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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 17, 2005


Hakk 'could've returned'
(GMM -- Jan.17) Mika Hakkinen could have returned to F1 in 2005, but the double world champion and Finn decided to spend the year in a silver DTM cockpit.

Why? ''When it's raining, in the DTM car you don't get wet,'' he grinned at a recent Mercedes-Benz event in Munich.

36-year-old Hakkinen, who retired from F1 in 2001, said he aimed to win a touring car event this season. He also said returning to F1 did not pose the same challenge as DTM.

''In F1,'' Hakkinen added, ''I'd experienced and achieved everything. (DTM) is a huge challenge and it feels very friendly, too.''

Mika will test the 2005-spec DTM machine at Estoril (Portugal) next week.








BAR launch '007'
(GMM -- Jan.17) In Spain on Sunday, BAR launched a new F1 car dubbed 'beautiful' by the men signed to steer it in 2005.

007, with Jenson Button at the wheel, paused long enough for photographers to get a snap or two before it exited pitlane and screamed into action at Barcelona's newly resurfaced Circuit de Catalunya.

CEO Nick Fry said the Honda-powered team also launched a 'three year challenge' to win the world championship by 2007, with the 'evolutionary' model that's sporting a nonetheless innovative front wing design.

''We were all disappointed not to win a race (in 2004),'' Fry said, ''(so) that has to be the first step.''








Ferrari don't want to boycott
(GMM -- Jan.17) Ferrari have denied speculation they intend to boycott the French and British grands prix in 2005.

But technical director Ross Brawn said the Maranello based team do object to their designation as '18th and 19th' races, meaning teams are eligible for less compensation.

''We believe that the 18th and 19th races are either Bahrain and Turkey or China and Turkey,'' he said at Birmingham's Autosport International motor show at the weekend. ''The income from those races ... is very, very substantial.''

Brawn added: ''That's the money that should be shared among the teams. I'm sure we'll be there.''








Jordan admit 'Midland' talk
(GMM -- Jan.17) Eddie Jordan denied a sale to 'Midland' chief and entrepreneur Alex Shnaider had now been completed.

But the Irishman admitted he had 'talked' to the Russia-born Canadian.

''I've agreed nothing,'' EJ said in The Sun.

''I am looking for a partner and Alex could bring Jordan to a new level.''

Reports in the British specialist media said Jordan would hand over as principal from 2005 while Trevor Carlin became team manager.

Jordan's name could be changed to Midland-Jordan, too.








'It's too early' - Trulli
(GMM -- Jan.17) Jarno Trulli said the new Toyota is 'stiffer' and 'much more balanced' than the car he raced in the final grands prix of last year.

But the Italian insisted it is 'too early' to say any more about the TF105's potential.

''The influence of the regulation change for 2005 has made this car so different from the older one,'' Trulli added after a week in Jerez.

This week, a second new charger will be ready for testing in Spain.








Quick Nick still smiling
(GMM -- Jan.17) Nick Heidfeld, again, returned to the hotel near Jerez smiling having edged grand prix seat rival Antonio Pizzonia in winter testing.

But, on Friday, Brazil's Pizzonia denied that lap time alone will sway Frank Williams' decision about who should be teammate to Mark Webber.

''I never had exactly the same condition as Nick,'' he told Autosport. ''Nick, for example, had fourteen sets of tires ... while I just had four.''

On the weekend, the majority action subsided to allow Michelin - with BAR, McLaren, Toyota and Renault - to conduct an artificially dampened wet-tread test.







Barcelona test called off
(GMM -- Jan.17) Jenson Button, in the new BAR, returned to the Barcelona pit garage on Sunday and said the team will probably have to move the week's entire test to another venue.

A new surface at Circuit de Catalunya seeped oil, according to teammate Takuma Sato, and made each runner about twenty seconds off normal pace.

BAR, and other teams including Sauber, Ferrari, Williams, Toyota and Red Bull, will probably move on to nearby Valencia -- even if McLaren have that Spanish circuit for 'exclusive use' on several days this week, according to a report.

Sato, of Japan, said Barcelona's ice-like surface could have become 'dangerous.'








May debut for new Ferrari
(GMM -- Jan.17) Ferrari will delay the introduction of their new 2005 car until May, at Barcelona's Spanish grand prix, team principal Jean Todt revealed.

The Frenchman also said the Maranello based squad would launch the F2005 'at the end of February.'

In Australia, though - and the subsequent three grands prix of Malaysia, Bahrain and San Marino - an 'interim' car dubbed F2004B would grace the circuit, he added.

