F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
December 10, 2004
Brit GP secure
(GMM -- Dec.10) At the end of a long and winding saga, Silverstone
will host a grand prix in 2005.
Just hours before the World Council deadline, a deal - including a UK
government tax break - was struck that'll see Bernie Ecclestone's
calendar feature a British GP at least until 2009.
''Bernie never really wanted to lose (the race),'' said Sir Jackie
Stewart, president of the track-owning British Racing Drivers' Club.
Silverstone-based F1 owner Eddie Jordan revealed that the teams'
agreement to a nineteen grand prix calendar would 'cost us money.
The Irishman explained: ''But I think it's a justified case.''
Kimi back in style
(GMM -- Dec.10) At Jerez, Kimi Raikkonen returned to track action in
style -- by going quickest.
McLaren's hard-to-interview Finn, 25, locked out a field of sixteen in
sunny southern Spain.
Toyota, BMW-Williams, Renault, Red Bull, BAR-Honda and Ferrari - with
Rubens Barrichello also making a return to the F1 wheel - also fielded
In a blue-and-yellow car, Giancarlo Fisichella struggled - with a
range of mechanical drama - for mileage, while Mark Webber's BMW V10
engine had to be changed.
Grove 'shoot out'
(GMM -- Dec.10) The identity of Mark Webber's 2005 team-mate may be
determined on Friday.
Grove-based Williams said contenders Antonio Pizzonia and Nick
Heidfeld - apparently both already signed for either a race or test
role next year - will test alongside one another at the Jerez track in
A spokesman tried to play down the 'shoot out' description, but team
co-owner and engineer Patrick Head used that very mantra a day
''We will have Pizzonia in one car and Nick in the other,'' he said.
''It's going to be very interesting.''
In late 1999, Jenson Button and Bruno Junqueira were the subjects of a
similar team 'shoot out.'
Mercedes' new F1 chief
(GMM -- Dec.10) DaimlerChrysler has appointed a new managing director
of F1 engine-building firm Mercedes-Ilmor.
35-year-old Ola Kaellenius takes the job.
Mercedes' parent company owns 85 per cent of Mercedes-Ilmor, builder
of Mercedes-Benz engines for top team McLaren.
''From the end of 2005,'' a statement read, ''Mercedes-Ilmor will be a
Swedish-born Kaellenius' former job was at McLaren, on the
Mercedes-Benz SLR road car project.
F1 exec's at speed
(GMM -- Dec.10) Never before have so many middle-aged Japanese
executives gone so fast.
At a test track north of Tokyo in October, Honda's Takeo Fukui topped
290km/h in a Formula One car.
But, not to be outdone by their arch rival, Toyota soon followed suit.
At the annual Toyota Motorsport Festival at GP track Suzuka, grey
haired executive vice-president Akihiko Saito slipped on a
red-and-white F1 race suit and topped 250km/h in the TF104.
Silverstone 'must improve'
(GMM -- Dec.10) Silverstone must improve ageing F1 facilities or face
final extinction, Bernie Ecclestone warned.
Just as a new five-year deal hauled the British grand prix out of the
boiling pot, F1's 74-year-old 'supremo' threatened to firebomb the
most historic race -- in 2009.
''We've given them plenty of time,'' he said. ''It's over to them.''
But, for once, the Brit GP barney doesn't have legs -- BRDC chairman
Ray Bellm agreed that a five year deal buys Silverstone time to 'plan
its future and (develop) the circuit.'
Club president Jackie Stewart reckons the East Midlands Development
Agency (UK government) will help, but - for now - 'the facilities are
The BRDC plans to sell off land in order to raise finances needed to
bring the Silverstone circuit up to modern standards. "Now that the
terms have been found suitable to both Bernie and the BRDC the
five-year deal is much better for us because we have stability and are
in a position to get planning permission," Sir Jackie Stewart
explained in an interview on BBC Radio Five Live. "It's what is
affordable and where you can get the money from. The biggest issue for
anyone who wants to do improvements is you need the money to afford
them and we are doing what we can to afford them."
Bull to pursue 'admiration'
(GMM -- Dec.10) Next year, the F1 calendar will be nineteen grands
prix long. But, for Red Bull Racing, the season will - in essence - be
much shorter than that.
Continuing team principal Tony Purnell reckons engine supplier
Cosworth - no longer owned or backed by a car manufacturer - will
labor for in-season development against better funded rivals like
Ferrari, BMW and Mercedes.
He told the Telegraph newspaper: ''We should start the season with
something that should at least earn admiration. After that ... our
rivals will be spending millions of dollars we don't have.''
On Thursday at Jerez, David Coulthard completed a second day at the
wheel of the R5 car, and - again - lapped nearly a full second quicker
than any similarly-clad challenger.
Pollock challenge thrown out
(GMM -- Dec.10) London's High Court has cleared a path for F1 team BAR
to be sold to Honda.
Team founder and minority shareholder Craig Pollock challenged current
owner BAT's right to put his part-owned holding company into
administration - thus preparing the way for a sale - by arguing that
the board had not been informed.
With the court ruling, though, British American Racing Holdings is now
BAT will acquire it from the administrator, and then - as announced -
sell forty five per cent to Japanese engine partner Honda.
''Honda's on board now,'' said team driver Jenson Button earlier this
week, ''and everyone at BAR fully appreciates Honda's increased
Walkinshaw to return
(GMM -- Dec.10) Tom Walkinshaw will next year return to the world of
The Scot, whose defunct F1 team Arrows succumbed to debt in 2002, will
travel to Australia to become involved in the V8 Supercar
Walkinshaw, 55 - whose TWR outfit used to own the Holden Racing Team -
will manage the Holden Motorsport arm, and is to also liaise with
Holden V8 teams Kmart, PWR and Tasman Motor Sport.
