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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 contenders.

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 Spain.

A spokesman tried to play down the 'shoot out' description, but team co-owner and engineer Patrick Head used that very mantra a day earlier.

''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 wholly-owned affiliate.''

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 good enough.'

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 in administration.

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 involvement.''








Walkinshaw to return
(GMM -- Dec.10) Tom Walkinshaw will next year return to the world of motor racing.

The Scot, whose defunct F1 team Arrows succumbed to debt in 2002, will travel to Australia to become involved in the V8 Supercar championship.

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 believed.

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 signed yet.''








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 Bernie Ecclestone.

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 negotiator.

''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 Raikkonen.

''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 calendar.'

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.

FAST FINN

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 tires.

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.

GIRL RACER

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 Toyota.

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 period.

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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