Todt said the new two-race per engine rule had necessitated that F2005 be debuted at an odd-number F1 round in 2005.








Not '100% happy' - JB
(GMM -- Jan.17) Jenson Button said he and BAR, who won his service after a legal battle with Williams last year, 'have' to win a grand prix in 2005.

The Briton said at the launch of the new 007 car at Barcelona: ''If we don't (win), we'll be very disappointed.''

25-year-old Button, though, admitted to persisting disappointment that he won't be sharing a BMW-powered cockpit with Mark Webber from Melbourne this year.

But he also insisted: ''I'm here and I'm going to make the most of it. (But) when you don't get something you want ... you're never 100 per cent happy, are you?''








Another Dutchman for Minardi
(GMM -- Jan.17) Dutchman Nicky Pastorelli will this week drive a F1 car for the first time.

Back-of-the-grid team Minardi said the young Euro 3000 champion would take to the wheel of a PS04B at Misano (Italy), along with confirmed '05 racer and countryman Christijan Albers and Israel's test driver Chanock Nissany.

A statement said the purpose of the test is for driver familiarization and the assessment of components 'destined for (the) 2005 car.'








Minardi aim to beat Jordan
(GMM -- Jan.17) Ask Minardi's Paul Stoddart for a 2005 F1 objective, and the Australian will fire back a one-word answer.

Jordan.

''That's the goal,'' the plain speaking 50-year-old said in Birmingham.

Stoddart said the Faenza based team will unveil an all new car in March. ''We started (the car) late,'' he added, ''because of the late-to-arrive regulations, but at the moment every indication is that (the PS05) will be radically better than the old one.''








'Schu will be beaten'
(GMM -- Jan.17) Michael Schumacher will be beaten in 2005, Mark Webber said in Birmingham.

''The trickier question is 'how often?''' Williams' new Australian driver said at Sunday's Autosport International show.

However, according to Dr Mario Theissen, the latest BMW engine showed 'some weakness' at the Jerez test last week.

The motor sport director said that, in preparation for the new two-race in 2005 V10 rule, Williams did an 'endurance test run' and a 'race simulation' at the Spanish venue.

''The current engine specifications showed some weaknesses,'' the German revealed in a team statement.








Ferrari impose own test cap
(GMM -- Jan.17) Ferrari will stick to a 15,000km cap on in-season testing this year, Jean Todt revealed.

Although it won't go along with the majority teams' plan for a limited 24 or 30-day program, Todt denied the claim that Ferrari will instead go hell-for-leather in defiance of the cost cutting attempt.

''We are divided over testing,'' the Frenchman told La Gazzetta dello Sport. ''(Ferrari's plan) will save up to three million Euro per year and cut personnel ... by fifteen units.''

Todt also denied that Ferrari felt bullied by less competitive rivals. ''We have made life harder for them (by winning all the time),'' he told the Italian paper.







Sauber 'roll out' C24
(GMM -- Jan.17) Felipe Massa debuted Sauber's new C24 car at Valencia (Spain) last Friday.

''The fact that they let me do the baptism,'' the Brazilian beamed, ''shows the trust they have in me -- it fills me with pride.''

Early on, the bodywork around the exhaust outlet overheated, technical director Willy Rampf revealed. ''But we solved it quickly,'' he went on.

''Overall, it went pretty well.''

On Sunday, Massa's world champion teammate Jacques Villeneuve took over the wheel, but lost a lot of time with technical teething trouble.

''I didn't do much running,'' the French Canadian said, ''but could tell that it felt quite tricky to drive.''








Schu set for F1 return
(GMM -- Jan.17) World champion Michael Schumacher will return to the wheel of a red F1 car this week, Ferrari admitted.

The team were scheduled to set up shop at Circuit de Catalunya, but - given the resurfacing trouble experienced by BAR at their launch - may now move to Valencia (Spain).

On Thursday last week, meanwhile, 36-year-old Schumacher and teammate Rubens Barrichello took on the 'Ducati' MotoGP team on an ice-lined go-kart track near Madonna di Campiglio.

''The (20-lap) race was dedicated to the tsunami hit populations of south east Asia,'' said a Ferrari spokesman.








BAR land new F1 deals
(GMM -- Jan.17) BAR announced a crowd of new sponsors at the launch of their '007' Formula One car in Spain.

The Honda-powered team welcomed Japan's 'Seiko' as a three-year watch partner, with a logo to land on drivers' race attire.

