F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 5, 2005
Sauber cancel 2005 launch
(GMM -- Jan.5) Swiss Formula One team Sauber has called off the launch
of 2005 car 'C24' in deference to the Asian tsunami disaster.
The Ferrari-powered racer was set to be unveiled in Malaysian sponsor
Petronas' home country, in Kuala-Lumpur on 11 January.
It would have celebrated the oil company's ten-year stint at the
pinnacle of motor sport, but the event was cancelled 'as a mark of
respect to the victims ... and their families,' a team member said on
The spokesman then told us that the new car would simply debut at
Valencia (Spain) on January 14, with Brazilian driver Felipe Massa
initially at the wheel.
Schu's $10m pledge
(GMM -- Jan.5) F1 world champion Michael Schumacher donated $10
million (US) to the relief effort following Boxing Day's devastating
tsunami disaster in south Asia.
The German's pledge, announced by agent Willi Weber on a German TV
fundraiser for the UN Children's Fund and German Red Cross, is the
biggest so far in the world of sport, and possibly of any individual.
''What happened to so many people is so unfathomable and horrible,''
36-year-old Schumacher, the Ferrari driver, said. ''One cannot simply
blind it out -- we're suffering with them.''
Earlier, the International Olympic Committee pledged $1m, the English
Premier League $2m, while German soccer squad Bayern Munich offered
The Asian death toll is at 146,000.
F1 got all-clear drug report
(GMM -- Jan.5) A media report will render the claims of former Ferrari
(F1) doctor Benigno Bartoletti completely unjustifiable.
The Italian said that almost half of all grand prix drivers snort
cocaine to boost reaction time and the feeling of 'invincibility.'
But Germany's 'Sport Bild' magazine will say in Wednesday's edition
that more than fifty drug tests were conducted by the governing FIA in
Formula One last year -- and all returned a negative result.
Bild said drivers were tested randomly after Saturday qualifying at
every grand prix in 2004, and Michael Schumacher - for one - showed
Schu buys $32m 'Villa'
(GMM -- Jan.5) 36-year-old Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher has
snapped up a huge house in Italy -- for a cool $32.5 million.
The 1926-built mansion, called 'Villa Cassinella' and sold by Carlo
Mantegazza's son, is on the shore of Lake Como, near Lenno.
An Italian newspaper said famous Americans Brad Pitt, Kevin Costner
and Bruce Springsteen made (unsuccessful) bids for the house.
Swiss-based Schumacher, the seven time world drivers' champion, will
reportedly use the house as a holiday retreat.
Klien offered Red Bull deal
(GMM -- Jan.5) Christian Klien has been offered a contract to drive
for F1 team Red Bull Racing in 2005, it is reported.
Austrian broadcaster ORF said Klien, as well as F3000 champion
Vitantonio Liuzzi, both now have an offer on the table, but the
proposed contract would not guarantee a full season of grands prix.
20-year-old Klien, who drove for Red Bull's Ford-owned 'Jaguar'
incarnation in 2004 with the backing of the energy drink, reportedly
told 'ORF' that he would consider the offer with his manager-father.
Sato's 'ragged' - Button
(GMM -- Jan.5) Takuma Sato is a 'ragged' driver who lacks consistency,
Formula One teammate Jenson Button said.
24-year-old Button lashed out at the Japanese's driving style,
including a slipshod shunt into Rubens Barrichello at the Nurburgring
in May last year.
JB told British broadcaster ITV: ''I'm not sure it's going to change
for 2005. I think with that move, he decided half a minute beforehand
that he was going to have a go.''
Frome-born Button, though, admitted that 27-year-old Sato's debatable
style is catching on with many fans. He added: ''I'm sure people love
''Taku is quite ragged but, at times, he is also very, very fast.''
Montoya - 'it's not perfect'
(GMM -- Jan.5) Juan Pablo Montoya's January/February test program will
been stepped up by McLaren following a lively pre-Christmas period.
The Colombian, who drove for Frank Williams' F1 outfit from 2001 until
last October, admitted in an interview that 'not everything' was rosy
when he first tried the silver MP4-19B.
''Basically the car is good,'' the 29-year-old commented, ''but we're
really going to work on adapting my driving style -- at the moment
it's not perfect.''
Montoya admitted that the top of the podium, and the drivers'
championship, were the ultimate goals for 2005. But he added:
''Really, it's too early to tell -- right now we're just setting up
the car and I'm getting used to working with the team.
''But so far so good.''
Renault set for Jan. rollout
(GMM -- Jan.5) Renault's new Formula One car will debut at Valencia on
January 25, we can reveal.
The Enstone-based team, with Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella and
Franck Montagny all present, is scheduled to roll out the
'R25'-designated 2005 racer at the Spanish venue prior to its official
launch in Monaco a week later.
R25 is penned by chief designer Tim Densham and overseen by project
leader Axel Plasse.
Next week at Jerez, work - with the older R24 - will resume, as
engineer Christian Silk explained: ''We will work on electronic
development, to be sure the systems are ready for when the 2005 car
Massa to 'improve' in '05
(GMM -- Jan.5) Felipe Massa believes 2004 was a successful year for
him in Formula One.
The young Brazilian, who debuted in 2002 but moved to Ferrari to be
test driver a season later, returned to Swiss team Sauber last year
and insists he did a 'decent job' at the wheel.
Massa said of 2004: ''Only good things happened to me -- I scored 12
points, led my first ever lap in F1, was the guy who overtook most,
and helped Sauber finish sixth in the constructors' championship.''
He does, though, hope to improve even more in 2005. ''I'm sure I
will,'' said Felipe.
Ferrari-powered Sauber has switched from Bridgestone to Michelin, and
Massa revealed that, in winter testing, the car suited the French tyre
He concluded: ''So we expect to take another step forward (in 2005).''
Sauber switch surprised chief
(GMM -- Jan.5) F1 principal Tony Purnell was surprised when Swiss team
Sauber announced it would switch from Bridgestone to Michelin rubber
The Red Bull, formerly Jaguar, chief said the bombshell could indicate
that a French company based at Clermont-Ferrand produces the best
tyres in grand prix racing -- even if its rival won more grands prix.
''(Sauber's switch) threw me a little bit,'' Purnell admitted.
''(Jaguar) have never run on Bridgestones, so I don't know, but if you
look at the flipside ... Michael Schumacher (and Ferrari) walked away
with the (2004) championship.''
Schu outpaced by Frenchman
(GMM -- Jan.5) He may be a seven time F1 title winner, but even
Michael Schumacher can't with 'em all.
The German was outpaced in a 'Driver of the Year' poll on Canadian TV
broadcaster TSN's website -- by a Champ Car star.
Having secured more than fifty per cent of the vote, Frenchman and '04
winner Sebastien Bourdais walked away with the plaudit, with Ferrari's
36-year-old a distant second after capturing just 32 per cent.
'I was misguided' - Button
(GMM -- Jan.5) It was a 'mistake' to attempt to escape from a
watertight BAR contract, British F1 driver Jenson Button admitted.
The 24-year-old told TV broadcaster ITV in a season wrap-up that he
had not 'fully' understood that ultimately ousted agent John Byfield
tried to thread a needle through a loophole in the bungled move to
Frank Williams' outfit.
He said: ''I thought my reasons for wanting to (leave) were correct
but I was misguided -- you learn from your mistakes.''
Track compatriot and F1 veteran David Coulthard, meanwhile, tried to
temper the criticism that had fallen on the young BAR driver's
shoulder in the Button-gate saga. ''We tend to forget,'' said the
Scot, ''that Jenson is still only 24.''
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