F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
December 24, 2004

Albers' to get Jan. teammate
(GMM -- Dec.24) A F1 teammate for Minardi rookie Christijan Albers will be named early next year, Paul Stoddart said.

The team owner and principal, sitting next to the 25-year-old Dutch star, revealed at a media conference in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) that he is not yet decided on Albers' teammate, from a final list of seven.

He said: ''The name will be unveiled in January.''

Hungarian incumbent Zsolt Baumgartner is thought favorite, but Patrick Friesacher, Tiago Monteiro, Nicolas Kiesa, Pastor Maldonado and Robert Doornbos all ran for the Faenza-based squad recently at Misano.

Stoddart said in Holland: ''Minardi has ambitious plans (for 2005). It is very gratifying to see a number of Dutch companies getting behind a talented young driver in order to help him take that final step to the highest level of motor racing.''

Ralf could be 2007 champ
(GMM -- Dec.24) Ralf Schumacher will lengthen a new grand prix team contract and charge toward a maiden drivers' world championship with Toyota.

The German is signed up for 2005 and 2006 but reckons it'll take at least 'three to five years' to prepare a title charge.

''(By) then,'' the 29-year-old told website sportal.it, ''I am certain I will be champion. My objective now is to get on the podium, with the championship a long term goal.''

Ralf justified the up to five-year interval by referring to super-successful brother Michael Schumacher's half decade wait for the first Ferrari title since 1979.

Schumacher added: ''It's going to be necessary to have some patience -- last year's car was not really very good.''

Montoya is 'a risk' - McLaren
(GMM -- Dec.24) Signing fiery Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya for 2005 and beyond was 'a risk,' McLaren CEO Ron Dennis admitted yesterday.

He revealed that, following an opportunity to snap-up the outspoken Latino - reportedly following an argument with Williams' chiefs at the 2003 French grand prix - the decision to hire JPM was taken 'quickly.'

Dennis told UK newspaper The Daily Mail: ''We believe he will be a better racing driver with our team -- we think the risk is a very balanced and calculated one. We think his best is yet to come.

''Juan Pablo is still on the up.''

BMW 'delight' at Jag rescue
(GMM -- Dec.24) German carmaker BMW is 'delighted' the recent purchase of Jaguar by energy drink Red Bull has ensured a pitlane comprising ten teams for the 2005 F1 season.

Motor sport director Mario Theissen said Munich-based BMW and Sir Frank Williams' F1 team would have been 'able' to enter a third car if required had Jaguar not been saved.

But he insisted: ''F1 needs the mixture of works teams and independent squads, and the involvement of Red Bull is a meaningful signal for the sport's future.''

Santa at Silverstone
(GMM -- Dec.24) At British F1 venue Silverstone, Father Christmas came early.

UK sport minister Richard Caborn opened a seven million dollar 'business innovation centre' at the circuit in Northamptonshire, a joint venture of the track-owning British Racing Drivers' Club and the EMDA (East Midlands Development Agency).

''Developing the motorsport industry is about growing sustainable and quality jobs,'' Caborn said. ''The (British) grand prix is very important to the local economy.''

The plan is to 'attract and nurture' young racing/engineering companies by offering (for lease) business space.

Speed to test for RB in '05
(GMM -- Dec.24) An American will take another definite step toward Formula One next year.

Scott Speed, the jewel in Red Bull's search for a US-born F1 star, said he was likely to test for the energy drink-owned grand prix team some time in 2005.

''GP2 looks like the biggest possibility,'' the Californian was quoted as saying when asked about next season, ''and ... I am sure I'll be testing the Red Bull car. I don't know anything for sure yet.''

Speed, 21, won the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2004.

Klien backed for RB role
(GMM -- Dec.24) It would not be 'ideal' if F1 team Red Bull overlooked Christian Klien as David Coulthard's 2005 teammate.

That's the assertion of UK-based managing director David Pitchforth, although - as reported yesterday - Red Bull's 'motor sport advisor' Helmut Marko made it clear the Briton is just an 'employee' and all decisions will be made in Austria.

Klien, by virtue of his full season for formerly Ford-owned Jaguar this year, cannot slot into the Friday practice role in 2005.

''You've got to be committed to a young driver,'' Pitchforth said, ''and for Christian to lose the seat and not even do the Friday role -- it's not what we would like.''

A spokeswoman for the F1 team, meanwhile, told us the balance of the racing lineup will be 'announced in the New Year.'

Minardi's Jan. 'launch party'
(GMM -- Dec.24) Minardi will stage a special pre-season 'F1 launch party' in Holland next month.

We revealed earlier that the official 2005 launch for Paul Stoddart's F1 team is to take place in Melbourne, just prior to the season opener.

The January 'launch party,' the Australian entrepreneur explained at a five-star Amsterdam hotel on Thursday, is to name the flock of Dutch corporate support for Christijan Albers' graduation to F1.

The event will be held at a 'secret location in Amsterdam,' according to a statement. Albers' leading investor is Lost Boys founder Michiel Mol, who said yesterday: ''This is my Christmas present to all Dutch F1 fans.''

49-year-old Stoddart, meanwhile, said the 2005-spec PS05 car won't actually be unveiled until April, at least three grands prix into the new season.

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