F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 13, 2005

Further delay in F1 call up
(GMM -- Jan.13) A decision about Mark Webber's F1 teammate might be delayed yet further, according to Williams' engineering director and team co-owner Patrick Head.

The Briton said this week that the 'only obligation' to the FIA is to have a decision made and publicized by March 3 -- just a day prior to opening practice in Melbourne.

''We do expect that, at the end of the testing in January, we would have enough data to make that call,'' he told a reporter.

Head said the 'intention' was to unveil either Nick Heidfeld or Antonio Pizzonia as the official race driver by the launch of the new FW27 car, at Valencia on the last day of January.

Badoer, Ferrari, extend deal
(GMM -- Jan.13) Luca Badoer will continue to be Ferrari's main test driver at least until 2006, he revealed at the team's annual ski/PR event in the Italian dolomite region.

''I will be third driver,'' the Italian, who joined Ferrari in 1997, said, highlighting a status difference between himself and recruit Marc Gene.

Badoer said the length of his tenure at the world constructors' champion marque is almost unprecedented. ''So, for me, it's extremely nice and important,'' he added.

''I'm proud of (the agreement) because it means I am doing a good job and I am happy too.''

33-year-old Badoer and Gene, the Spaniard, raced together at Minardi in 1999. Luca said the pair get on 'very well' and will work together on a 'heavy' in-season workload.

Quick Oz, crashed Spaniard
(GMM -- Jan.13) Mark Webber stayed quickest at Jerez on Wednesday, but only just ahead of a silver car or two as McLaren kicked off their 2005 F1 campaign.

Finland's Kimi Raikkonen ended the day P2, and will go head-to-head with new teammate Juan Pablo Montoya the next time he pulls out of pitlane.

Renault, BAR and Toyota continued to field runners, including Jenson Button, and Williams' potential Webber teammate, Pizzonia, trailed the Australian's pace but due to technical woe.

''Antonio could not run at full pace,'' explained team manager Tim Newton. Seat contender Nick Heidfeld will face Brazil's Antonio, on Thursday, for the penultimate day.

Meanwhile, Marc Gene, in a scarlet car, rounded out the action after a shunt. ''(The Spaniard) was unhurt,'' read a Ferrari statement, ''but the car sustained damage to the bodywork and some components.''

F1 marriage report 'true'
(GMM -- Jan.13) Anthony Davidson's fiancÚ revealed that she will marry the Formula One test driver next year.

''It's true,'' Carrie Bond, who is press officer for new grand prix team Red Bull Racing, told us.

She added: ''We got engaged on holiday in Mauritius last November, and are planning to be married in 2006.''

25-year-old Davidson, alongside English colleague Jenson Button, is presently testing the all-black 'concept' car for F1 employer BAR-Honda in Spain.

Ferrari men to meet Pope
(GMM -- Jan.13) Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari's race line-up in F1, will meet the Pope next week.

Barrichello, world champion Schumacher's teammate at the Maranello-based outfit, said the pair and a 'small Ferrari and Maserati' delegation, including F1 principal Jean Todt, would travel to the Vatican on Monday.

''It has always been a dream of mine to get to meet the Pope,'' said the very religious Brazilian at a ski/PR event in the Italian dolomite region.

He added: ''I feel extremely proud of being able to go to Rome.''

'Tell Ron to f**k off' - Hill
(GMM -- Jan.13) If David Coulthard had told Ron Dennis to 'f**k off', he might still be a McLaren driver and a twice world F1 champion to boot.

That's the claim of 1996 title winner Damon Hill.

The Englishman, 44, told Autosport that a turning point in Coulthard's career was agreeing to pull over and let then teammate Mika Hakkinen win the last race of 1997.

Hill that said instead of agreeing to the boss' order on the radio, 33-year-old Coulthard should have replied with the four-letter word, won, and never shrunk forever into two Finnish teammates' shadow.

A new job at Red Bull, though, Hill admitted, is DC's new opportunity to become abusive. ''David's very talented,'' Damon told the magazine, ''but ... he's been too concerned about how he comes across.''

Chairman of GP host 'fired'
(GMM -- Jan.13) Former F1 champion Jackie Stewart yesterday threatened to resign as president of the (British Racing Drivers') Club that will host the 2005 British grand prix.

But the 65-year-old Scot didn't have to, as the Club's board voted to sack chairman Ray Bellm.

''(Sir Jackie) speaks too long and too loud,'' Bellm told UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper. ''There was conflict between him and me.''

Someone, in the meeting at Silverstone, called 'no confidence' in Bellm, and the dispute may have involved the handling of the new five-year F1 deal with Bernie Ecclestone.

''The board,'' Stewart admitted, ''did not want (me to resign).''

