F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
December 28, 2004

'We could have beaten FIA'
(GMM -- Dec.28) Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that, like Honda and BMW, it will also drop a threat of arbitration against Formula One's governing FIA.

The engine-making trio earlier baulked at the allegedly illegal imposition of a 2.4 liter V8 formula for 2006.

But Mercedes' competition director Norbert Haug said: ''We faced a long judicial battle. During that time we would have been forced to develop, in parallel, both (V8 and V10) engine types and this we wanted to prevent.''

The German denied that the carmaker-trio were advised they would have not won the action. ''Our advice said the outcome could have been quite promising for us,'' Haug insisted.

Despite the back-down, he can admit that an unchallenged rule formula is a 'very good' sign for the sport.

Trulli's the 'calmer' Juan
(GMM -- Dec.28) Unlike Juan Pablo Montoya, Jarno Trulli should be a very 'pleasant' teammate.

That's the claim of Ralf Schumacher, who - like Colombia's feisty Montoya - has left BMW-powered Williams for the 2005 season.

The 29-year-old German will drive a Toyota from next year, alongside the affable Italian, Trulli. ''He is much calmer than Juan,'' Schumacher revealed.

He said: ''Instead of getting involved in the political discussion he is just focused on the job -- and he is also very quick.''

Meanwhile, 31-year-old Trulli - fired by Renault in mid-2004 despite winning a grand prix - predicted a 'very busy' winter test period for his new Cologne-based employer.

''We will test as much as possible,'' the other Toyota driver revealed. ''I am anticipating great things to come with Toyota.''

Late debut for new Minardi
(GMM -- Dec.28) Fans of back-of-the-grid F1 team Minardi face a four month wait for the 2005-spec PS05's grand prix debut.

Paul Stoddart said in Amsterdam last week that, because of the major regulation overhaul, the cash-strapped Anglo-Italian team will start next year with a modified version of the 2004 model.

''But (the 2004 car) will be powered by the new (Cosworth) engine,'' he explained. ''The PS05 should arrive at Imola (the San Marino grand prix), on the twenty fourth of April.''

Earlier, Stoddart requested that Minardi be exempted from building a 2005-spec car in time for Melbourne due to the lateness of a settled technical code.

Todt not engaged - girlfriend
(GMM -- Dec.28) Jean Todt's Malaysian girlfriend denied the couple were engaged as they toured her home town at Christmas.

Former Bond-girl Michelle Yeoh fiddled constantly with a huge blue diamond ring - on her engagement finger - in Ipoh.

''We'll see,'' she said when asked about marriage with the 58-year-old F1 team principal for Ferrari at the opening of a hall. ''A piece of paper does not say two people will live happily ever after.''

Asked about the beautiful Yeoh, Jean Todt answered: ''I'm a lucky man.''

Yeoh said the trip marked the first time her parents had met the Napoleon-like Frenchman. ''So far, everyone seems to like him,'' she grinned.

The pair met at a Ferrari event in Shanghai in June.

BMW to seek customer deal
(GMM -- Dec.28) German carmaker BMW might be willing to offer a customer engine supply to a smaller team by 2006.

Amid speculation of Red Bull's desire for a future deal, motor sport director Dr Mario Theissen said the scenario 'is possible.

''(But) there is no decision about that yet,'' he added. ''One thing is certain -- you cannot earn money if you take your customer seriously and he gets a top rate engine.''

The upside, the German admitted, would be a boost in track 'experience' in a period of non-race testing limitations and longer life regulations. He continued: ''The con is (getting) distracted.''

Theissen also hinted that there would be no contractual obstacle to the situation due to the works collaboration with Frank Williams' F1 team.

Byrne unhurt in tsunami
(GMM -- Dec.28) Ferrari designer Rory Byrne was not hurt in the tsunami disaster that struck south Asia early on Sunday.

The death count rose to 24,500 overnight.

Byrne, from South Africa and architect of Michael Schumacher's championship winning cars, was on the Thai coast. A source told atlasf1.com that Byrne's family home was 'unaffected.'

'I'd rather not drive' - DC
(GMM -- Dec.28) David Coulthard does not enjoy driving.

Red Bull's 33-year-old Formula One star said the 'controlled' nature at the wheel of a road car means he'd rather leave the steering to someone else.

He told ITV's Frank Skinner Show that his preferred road car is a tiny Smart: ''On the track you can go as fast as you want.''

Also according to the report in UK tabloid The Sun, Coulthard once wet himself at the wheel of a McLaren during a grand prix.

''There are physical forces on the body,'' he admitted. ''Some people pee themselves, some don't -- I did once.''

McLaren staff face redundancy
(GMM -- Dec.28) Nearly fifty McLaren employees face redundancy following a decision to put on hold the 'Project 8' concept (road) car.

A spokesman confirmed that it was a joint decision of Mercedes-Benz and McLaren, which finished fifth in the 2004 constructors' (F1) world championship.

He said the freeze is due to 'challenges' faced by the global automotive industry. ''(We will) actively support redeployment opportunities both internally and externally.''

Twenty nine McLaren members lost their jobs in August after a reshuffle in the same department.

'Cheers!' - Sato
(GMM -- Dec.28) On the twenty fifth of December, Japanese F1 driver Takuma Sato sent out a Christmas message.

