F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
December 21, 2004
Ford complete F1 retreat
(GMM -- Dec.21) With another (approx.) $10 million in the cash chest,
Ford has completed its total retreat out of Formula One.
Champ Car co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe, who secured F1
engine supplier Cosworth Racing in November, have also bought Pi
Group, the electronic racing arm.
''This was a logical step for us,'' Kalkhoven said in a statement.
''Electronics are increasingly important in motorsport and in the
More than 300 people, in Cambridge (UK) and Indianapolis, Detroit and
North Carolina (USA) work for Pi.
Davison out of Minardi race
(GMM -- Dec.21) Australian hopeful Will Davison will definitely not
race for Formula One team Minardi next year.
The Melbourne-born star, who recently tested a Faenza-built single
seater in Italy, has signed a two year deal to drive for
Adelaide-based V8 Supercar squad Team Dynamik, we can reveal.
In 2004, 22-year-old Davison raced in British F3, but ran out of
He said at the Mallala circuit near Adelaide: ''I think my background
in formula racing cars will be a help.''
Dynamik is also in the world spotlight after it tested illegally at
the Woomera rocket range. An appeal case will be heard by motor
sport's global governing body, the FIA, in Paris at the end of
Chinese driver back in saddle
(GMM -- Dec.21) Chinese driver Cheng Congfu tested a Formula Renault
car in Spain last week.
That might not seem relevant to the world of grand prix racing -- but
the 20-year-old's run was organized and funded by McLaren, and he
tested a silver F1 car in September.
Congfu, who tested at Albacete in southern Spain, became the first
Chinese-born national to drive a F1 car when he ran at the Brno
(Czech) track earlier in 2004.
''This opportunity organized for me by McLaren is key in my continued
driver development,'' Cheng commented at Albacete.
Toyota to launch
(GMM -- Dec.21) Toyota will launch the 2005-spec TF105 Formula One car
in Barcelona, it was announced.
The event, to also feature all-new driving line up Jarno Trulli and
Ralf Schumacher and the first racer overseen completely by technical
director Mike Gascoyne, is set to take place on 8 January at Circuit
de Catalunya (Montmelo).
31-year-old Trulli, an Italian, is predicting a top-ten start to the
new championship -- and even better than that after mid-season.
''Toyota has enormous potential,'' he told Gazzetta dello Sport, ''and
should do much better than in previous years.''
Merc-Benz shelve V8 threat
(GMM -- Dec.21) Mercedes-Benz will, like rival carmakers Honda and
BMW, shelve a threat of arbitration against the governing FIA's
new-for-2006 V8 engine imposition.
Last week, BMW - also on behalf of Honda - announced that the pair
would not pursue the legal challenge because it looked like costing
too much time and money and would not be in the 'interests of the
But Stuttgart-based marque Mercedes didn't tow the official line
because it didn't want to be seen to have crumbled in the face of
A perhaps-significant headline, though, on the official BMW-Williams
website read: 'No opposition to new engine regulations.' Authoritative
media sources agreed that Mercedes-Benz has indeed now moved away from
the arbitration threat, despite no formal confirmation or comment.
Heidfeld got the nod
(GMM -- Dec.21) Nick Heidfeld is likely to be Mark Webber's race
team-mate at BMW-powered WilliamsF1 next season, the German media is
But spokesmen both at Grove (Oxfordshire) and BMW's Munich HQ are
adamant that no decision has yet been taken -- and an announcement may
now even be delayed until the end of January.
Heidfeld, from Moenchengladbach in Germany, is - according to Die Bild
- favored by Williams' engine partner and even Mario Theissen will
admit that he is definitely part of the team's plans in one way or
another from 2005 and beyond.
Current tester Antonio Pizzonia is the other contender.
Bild said 'Quick Nick' will earn 3m Euro next year, plus a
prize-for-point bonus. Both he and the younger Pizzonia will travel to
Bahrain early next month for the 2005 livery launch.
