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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
December 9, 2004


Coulthard rides a Bull
(GMM -- Dec.9) For the first time in a decade, David Coulthard powered out of pitlane at the wheel of something other than a McLaren.

The 33-year-old, at Jerez, tried a Red Bull-liveried F1 racer (formerly the Jaguar R5).

''I am really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of an F1 car,'' the Scot said in a statement prior to his sixty laps in southern Spain, an easy half-second quicker than likely 2005 team-mate Christian Klien.

Coulthard, who may have agreed a deal to race for Jaguar prior to the Ford sell-out, admitted that he and team owner Dietrich Mateschitz had been talking about Red Bull Racing's future.

He reported: ''It is certainly an exciting new team.''








'Ant' to race in 2006 - BAR
(GMM -- Dec.9) English F1 hopeful Anthony Davidson may be one half of BAR's race line-up in 2006.

On the tail of his disappointment at the Williams-test block, Brackley chiefs have reportedly told diminutive 25-year-old 'Ant' that he'll be considered for a spot next time round.

''If (we are) not in a position to offer Anthony a drive for 2006,'' new team principal Nick Fry told Autosport, ''then we would support him in moving elsewhere.''

Davidson resumed development duties in a Honda-powered car at Jerez on Wednesday, and will stay as a test driver next year even though BAR - unlike in '04 - cannot run a 'third' car in grands prix practice.








Brit GP saga nearing end
(GMM -- Dec.9) The 'on-again off-again' British grand prix saga is nearing a definitive end.

Latest reports indicate that a race at embattled and historic Silverstone is now likely to take place in July next season.

Bernie Ecclestone and the track-owning BRDC are back on speaking terms and the FIA's final 2005 calendar is expected to boast an English round.

''At the moment we have a draft contract,'' said BRDC chief Alex Hooton, ''and we're hoping to be able to put together a deal ahead of (Friday's) World Council meeting in Monaco.''

UK sport minister Ricard Caborn, meanwhile - who was at Silverstone for an event on Wednesday, incidentally - sounded positive when asked about the future of the grand prix.

''But let's just wait a bit longer,'' he warned.







Reutemann tests Schu's F1
(GMM -- Dec.9) A 62-year-old former Ferrari driver returned to the wheel of a scarlet Formula One car on Wednesday.

Carlos Reutemann, who won twelve grands prix in the 70's and is now a politician, lapped - in Michael Schumacher's F2004 - seventeen times at Italian test track Fiorano, with Jean Todt a spectator.

The Argentine raced in F1 for Ferrari from 1976 to '78.

He completed the test in an old pair of racing boots and the distinctive yellow-and-blue helmet. ''The car is impressive,'' he said, ''and completely different to my day. On TV, F1 today can look easy, but I can guarantee you that is not the case!''








Fog delayed sunny Spanish run
(GMM -- Dec.9) Pedro de la Rosa set a blazing pace as the final Formula One test of the year got into full swing at a sunny and dry Jerez (Spain).

The McLaren tester outpaced Williams' Antonio Pizzonia by an impressive margin, with Jarno Trulli (Toyota) third and Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren) still adjusting to an understeering MP4-19B.

Red Bull, Renault, BAR and Ferrari also fielded contenders, the most notable being McLaren veteran David Coulthard, in a pair of shiny Red Bull-blue but non-sponsored overalls.

Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni, meanwhile, said race driver Rubens Barrichello would replace Marc Gene alongside Luca Badoer on Thursday.

''It's pleasing to finally get a dry day here,'' said Renault test engineer Christian Silk, ''despite the delay this morning due to thick fog.''








Prost and Le Mans
(GMM -- Dec.9) A French sporting newspaper said quadruple F1 champion Alain Prost would race next year in the fabled Le Mans 24-Hour event.

'L'Equipe' claimed the 49-year-old countryman - also an ex-F1 team owner - had all but signed to steer an Orange-funded Audi R8 alongside another former F1 starter, Stephane Sarrazin.