The always smiling star of BAR-Honda said he was holed up in his personal physio's home town of Garmisch (Germany).

''I wish I was ... in a hot spa in Japan,'' he laughed about the -10 degree (C) weather. ''But I'm doing all the preparation I can for the coming season.''

27-year-old Sato said he visited a Christmas market in the town and enjoyed a spiced hot red wine called 'Gluhwein.'

He added: ''It's very nice and warmed me up -- so Cheers to everyone!''

Line-up completed on Jan.31
(GMM -- Dec.28) Sir Frank Williams' grand prix outfit has denied it will unveil the 2005 driver line-up at a London media call next Thursday.

A spokesman told us that Mark Webber will officially get a Formula One teammate on 31 January, at the launch of the '05-spec FW27 in Valencia (Spain).

On 7 January, BMW-powered Williams will launch the FW27's new livery - said to feature a $16m 'Royal Bank of Scotland' logo presence - at Bahrain's F1 circuit.

Meanwhile, in a Happy Christmas message, the Grove-based team issued a fond farewell to former driving line-up Ralf Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya, and departed tester Marc Gene. ''(We) wish them all the best for the future,'' the website report read.

Rossi set for rally switch
(GMM -- Dec.28) MotoGP's flamboyant champion Valentino Rossi is more likely to switch to rallying than grand prix racing.

It's reported that the Italian met with Fiat's vice president Lapo Elkann at the recent Bologna Motor Show.

And Autosport quoted Rossi as saying: ''I would like to drive rallies for Fiat after my bike career.''

Rossi has already driven in competition rallies, and tested Michael Schumacher's scarlet single seater at Fiorano in 2004.

JB's F1 'advantage' - Brundle
(GMM -- Dec.28) Jenson Button's F1 car spends more time on the black stuff than any rival, according to fellow Briton and former British driver Martin Brundle.

The F1 commentator told Motorsport News that it's a good 'championship advantage' to hold ahead of a new season.

Martin added: ''Sometimes I just wonder if the total raw pace is there, although it would be easy to take a pot shot at that theory after this season.''

45-year-old Brundle, a former pilot for Jordan, Ligier and McLaren, also put Kimi Raikkonen ahead of fellow young F1 gun Fernando Alonso in the title game.

He commented: ''(Fernando) is like Kimi, but I don't see him putting a whole season together.''

Ralf squeezes a smile
(GMM -- Dec.28) Ralf Schumacher has decided not to sue German TV comedian Stefan Raab for making fun of a multi million (euro) investment in Slovenian sex-toy shops.

The scandal compelled the 29-year-old Toyota F1 driver to pull out and earned the ire of brother Michael.

Ralf appeared on Raab's show, and the pair announced that all money raised from 'Porn Ralf' and 'Hard Cora' memorabilia would be donated to charity.

''(This) was my personal part of Christmas amnesty,'' Ralf said, confirming the 'outstanding' income of more than 100,000 Euro from t-shirt and cap sales.

He grimaced, smilingly: ''I do not have no sense of humor.''

DC given eternal wings
(GMM -- Dec.28) There will be one certain outcome of David Coulthard's new F1 team tenure -- he'll never have to pop down to the corner shop for a 'pick-me-up' again.

Scotland's tabloid newspaper the Sunday Mail said the veteran McLaren driver has been promised a lifetime supply of the caffeine-filled Red Bull 'energy' drink.

33-year-old Coulthard recently signed a one-year deal to drive for newly-formed 'Red Bull Racing' next year, and the paper said the Scot is on a $1 million retainer.

A spokeswoman confirmed: ''All Red Bull athletes use the product. David will receive Red Bull according to his needs.''

The newspaper also said Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello ritualistically drinks Red Bull at GP meetings. For health reasons, it is banned in France and Denmark.

Button's 'not ready' - legend
(GMM -- Dec.28) Jenson Button is not ready to be world champion, grand prix legend and countryman Sir Stirling Moss said.

The 75-year-old, former teammate to Juan Manuel Fangio but never a champion himself, does not think BAR's Briton can beat Michael Schumacher to 2005's top prize.

''He has got to at least have a car as good as (Schumacher's),'' Moss told Autosport. ''We don't know if he will yet.''

Stirling confessed that he did not admire the way Button handled the foiled switch to Williams, and how departing BAR principal David Richards was 'treated. It was very, very poor,' he explained.

Moss, winner of sixteen grands prix until a huge shunt at Goodwood in 1962, also rated Michael Schumacher beneath Fangio and Ayrton Senna.

No loss in V10 grunt - BMW
(GMM -- Dec.28) It'll be twice as rugged, but BMW's engine head does not think a 2005-spec Formula One V10 will feature a 'pronounced' power deficit.

Mario Theissen, motorsport director, said in an interview that most F1 manufacturers should be able to regain any horse power wound from the new-for-2005 extension of the one-engine-per-weekend rule.

Next year, an engine will need to last a car/driver two weekends, meaning that a Melbourne-spec V10 must also be fitted for the entire Malaysian grand prix event.

German-born Theissen does, however, think teams will opt for a more 'purposeful' use of the '05-spec engine. ''On Friday (practice),'' he said as an example, ''it (will be) irrelevant if the engine goes to 18 or 19 thousand rpm.''

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