F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 14, 2005

Sauber unwrap C24
Sauber published photos of their new 'C24' on Thursday, a day before Felipe Massa debuted the Formula One car at Valencia.

The model's prominent feature is sidepods with an extreme undercut. ''We've focused special attention on aero,'' said technical director Willy Rampf.

He admitted that C24 is 'based' on last year's car, dubbed a Ferrari 'look alike' by some. It will be powered by the same V10 used by Ferrari in 2005.

Peter Sauber, meanwhile, said he expected the team to speed up having switched to the Michelin tire.

''I'm extremely motivated,'' said new driver and 1997 champion Jacques Villeneuve.

McLaren sign new sponsor
McLaren duo Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya sported a new McLaren sponsor logo at Thursday's Jerez test.

AT&T, the global communication company, will appear on the drivers' clothing and the silver F1 car in 2005 and beyond, and will also provide services to the Woking-based squad.

CEO Ron Dennis said the multi-year agreement demonstrated confidence in both McLaren 'and our sport of Formula One.'

Mercedes-Benz director Norbert Haug also admitted that it's a 'good signal' for the sport in a 'challenging' climate.

Red Bull cancel Jerez launch
Red Bull have cancelled their 2005 F1 car launch, scheduled for February 7 at Spain's Jerez circuit.

A statement said that 'major' team changes, including the ousting of former management and the appointment of principal Christian Horner, would delay the event until Melbourne, scene of the '05 opener in March.

''(We) want to take advantage of every available day to prepare for our first year,'' said Horner, 31.

In the same statement, Red Bull also confirmed that former Jaguar man, 39-year-old Guenther Steiner, would join Red Bull as technical director.

Kimi, Nick, triumphant
Kimi Raikkonen and Nick Heidfeld smilingly emerged from a day's effort at Jerez on Thursday.

They'd both won their much publicized 'shoot out' runs against a keen grand prix contender.

Raikkonen, the McLaren incumbent, edged out new-boy Montoya by little more than a tenth, and Heidfeld held a similar edge over Antonio Pizzonia, vying for Williams' spare seat next to Mark Webber in 2005.

A Williams spokesman was keen to point out, though, that the duo completed 'different' programs.

Ricardo Zonta, incidentally - in an older Toyota - was the day's quickest. Renault's Franck Montagny, Jarno Trulli in the TF105, BAR and Ferrari were all also in action.

A wet-tire day will take place Saturday.

F1's Schu to race on
Michael Schumacher might race-on beyond the boundary of a 2006 Ferrari contract.

The German, interviewed at the annual ski/PR gathering in Italy, denied there is a 'time frame' in mind for retirement.

''Obviously I'm not going to make another long term contract,'' said the oldest driver in F1, at 36.

''But there's no end at the moment -- no, sorry!''

Schumacher, the seven time drivers' title winner, said he's 'more in love' with grand prix racing than ever before, ''because I know the sport so well. It used to be a love-hate kind of life, but now it's more just on the love side for me.''

BAR to launch new car
BAR will launch their brand new '007' car on Sunday.

Jenson Button is looking forward to the event, including driving the 2005 contender at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya track in Spain.

''It was great to be back in the cockpit again (at Jerez) following the break,'' the Englishman, referring to the past week's work in the black 2004-5 'concept' version, said.

F1 to expand in US - Bernie
Bernie Ecclestone is supporting a push to make F1 more popular in America.

A new entity, Grand Prix Entertainment (GPE), has bought the exclusive F1 TV rights and signed an agreement with channel 'CBS' to televise four grands prix live in the 'States in 2005.

GPE was formed by Andy Heyward and Casey Wasserman.

''Andy and I have been talking for a while about the possibility of working together,'' said Bernie. ''This is an important step forward in our strategy to ... reach a wider audience (in the US).''

GPE will also develop other 'strategies' to further expand F1's current domestic audience.

Existing US broadcaster, Speed Channel, will air the remaining fifteen grands prix.

F1 to consider quali repair
Saturday/Sunday qualifying, and whether to call it off prior to the '05 opener, will be discussed at a F1 principals' meeting in January, according to Paul Stoddart.

Minardi's chief said he'd vote to overturn the controversial 'aggregate' format -- but only if a new agreement 'states categorically' that qualifying won't be changed again in a hurry.

Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne also said in Reuters' report that he doesn't think the proposed 2005 format is a bad idea.

''I do think you need something to happen on Sunday for the crowds that are there,'' he commented.

New Renault car fired up
Renault's new 'R25' F1 car barked into life at Enstone HQ on Wednesday.

Director of engineering Pat Symonds, at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, said the mild-blue racer is 'looking good' on the test rig.