'05 not prelude to retirement
(GMM -- Dec.21) David Coulthard has denied he signed a single-year
contract to drive for Red Bull because it was the only deal on offer.
The veteran Scot, who raced nearly a decade for top team McLaren, said
he - not 'Red Bull Racing' owner Dieter Mateschitz - requested the
''I wanted (it) so I can understand how the new team will function and
to see how their V8 engine plans evolve,'' he said. ''To me, that
freedom to look ahead is important.''
33-year-old Coulthard, from Scotland, revealed that a 'basic
agreement' had already been in place up to a fortnight ago, but wanted
a chance to test the newly-liveried Jaguar Racing R5 before making a
He also denied that the on-year deal is a prelude to retirement at the
end of 2005. ''I intend to be driving in F1 for a while yet,'' said
Montezemolo's own proposal
(GMM -- Dec.21) After threatening to quit F1 and mocking the move to
limit track testing, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has
proposed a rule-change or two.
The Italian told a German newspaper on Monday that F1 should 'employ a
more rational weight formula' and also impose an 'extreme removal of
expensive and unnecessary electronics.'
Montezemolo claimed that the agreement of every grand prix team to
change the regulations is worthless -- without Ferrari.
He added: ''Nobody should forget that, for Formula One, Ferrari is
important. Whatever happens, if someone decides to change something or
if he has a new idea, he must come to Maranello first.''
Sato to sell beauty
(GMM -- Dec.21) Formula One driver Takuma Sato will help to sell a
line of beauty products.
He's teamed up with Shiseido, the Japanese company that has devised a
new range of cosmetic products -- for men.
The 27-year-old star of Honda-powered BAR is to be the contracted
'face' of Shiseido's advertising campaign, and will appear on posters
and in television adverts around Japan until 20 January.
The slogan of the campaign is 'How To Win, Beautifully.'
Renault admit BAR defeat
(GMM -- Dec.21) Renault deserved to be defeated as runner-up in the
constructors' championship this year, team principal Flavio Briatore
The Italian-born 'managing director' - presently at his ranch in Kenya
for a driver training camp with Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo
Fisichella - said the actual team goal in 2004 was a successful 'top
three' title finish.
He referred to the total switch in Renault's V10 engine configuration
following the abandoned 'wide angle' project of 2001-2003.
Briatore told Gazzetta dello Sport: ''Our priority (in 2004) was
(therefore) finishing rather than winning. Honestly, BAR did a better
job and deserved their runner-up position.''
The flamboyant chief did, though, make a point of saying Renault held
the second-placed spot behind Ferrari 'for much of the season.'
Mrs. Ralf's 'worst moment'
(GMM -- Dec.21) Being married to a millionaire Formula One star is not
all cash and five-star hotel swimming pools, Ralf Schumacher's wife
said last week.
Mrs. Schumacher - first name Cora - told German television's Menschen
Bei Maischberger program that the worst moment of her life with a
racing husband came last June.
''I just wanted to talk to him and find out he is alright,'' the
blonde said, referring to 29-year-old Schu's vertebrae-fracturing and
knockout shunt at Indianapolis, ''but it just wasn't possible while he
was being treated. I still can't look at the video pictures.''
It's not even a smooth ride in the couple's new Toyota company car,
Cora revealed. ''I certainly have the better accident balance,'' she
Banks hope to avoid breakaway
(GMM -- Dec.21) A trio of banks that own and control the majority of
F1's holding company (SLEC) would prefer to avert a threatened
'breakaway' after 2007.
Gerhard Gribkowsky, SLEC and Bayerische Landesbank chairman, said the
motor sport market is 'too small' for both F1 and the carmaker-led
'GPWC' to compete with rival world championships.
''A power struggle between the two series would harm both,'' he told
Der Spiegel magazine in Germany. ''But I don't think the doors are
Gribkowsky welcomed the somewhat usurped Bernie Ecclestone's recent
moves into China and Bahrain, but thinks other stakeholders should
also have a say into where new grands prix are held.
