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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
December 7, 2004


Bernie to lose control
(GMM -- Dec.7) Bernie Ecclestone is in danger of losing a notorious iron grip on the world of Formula One after a court ruled against him.

In London's High Court on Monday, the judge said three banks - knows as 'Speed Investments' - had been right to sue for more control of their business.

The ruling means 'Speed' now have a say on who is appointed to SLEC's board of directors.

''I should ... make the declarations which (Speed) requests,'' said Justice Andrew Clark.

If 74-year-old Ecclestone - also refused the right to appeal the ruling - was fazed, he didn't show it. ''(The banks) got the house,'' he told Reuters, ''(but) they don't want the house. (They) are just trying to put value on their shares.''








Bernie's Brit GP 'deadline'
(GMM -- Dec.7) The owner of British grand prix track Silverstone has forty eight hours to save the historic race, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone declared Monday.

''There is no bargaining position,'' said the 74-year-old, rejecting the BRDC's continuing plea for a two-year (not Bernie's one-year with a six-season option) deal.

Following a meeting at London's Heathrow Hilton hotel, the team principals appeared split on the immediate prospects of the British event.

''It won't happen,'' said Frank Williams, but McLaren counterpart Ron Dennis reckoned the gulf between Bernie and the Club 'is not insurmountable.'

The BRDC's chief executive Alex Hooton, meanwhile, agreed that talks with Ecclestone are in a 'delicate' phase. ''My gut feeling,'' he commented, ''is that there will be a British grand prix.''








Rivals reject Ferrari offer
(GMM -- Dec.7) Formula One rivals have rejected Ferrari's alternate proposal to reduce track testing.

Earlier, every team - except the one based at Maranello - agreed to a 24-day limit on in-season development activity from the 2005 season.

Ferrari's Jean Todt proposed to scrap the 24-day idea but impose a 15,000 kilometer limit 'per team,' with an extra 15,000 km's for tire testing 'for each of the two (tire) companies.'

Flavio Briatore, of Renault, called the proposal 'unacceptable,' and Minardi's Paul Stoddart said the faxed offer - with no representative sent to a London summit - a 'piss take.'

''We would get about 2000 (extra) km as a Michelin team,'' McLaren's Ron Dennis added, ''and Ferrari would get 15,000. I can't see that as particularly equitable.''







China to host MotoGP
(GMM -- Dec.7) China will stage a round of the MotoGP (motorcycle) championship next year.

A seven-year deal for a May event at the purpose-built F1 track in Shanghai was signed on Monday.

''We say it's a great moment to be here in China,'' said MotoGP's licensing body (Dorna Sports) chief executive Carmelo Ezpeleta.

China is the world's number one manufacturer and exporter of motorcycles, the Xinhua agency wrote.








Minardi get $1.5m boost
(GMM -- Dec.7) Paul Stoddart has pledged the $1.5 million raised at a recent auction of old Formula One cars to his Faenza-based team.

But the 49-year-old Australian entrepreneur admitted that not even half of the offered memorabilia and equipment - including old Tyrrells, Arrows' and even the first BAR car - had been sold.

''There's no point beating about the bush,'' the Minardi owner and principal answered Reuters when asked if Zsolt Baumgartner will be retained in 2005. ''It's going to come down to budget.''








GPWC support banks' ruling
(GMM -- Dec.7) Four F1 carmakers have heralded the watering-down of Bernie Ecclestone's supreme power at the pinnacle of motor sport.

Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes and Renault - collectively known as proposed 'breakaway' championship 'GPWC' - issued a statement after three banks won the right in a court to appoint directors to the SLEC board.

''Today's judgment seems indeed to be a turning point in the future of Formula One,'' it read.

GPWC also said the London High Court's ruling would 'benefit the sport's long-term stability.'

But a spokesman for one of the banks denied that Speed Investments' primary objective is to oust the 74-year-old F1 'impresario.'

''Not necessarily,'' said the Bayerische Landesbank representative. ''(We) just want him to do as he is told.''







Schu 'furious'
(GMM -- Dec.7) Michael Schumacher was 'furious' with his F1 racing brother after Ralf pledged money to a sex-toy firm.