''We'll go off and test it in about 10 days time,'' he confirmed.

Despite a longer-life engine rule designed to reduce power, Renault will march into 2005 with a stronger engine than the last, Symonds also revealed.

''(The rule) is going to save money,'' he admitted, ''but not as much as some people seem to think.''

England to host 'A1' debut
Former F1 track Brands Hatch (England) will stage the first-ever 'A1 Grand Prix' event in September, founder Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum al Maktoum revealed at the 'Autosport International' show.

''It's fitting that the first one is held in the United Kingdom,'' he commented.

Brands Hatch is owned by former F1 driver Dr. Jonathan Palmer, who admitted that the track must now be modified 'considerably' to bring it up to a safe standard.

Asia asking F1 for help
Malaysia's grand prix chairman has written to every F1 team principal, and Bernie Ecclestone, asking them to contribute something to the tsunami effort.

Dato Mokhzani Mahathir, chairman at F1 circuit Sepang near Kuala-Lumpur, said at the Autosport International show that he hoped F1 would dig in when it visited South Asia for the Malaysian grand prix in March.

''I thought we could use the publicity that is generated by F1 for a good reason,'' he said.

Mahathir revealed that all drivers would be contacted, too. On Sunday, Sepang will host a charity day called 'Racers United in Aid of Tsunami Fund.'

Kimi 'annoyed'
Kimi Raikkonen is annoyed that the F1 media seems to want him and new McLaren teammate Juan Pablo Montoya to clash.

Finland's 25-year-old said the combination, already dubbed 'fire and ice' by some commentators, might actually mix well.

''We get on fine,'' he commented at Jerez after outpacing the Colombian rival in their first head-to-head session at Jerez.

Raikkonen did, though, admit that - from Melbourne on - a different story may unfold. ''I suppose that's when we'll find out how it's going to develop,'' said Kimi, ''but honestly, I can't see a big problem.''

Pantano and GP2
Giorgio Pantano probably won't return to the grand prix grid in 2005.

The Italian, who raced for Jordan last year but had to leave the team after Monza, admitted that the Silverstone-based squad 'is an option.'

''It's not going to be easy,'' he told the ItaliaRacing website. ''It depends on the conditions -- if it's going to be the same as 2004, then no.''

Pantano doesn't want to be a test driver, so he's also looking at Champ Car and F1 support category GP2. ''I'm interested in (GP2),'' he admitted.

''It's somewhere where a driver can go to show if he is good enough.''

Finn to drive Arden
Up-and-coming 'Flying Finn' Heikki Kovalainen will drive for title winning F3000 team 'Arden' in the GP2 support category.

His 2005 teammate is French driver Nicolas Lapierre.

''I think it's as strong a line-up as we've ever had,'' said Arden owner Christian Horner, also team principal for Red Bull Racing in 2005, on the Autosport International stage.

Kovalainen, the Nissan World Series champion, beat Michael Schumacher at December's ROC event.

RB planning fast start
Rubens Barrichello could get off to a flying tart in the 2005 F1 championship.

Last year, the Brazilian veteran had hardly tested the brand new F2004 car, and almost always in the rain, when he touched down in Melbourne for the season opener.

''It's an advantage for me to know the car,'' he said, referring to Ferrari's decision to start the year with a modified 'old' car, in the Italian dolomites for a PR event.

32-year-old Barrichello also vowed to quit instantly if he ever woke up and realized 'I will never catch Michael (Schumacher).'

''Now, I still have that motivation to be the best,'' he explained.

Mosley joins car group
Max Mosley will join 'CARS 21', a group set up by the European Commission and designed to help automotive manufacturers improve their competitiveness.

The Briton is president of F1's governing body, the FIA.

''(The group) brings together the key policy stakeholders in the EU's automotive sector,'' Max Mosley explained.

Jordan role 'may change'
Eddie Jordan's role at the Silverstone based F1 squad 'may change' in 2005, the Irishman and team owner admitted.

He told UK newspaper The Guardian that, despite rumor of a near deal with Christian Horner, the Midland group and a Chinese consortium, it's 'business as usual' in the winter.

''We're not changing any people on the payroll,'' he insisted, ''but (I) may concentrate more on the commercial side to work on future investment in the team.''

Jordan also admitted that he'd be willing to sell some of his own equity if it meant a return to the glory of the late 90's.

Austrian in Minardi running
Patrick Friesacher, an Austrian, has emerged right in the running to make a Formula One debut in '05.

The next week or so may prove the most important in the 23-year-old's young racing career.

He recently tested Minardi's single seater.

''We are coming to the important stage (in negotiations with Paul Stoddart) now,'' said manager Thomas Frank.

