippon championship, added a Japanese GP title to the resume at Suzuka.

''(This) is as satisfying for me as my Formula Nippon win,'' said Richard.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Ayrton Senna's nephew - Bruno Senna - finished second in a crash-strewn Formula Renault Challenge event at Macau.







Brit GP 'safe' - report
(GMM -- Nov.22) The historic British grand prix is safe, a newspaper claimed.

'Scotland on Sunday' sent a journalist to interview 74-year-old F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone.

A resultant article quoted the commercial rights holder as saying he would be 'shattered' if Silverstone didn't host a race next season.

''I don't want to be shattered,'' Bernie smiled - as the journalist noted - 'knowingly.'

The track-owning BRDC's president Sir Jackie Stewart, meanwhile, renewed a plea for government backing to improve the Northamptonshire venue's facilities.

''(We) have been left to save the British grand prix for the nation,'' the Scot told The Sun, ''(and) the economy of a large region around Silverstone and for 40,000 jobs in the industry.''

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