But Prost, who already contests the Andros ice racing Trophy for Toyota, denied - with a quote featuring the words 'too risky' - the claims of the media report.

The Oreca team chairman, Hugues de Chaunac, appeared to suggest that Prost had turned down a solid offer. ''(Alain) is not ready for this race,'' he said.







Gillan to quit F1
(GMM -- Dec.9) 35-year-old Dr Mark Gillan will leave the Milton Keynes-based Formula One team at the end of December, it is reported.

The Briton was head of car performance at Jaguar Racing since 2003, but will not feature on the new-incarnation 'Red Bull' pitwall at Albert Park next March.

Gillan is taking on a new role in academia, seemingly in aeronautical engineering, an area in which he holds a doctorate.








Nick's 'truly' Quick
(GMM -- Dec.9) BMW-powered F1 team Williams will evaluate 2005 hopeful Nick Heidfeld's dry-weather speed at Jerez from Thursday.

Last week in Spain, the highly rated German impressed Grove management, but was unable to test the time sheet on anything other than a damp track.

''In the rain,'' said team race engineer Tony Ross - who worked with Heidfeld at Jerez - ''Nick is truly fast. Now, we want to find out how he will perform in dry conditions.''

On Wednesday evening, 27-year-old Heidfeld said he was 'overjoyed' at the prospect of a second shot, and heralded the Oxfordshire-based outfit as on 'another level' to former F1 employers Jordan, Sauber and Prost.

He'll drive on Thursday and Friday.








McNish awarded
(GMM -- Dec.9) Former F1 driver Allan McNish won the third-ever 'Stewart Medal' on Saturday.

At the Scottish Motor Racing Club's end-of-year award evening, the ex-Toyota and Renault racer and tester - and sports car star in 2004 - took the prize from triple world champion and countryman Sir Jackie Stewart.

The honor is for services to Scottish motor sport.

''I have always received a lot of support from Scotland,'' said McNish, who'll drive in the German DTM next year, ''and would not be here today without (it).''







Honda to side with Ferrari
(GMM -- Dec.9) The Formula One teams' gentleman's agreement to next year reduce testing to twenty four in-season days may have lost a crucial supporter.

Ferrari never signed up, and now Honda - allied to BAR (a signatory of the 'Cost Saving Initiative') is reportedly reluctant to allow the world champion marque to go-for-broke alone.

Asked what would happen if the other F1 teams - who later mocked Jean Todt's proposal - didn't accept a Ferrari compromise, the Ferrari principal said this week: ''We will be free to test how and where we like (in 2005).''

A source, however, close to Japanese carmaker Honda reckoned a further 'compromise' between the Scuderia and the other F1 teams is the most likely final outcome.









Heikki - 'no plan' for F1 run
(GMM -- Dec.9) Heikki Kovalainen's win at Paris' novel 'Race of Champions' event did not win him an immediate new shot at Formula One.

The Flying Finn, a contracted Renault development driver and 2004 champion of Nissan's World Series category, tested the Renault F1 a few times this year.

But asked by Autosport if there are similar F1 test plans for 2005, he replied: ''Not that I know of -- hopefully I (will) get more chances.''

Kovalainen, 23, admitted that Renault - who will fund him a spot somewhere in the support 'GP2' championship next season - does control the direction of his immediate career.







IRL champ to test in Jan.
(GMM -- Dec.9) IRL champion Tony Kanaan will test a BAR-Honda early next year.

Earlier, the Brazilian said the run - to be staged in January, we can reveal - was a 'gift' from US employer Andretti-Green and BAR's common Japanese engine partner.

He added: ''It's a childhood dream.''

Kanaan watched the F1 action in Sao Paulo in late October, and countryman Rubens Barrichello said he was 'good enough' to one day compete in grands prix.

''He is able to turn both ways -- not just left,'' the Ferrari driver insisted.