The BRDC and Stewart said the sacking would not 'affect in any way' the running of the British GP.

Bellm took over from outgoing BRDC chairman Martin Brundle a year ago.

F1 driver to win 'with head'
(GMM -- Jan.13) A grand prix winner in 2005 will have driven with 'a head as well as two feet,' Rubens Barrichello eloquently explained at a Ferrari PR event.

The Brazilian claimed the new rule, forbidding tire changing during grands prix, is sending every driver 'back to school to learn' in the run-up to March's Melbourne opener.

''You can't drive the same, that is for sure,'' he told the media in Italy. ''You can't just push from the start to the finish -- if you flatten the rubber, you are dead.''

32-year-old Barrichello also denied that he's suffering from a motivation problem after facing year upon year as Michael Schumacher's 'number two.'

''The number on the car does not matter,'' he insisted. ''We have equal equipment, an equal chance, and the real question is what number do I want to have for the next season -- and I want number one.''

BMW pleased with Webber
(GMM -- Jan.13) BMW is pleased with new F1 recruit Mark Webber.

The engine supplier to Frank Williams' team, through motorsport director Dr. Mario Theissen, said the Australian will surely 'push the project forward.'

Germany's Theissen met Webber at Le Mans in 1999. ''It was an unfortunate event for him,'' the BMW man said, ''because his (Mercedes-Benz) car flipped twice.

''We've watched him all the time since,'' Mario continued. ''He's never had a winning car (in F1) so the 2005 season will be important for him.''

28-year-old Webber drove for Minardi and Jaguar in 2002-'04.

'We'll seat share' - Klien
(GMM -- Jan.13) Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi will share a Formula One seat in 2005.

That's the opinion of 21-year-old Klien, who drove for Red Bull's prior incarnation (Jaguar) last year.

''I think so,'' the Austrian said.

''It will mean the pressure to perform is higher, but that's just natural in F1 and we have to live with it.''

Klien said the Melbourne starter would be determined after four pre-season tests in Spain.

He added: ''Not only lap time will be important, but how we work with the team, how we fit in -- after that I think we'll know who will do the first race or so.

''To be honest I don't know exactly how the team is going to handle the situation.''

Klien also denied that the appointment of Arden owner Christian Horner, champion Liuzzi's chief in Formula 3000 last year, will put the young Italian on pole position.

''I've spoken to (Horner),'' Klien revealed, ''and he seem like a fair guy -- I'm sure he'll make fair decisions and won't take sides.''

No sympathy for Coulthard
(GMM -- Jan.13) Juan Pablo Montoya is showing no sympathy for the man he replaced at McLaren -- David Coulthard.

''He had his chance,'' the Colombian said at a London hotel after being named a 'global ambassador' for team sponsor TAG Heuer.

29-year-old Montoya continued: ''David was here a long time, but Mika (Hakkinen) won the title twice.''

Former Ferrari and Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine, meanwhile - never a Coulthard fan - warned the Scot that he's probably experiencing the 'shock of a lifetime' after moving from a big hitter to Red Bull.

The Ulsterman told Autosport: ''Realistically, for him, it's all over -- there are too many young guys coming in who are better.''

And Mark Blundell, who last drove in F1 for McLaren at Adelaide, said the 33-year-old veteran stayed at McLaren 'too long.''

Schu pledge 'image building'?
(GMM -- Jan.13) F1's Michael Schumacher enjoyed almost unanimous praise for donating $10 million following the tidal wave disaster in south Asia.

But a few reckon the German, 36, could have pledged it more quietly so as to avoid the interpretation that it had anything to do with personal image-building.

The Ferrari driver's PR lady, Sabine Kehm, said Michael wanted the world to know about his generosity. ''He felt it would be good if people saw others doing something,'' she explained.

''He thought it would invite them to do something too.''

It even seemed to work.

According to a report on csmonitor.com, the German TV telethon that announced MS's donation raised more than triple the amount collected by a similar program the night before.

F1 duo to run management firm
(GMM -- Jan.13) Former grand prix teammates Mark Blundell and Martin Brundle will run their own racing driver-management company.

Called '2MB', it was 38-year-old Blundell's concept, British F1 TV pundit Brundle admitted.

''As teammates at Brabham, Ligier and (British F1 broadcaster) ITV,'' the 45-year-old said, ''we know that we work well together and have complimentary skills and outlook.''

Blundell said 2MB would work at a 'national and international' level. Brundle is already David Coulthard's F1 manager.

Klien at Auto show
(GMM -- Jan.13) Red Bull-contracted F1 driver Christian Klien will attend the 'Autosport International' racing exhibition in Birmingham (UK) at the weekend, we can reveal.

We've already reported that Williams' Mark Webber, Klien's F1 teammate David Coulthard, former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine and 1964 champion John Surtees will also be there.

