F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
December 3, 2004

Dupasquier's successor
(GMM -- Dec.3) F1 tire supplier Michelin already have a successor in waiting for competition director Pierre Dupasquier, we can reveal.

''We've known who it is for a couple of years now,'' said a source at Clermont-Ferrand HQ.

But he mocked speculation that the ultra-Gallic Dupasquier, 67, has now indicated he will definitely retire 'some time' in 2006.

The source said: ''(Pierre) is well past the 'normal' retirement age, but is with us with the blessing of the managing partners.''

It's obvious, though, that Pierre will call it a day sooner rather than later, 'but I cannot confirm a leaving date,' a Michelin spokesman said, picking up the theme.

He added: ''I guess it would ... more than likely be in the next two years -- or so.''

Founder blocks BAR sale
(GMM -- Dec.3) BAR founder Craig Pollock is trying to block the F1 team's part-sale to Honda.

The ousted principal and Jacques Villeneuve's manager - like Adrian Reynard and Rick Gorne - still own a minority slice of Brackley (UK)-based BAR.

But Pollock, incidentally not supported by Reynard and Gorne, is challenging in court current owner (tobacco-giant) BAT's attempt to put BAR Holdings into administration.

''All I can say,'' said Pollock, ''is that BAT didn't look good in court.''

Pollock's qualm is that BAT did not consult the board before agreeing the sale to the Japanese carmaker.

Villeneuve on top
(GMM -- Dec.3) 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve returned to (un)familiar territory on Thursday -- the top of an F1 time sheet.

Testing for new employer Sauber at a wet/dry Jerez in southern Spain, the 33-year-old lapped quicker than a field of seventeen representing every grand prix team except Minardi.

''As soon as the track started to dry up in the afternoon we were able to do our best laps,'' said Sauber engineer Giampaolo Dall'Ara.

Thursday's field featured young F3 Briton James Rossiter in the BAR, but he fell way short of cohort Alan van der Merwe's impressive best lap.

Quick Nick to get second run
(GMM -- Dec.3) 'Quick Nick' Heidfeld may have won a second chance to shine in a BMW-powered cockpit.

The German was more impressive (and comfortably quicker than only rival Antonio Pizzonia) on his second of an albeit damp 'shootout' run for the Williams team at Jerez on Thursday.

The performance has probably moved Sir Frank's team to maintain Nick's originally-scheduled Grove debut slot, on 9 December, at the same Spanish venue.

''I'm very impressed (with Heidfeld),'' technical director Sam Michael said. He revealed that bosses would now discuss whether or not to give Nick a second run.

27-year-old Heidfeld said he was 'happy' with the test even if he never really had a dry track to play with.

''I think I have a good chance (of landing the drive),'' he told German RTL television.

Schu to drive F1 in Paris
(GMM -- Dec.3) On Sunday, world champion Michael Schumacher will drive his F1 Ferrari down Paris' Champs Elysees.

Jean Todt will be at the wheel of an Enzo, French F1 legend Rene Arnoux a 575 Maranello, Patrick Tambay in a 612 Scaglietti, and Ferrari-powered Sauber star Felipe Massa in a new F430.

The parade, to run from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, is a Ferrari tribute, but also the marking of an agreement between France and the ICM, with Schumacher and Todt as patrons.

France's World Rally champ Sebastien Loeb will show off his Citroen just prior to the Ferrari extravaganza.

DC 'top' of Red Bull's list
(GMM -- Dec.3) David Coulthard is back in favor with Dietrich Mateschitz's new Formula One team.

The Austrian billionaire said Coulthard, the most experienced and successful current grand prix driver after Michael Schumacher, is also one of the 'brightest characters' in F1.

''What our team needs now,'' he told Autosport, ''is experience. It's difficult for us to have two rookies only.''

The story hit the headlines after Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi, formerly the most likely 2005 pairing, tested re-painted Jaguar R5 cars at Barcelona and now Jerez.

Mateschitz said 33-year-old DC is at the 'very, very top' of Red Bull's list.

He added: ''I am sure that the team will talk to him. He is not only a good-looking driver but also a great racer.''

It's no 'mind game' - JPM
(GMM -- Dec.3) Juan Pablo Montoya has denied he is already rolling out the mind games.

