F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
December 31, 2004

Aussie missed Jordan deadline
(GMM -- Dec.31) Ryan Briscoe will have to wait at least another year before contemplating a Formula One debut.

According to speculation, the Sydney-born driver missed a deadline imposed by Toyota-powered team Jordan because he could not find the requisite $7m in sponsor backing.

23-year-old Briscoe, a test driver in 2004, is under contract to Toyota, but the Japanese giant vowed not to fund the Australian's maiden grand prix season.

It's believed that Ryan is under a gagging order by Toyota and Indy Racing League team Chip Ganassi, for whom he is now expected to drive in 2005.

''I cannot talk about my plans for next year,'' he told Australian media in Sydney on Thursday. ''Not yet.''

The IRL deal, to include the fabled Indianapolis 500, will likely be unveiled in January.

Schu's the oldest
(GMM -- Dec.31) He's the most successful grand prix driver of all time, but - prior to 2005 - he's never been the oldest at the wheel of a current Formula One racer.

However, with the retirement of Olivier Panis, Schumacher - 36 on Monday, is now even streaks ahead of all rivals in the wrinkle department. David Coulthard, next oldest, is thirty three.

But the seven time world champion, from Germany, is still regarded as one of the paddock's fittest and most motivated. ''I feel much younger than I am,'' Michael said this week.

He said he often plays football with men like 23-year-old Fernando Alonso, 'and I don't see much of a difference.

''No, I am not getting worn out,'' said Schumacher, ''and especially not psychologically.''

Ferrari habit 'crazy'
(GMM -- Dec.31) Jenson Button is supportive of the majority F1 teams' push to limit non-grand prix track testing.

The BAR-driving Briton said the amount of money thrown at the habit by world constructors' champion Ferrari 'is crazy.'

Button told Autosport: ''(Ferrari) test virtually every day -- there has to be a limit.''

Earlier, every team - with the notable exception of the Italian one colored in scarlet - agreed to a 24-day limit for 2005 and beyond. It is believed, however, that BAR's engine partner, Honda, also baulked at the low number.

25-year-old Button agrees that each team needs between '35 to 40' days per in-season.

How to reduce F1 shunts
(GMM -- Dec.31) Formula One's medical delegate reckons he has devised a sure-fire way to reduce the number of crashes caused by car failure.

Prof. Sid Watkins said the governing FIA should impose a $50,000 team fine for, for example, a suspension failure or other 'serious' technical breakage, like Kimi Raikkonen's rear wing collapse at Hockenheim.

''About $50,000 seems right,'' he said in Britain's F1 Racing magazine. ''It's more a matter for the FIA.''

'05 to be Schu-fest, too
(GMM -- Dec.31) Formula One should brace itself for another Michael Schumacher-fest in 2005.

That, also among others, is the opinion of Tony Purnell, continuing team principal of the Red Bull (formerly Jaguar) F1 squad.

He said at a recent lunch for the media: ''There will be a new era one day -- presumably when (Michael) retires.''

Contrary to some attitudes, though, the bespectacled Briton doesn't see the Ferrari driver's dominance as a bad thing. Purnell said: ''It's ok, because he is the best. Bernie (Ecclestone) says having a legend out there is good for the sport and I suppose you can see his point.''

Where F1 is going wrong, though, in the way that MotoGP and Valentino Rossi aren't, is - according to Purnell - that viewers tune-in basically knowing who's going to win. He said if Kimi Raikkonen, for example, sat in the sister Ferrari, we'd be in for a tight contest.

Dakar rally set for kick-off
(GMM -- Dec.31) With much of F1 in holiday-mode, many motor sport eyes will today turn to the Sahara desert in Africa -- for the 2005 Dakar Rally.

About 700 cars, motorcycles and trucks will lurch out of Barcelona on December 31, on a 9000km, 16 day trek through five countries.

The final destination is Dakar, in Senegal.

Dakar's race director said the event had never been so popular.

Etienne Lavigne said: ''It's the first time we've ever had to close the entry book early.''

'Cosworth Technology' sold
(GMM -- Dec.31) 'Cosworth Technology' has been sold by German carmaker Audi.

Audi bought Cosworth in 1998 and sold the racing and F1 arm, Cosworth Racing, to the Ford Motor Company.

Stuttgart-based Mahle GmbH bought Cosworth Technology for an undisclosed sum. The sale will not be complete until January.

''Cosworth ... will remain a supplier of powertrain engineering and niche machining and assembly services to the Audi Group,'' said Audi production chief Jochem Heizmann.

Mahle makes pistons and other engine components.

F1 principal honored
(GMM -- Dec.31) F1's David Richards has been named a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year Honors List.

The departing 52-year-old team principal, also chief of the highly successful 'Prodrive' motorsport company, earned the recognition for services to the industry.

Prodrive-led BAR-Honda finished second in the '04 constructors' F1 championship, and Richards' company previously presided over eleven championships in World Rally (Subaru) and the BTTC.

F1 champion's son to graduate
(GMM -- Dec.31) Nico Rosberg, the German-born teenage son of world champion Keke, is likely to move up to F1 support-category 'GP2' next year.

But the 'BCN Competicion' outfit denied in a statement issued yesterday that a deal to complete the 2005 line-up is done.

BCN said a decision would not be made until mid-January.

''(BCN) is one option,'' Nico - who tested the car recently, as well as a BMW-powered WilliamsF1 earlier in the season - was quoted as saying.

Finland's Keke Rosberg, now 57, won the drivers' F1 championship in 1982, ahead of Ferrari's Didier Pironi and John Watson.

China to get F1 alternative
(GMM -- Dec.31) If a Chinese motor sport fan cannot afford a ticket for the grand prix in Shanghai next October, maybe he'll find the cash for the V8 race.

Australia's premier tin-top V8 'Supercar' series will race around the purpose-built F1 circuit for the first time in June next year.

Ticket prices were announced this week -- the cheapest for single-day entry is $8, and the average ticket, promoter Greenland Group said, around $30.

In total contrast, a ticket for the Chinese grand prix cost the average punter around $300 in 2004. ''Where F1 is regarded as a money burning game for the upper class,'' said Greenland spokesman Zhang Xinguo, ''V8 is a game for ordinary people.''

V8 organizers expect a crowd of up to 100,000.

'Rossi would be F1 winner'
(GMM -- Dec.31) MotoGP's Valentino Rossi should make the switch to a four-wheeled racer.

That's the opinion of Red Bull (formerly Jaguar) F1 principal Tony Purnell, who said the flamboyant Italian rider's 'charisma and personality' is sorely needed in F1.

25-year-old Rossi, the motorcycle champion, tried a scarlet F1 car in 2004 but is rumored to be more likely to round out his career in World Rally.

But Purnell said at a media gathering at Christmas: ''He would be great for F1. The best thing about (Valentino) is that he raced a bike that everyone knew was not the fastest one (in 2004) but - wallop! - he's still a winner.''

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