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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 10, 2005


Toyota launch TF105
(GMM -- Jan.10) Two hundred journalists were invited to the low-key launch of 2005 F1 car 'TF105' at Barcelona's 'de Franca' train station on Saturday.

Technical director Mike Gascoyne admitted there is 'unprecedented pressure' on the cash-laden Cologne-based squad to perform.

''Our target with this car,'' added team principal Tsutomu Tomita, ''is to make a step on our way to victory.''

Toyota boasts an all-new driver line-up -- Williams' ex Ralf Schumacher joining ousted Renault ace and Italian Jarno Trulli. Team president John Howett admitted the proven GP winners will place 'more pressure' on Toyota this year.

Also at the launch were testing line-up Olivier Panis, who will be 'reserve' driver at every grand prix in 2005, and continuing 'Friday' runner Ricardo Zonta.








Red Bull sack top F1 duo
(GMM -- Jan.10) New F1 team 'Red Bull' have fired management duo Tony Purnell and David Pitchforth.

The owner of the successful Arden F3000 team, 31-year-old Christian Horner, is Purnell's successor at the helm, and a statement said a new technical director would be named 'within the next week.'

A well-placed source said former Jaguar man Guenther Steiner is the man for the job.

Team owner, the Red Bull magnate Dieter Mateschitz, defended the move to fire the existing Jaguar structure as one that was 'needed to move (us) forward.'

Horner said the new job signaled an end to any plan to buy Eddie Jordan's cash-strapped F1 outfit. He also vowed not to rush into shaking-up any more personnel.

''I'll use the next month,'' he said, ''to have a good look at everything, see how it all fits together.''








Branded Webber is 'happiest'
(GMM -- Jan.10) Williams' 2005 'livery launch' in Bahrain marked Mark Webber's first outing in full F1 team branding.

Previously, in Spanish winter testing, the Australian had to wear plain clothing and no sponsor decals in deference to the continuing contract with Jaguar.

Asked about the new era, 28-year-old Mark said: ''I am the happiest man in the world to be a member of the team.

''Everybody is working night and day because we want to win.''







Ralf in Frank attack
(GMM -- Jan.10) For a driver, Toyota is a 'far better option' than Sir Frank Williams' F1 squad.

That's what Ralf Schumacher, a Grove employee since 1999 but now stationed at Cologne, claimed at Toyota's 2005 car launch in Barcelona at the weekend.

''Williams is still a very small company,'' said the 29-year-old German, ''and it all depends on two people, basically -- Frank and Patrick (Head). They're not the youngest, either.''

Ralf said Williams' biggest vice is engine supplier BMW's lack of 'financial' support for the team.

Schumacher also said he hoped to claim Toyota's maiden podium conquest in 2005. ''If all runs to plan from mid-season,'' said the German, ''it might be possible to get one or maybe two.''








Duo in January 'shootout'
(GMM -- Jan.10) Antonio Pizzonia has vowed to 'support' Frank Williams' F1 team even if he is not picked to be Mark Webber's 2005 teammate.

The BMW-powered squad said in Bahrain that, out of Pizzonia and Germany's hopeful Nick Heidfeld, one will be race driver and the other a test and reserve option.

''For sure, I want to race,'' said 24-year-old Pizzonia, of Brazil. ''The next (three) evaluation tests are fine -- tough competition is a natural part of Formula One.''

27-year-old Heidfeld, formerly a Prost, Sauber and Jordan driver, said the Oxfordshire shot is the 'biggest' in his F1 career. ''I'll give my very, very best to come up to everyone's expectation,'' he added.








Red Bull reject F1 sponsor
(GMM -- Jan.10) Red Bull Racing have turned away a major Formula One sponsorship deal.

It's reported that a leading vodka label, almost certainly Smirnoff, wanted to advertise on David Coulthard's RB1 in 2005.

But team owner Dieter Mateschitz said from Salzburg that the blue-and-silver outfit would not 'drink or smoke' on the grand prix grid.

He added that Red Bull does not endorse the controversial, even illegal in some countries, mixing of the 'stimulant' drink with alcohol.







Media 'got it wrong' - Ralf
(GMM -- Jan.10) The F1 media enjoyed believing that he and Juan Pablo Montoya did not get along, German driver Ralf Schumacher said at the '05 Toyota launch.

The 29-year-old, paired between 2001-2004 with the feisty Colombian at BMW-Williams, said they still 'get on fine.

''I actually called (Juan Pablo) before Christmas,'' Ralf revealed, ''and we chatted.''

He admitted that the press' reporting of the adverse teammate pairing was probably spurred-on by some track 'incidents' whereafter Ralf and JPM ceased talking for a while.

And Williams' philosophy of not curing a festering driver/driver relationship did little to help.

