F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
November 29, 2004

F1 comes to Swanston Street
(GMM -- Nov.29) Melbourne could follow London's lead by staging a F1 street demonstration through the Australian city.

Local publication 'the Age' revealed that grand prix boss Ron Walker is discussing the plan to mark the 10-year birthday of the Melbourne race.

A report said up to six F1 cars, including Mark Webber's BMW-Williams, would scream around a small square circuit in the CBD.

Melbourne Council chief executive David Pitchford confirmed that the Grand Prix Corporation had approached him.

''If it's feasible I'll put a recommendation to the council,'' he promised.

The story explains the earlier mysterious appearance of a Minardi in the Melbourne CBD -- it was pushed around to assess whether a F1 car could handle the city's bumpy surface.

Ferrari to make late debut
(GMM -- Nov.29) Next season might be five grands prix in before a new Ferrari car makes its debut, chief designer Rory Byrne revealed.

The South African veteran said F2005 will appear on the test track in late February.

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: ''We want to go deeper into research and design.''

Significant rule changes next year mean that the Melbourne-spec F2004 will be heavily modified. Byrne said the next red car will then be an 'evolutionary' - but major - step of the 2002/2003/2004 mould.

Comfy Villeneuve
(GMM -- Nov.29) Toyota's Ricardo Zonta ended the first major test of the winter period at the top of the time sheet.

The Brazilian test driver edged Williams' Mark Webber, Sauber debutant Jacques Villeneuve and eleven other runners at the Circuit de Catalunya.

''I felt immediately comfortable in the car,'' said Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion who spent most of 2004 without a drive.

He added: ''I did a lot of laps today and the times were good.''

On Saturday, a field of five Michelin-shod cars - led by Webber - stayed on at the artificially dampened Barcelona for a private wet tire test.

The next big F1 session will take place at Jerez, also in Spain.

Trulli's pain in the neck
(GMM -- Nov.29) Jarno Trulli thought last week's test at the Circuit de Catalunya was a pain in the neck.

The Italian, who worked with 2005 team-mate Ralf Schumacher for the first time, had a 'slight problem' with his seat position in the interim Toyota.

''It put a bit of stress on my neck,'' he explained, ''but it's something I'll just have to bear -- it will only be solved when we start running in the new car.''

Meanwhile, Cologne colleague Ricardo Zonta - the Toyota tester - said he didn't notice 'much difference' when testing the 2005-spec longer life Michelin tire.

''They're strong on the first lap,'' said the Brazilian, ''and just more consistent and very stable on a long run.''

Alonso's out till '05
(GMM -- Nov.29) Renault's Spanish F1 sensation Fernando Alonso will not return to track action until the New Year.

Chief test engineer Christian Silk complimented the way new 2005 team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella and full time test driver Franck Montagny got along at Circuit de Catalunya last week.

''This will help us make good progress during our pre-Christmas test program,'' he said.

'05 tire 'two seconds slower'
(GMM -- Nov.29) Bridgestone's 2005-spec tire is about two seconds a lap slower than the 2004 design, technical manager Hisao Suganuma estimated after the Barcelona test.

''We expected that,'' said the Japanese. ''The cars (also) tend to slide more.''

Next year, a set of fresh F1 rubber will have to last qualifying and the whole grand prix, under a new FIA regulation aimed at reducing speed in a corner.

Suganuma said a full GP distance was not attempted with Ferrari on the development tire in Spain. ''We may start to do (that) in January,'' he revealed.

''I am very happy with the work that has been done so far.''

More rookies test Minardi
(GMM -- Nov.29) Another Formula One hopeful or two were given a shot at the wheel of a Minardi car at Misano.

Patrick Huisman, a Dutch Porsche racing star, and Belgian F3000 racer Jeffrey van Hooydonk - on Friday - got their first taste of F1 power in a 2004-spec PS04B.

''It was like a computer game,'' said the latter. ''Only faster!''

Huisman's run was his first in an open-wheeler car of any sort. ''It was a bit scary at first,'' he admitted. ''I took it very easy.''

Friday in Italy also marked the return to a grand prix car of Dutch veteran and fans' favorite Jos Verstappen.

''After a year away,'' he said, ''I really enjoyed driving the (two seater) car.''

BAR bemused Button
(GMM -- Nov.29) Jenson Button sounded less than enthralled after getting to know BAR's black-and-silver 'concept car' in Barcelona last week.

The Englishman, who had an intended switch to Williams thwarted by BAR's legal team earlier in 2004, ground to a halt within a few laps of his run with a Honda engine failure.

''I'm reasonably happy with progress,'' said the 25-year-old. ''We had a few small issues but nothing more than we expected.

''It felt good to get back in the car after the end of season break.''