''Ralf ... intended to keep a low profile (about the investment),'' a 'source' told publication 'Offside.'

But it all came out in the media, with German TV - for one - branding the 29-year-old Toyota driver 'Porn Ralf' and his wife 'Hard Cora.' The younger Schumacher thus (reportedly) withdrew the 2 million euro pledge.

Although denied by the seven time world champion's spokesperson, Michael and Ralf ceased talking to each other for several days, as the elder sibling thought Schu Jr had brought the family name into disrepute.

Their manager Willi Weber said: ''(Ralf's critics) went too far.''








'Still hope' - Coulthard
(GMM -- Dec.7) David Coulthard is reportedly about to sign a Red Bull deal, but he said Williams' door may still be ajar.

He played down the apparent continuing 'shootout' between Nick Heidfeld and Antonio Pizzonia for the 2005 Grove drive.

''(There's always hope) until someone signs a contract,'' the 33-year-old former McLaren veteran said.

He added: ''One test is not going to make or break anyone.''

Critics wonder how, after nine years in a front-of-the-grid contender, Coulthard can find the motivation to attack a new season in a midfield (at best) cockpit.

''You derive enjoyment from driving a car,'' he answered, ''and that's where you find your motivation.''








Priaulx to taste F1
(GMM -- Dec.7) Touring car star Andy Priaulx will taste Formula One power, Williams' carmaker partner BMW announced in Austria at the weekend.

He is BMW Team's champion of the European Touring Car category.

Dr Mario Theissen told 30-year-old Priaulx the good news at the BMW Motorsport Party - also attended by Frank Williams and Sam Michael - in Zell am See, a Williams statement explained, and is a 'reward' for his 2004 campaign.

''A date for the test has not yet been confirmed,'' a team spokesperson added.

Interestingly, Juan Pablo Montoya and Marc Gene - both now employees of (respectively) McLaren and Ferrari but still under contract to Williams - also attended the BMW event.







Bridgestone lament rain
(GMM -- Dec.7) Bridgestone lamented rare southern Spanish rain for causing a headache ahead of this week's action at Jerez.

The disrupted test means that Ferrari now have to run last week's developmental dry 2005 tires at the venue this week -- as well as a brand new batch.

''This leaves us with a lot to do,'' agreed technical manager Hisao Suganuma, ''but we plan to use the time efficiently.''

Cash-strapped Jordan also lamented the bad weather. ''We were very disappointed,'' said James Robinson, whose team were running an interim 2005 car and will not test again until January.








Heikki is 'special' - Schu
(GMM -- Dec.7) According to world champion Michael Schumacher, young Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen has 'something special.'

''It's very nice,'' he replied to the compliment.

23-year-old Kovalainen, of Nissan World Series fame but an aspiring F1 hopeful, beat the famous German to the crown of 'Champion of Champions' at Paris' Stade de France event at the weekend, and set lap records in every car.

''I came up against Michael in the final,'' Heikki - also a Renault development driver - added, ''and thought I would lose -- so when I won, I was ecstatic. I jumped on the roof afterwards to celebrate.''

He added: ''This will probably help my popularity more than winning the World Series.''

Kovalainen will drive in the F1 support-category 'GP2' in 2005.








British F1 duo to 'sue'
(GMM -- Dec.7) British F1 team duo McLaren and Williams will sue lawyer firms Linklaters and Baker & McKenzie (B&M) for millions of (UK) pounds, it is reported.

They are being blamed for 'bad advice' following the loss of a slice of F1's commercial rights in an agreement made with Bernie Ecclestone in 1998.

''The defendants acted negligently ... with the result that ... the teams were not entitled to ... any share in the relevant (sale) proceeds,'' read a portion of the claim form.

No party opted to comment.







Burly, not Brawn - insider
(GMM -- Dec.7) He may be Brawn, but he's not burly -- or vice versa.

That's the opinion of Steve Matchett, a former race mechanic at Benetton and today 'technical editor' at popular British magazine F1 Racing.

''(Ferrari's Jean Todt) could have picked none better,'' he told the publication.

