F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 12, 2005

Ralf pleased with new F1 Toy
(GMM -- Jan.12) He wasn't quickest, but Ralf Schumacher attracted plenty of attention at Spain's Jerez test track on Tuesday.

The German debuted the shining 2005 Toyota model, launched in nearby Barcelona at the weekend.

''I must say, I am quite impressed,'' 29-year-old Ralf said, despite an apparent cooling problem and a mere 40-lap debut day.

He added, after going fifth fastest in the field of six: ''I am absolutely positive about this car.''

Schumacher, younger brother of Ferrari's current F1 champion, also reported amazement that - despite less grip due to the new aerodynamic and tire code - the car's actual 'balance' appeared unaffected.

''You might be surprised,'' he told a reporter, ''but (the balance was not affected) at all.

''I'm sure we'll feel the result at the end of the lap, though,'' Ralf added, referring to ultimate pace. ''So far I have a good feeling -- the car feels very drivable right from the beginning, and that's important.''

Montoya - 'I'm fitter now'
(GMM -- Jan.12) According to Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya, former F1 employer BMW-Williams didn't do enough to help him lose weight.

The 29-year-old, who will drive for McLaren from 2005, said when Frank Williams took delivery of his new Champ Car-charge in late 2000, he remarked: 'Aarrh, you're fat!'

But Montoya, now working out with David Coulthard's former physical guru, revealed at a London hotel for a sponsor unveiling that he actually weighs more today. ''And everyone says that I look really fit now,'' JPM smiled.

He said Ron Dennis-led McLaren is 'motivating' him to work harder on himself. ''I never had that (at Williams),'' Montoya continued.

Juan Pablo added: ''Williams always said 'you need to be fitter' but they did nothing about it. McLaren are giving me the tools to get more out of myself.''

Heidfeld hunt on course
(GMM -- Jan.12) All eyes may have been on Ralf Schumacher's shiny new Toyota, but nearer the top of the Jerez timesheet on Tuesday, Williams hopeful Nick Heidfeld continued to stake a claim for the F1 berth next to Mark Webber.

On Tuesday, the former Jordan-driving German - quicker than the Aussie a day earlier - trailed the highly rated Webber's pace by just two tenths.

Brazil's Antonio Pizzonia, also in consideration for the single seat, takes over from 27-year-old 'Quick Nick' on Wednesday, a spokesman said.

Franck Montagny, meanwhile, in a hybrid Renault, kicked off Renault's 2005 campaign, ahead of Anthony Davidson's BAR, the TF105 Toyota, and another black Honda-powered 'concept' car driven by Enrique Bernoldi.

''The (Michelin) tire developments we tested looked promising,'' said Renault test engineer Christian Silk. ''It was a good way to start the year.''

And at Vallelunga near Rome, Luca Badoer wrapped up a two day session. Ferrari colleague Marc Gene starts on Wednesday at Jerez, the team's press officer reported.

Court found firing 'unfair'
(GMM -- Jan.12) Toyota should not have fired former team manager Ange Pasquali, a German court found.

The Court of Cologne ruled that the local Formula One squad dismissed him 'unfairly.'

''I am very pleased,'' Pasquali said of the ruling. ''I am now looking ahead and will be considering my options.''

Toyota fired Pasquali, together with R&D man Norbert Kreyer, in August last year. Team principal Tsutomu Tomita said the existing structure had resulted in 'duplication of function.'

FIA engine rule 'worked'
(GMM -- Jan.12) The FIA's new two-race-per-engine regulation will succeed in slowing down F1.

That's the claim of Toyota engine director Luca Marmorini, who said his more robust '05 unit would begin in Melbourne with a Brazil-like ('04) level of performance.

''Had we been free to do it again like last year,'' the Italian remarked, ''I think we would have been here talking about a thousand horse power.''

Record selling Ferrari
(GMM -- Jan.12) Not before '04 had Italian marque and F1 world champion Ferrari sold so many road cars.

The Maranello-based constructor said it moved 4900 vehicles last year, for a turnover of 1.5 billion Euro -- 663 more sleek cars than in 2003.

F1 rival Renault, meanwhile, recorded a 4.2 per cent increase in worldwide sales in 2004, up to a record 2.4 million new cars.

Davidson to marry 'Bond' girl
(GMM -- Jan.12) BAR F1 tester Anthony Davidson will marry girlfriend Carrie Bond in November 2005, we can reveal.

The 25-year-old Englishman, who raced twice for Minardi in 2002, popped the big question while on holiday in Mauritius in the New Year break.

Bond is Red Bull Racing's F1 PR officer.

'F1 will find speed again'
(GMM -- Jan.12) You're 'dreaming' if you think the new technical regulations will inspire overtaking in F1.

That's the claim of long time Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer, who steered a 2005-legal F2004 model at Vallelunga on Monday and Tuesday.

''I think it'll be just as difficult,'' he told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

He said: ''There is less grip, especially in a medium speed corner -- actually, the difference is pretty small.''

Badoer last tested at the Roman circuit in mid-October, and lapped two seconds quicker. The Italian, though, thinks it won't be long before teams have clawed back the difference.

F1 champ in action
(GMM -- Jan.12) Twice F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi returned to the wheel of a racing car.

The 59-year-old Brazilian, also two-time winner of the Indy 500, lapped at Daytona for team 'Rolex' in testing for the fabled event.

Nephew and another ex-F1 star Christian Fittipaldi also attended. ''It's a fun car to drive,'' Emerson commented.

Bull likely to 'seat share'
(GMM -- Jan.12) F1 team Red Bull have admitted that Vitantonio Liuzzi and Christian Klien are likely to 'seat share' the vacant racing spot next to David Coulthard.