Honda's engineering director Shuhei Nakamoto, meanwhile, lamented the 2005-spec V10 failure, but said it 'just feels good' to have something new to work on.

Gearbox to take longer to fix
(GMM -- Nov.29) A glitch on Williams' new-for-2005 gearbox will take longer than expected to fix.

Technical director Sam Michael said last week that the team had scheduled to have the 'interim' FW26 running perfectly 'by the time we reach Jerez (on Tuesday 30 November).'

But the teething problem will now take most of the week, 'and into the Jerez test,' to resolve, the Australian engineer revealed on the weekend.

The 'interim' BMW-powered car also features FW27-spec rear suspension.

Panis at wheel of new engine
(GMM -- Nov.29) F1 veteran Olivier Panis kicked off a new role as Toyota test driver at the Paul Ricard (France) track last week.

The 38-year-old said he enjoyed a 'relatively trouble free' week in lovely weather.

''We worked mainly on the new RVX-05 engine for next season,'' said the Frenchman, who retired as a race driver for the team after October's Japanese grand prix.

Panis said Luca Marmorini's engine team had done a 'fantastic job' on the new two-race unit.

He continued: ''I am proud that I can continue to play such a vital role within the team.''

New Toyota 'nearly ready'
(GMM -- Nov.29) Toyota's 2005 grand prix car will be ready before Christmas, it was announced by team technical director Mike Gascoyne.

The Englishman commented: ''That means we can run it as soon as the New Year testing ban has been lifted in January.''

Toyota won't be running an 'interim' car prior to season 2005, but Gascoyne said 'significant development' will be made to the new TF105 before it is shipped to Melbourne.

He admitted the new car is being brought out 'comparatively early.'

''The aero package will be totally new in Australia,'' said Gascoyne, ''but we want to run the new car to get it reliable.''

Pizza-man delivered Webber's talent
(GMM -- Nov.29) Formula One team BMW-Williams spotted just how fast new driver Mark Webber is when he drove for Jaguar in 2003.

Then, he was team-mate to Antonio Pizzonia -- Grove's then former test driver. Webber beat the young Brazilian to the point of driving him off the grand prix grid.

''We knew how quick Antonio was,'' said technical director Sam Michael, ''so we knew straight away that Mark was obviously something pretty special.''

Ironically, 23-year-old Pizzonia is now most likely to again line up as Webber's team-mate, in 2005.

He told Autosport on Friday that he is 'not worried' about Nick Heidfeld's 'shootout' run for the team at Jerez on 9 December.

''I know what I can do,'' he told the magazine, ''(and) the team knows me.''

Ralf backs sex shops
(GMM -- Nov.29) Ralf Schumacher has put two million euros into a project to set up sex shops in Slovenia.

The Toyota driver in Formula One, a German, teamed up with a subsidiary of German 'erotics' products firm Beate Uhse, it was explained in a Reuters report.

''For me, it's just like any other investment,'' said the 29-year-old.

Coulthard should 'walk away'
(GMM -- Nov.29) David Coulthard should give up and retire with some dignity, former grand prix driver and fellow Briton Eddie Irvine told UK's The Sun.

The outspoken Ulsterman, who tried but failed to land a Jordan drive after racing with Ferrari and Jaguar until 2002, said it's 'staggering' that 33-year-old Coulthard is still prepared to 'hawk' himself to a potential F1 employer.

''David never won the world title and never will,'' Irvine told the newspaper. ''He should walk away and concentrate on getting on with his life.''

Having earlier ruled out the veteran Scot's chance of driving for 'Red Bull' in 2005, meanwhile, team owner Dieter Mateschitz said Coulthard may actually be 'of interest' due to his experience.

Ant may still shoot-it-out
(GMM -- Nov.29) Anthony Davidson may still shoot-it-out for the 2005 race seat next to Williams' Mark Webber at Jerez this week.

Last week, BAR-Honda - the young test driver's employer - called a halt to the planned run after a dispute with Sir Frank's Grove-based outfit.

''It's not all over,'' 25-year-old Davidson told UK tabloid The Daily Express. ''I'm sure it will be resolved.

''I desperately want to drive in F1 and this is a big chance.''

The diminutive driver declined to reveal the reason for the buckled deal, but said it's in 'everyone's interest' for it to be 'ironed out' before Wednesday.

Frank 'apologized' - Webber
(GMM -- Nov.29) Sir Frank Williams apologized for not attending Mark Webber's first test for the team in Barcelona.

The Australian, who drove for Jaguar in 2003 and 2004, admitted as much while testing at the Circuit de Catalunya last week.

28-year-old Webber, according to countryman and former employer Paul Stoddart, is the natural heir to world champion Michael Schumacher's throne.

The Minardi principal told F1 Racing magazine: ''Until (Michael) does decide to retire, there won't be anyone else winning championships. Mark is the only other driver who is a totally, 100 per cent focused F1 driver.''