According to speculation, a Minardi cockpit for a year will cost a rookie about $6.5 million.

Liuzzi eyes full time drive
'Tonio' Liuzzi will use a part time F1 drive in 2005 to prove he can be trusted to become a 'proper' team member next year.

The young Italian, like Christian Klien, will almost certainly 'share' the sister Red Bull cockpit next to David Coulthard.

''I'll learn this year, giving my best,'' said the F3000 champion, ''and showing my potential.''

He added: ''For example, I see this as an opportunity because I can learn about how to set up a car well, which is a difficult task, and then show I can become a proper driver in 2006.''

Team principal Christian Horner, meanwhile, said Red Bull can decide who'll race in Australia 'literally a day or two before' the opening grand prix.

But he added: ''We'll probably make a choice a bit before that.''

Todt. Still worried
Ferrari haven't lost a constructors' F1 championship since 1999, and the drivers' crown has been Michael Schumacher's for every year in the new Millennium.

Still, F1 chief Jean Todt - known for covering every gnawed fingernail with a Band-Aid - is anxious.

''I'm always, let's say, prudent,'' the little Frenchman said at the team's annual ski/PR event. ''I believe you should never underestimate a rival, and especially not ones as powerful as ours.''

Fate, he added, can always play an angry hand -- and, so too, can an uncompetitive tire supplier.

Todt added: ''Who can say what Bridgestone will do, or, for that matter, their opposition? There are many elements like this which are not 100 per cent controllable by us.''

'Sign Nick' - Schumacher
(GMM -- Jan.14) Germany's Nick Heidfeld, not Antonio Pizzonia, should be signed to be Mark Webber's F1 teammate in 2005, compatriot and world champion Michael Schumacher said.

The Ferrari driver said Moenchengladbach-born Heidfeld, 27, is a ''highly talented driver. I hope (Williams) take the right decision.''

If Williams' management are of a like mind, Schumacher would put forward Heidfeld - formerly of Prost, Sauber and Jordan - as a title challenger.

Heidfeld's teammate at Jordan last year, Giorgio Pantano, meanwhile, agrees. ''Nick is underestimated, a lot,'' said the Italian.

''But I knew immediately that Nick is super fast.''

Stewart back in Bernie row
(GMM -- Jan.14) Jackie Stewart denied Bernie Ecclestone's claim that he is not fit to lead British grand prix promoter, the BRDC.

The F1 supremo hinted that Sir Jackie, a former triple world champion, does not have 'time' to dig in at the Silverstone-based Club, and would be better as a mere 'front man.'

President Stewart told autosport.com: ''I've done pretty well in business over the last 30 years.''

Fired chairman Ray Bellm, meanwhile, denied BRDC's statement that he 'stepped down,' and also confirmed that the disagreement with JYS was about the 'terms of the contract' to stage the F1 event.

American won't buy F1 drive
(GMM -- Jan.14) American 'Champ Car' driver AJ Allmendinger would love to one day compete in Formula One.

But, at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, the youngster said he won't be trying to buy a drive at a lowly team like Jordan or Minardi.

''I've always been interested (in F1),'' he said on Thursday, ''but I'll never go to F1 just so I can say 'I'm in F1'. I really hate to lose!

''First, I want to win the Champ Car championship, and I'd only go to F1 if I could drive for a competitive team.''

LA-born Allmendinger drives for RuSport.

Klien keen on RB 'rhythm'
(GMM -- Jan.14) Christian Klien is likely to share a Red Bull F1 seat with 'Tonio' Liuzzi in 2005, but he's not keen to alternate race-by-race.

Rather, the Austrian suggested, whoever is given the Melbourne gong should remain seated for at least two subsequent grands prix, for the sake of continuity.

''I don't think we should change week in, week out,'' said the 21-year-old, Mark Webber's former Jaguar teammate.

Klien added: ''The driver should drive two or three (races) in a row, so he can find a rhythm.''

McLaren to challenge - Schu
(GMM -- Jan.14) Like teammate Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari's champion Michael Schumacher is expecting McLaren to be a tough F1 challenger in 2005.

''I expect Mercedes to be there from the beginning,'' the German said at Madonna di Campiglio, ''and strong all year.''

Other than that, 36-year-old Schumacher said the season is shaping up as a battle against the same old squad -- but maybe a little closer than the red-wash of last year.

''That's what I expect,'' he explained. ''Tougher, because our rivals will be better prepared. And maybe it'll be tough for (Ferrari) because we're going to use the interim car at the start.''

Meanwhile, in Birmingham, Renault's Pat Symonds - who once worked with the seven time title winner at Benetton - denied that Schumacher is getting too old to dominate F1.

''There's life in him yet,'' smiled the Briton.

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