F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
December 22, 2004

F1 Bull banned in France
(GMM -- Dec.22) Formula One's newest team may be forced to remove car logos of the sun-dancing red bulls during the French grand prix next year.

Recently in the European Court of Justice, an appeal to overturn a French government ban on the sale of Dieter Mateschitz's popular energy drink was denied.

Red Bull is banned in the country after a study by the 'French Scientific Committee on Human Nutrition' found it contained more caffeine - and other substances (such as the more mysterious 'taurine' and 'glucuronolactone') - than is desirable and also linked it to deaths.

The judge said France, and - presumably, other European governments - have a right to ban a product on the advice of toxicology experts.

Sepang to woo with beauty
(GMM -- Dec.22) The Malaysian grand prix will use a trio of female beauties to attract local rev-heads to the Formula One circuit next March.

The promotional tour, in February, is set to travel to cities Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Denpasar, in a bid to boost Indonesia-originating race-goers from 4000 in 2004.

Miss Indonesia 2004 (Artika Sara Devi) and two other beauty queen contestants are signed up to go 'on the road' with Sepang.

''(In 2005), we are expecting 6,000,'' said the Kuala Lumpur-based circuit's sale manager Izzudin Rosli at a news conference at Planet Hollywood Jakarta.

Rosli said a total crowd of 120,000 is expected at Sepang on March 20, and a ticket can be bought from as little as US$40.

'We didn't steal' - Toyota
(GMM -- Dec.22) Formula One team Toyota denied it used stolen Ferrari wind tunnel computer data.

Cologne DA Siegmar Raupach said in a recent Gazzetta dello Sport that after a search at Toyota's HQ, police 'identified the ... software' in Toyota's currently-used computers.

A statement provided by Toyota to this publication, though, said the newspaper report did not reflect 'the true facts and said 'leakage' of information when employees move from one team to another is a 'frequent occurrence in Formula One.'

The statement added: ''Toyota ... has never voluntarily been involved in unfair acquisition or use of material or data from others.''

Pizza-girl delivered
(GMM -- Dec.22) Antonio Pizzonia is a Dad.

The F1 hopeful's athlete-girlfriend Maureen Maggi gave birth to a baby girl on December 21 (Tuesday), making them parents for the first time.

23-year-old Pizzonia, Williams' 2004 official tester, is hoping to land the full time drive alongside former Jaguar team-mate Mark Webber at the Grove-based team in 2005.

Maggi, a renowned Brazilian long-jumper, had the baby in so-nicknamed Jungle Boy's home town amid the Amazon jungle in Brazil.

Ferrari man 'owes Minardi'
(GMM -- Dec.22) Formula One's next Rory Byrne-like figure owes his burgeoning career to back-of-the-grid team Minardi.

That's the claim of Faenza-founder Gian Carlo Minardi, who gave Aldo Costa, an Italian countryman, his first design job in pitlane as a youngster.

Costa mostly penned the 2005-spec Ferrari, soon-to-retire chief designer Byrne recently admitted.

''He had many years of experience in Minardi,'' Gian Carlo told atlasf1.com. ''I hope he ... thinks Minardi was an important training ground for him.''

Zanardi - 'I prefer MotoGP'
(GMM -- Dec.22) Ask Alex Zanardi to choose, and he'll turn-on to MotoGP rather than Formula One.

The former GP and Champ Car driver, who lost his legs after a German race in 2001 but still steers a hand-controlled BMW touring car, revealed that he watches Valentino Rossi at work with 'even more pleasure' than any four-wheeled colleague.

''I have ... friends (in MotoGP),'' the Italian told crash.net.

38-year-old Zanardi's most recent F1 flaunt was with Williams in 1999, and he also raced for Jordan (1991) and Lotus (1993 and 1994).

Facelift for Donington
(GMM -- Dec.22) Former British F1 venue Donington Park will undergo a facelift, it is reported.

A new media centre, race control and paddock area is to cost more than $7 million, but the oldest circuit in Britain - last a host for Formula One with a stunning wet Ayrton Senna win in 1993 - is not likely to re-attract the pinnacle of motor sport.

Today, Donington, near Nottingham, hosts MotoGP (motorcycle grand prix) racing.

BAR's '8 out of 10'
(GMM -- Dec.22) 'Eight out of ten' -- that's what BAR deserves for finishing second to Ferrari (but failing to secure a maiden grand prix win) in the 2004 constructors' championship.

Team technical director Geoff Willis reckons the Honda-powered 006 was a 'better car' than Williams' and McLaren's respective (and, therefore, intriguingly one-off winning) offerings.

He told ITV: ''It was a relatively good year, but we did make mistakes we shouldn't have. There's certainly room for improvement.''

Willis, pressed for an explanation for such 'mistakes', referred to Brackley HQ's 'lack of experience' at the front of the F1 grid, and the first installment of a new collaboration with tire partner Michelin.

''We know we're up against some very clever, well-resourced people (at McLaren and Williams),'' GW continued. ''We'll discover who's done the best job in Melbourne.''

Jaguar and Ford at it again
(GMM -- Dec.22) Jaguar and car manufacturer-owner Ford are back in the motoring headlines.

Earlier, the US vehicle giant said it would stop funding the Jaguar Racing F1 team, and engine supplier Cosworth, ultimately selling (the former) to Red Bull energy drink magnate Dietrich Mateschitz.

Now, Jaguar road car workers in England are considering a strike after Ford said it would cull more than a thousand jobs.

Initially, Jaguar workers resisted the strike push but the T&G union said it would continue to urge Ford to 'reconsider their decision.'

Union Amicus' national officer Tony Murphy also said in a statement that Jag workers were worried that Ford might withdraw an offered redundancy package.

Jaguar said in a statement that it was a 'difficult period' for the luxury marque.

Ford bought Jaguar in 1989.

Toyota went to court
(GMM -- Dec.22) Recently, Formula One team Toyota went to court.

In the case alleging the smuggling of stolen information from Ferrari, police seized information from Toyota's HQ in Cologne. ''(It was) freely handed over,'' read a statement issued to us, ''but contained many confidential materials which are (our) property.''

Toyota applied to the German court requesting that such 'confidential' material not be sent to Italy prior to it being inspected and that any confidential material be removed. Cologne's Public Prosecutor opposed the application, but the Appellate Court found in favor of Toyota.

Asked whether the material had now been returned, though, a Toyota spokesman replied: ''(We) are still waiting. Only this inexplicable attitude on the part of the Public Prosecutor ... has made it impossible to release the appropriate materials as ordered by the court.''

Decision 'not made' - BMW
(GMM -- Dec.22) Williams' engine partner, BMW, has denied German media speculation that Nick Heidfeld will definitely be a team race driver in 2005.

The Munich-based carmaker was contacted following their motorsport director Mario Theissen's admission on Tuesday that 27-year-old 'Quick Nick' would 'not be sent home.'

The BMW spokesman told us: ''There has not been a decision made about Nick's role, but it is not up to BMW -- the last word is Frank Williams' as he is in charge of drivers.''

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