AI runs until Sunday.

Jordan won't run until Feb.
(GMM -- Jan.13) Jordan won't debut their 2005 car on a test track until February, the cash-strapped F1 team revealed.

Former Renault man and technical director Mark Smith said the winter, so far, is a 'race against time.

''We had short notice for the (Toyota) engine supply,'' he said, ''and various other challenges -- Jordan is currently operating within certain restraints that are not ... the same for other teams.''

The EJ15, effectively the 2004 car without a different engine, will run in 'interim' trim in the month prior to the 2005 opener.

Albert Park in action
(GMM -- Jan.13) Albert Park pitlane buzzed into life on Wednesday at the launch of the 10th anniversary Melbourne 'celebrity grand prix.'

The race, to be the 'world debut' of the little BMW 1-Series, will feature at the wheel Australian personalities from the last nine ding-dong celebrity clashes.

Among the field are Olympic swimmer Kieren Perkins, world champion boxer Kostya Tszyu, and Channel 9 presenter Eddie McGuire.

The celebrity grand prix will be raced prior to the Australian grand prix on March 6.

'Don't be fooled' - Ralf S.
(GMM -- Jan.13) Don't be fooled, Ralf Schumacher warned at Jerez after completing a second day at the wheel of the brand new Toyota.

The 29-year-old German might be second-to-last on the timesheet of nine, but he's the only runner at the wheel of a definitive ready-to-race 2005 package.

The only other fully race-legal (albeit 'interim') package in action, that of Marc Gene, crashed after a while, but brought up the rear in the Ferrari.

''We're still not really looking at the lap sheet,'' RS explained, ''because it is pointless to compare -- everyone here has still got elements of the old package so they are naturally faster.''

Schumacher's face told the real story -- he's happy with TF105. ''I'm not noticing the missing downforce until I cross the line at the end,'' he said.

''The other teams will discover that they also lose the lap time, when they're running in their new car too.''

Teammate Jarno Trulli will try the new Toyota on Thursday.

Webber at braking point
(GMM -- Jan.13) Mark Webber may be on top at Jerez, but the Australian is in fact struggling to cope with an inherent braking characteristic of Williams' F1 car.

The 28-year-old told autosport.com that fixing the problem is 'crucial.

''I am normally not that sensitive,'' he commented, ''but we have to get on top of it -- we know what the problem is but not how to fix it.''

Otherwise, Webber said the overriding current sentiment in the BMW-powered garage is plain 'waiting' for the new FW27 model.

Nick's good for F1 - Rubens
(GMM -- Jan.13) Antonio Pizzonia and Nick Heidfeld are both good enough to snare a top drive in F1.

That's the claim of Ferrari star Rubens Barrichello, who nonetheless spent more time talking up German-born Heidfeld than the fellow Brazilian.

''Heidfeld's a very good driver,'' said the 32-year-old Barrichello in Italy, when asked about the vacant drive at Frank Williams' F1 team.

He added: ''(Nick) deserves to be in F1, for sure. We saw it in F3000, where he won the title, that he's good but also he behaves well on the track. He's a good guy to have in F1.''

RB, though, said he's a 'friend' of all countrymen - like 24-year-old Jungle Boy - trying to succeed at the pinnacle of racing.

''They're both talented,'' Rubens added. ''Maybe they can both have a job.''

Brit GP back in doubt?
(GMM -- Jan.13) Sir Jackie Stewart denied that turmoil at the British Racing Drivers' Club had once again thrown into question the future of the grand prix at Silverstone.

After president Stewart issued a 'him or me' ultimatum at a BRDC meeting, the board sacked chairman Ray Bellm.

''Bernie (Ecclestone) was one of the first people I called after the meeting,'' Jackie said. ''There is no problem.''

Stewart, also a former triple world champion, said the conflict with Bellm related only to 'corporate governance.'

To autosport.com, though, Bellm lashed out at the BRDC, warning that without a change of attitude, the Club 'will die.' He hinted that he would make a better president than Stewart.

And the Bloomberg agency quoted Ecclestone as saying that JYS is a good 'front man' but has neither the 'time or the inclination' to get much done for the BRDC.

He added: ''Ray would've got the job done.''

Toyota accept Pasquali ruling
(GMM -- Jan.13) Toyota backed a court in Cologne which ruled that the Formula One squad wrongfully dismissed team manager Ange Pasquali last year.

A spokesman said the locally-based, Japanese-owned team 'never intended' to fail to recognize Pasquali's contribution.

The team member in Cologne added: ''We tried to reach an amicable agreement (with him but) he rejected (it). We think the court found an intelligent and reasonable solution.''

Pasquali said late on Wednesday that Toyota would have to pay him monetary compensation, to be fixed by the court.

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