Button stirred Richards exit
(GMM -- Nov.29) BAR's new wind tunnel, commissioned by equity and engine partner Honda, will produce a quicker Formula One car.

That's the expectation of Nigel McCarthy, who runs the existing Honda wind tunnel in London.

He told UK publication 'People' that the bigger a tunnel, the 'more accurate' the aerodynamic measurements you get.

''(It) will have one major effect,'' he said of the just-commenced project. ''The cars will go faster.''

Meanwhile, an 'insider' told the publication that David Richards' Brackley exit will give Jenson Button 'the chance of a new start' in his quest for the drivers' championship.

He said the 25-year-old's thwarted decision to move to Williams in 2005 caused a lot of friction, perhaps thus moving Honda to chop the team principal.

Green to test McLaren
(GMM -- Nov.29) F3 ace Jamie Green is preparing to test a McLaren.

The Briton, 22, won the promise after securing the McLaren Autosport BRDC award in 2002.

Green will probably race in the support 'GP2' category next year.

Kimi to return
(GMM -- Nov.29) Finnish F1 favorite Kimi Raikkonen will soon return to the test track at Jerez, we can reveal.

The 25-year-old doesn't mind behind-the-scenes driving, but is not keen on getting up so early.

''We always start earlier than we do at grands prix,'' he said in an interview. ''At the end of the day you are tired but you might have to do some promotional work -- it's hard because it's in English, not my first language.

''It's not too hard to deal with, though, as most of the journalists ask the same questions. It's nice to get away from the track and head back to the hotel.''

McRae to take on Schu
(GMM -- Nov.29) Former World Rally champion Colin McRae would 'love' to beat F1 master Michael Schumacher at next weekend's novel 'Race of Champions' event (Paris).

The Scot told UK's 'Sunday Mirror' newspaper that he, like a lot of rally stars, has wanted to show the Ferrari driver - and other track racers - a thing or two 'for a long time.

''Whatever happens,'' said McRae, who will be countryman David Coulthard's team-mate, ''it will be very competitive.''

Renault to launch in Monaco
(GMM -- Nov.29) Renault will launch a 2005-spec Formula One car in Monaco in February, we can reveal.

The manufacturer-owned team had wanted to launch in France, but anti-tobacco legislation means that - for the third year on the trot - Renault must either do it elsewhere or unveil a non-Mild Seven-branded car.

The cigarette brand and title sponsor is owned by Japan Tobacco.

F1 should slow down - Schu
(GMM -- Nov.29) Formula One is right to slow down, seven time world champion Michael Schumacher said.

''It's a step in the right direction,'' he told his official website in reference to the aero, tyre and engine change in 2005.

35-year-old Schumacher, who'll be thirty six before the season opener in Australia, said leaving the rules alone would not be 'safe.

''Also,'' he added, ''the costs may decrease.''

Ferrari's top star also repeated his denial of impending retirement. ''After all,'' said the German, ''I still feel like I can compete.''

Ferrari and Sauber to split
(GMM -- Nov.29) Ferrari may end the long engine collaboration with private Formula One team Sauber at the end of the 2005 season, it is reported.

The current contract will expire on December 31 next year.

Peter Sauber denied the speculation, which is reportedly already being circulated formally around Maranello.

''We should be told well in advance if this is the case,'' he was quoted by Autosport.

The Swiss, however, admitted that Hinwil-based Sauber would be prudent to 'look around' at other engine suppliers 'to see what's best for the team.'

The speculation follows Sauber's split to Ferrari rival Michelin tyres, and the controversial signing - against the wishes of Ferrari - of the Cost Saving Initiative.

Costa to replace Rory Byrne
(GMM -- Nov.29) An Italian by the name of Aldo Costa will become 'chief designer' at Ferrari when veteran Rory Byrne retires in February 2007.

South African Byrne said Costa's design 'signature' - not his own - will be on the new F2005 car.

''In 2007 I will go to Phuket, in Thailand, where my wife and I have bought land by the sea and will build holiday cottages for tourists,'' he told newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Byrne said Costa is already 'taking over' many of his long-standing responsibilities in the design department at Maranello.

He said he could 'remain involved' in some capacity with Ferrari beyond 2007. F1 principal Jean Todt is reportedly offering Byrne a 'lifetime' Ferrari deal.

Renault fans in Spain
(GMM -- Nov.29) Eight hundred and fifty excited Renault fans enjoyed a day at the Circuit de Catalunya F1 test on Thursday.

At 5am in the morning, 350 'fan club' members met at Paris' airport to board a chartered flight to Barcelona. Later, at the track, another 500 turned up.

Some got a tour of the garage, met the drivers - including new recruit Giancarlo Fisichella - and watched the action from pitlane and the main grandstand.

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