F3 in Bahrain
(GMM -- Dec.9) Formula 3 'Superprix' action kicked off for the first time ever at an unusually rainy Bahrain track - purpose built for F1 - on Wednesday.

Japanese F3 front runner Richard Antinucci, an American, was quickest in practice, with British F3 counterpart Lucas di Grassi a close second.

''It's a good track with a lot of grip,'' said Antinucci.








Revamp for F1 calendar
(GMM -- Dec.9) Formula One's final 2005 calendar will feature a few changes, it is reported.

The FIA World Motor Sport Council is set to meet in Monaco on Friday, to ratify F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's proposed running-order.

French GP chief Jacques Regis said earlier this week that the Magny-Cours fixture could be shifted from April to July 3, with a similarly-rescued Silverstone event delayed a week (to July 10) to avoid a clash with the Wimbledon tennis final.

Imola, in turn, could go back to Easter time.







Sunday quali to be scrapped
(GMM -- Dec.9) Sunday morning F1 qualifying will be scrapped before it is even tried once, it is reported in the media.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone reportedly told all at the recent team principals' meeting in London that the TV broadcasters are 'not happy' with the prospect.

It's speculated that many are saying they haven't got room in the Sunday TV line-up to televise both morning (final) qualifying and the grand prix.

It is reported in the English media that the principals agreed to contemplate a possible change to the format pre-Melbourne.

''People are still upset (about qualifying),'' Bernie said last month.








DC 'taking it all in'
(GMM -- Dec.9) David Coulthard enjoyed his track debut for new F1 team Red Bull Racing at Jerez.

On Wednesday, the 33-year-old grand prix veteran drove sixty laps in Spain and easily outpaced seat-rival Tonio Liuzzi and likely 2005 team-mate Christian Klien.

A Red Bull release said there will be 'no further statement' from the former GP winner after his maiden run, but a handful of F1 journalists squeezed a few words from the Scot.

''I'm taking it all in,'' he smiled, outlining only a small comfort problem in the modification of a moulded seat. ''It's too soon to say anything about the (Jaguar R5) car.''

Earlier, Coulthard doubted whether cash alone - such as Dieter Mateschitz's Red Bull billions - can (alone) reassure success at the pinnacle of motor sport.

''Ferrari had a lot of money for a long time,'' he said, ''and yet did nothing. It's more about (finding) the right people and spending in the right area.''








F1 is 'brutal' - Minardi man
(GMM -- Dec.9) Formula One is more a 'brutal business' than a hard-fought sport, according to back-of-the-grid team Minardi owner Paul Stoddart.

The Australian enthusiast - who recently sold a chunk of his personal F1 car collection - revealed in an interview that any 'emotional' attachment to the pinnacle of motor sport disappeared in an unknown political struggle some time ago.

''I'm a motor sport man,'' said the 49-year-old.

He added: ''But F1 is pure business - and a really hard one at that. I would get out tomorrow if I found a buyer who could take the team further than I could.''







Brief bits - Dec.9
(GMM -- Dec.9) Mercedes-Benz will reprimand F1 ace Kimi Raikkonen for getting drunk during a night out in Gran Canaria last month. Sporting director Norbert Haug said the 25-year-old McLaren driver's intoxicated antics will be 'handled internally.'

PIQUET'S PULLED

F3 champion Nelson Piquet Jr pulled out of his scheduled BAR run at Jerez. The teenage Brazilian will test at a later date, according to a South American source.

RED BUSINESS

Ferrari and Fiat president Luca di Montezemolo is on businesses in China, it is reported.

SECOND POP

BAR's young development drivers Alan van der Merwe, Adam Carroll and James Rossiter will test again at Valencia in January. They're vying for a full-time 2005 test role.

NOT AMUSED

Ralf Schumacher may sue German TV comedian Stefan Raab for mocking his two million Euro investment in a chain of Slovenian sex-toy and pornographic video shops. He called the F1 driver 'Porn Ralf' and wife 'Hard Cora,' compelling Schumacher to axe the initiative.

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