Ross Brawn, the man with a natural 'calming influence,' has been technical director at the Maranello-based team since 1997, presiding over eleven drivers' and constructors' championships.

Matchett continued: ''Not once when I shared time with him at Benetton did I see him lose his temper, or even raise his voice. (Ross') greatest strength is self-confidence.''








Supermodel on podium
(GMM -- Dec.7) You'd be forgiven for thinking the role of an English supermodel at a motor race is not at the wheel.

But Jodie Kidd proved everyone wrong at the Bologna motor show on the weekend.

With Fabio Babini, she won the Trofeo Maserati race in the 425 horse power 'GranSport' car -- in torrential rain.

''I have only just started racing,'' Kidd told the media afterwards, ''and wasn't expecting to gain first place in only my third race.''

Fiat's Brand Manager Lapo Elkann - a grandson of late Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli - commented: ''It's great to finally see women get into motorsport.''








Moss couldn't 'get it up'
(GMM -- Dec.7) At least once in his life, Sir Stirling Moss found that he couldn't 'get it up.'

The 75-year-old F1 legend is fronting a new campaign aimed at encouraging men over fifty to visit the doctor about their erectile dysfunction.

''I'm a great believer,'' he said at London's Bluebird cafe, ''that when things are wrong you should go and see a professional.''

Moss said he first grappled with the problem at the age of 33, after a huge Goodwood crash left him in a coma for a month.

''At the time,'' Stirling - who will have back surgery on Thursday - joked, ''I was wanting to spread some happiness around the world!''







Mosley - 'axe arbitration'
(GMM -- Dec.7) Max Mosley has warned F1 carmakers Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Honda to save 'everyone's time and money' and call off the threat to tackle an FIA ruling.

The trio reckon the FIA president's unilateral adjustment of the engine capacity to 2.4 litre V8's in 2006 contravenes the legally binding Concorde Agreement.

But Mosley said they should can it.

''There is no way,'' the president told website eurosport.com, ''any ... panel or judge is going to overrule us, in my view.''

The Briton said the regulation is being imposed on the basis of escalating horse power and therefore safety.








Bernie's $500m carrot
(GMM -- Dec.7) Bernie Ecclestone returned fire at the GPWC group on Monday by offering to double all F1 teams' income.

Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Renault are threatening to leave the 74-year-old's category and met with several F1 venues last week about hosting their alternate series from 2008.

UK newspaper 'The Times' said Bernie's offer to the ten teams is a collective $500 million.

GPWC, who had representatives in court for the F1 banks' favourable verdict against Ecclestone, 'did not register any surprise' at the $500m offer, the press report stated.








Ferrari oppose 'spare car' option
(GMM -- Dec.7) Formula One should axe a rule that allows bottom-six teams to run a 'spare' car in Friday free practice, Ferrari's Jean Todt said.

The little Frenchman reckons it's not right that well-funded squads like Mercedes-backed McLaren and Toyota - with the biggest budget in grand prix racing - are allowed to test a third car at grands prix in 2005.

''(The idea) was designed for the smaller teams,'' Todt said, ''to allow them to gain more exposure.''

He said he would support the return of the former 'Heathrow' option, allowing teams to trade-in a year of unrestricted testing for the third car privilege.







Brief Bits - Dec.7
(GMM -- Dec.7) A French grand prix will be held at Magny-Cours next year, Minardi principal Paul Stoddart said after a bosses meeting at a London hotel on Monday. He also said the 'only thing' that can scupper a new British grand prix deal 'is the (Silverstone owning) BRDC. It's down (to them),'' the Australian added.

WISE CONTROL

One of the victorious-in-court 'F1 banks' has vowed to use greater control at the pinnacle of motor sport prudently. ''This includes the best possible co-operation with all shareholders,'' said Bayerische's Dr Gerhard Gribkowsky, referring obviously to Bernie Ecclestone.

USED JEWELRY

F1 team Renault launched an unique line of F1-inspired jewelry in London, called Bijoux Racing. Designer and lady racer Mary Kaczor used old F1 car components such as gearbox bearings and oil filters to create the collection. ''I've always wanted to combine my love of racing with my ... business,'' she said.

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