Motorsport 'advisor' to the energy drink company, Austrian and former GP driver Helmut Marko, said - with the veteran David Coulthard on board - there would be 'no problem' with such a scenario.

''The team can orientate itself on David,'' he said. ''That's why we (signed) him.''

62-year-old Marko, Le Mans winner in 1971, also hinted that rookie Liuzzi, the Italian, and Klien, will probably forge the 2006 Red Bull line-up, given Coulthard's single-year contract and desire to re-join a bigger team.

Schu not 'one man show'
(GMM -- Jan.12) The most successful F1 driver in history he may be, but Michael Schumacher is adamant he wouldn't achieve a single splash of podium champagne without Ferrari.

''I'm just a part of it,'' the 36-year-old German, presently at the team's annual ski/PR gathering at Madonna di Campiglio, said. ''No more and no less. Without a good team, you don't stand a chance.''

Schumacher notes Ferrari's reliability record, documenting a string of more than fifty grands prix without a single terminal technical failure, as a proud Maranello boast.

He said: ''It shows the effort involved, and Ferrari's heart. The victories and titles belong to all of them.''

Briton eyes final step to F1
(GMM -- Jan.12) For one 25-year-old British driver, just a single step will separate him from the grand prix grid in 2005.

Ryan Sharp, runner up in the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup last year, has been signed to drive for David Price's team in new F1 support category 'GP2.'

''We think he has great potential,'' said Price. Sharp, meanwhile, insisted that F1 had always been the 'long-term goal.

He added: ''GP2 is the most obvious and high-profile championship to compete in (in 2005).''

Salo won't drive - Ferrari
(GMM -- Jan.12) World constructors' champion Ferrari denied that Mika Salo will test the F1 single seater in 2005.

It was reported on Tuesday that the Finn, 'sub' for an injured Michael Schumacher in 1999, negotiated the drive in a contract to race for Ferrari sister company Maserati in the 2005 FIA GT category.

''Nothing is true in what is being said about this subject,'' a Ferrari spokesman told website f1racing.net.

He clarified that Ferrari-Maserati's group tester Andrea Bertolini is the only driver who can be 'occasionally' used for F1 by the Scuderia.

Frank may 'flip a coin'
(GMM -- Jan.12) Out of Antonio Pizzonia and Nick Heidfeld, the quickest in January will star for Frank Williams' F1 race team in 2005.

And if the pre-Valencia launch tests prove inconclusive? ''I hope there is some sort of certainty,'' the wheelchair bound principal and team co-owner said recently.

'''I don't know -- maybe we'll have to flip a coin.''

Frank, who said Brazil's Pizzonia had been a shoe-in for the role until Heidfeld - the former Sauber and Jordan driver - came along at BMW's request, also said he believed the pair are different in personality but 'quite evenly matched' on the black stuff.

24-year-old Pizzonia said: ''January will be the most important month in my entire career.''

Little Lauda to do Champ Car
(GMM -- Jan.12) Triple F1 champion Niki Lauda's son Mathias will probably turn up on the US' 'Champ Car' grid in 2005, manager and brother Lukas revealed.

The younger Lauda unspectacularly did F3000 last year.

But now Lukas, who's handling Mathias' career, admitted that a switch to the road-racing open wheeler championship is more attractive than F1 support category GP2.

''It is easier to find a budget of $3m for Champ Car than $1.2m for GP2,'' he told Autosport.

It's reported that manager-Lauda is in Chicago to seal the deal with team chief Gerald Forsythe, who may even be keen to pump some cash into Mathias' career development.

'Uncle David' not critical
(GMM -- Jan.12) David Coulthard has declined to publicly lambast Red Bull's Salzburg management for firing respected Jaguar duo Tony Purnell and David Pitchforth.

The Scot said it was 'inevitable' that Dieter Mateschitz would make staff changes.

''Red Bull believe the decision will move the team forward,'' former McLaren driver said.

Coulthard has known new F1 principal Christian Horner, amazingly younger than him, since he drove in go-karts. ''He has a very good understanding about racing,'' DC added.

The 33-year-old also revealed that probable '05 teammate pairing Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi are already calling him 'uncle David'.

'I aim to thrash Kimi'
(GMM -- Jan.12) Juan Pablo Montoya will be disappointed, but not surprised, if Kimi Raikkonen is '05's top man at McLaren.

The Colombian, set to go head-to-head with the 25-year-old in Spanish testing this week, said at a TAG Heuer sponsor gathering in London that, in season one, if he can match the Finn's pace, 'I'll be happy.

''Like when I came in to F1,'' Juan said, ''everybody expected me to beat Ralf (Schumacher), but I didn't -- and Frank (Williams) signed him up for a stupid amount of money.

''After that I beat him.''

JPM, 29, also panned Ralf's criticism that Toyota are a better bet than Williams for the future. ''You can't say it's a sinking ship,'' he replied, ''because a 'sinking ship' doesn't win the last race (of 2004).''

Hard tire 'not slow' - Ralf
(GMM -- Jan.12) A great tire may win you a grand prix, but a hard tire won't slow you down.

That's the claim of new Toyota driver Ralf Schumacher, who said the 2005 long life tire rule will not have a big influence on lap time.

''Actually, I've been surprised so far,'' the German said. ''The tires I've tried are really good, sort of equal on (lap) time to what we're used to (in 2004).''

Although, through a forced harder compound, the FIA wanted to slow the grand prix contender, Ralf said the aero/downforce limitation is having a far larger impact on the stopwatch.

The 29-year-old added: ''I think they're right to try to slow us down. If (the FIA) just left it alone, I think we'd eventually be way too quick to be adequately safe.''

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