It was revealed this week that McLaren's fiery new Latin driver will unveil a new helmet design next year -- featuring a block of ice being melted by a huge blowtorch.

The 29-year-old's new team-mate is Kimi Raikkonen, christened 'the iceman' by Ron Dennis.

''Everyone thought it was all about mind games with Ralf (at Williams),'' said Bogota-born Montoya, ''but I don't need them -- why should I? With Kimi it's different. We get along.''

Red Bull confirm launch
(GMM -- Dec.3) Dietrich Mateschitz's new F1 team will launch on 7 February.

A statement said 'Red Bull Racing' will pull the wraps off the 'RB1' at the Jerez circuit in Spain.

''The RB1 will be the result of the ongoing development and evolution of the Jaguar R5,'' it added.

Red Bull's press office at Milton-Keynes also denied that the Ford-owned Jaguar sale process had affected the 2005 'schedule.'

Meanwhile, David Coulthard's manager admitted the pair were 'exploring' the opportunity of joining Red Bull in 2005.

''(It) would unquestionably be (an opportunity),'' former grand prix driver and British TV pundit Martin Brundle said.

Keke's advice -- 'copy Schu'
(GMM -- Dec.3) 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg is advising teenage son Nico to watch Michael Schumacher -- and then copy him.

''(That's) the best compliment I can pay (Michael),'' said the racer originally known as the Flying Finn.

Nico Rosberg, who tested a BMW-Williams earlier in 2004, is currently an F3 front runner.

''I've told (Nico) to learn from Michael,'' Rosberg was quoted as saying by F1 Racing magazine, ''and not anyone else. (Michael) is the first driver in the history of F1, including Ayrton Senna, to maximize his talent.''

Girl racer eyes F1
(GMM -- Dec.3) Not since 1976 has a female graced the Formula One grid -- as a driver.

21-year-old Susie Stoddart - not a relation of the Minardi man, incidentally - is hoping to change that.

Nominated for Sunday night's lauded 'McLaren Autosport BRDC Young driver of the Year' award for the second year running - whose prize includes a McLaren F1 test - she will also compete in British F3 in 2005.

Like Jenson Button, she hopes to graduate to F1 within a year.

''That's the plan,'' she told UK's The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Stoddart insists there is no reason, not even a physical one, that would prevent a woman from going wheel-to-wheel with Michael Schumacher for the championship.

Of training, she admitted: ''I just have to work harder, for longer.''

Webber in hot water
(GMM -- Dec.3) Mark Webber landed himself in hot water after calling probable 2005 F1 team-mate Antonio Pizzonia both a 'liar' and a 'loser' in the same day.

Williams chiefs are reportedly upset after their new Australian hotshot gave an interview to Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

Referring to Pizzonia's hint that Webber got better equipment when they were partnered at Jaguar in 2003, Mark said: ''(He's) been telling lies -- it's all bullshit. But if he really thinks so, then he's a loser.''

28-year-old Webber suggested 'Jungle Boy' is fast in testing but less impressive under pressure. ''When he took over from Gene (at Williams in 2004) he did well,'' said MW, ''but he had losing to lose.''

Webber also said the blockage of Jenson Button's team switch had left a 'lot more pressure on me. (Now) the development work will be heavy.''

Minardi aim for same line-up
(GMM -- Dec.3) Zsolt Baumgartner will 'almost surely' remain a Minardi driver in 2005, the team's founder revealed.

Gian Carlo Minardi, who works on the driver program at Faenza, told Autosprint magazine that the young Hungarian's local backers 'feel better' now the future of engine supplier Cosworth is assured.

''We'll have the ex-Jaguar engine,'' said the Italian racing veteran, ''after all.''

Minardi also said it was team owner and principal Paul Stoddart's preference to keep Roman youngster Gianmaria Bruni at the wheel, too.

But he warned that Bruni's Italian sponsors need to 'wake up.'

'Advantage Michelin'
(GMM -- Dec.3) Ferrari's F1 rivals will have a definite advantage next year, technical manager Nigel Stepney said.

The Briton noted that the biggest car and tire rule-change in a decade is sure to favor the Michelin-clad teams.

''We are the only major team on Bridgestone tires,'' the Ferrari man told magazine weekly Autosport. ''(2005) will be our biggest challenge yet.''