Schumacher's new employer, through technical director Mike Gascoyne, said that Toyota will give new pairing Schumacher and Jarno Trulli the 'right' environment in which to thrive. ''I gather,'' he added, ''that Ralf had quite a prickly teammate (at Williams).''








Toyota to open Cologne HQ
(GMM -- Jan.10) Toyota will help raise money for the victims of the unprecedented tidal wave disaster in south Asia.

F1 team president John Howett said Cologne HQ would be open to the public on January 23, at a cost of thirty Euro per person, to be donated to the German Red Cross.

''We never normally (open the factory),'' he said in Spain for Saturday's launch of the TF105.

It is reported elsewhere, meanwhile, that Swiss F1 team Sauber - having cancelled its Kuala-Lumpur launch that would have been held Tuesday - will offer for auction a 1998-spec Sauber C16 F1 car, with proceeds to be pledged for reconstruction in south Asia.








Midfield team impressed Prost
(GMM -- Jan.10) Ask four time world champion Alain Prost which grand prix team impressed him most in recent years, and the answer might surprise.

The Frenchman, whose own independent F1 squad went bankrupt in 2001, praised the effort of Peter Sauber, owner and principal of the privateer 'Sauber' entrant.

''To even survive in F1 is not easy for a private team,'' Prost, who drive for Ferrari and won his last drivers' title in a Williams in 1993, said. ''That is definitely true.

''But Peter Sauber has always stayed above water and maintained stability with his partners. I must say I am very impressed.''

The 49-year-old winner of 51 grands prix, though, warned that if Ferrari-powered Sauber wanted to do other than tread water in the lower midfield, he should find an agreement 'with a major carmaker.'







Ferrari's 'clever' car plan
(GMM -- Jan.10) Michael Schumacher has defended Ferrari's decision to kick start the 2005 F1 season with an 'old' red car.

The world champion marque said it would use a modified version of the F2004 until April, allowing more time to 'perfect' the new model for a brand new technical code.

36-year-old Schumacher said: ''We've done it before and it never proved a disadvantage -- (F2004 is) such a good car anyway.''

Far from interpret Ferrari's plan as a scarlet disadvantage, too, is Frank Williams. The wheelchair-bound F1 principal said he is 'deeply worried' about the intention to withhold the 2005 model.

''They've obviously traveled along the same path (as us) and said 'we need to be even cleverer with these rules'. I hope I'm wrong but they could have come up with something very, very clever.''








Game to shame Ferrari foiled
(GMM -- Jan.10) Toyota's Mike Gascoyne has admitted to 'disappointment' that F1 rival BAR-Honda could not stick to a plan to reduce testing in 2005.

The technical director said in Barcelona that Toyota remained committed to the Brazil agreement to limit a team's in-season program to just 24 days.

''(BAR) said that, no matter what, they would stick with that,'' Mike said. ''(But) the (gentleman's agreement) has now broken up.''

Ferrari never agreed to the 24-day plan, which would have, according to English-born Gascoyne, significantly reduced running costs.

Frank Williams admitted that the teams' plan had been to 'take some pain' early this year and, with the help of the influential Italian media, embarrass Ferrari into joining suit.

He added: ''We are desperately serious about saving money.''








Fear will make Schu quit
(GMM -- Jan.10) A fear of dying like Ayrton Senna will convince Michael Schumacher to not renew a Ferrari contract beyond the end of 2006.

That's the opinion of Frank Williams, who admits to admiring the seven time champion more than anyone who had ever actually driven for his own grand prix team, including Alain Prost or Alan Jones.

The English-born co-owner and F1 principal said a number of crashes in a fourteen-year F1 career will 'be on (Michael's) mind' at bedtime every now and then.

Sir Frank added: ''Michael makes mistakes when he's under pressure, and then there's his children. I think he will go on until the end of 2006.''







F1 reliability to take a hit
(GMM -- Jan.10) When F1 lands in Malaysia in March, engine men face a 'whole new world.'

That's the claim of Luca Marmorini, Toyota's technical director (engine). He reckons the new one-engine-for-two grands prix regulation is certain to reduce each team's reliability record.

He said: ''We're going to enter the second race of each (engine's) life and there will be a higher chance of failure.''

The Italian, though, insisted that Toyota - for one - would touch down in Melbourne with an RVX-05 V10 that is at least as powerful as the 2004 predecessor.

But Malaysia, the first time F1 regulations will mandate a well-used powerplant, is making everyone 'a bit worried,' Marmorini confessed.








JPM, Kimi, to duel
(GMM -- Jan.10) Juan Pablo Montoya will go head-to-head with new McLaren teammate Kimi Raikkonen for the first time this week.