He added: ''It would be desirable to go to Russia and India (and) with
only two races in North America we are under-represented compared to
Pity Schu's on cruise - champ
(GMM -- Dec.21) Michael Schumacher might be the number one driver at
Ferrari and in all of Formula One, but former champion Alan Jones
would like to see him pushed harder.
The 58-year-old Australian, who won Williams' first ever title (1980)
when Schumacher was just eleven, rued the fact that 'it's been so
easy' for German-born MS since the scarlet team started to dominate in
the new Millennium.
''He's had the best car,'' Jones told Autosport magazine, ''and the
other guy (team-mate Rubens Barrichello) is not allowed to beat him
even on the rare occasion that he's anywhere near.''
Still, Alan voted Schumacher ahead of Barrichello and countryman Mark
Webber in a personal ranking of 2004's top F1 stars.
35-year-old Michael might have a head-start, but 'he's put himself in
that situation,' Jones reckoned. ''I don't see him losing his grip
until he decides to retire.''
Ferrari can't be stopped - JT
(GMM -- Dec.21) Nothing could spoil Ferrari's charge to yet another
double championship haul next year.
That's the claim of Jarno Trulli, the Italian driver who last week
celebrated with new employer Toyota at a Christmas dinner party near
When at Renault in 2004, 31-year-old JT was one of just a trio of
other drivers to ever beat a scarlet car to the chequer.
Trulli reckons Maranello HQ could send everyone home this winter and
still turn up in Melbourne with a winner. ''They have such an
advantage,'' he told Gazzetta dello Sport, ''that they would still be
at the front. I'm not sure how much they will dominate but I believe
they will be in front of everybody else.''
At the Toyota party, he gave every team member in attendance a bottle
from his own wine label. ''I am already part of the family,'' he
Nick's got a job - BMW
(GMM -- Dec.21) German driver Nick Heidfeld has landed a job at
Oxfordshire-based WilliamsF1, the team's carmaker partner has
BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen said the 27-year-old nicknamed
'Quick Nick' will 'not be sent home' after impressive form on the test
According to the excited German media, he's already signed a 3 million
Euro deal for 2005, although whether it's as development or race pilot
It's reported that Munich-based BMW would prefer a German to be
team-mate to confirmed Australian ace Mark Webber. It should also be
noted that Brazilian team sponsor Petrobras is similarly pushing rival
contender Antonio Pizzonia's argument.
Theissen doesn't rise to the bait: ''What is important is that the
fastest one drives.''
'We'll get along' - Ralf S.
(GMM -- Dec.21) Ralf Schumacher is not expecting a thorny Montoya-like
relationship with new Formula One teammate Jarno Trulli.
Not referring directly to the spirited Colombian with whom he shared
four years at Williams, 29-year-old Ralf said things should be 'a lot
easier' in that department at Toyota.
''I think (Jarno) will be a strong teammate,'' said the German, ''so
I'm really happy to have him with me. With a teammate like him, it
should be a lot easier to move the whole project forwards.''
Italian-born Trulli, 31 - who had a major falling out with Renault
principal Flavio Briatore last year - is also sure he'll have no
trouble despite sharing a team with a driver not famous for forming
close bonds with the occupant of a sister racer.
''We've already chatted two or three times about things,'' JT said
recently, ''and we seem to get along okay.''
Banks may 'leave' F1
(GMM -- Dec.21) Despite wrestling control of impresario Bernie
Ecclestone's company, three F1-owning banks might decide to 'leave'
the sport in 2007-2009.
Gerhard Gribkowsky, the new head of the (SLEC) board and chairman of
Munich-based Bayerische Landesbank, told Germany's Der Spiegel
magazine that the aim until such a decision is to 'guarantee the
sport's long term stability.'
But he admitted: ''At some point the time may come when we say 'okay,
In October, a different spokesman at Bayerische confirmed that the
bank didn't 'want to go on being (a) shareholder' indefinitely, no
matter the outcome of the Bernie court challenge.
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