Injured Fisher back at work
(GMM -- Dec.10) Williams' chief F1 designer Gavin Fisher is now back
at work full time.
He was 'seriously injured' in a motorbike crash in America in
September, and could not return to Europe for some time.
A source said technical director Sam Michael told a British
publication that 40-year-old Fisher sometimes has to sit in a
wheelchair, but is back at Oxfordshire GQ and flat out on FW27.
DC - 'no contract yet'
(GMM -- Dec.10) David Coulthard and manager Martin Brundle have
reached a 'verbal' agreement with new F1 team Red Bull, it is
Although a formal contract is yet to be prepared and signed, the Scot
appeared positive - albeit a tad cautious - about 2005 when
interviewed at Jerez on Thursday.
''(A conclusion) is going to be two or three weeks minimum,'' he said
in Spain, where he impressed at the wheel of the re-painted Jaguar R5.
2004 driver and Red Bull-sponsored Austrian Christian Klien also hopes
he is retained. ''Things are looking good,'' he said, ''but nothing is
Bernie and Jackie 'get on'
(GMM -- Dec.10) British grand prix secured, BRDC president Sir Jackie
Stewart played down a public rift with countryman and F1 supremo
Earlier in 2004, the triple world champion Scot was issued with a writ
(for libel) after - on TV - questioning 'Bernie's word.'
''We get on alright,'' said JYS. ''Personally, it's ok -- I don't
think he's really said much against 'Jackie Stewart'. I think he
should be complimented for turning GP racing into what it is today.''
Another ex-triple world champion, Niki Lauda - who once drove for
Ecclestone-owned Brabham - called Bernie the 'perfect' businessman and
''All his enemies may be happy and laughing,'' the Austrian told UK
newspaper The Guardian in a media profile, ''but they'd better enjoy
it while they can because they may be crying soon.''
Glad to dodge Kimi battle
(GMM -- Dec.10) Juan Pablo Montoya was sent home on Wednesday night --
and he liked the decision.
It meant the Colombian, new to Ron Dennis' McLaren F1 team, didn't
have to go head-to-head at Jerez alongside driving incumbent Kimi
''It's good,'' he told a British publication, ''because I don't really
have to be bothered about the lap time. I'm sure Kimi would be faster
than me at the moment, just like I'd have been faster if he'd changed
to my team.''
But asked if he'd soon like to compare himself with the highly-rated
Finn, 29-year-old JPM replied: ''I can do it by looking at the notes
he makes and comparing how he is feeling (about the car).''
25-year-old Kimi, and Juan Pablo, won't go head-to-head at a test
track until January.
'Thrilled' and 'overjoyed'
(GMM -- Dec.10) Bernie Ecclestone confessed 'extreme' happiness at the
end of protracted negotiations for the 2005 British grand prix.
He said in a two-line statement: ''With the help of Ray Bellm of BRDC,
we have reached a five-year agreement.''
Later, and a (little) more extensively, the 74-year-old told the
Bloomberg agency that the saga could be likened to a 'lot of
nonsense,' but Magny-Cours, Imola and Silverstone 'will be on the
Sir Frank Williams was 'thrilled' at the news, not only for fans but
for all teams with an HQ in England, while Silverstone-based Eddie
Jordan was similarly 'overjoyed.
''There's so much history (here),'' said the Irishman, whose F1 team
started up in a lock-up unit inside the circuit.
Brief Bits - Dec.10
(GMM -- Dec.10) Sauber launched one of the most powerful
supercomputers in Formula One - for complex aero CFD calculations - on
Wednesday. 'ALBERT' is built by Dalco, cooled by APC and has Fluent
software. ''Sauber has established ... partnership agreements with all
four companies,'' read a statement. It has a million MB of RAM and
10,000 GB of hard storage.
Former Ferrari and Sauber driver Mika Salo returned to a test track on
Wednesday -- in the Maserati MC12 sports car. At a rainy Valencia
(Spain) circuit, the Finn - and cohort Fabio Babini - tested Pirelli
LOSS AND GAIN
In a single day, F1's new support category lost and then gained a
team. Spanish F3 champion 'Racing Engineering' will race in GP2 next
year, while P1 Motorsport - with a budget problem - has pulled out.
''I wish (P1) the very best of luck in all their future endeavors,''
said organizer Bruno Michel.
22-year-old female racer Danica Patrick, who earned her stripes in
England as a teenager, will drive in the Indy 500 next year for Bobby
Rahal and New York talk show host David Letterman's team. The American
finished third in the Toyota Atlantic category in 2004.
What'll Santa bring Trulli?
(GMM -- Dec.10) Quandary -- what do you get a jet-setting millionaire
F1 driver for Christmas ... ?
''What I really want is a fast car in 2005,'' grinned Jarno Trulli,
who won the Monaco GP in 2004 and then switched to Cologne-based
At the end of the week at Jerez, all grand prix stars will start a
well-earned two (or so) week break for Christmas and the New Year
Trulli will use the time as a rare opportunity to 'do nothing.
''I'm going home for Christmas,'' the Italian said, ''and then to
Switzerland to ski with my wife and some friends.'' Super-fit JT even
allows himself to pig-out and have a glass or two of wine on Xmas day.
And, next Christmas, Jarno and wife Barbara will enjoy the company of
a new baby boy. ''It's due around Imola time,'' he revealed. ''I won't
even mind the extra noise ...
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