The Colombian, after having to wear plain gear because he was under contract to Williams until 1 January 2005, appeared on mclaren.com last Friday wearing an official 'Juan Pablo'-branded McLaren t-shirt.

And, at Valencia (Spain), he'll test in a fully branded helmet and West-liveried racing overalls, we can reveal.

29-year-old Montoya, at the session, will face direct comparison with Kimi, the Finnish incumbent, as the youngster is also scheduled to run in the MP4-19B.








Will GPWC rule a new F1?
(GMM -- Dec.10) Paul Stoddart has warned that a carmakers' breakaway championship will become 'a reality' if Bernie Ecclestone does not cut a deal with the GPWC.

Asked what he thought might happen, though, the Minardi principal said: ''I think a deal will be done, in the end.''

Key Ecclestone-ally, and chief of the Australian grand prix, Ron Walker, is even more confident. He played down the rising influence of the group of rogue F1 carmakers.

''I think I know a little bit,'' he told The Australian newspaper, ''and I can tell you that it would be very hard for (GPWC) to get control.''

Walker confirmed that he did not meet with GPWC when it recently canvassed a round of key F1 promoters. He said, defiantly: ''They know exactly where I stand.''







Briscoe's dead F1 dream
(GMM -- Jan.10) Ryan Briscoe's F1 dream is dead -- at least until 2006.

The Sydneysider, a former Toyota test driver and Jordan race hopeful, will drive in the Daytona 24-Hour race for Chip Ganassi, it was confirmed, and the American squad will likely tie him to the Indy Racing League entry in 2005, too.

''This is a big deal for me,'' the youngster, gagged from talking about IRL, said at the weekend.








Liuzzi boost in F1 move
(GMM -- Jan.10) One man no doubt delighted at news that Christian Horner will be boss of Red Bull's F1 team in 2005 is Vitantonio Liuzzi.

The rated Italian driver, who has signed a Red Bull F1 contract, won his F3000 crown last year in a Horner-owned 'Arden' entrant.

31-year-old Horner, though, insisted that - like contender Christian Klien - Liuzzi will be judged on 'what he does' in the F1 car in testing in January and February.

He told Reuters: ''Both are contracted, anyway -- we're in no rush to make a decision. Tonio is a very talented driver, sure.''

Meanwhile, one of the two men ousted in the Horner move, Jaguar incumbent David Pitchforth, vowed to return to F1 'in the right environment.'








Toyota appearance to change
(GMM -- Jan.10) Toyota moved to downplay suggestions that their new TF105 F1 car, unveiled in Spain on Saturday, may not be radical enough to trouble the podium in 2005.

The team said at Barcelona that the appearance of the machine will alter 'substantially' when the Melbourne-spec aerodynamic package is fitted.

''(We) are already actively working on (it),'' said a team member.

Chief designer Gustav Brunner, meanwhile, admitted that the car 'has a lot of carry over parts,' and that - mechanically - TF105 is 'an evolution.'







Teams might have sued Ford
(GMM -- Jan.10) Jordan and Minardi were so angry at Ford's F1 pullout that they considered legal action, a UK newspaper reported.

The Money section in UK's Daily Telegraph said Ford put Cosworth, engine supplier to the minnow teams as well as works outfit Jaguar, into administration prior to it being sold.

One source said: ''... the F1 customers were very upset and might have gone for litigation.''

The Telegraph said putting the company into administration protected both Ford and Cosworth's new owners 'from litigation after the sale.'

Champ Car co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe, we can also reveal, changed Cosworth Racing's name to 'Cosworth Limited' after the sale.








Another American on F1 road
(GMM -- Jan.10) Red Bull will fund another young American's charge through to F1.

John Edwards, just 13, is off to Italy to compete in the renowned Italian karting championship for Team CRG -- which launched the career of seven time champion Michael Schumacher.

''It is a big commitment to move to Italy (to live),'' the young Edwards said in a statement.

Red Bull is also pushing Colin Fleming, another American driver, into the 'World Series by Renault' category in 2005.








Cocaine doctor at it again
(GMM -- Jan.10) 'Ben' Bartoletti, who claimed that up to a third of all F1 drivers snort cocaine, now says his interviewer took the story out of context.

The former Ferrari doctor's comments have been ridiculed and denied by the FIA, F1 doctor Prof. Sid Watkins, and drivers including grand prix drivers' association director Mark Webber.

The Italian told Colombia's El Carabobeno newspaper: ''I only said that there is a risk of doping in motor sport. I have only mentioned a doubt, a supposition without any specific reference.''

However, despite the fact that the FIA conducted testing after qualifying at every grand prix in 2004, Bartoletti added that his cocaine 'doubt' would only be removed if more anti-doping tests are imposed 'during the entire championship.'

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