Ferrari have not lost a constructors' world championship since 1999, and scooped - with Michael Schumacher - the last five drivers' title prizes.

Bridgestone's technical manager Hisao Suganuma agrees that Michelin - with five carmaker-backed team partners - have the advantage with the new qualifying/grand prix tire rule.

''(It) is bound to give them a bigger pool of data to work with,'' the Japanese predicted.

Todt, F1 cohorts, to meet
(GMM -- Dec.3) Ferrari's Jean Todt will join his nine rival F1 principals at a meeting next Monday, it was reported.

The world champion team was alone in not signing the recent 'Cost Saving Initiative' designed primarily to reduce testing and (thus) save the embattled British grand prix.

The meeting is also a 'reaction to the FIA decision to cancel the (F1) Commission meeting that was scheduled to take place at the end of the week,' website grandprix.com published.

Meanwhile, it is reported elsewhere that FIA president Max Mosley is unlikely to apply pressure for Todt to sign the initiative.

''It's up to him,'' he said. ''(But) what we need is a more comprehensive package of proposals than (that) one.''

DC lauds 16-year-old
(GMM -- Dec.3) Veteran F1 racer David Coulthard is tipping a 16-year-old karting star for future grand prix glory.

His name is Alex Sims.

''What marks him out,'' said nine-year McLaren driver Coulthard, ''is his absolute dedication and professionalism.''

Alexander, a top Formula A karter, was voted top sportsman on UK newspaper The Times' predicted 2020 'Rich List.'

''(Coulthard's endorsement) means a lot to me,'' he told local newspaper Stamford Today.

Briscoe in 'States
(GMM -- Dec.3) Australian F1 hopeful Ryan Briscoe will likely spend 2005 in the US' oval-based Indy Racing League.

The 2004 Toyota test driver, born in Sydney, recently tested a Toyota-powered Chip Ganassi car on both road and oval layouts.

''He got on well,'' said Darren Manning, the former BAR test driver who may be one of Briscoe's team-mates next year.

Manning added: ''He had a blister on his hand after the first day ... but he enjoyed it and adapted well.''

Briscoe's second team-mate in 2005 could be another F1 hopeful -- New Zealander Scott Dixon.

Green to DTM
(GMM -- Dec.3) As earlier predicted, 2002 'McLaren Autosport BRDC' award winner Jamie Green tested a 2004-spec McLaren at Silverstone during the week.

Now, Mercedes-Benz announced he will race in the DTM (German) touring car category in 2005.

''When I tested the AMG Mercedes C-class I felt comfortable in the car,'' the 22-year-old said.

Button to leave BAR in '06
(GMM -- Dec.3) Jenson Button will almost definitely complete the switch from BAR to Williams in 2006.

The Briton's intended move for next year was thwarted by the FIA-sponsored contract recognition board.

''Frank gave me a huge opportunity in Formula One,'' 25-year-old Button told UK newspaper The Guardian in an interview, ''(and) I'm not going to turn my back on him.''

Unlike the strained relationship with BAR principal David Richards, JB said he got along 'great' with Sir Frank Williams and co-owner Patrick Head.

He added: ''The atmosphere (in 2000) was fantastic. When I left, we said we wanted to work together again in the future, and I kept in contact.''

Sato to launch F1 drink
(GMM -- Dec.3) Japanese F1 driver Takuma Sato and the 'Asahi' beverage brand will launch a new sport drink next Spring.

The partnership is between the 27-year-old star, the Japanese company, and Honda-powered F1 team BAR.

It will be the first drink 'to be developed in conjunction with Formula One in Japan,' a statement read.

BAR's new team CEO Nick Fry also said the deal would involve 'on-car and driver branding.'

Bobbi to drive 2-seat F1
(GMM -- Dec.3) Matteo Bobbi and Gabriele Lancieri have been named as the 'two seater F1' Minardi drivers for the annual 'Bologna Motorshow' in Italy.

The Show starts on Sunday.

A specially constructed outdoor circuit will see 50 passengers given, in Paul Stoddart's words, the 'ride of a lifetime.

''The ... program has always been about bringing the sport closer to the fans,'' the Australian team owner commented.

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