Photos courtesy of McLaren and Ferrari
As West McLaren Mercedes drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya
began testing together for the first time at the Jerez circuit in
Spain earlier today, the occasion was marked with global
communications provider AT&T's branding appearing on both drivers'
overalls and Formula One cars for the first time.
AT&T, one of the world's leading integrated voice and data
communications companies, has joined the Formula One racing team as
the exclusive Corporate Partner for voice and data networking
services. Under a multi-year agreement with West McLaren Mercedes,
AT&T will provide its advanced range of communications solutions to
the team on a global basis.
The AT&T Global Network (AGN) will connect the team's headquarters in
Woking, UK, with other significant locations in the UK and Europe,
including Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart, Germany, and the engine
manufacturing facility at Mercedes-Ilmor in Brixworth, UK.
AT&T will also support connectivity at Formula One Grand Prix race
locations around the world for the team, managing data communications
during race events and at Formula One testing sessions, such as the
one taking place in Jerez for the rest of this week.
Advanced communications technology is critical to the success of a
Formula One racing team, and AT&T's portfolio of services will ensure
that West McLaren Mercedes can leverage the most advanced Internet
Protocol (IP) technologies available on a worldwide basis and optimize
the performance of its data network.
AT&T technology will ensure that the vast amounts of data generated
during racing, practice and test sessions can be accessed by the
team's technical and research and development staff in real time from
anywhere in the world, allowing the team to optimize performance of
their cars. AT&T will also support innovative Voice over IP (VoIP)
communications for the team and Internet connectivity to the team
"Formula One racing is in a league of its own as a prestigious global
sports event," said AT&T Chief Marketing Officer Kathleen Flaherty. "I
can't think of a better way than through this Partnership to
complement AT&T's global brand and showcase our leading-edge
Ron Dennis, Chairman and CEO of the McLaren Group:
"In welcoming an organization of the stature of AT&T into our Partner
portfolio, we are demonstrating a resounding level of confidence in
the West McLaren Mercedes team and our sport of Formula One. At West
McLaren Mercedes, we strive for innovation, technological excellence
and quality, values that have seen AT&T push boundaries and pioneer at
the very leading edge of new technologies for over 125 years. We are
proud to have established our Partnership with such an organization."
Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"In these quite challenging economical times it is a good signal for
Formula One in general and especially for our team that a prestigious
company like AT&T commits itself to our sport and to West McLaren
Mercedes. We are looking forward to the new co-operation, which we
believe will be a very productive one."
As a Partner of West McLaren Mercedes, AT&T's branding will appear on
both the Formula One car as well as drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Juan
Pablo Montoya and on the pit crew clothing. McLaren
Madonna di Campiglio Ė After an entire day on the slopes with his snowboard, and the evening floodlight session Michael this morning seemed relaxed for the press conference at the 2005 Wroom event.
During the Christmas holidays the media reported on the news of his generous donation to the tsunami victims in South East Asia. Michael explained the reasons for his gesture. ĎIíve always been doing something in other fields and at other times when I felt it was appropriate. Iím very lucky that I earn a lot of money in my job. It is my way of contributing to this situation. Itís obviously a little bit personal as well, to some degree. Itís kind of tough to see and deal with this and explain it to your children, so it was a very sad moment for us, and a way of trying to help people.í
Next week the German driver will get back behind the wheel at Barcelona in the car that Marc Genť is currently testing at Jerez.
ĎThe new car, the 2005 car, is going to arrive by the end of February and as we are not going to use that for the start of the season, we are going to have an interim solution and every update will always be available for the interim solutions car, which is last yearís car which we have changed to the new regulations.í This Ďintermediateí car will make its debut test in Italy next week or the week after.
The 2005 season will mark, for Michael Schumacher, his tenth with Ferrari. As he has been in Formula 1 for so long, there have been some who have enquired as to whether the world champion has already decided when to give up driving.
ĎThere is no time frame for me. There is obviously not the intention to make long term contracts because you have to take in my age, from year to year, and I will obviously think what is going to be my future at the appropriate time. Thatís obviously the question it leads to. But the contract runs out at the end of 2006 so for me there is enough time to then talk about it at the right moment. But I see no end at the moment, no. Sorry!í
Responding to those who asked the world champion if he could identify his successor among the young drivers currently competing in F1, Schumacher stated: ĎNobody, because honestly I never wanted to be liaised to anyone. I always wanted to be myself. People tried to compare me with other drivers in the past and I always refused that comparison and Iím pretty sure none of the other drivers want to be what I am. They want to be successful in their way that they do it. And there are quite a lot of talents around. and Iím pretty sure that sooner or later they are going to be in the position to win Championships as well but they do it in their style.í
As regards the upcoming season, Michael was asked who the real competition could be.
ĎIím pretty sure it will be more or less the same as last year. I would expect Mercedes to be there more from the beginning so they will be stronger for the whole year, but other than that, it will be pretty much be the same. It will probably be more or less the same drivers and teams as we have had last year fighting for the championship, but I think it will be more close and more tough because the teams will be better prepared than they were last year, so they will be fighting right from the beginning with us and obviously for us it will be tough as we are going to race the interim solution, but therefore we will be stronger when we get our new car and over the whole year, we will have to see which strategy is working out better.í
In conclusion, Michael was also asked his opinion on the general issue of F1 financing.
ĎI think itís pretty obvious that the economy worldwide is not as good as it may have been at some stage and at the same time, costs have increased in Formula One because you always keep developing, you always find new projects and thatís what everyone in a way is doing. Ferrari is looking intensely into this problem and trying to find appropriate solutions because there is no point being in a group and deciding things which havenít been properly thought through. Itís always the same procedure, people may have an intention, but when you talk about the details of the intention everybody turns around and thinks about his own profit and his own situation, rather than keep on thinking about the problem. So I think it will be a self-fixing problem, because if there is less money available, there is less money to spend and teams will be very careful about their situation. If you think about soccer: whatís the material cost for some soccer boots and some balls? Very little, but anyway, they have the same problem, so I donít think thereís a rule existing in this world to try and save, other than the natural saving of if the moneyís not there you donít spend it.í Ferrari
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