Two more Japanese companies, NTN - a bearing manufacturer - and suspension damper partner Showa, also feature on the 007 livery.

Finally, BAR did a deal with Avaya, to help 'migrate (BAR) to IP telephony' technology, according to a team statement.








12-lap quali 'best' - Todt
(GMM -- Jan.17) Jean Todt would like to see F1 qualifying revert to the '12-lap'/one-hour format of pre-2003.

''I think that's the best method,'' said Ferrari's leading Frenchman, pressed for his opinion on the 2005 Saturday/Sunday aggregate system at a media conference in Italy.

Todt said single-lap qualifying came in to 'try to penalize Ferrari.' It's also suggested that rival teams would like to further modify the 2005 format to remove another Ferrari advantage.

''I repeat,'' JT concluded, ''that I prefer the old system.''








F1 tire rule 'dangerous'?
(GMM -- Jan.17) David Coulthard has questioned the logic in imposing a limit of one set of tires for qualifying and the grand prix from 2005.

Red Bull's veteran Scot said drivers may, for example, try to stay on track after damaging a tire, rather than immediately pit.

''With a (flat spotted tire),'' he said in Birmingham, ''it's difficult to control -- you can argue that it's a safety issue.

''We're going to have to wait and see.''








F1 put Malaysia 'on map'
(GMM -- Jan.17) Formula One put Malaysia on the map, according to the chairman of the Sepang grand prix circuit.

Dato Mokhzani Mahathir said, because of Bernie Ecclestone's circus, 'nothing compares to Sepang' in the region.

''(F1) helped us develop a local motorsport industry,'' he added. The next step, Mahathir warned, is putting a 'local hero' - like Alex Yoong, who raced for Minardi in 2001-2 - on the grid.

He insisted: ''That's the key to sustained development.''








'I don't miss F1' - DR
(GMM -- Jan.17) Ousted F1 principal David Richards is predicting a 'very difficult year' for Jenson Button's BAR team.

He said at Birmingham's NEC: ''I think McLaren, Williams and Renault will be stronger than last year.''

UK-born DR also denied that he's missing F1.

It was a line repeated by former Ferrari and Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine, who vowed to 'never drive again' in competitive racing.

''The idea of owning a (grand prix) team is interesting,'' said the outspoken Ulsterman, ''but the way it is at the minute, the sport is not owner friendly.''







Brief Bits - Jan.17
(GMM -- Jan.17) Despite speculation of an imminent Jordan buyout, Gary Anderson said 2006 F1 team 'Midland' is heading for a September test debut. ''We are coming in with no baggage so it's potentially the right way to go,'' the Irishman said in Birmingham.

'I'LL BE BACK'

53-year-old ousted BAR principal Dave Richards would like to one day return to Formula One. ''I suspect I will (be back),'' he said in an interview with UK's The Guardian newspaper.

FISH IN WATER

David Coulthard reckons it feels like 'being back at home' at newly-formed F1 team Red Bull Racing. How so? The 33-year-old Scot drove for Jaguar's first incarnation, Paul Stewart Racing, in F3. ''Some of those guys still work here,'' he said, ''and that was fourteen years ago!''

MAIDEN WIN

Takuma Sato would like to win a maiden grand prix in 2005. BAR's Japanese driver scored a podium finish last year. ''I want to push myself even harder,'' he beamed at the launch of the new 007 in Barcelona.








Why don't BAR do-a-Ferrari?
(GMM -- Jan.17) BAR never considered 'doing-a-Ferrari' and starting 2005 with a modified version of the older car.

New F1 principal Nick Fry said the gap to the constructors' champion marque can't be closed by 'doing nothing.' He asked: ''So why would we (modify the 006 model)?

''There'd be no point -- it'd still just be slower than the Ferrari.''

Fry said tires will be 'critical' in 2005. ''Jenson (Button) is an absolute ace at looking after the tire -- he's smooth and it will help him.''

Meanwhile, 25-year-old Button admitted that some, perhaps including teammate Takuma Sato, might have to 'alter' their current flat-out technique.








Rossi would 'need time'
(GMM -- Jan.17) Ferrari's Jean Todt is unsure that MotoGP sensation Valentino Rossi could make the grade in F1.

The Italian, linked with an eventual switch to a top four wheel category, tested a scarlet single seater in April last year.

But Todt, at a media conference in the Italian dolomites, said 26-year-old Rossi would likely need 'time' to adjust to the new challenge.

He added: ''Are we sure he could immediately do well in F1?

''I'm not sure (Schumacher) could repeat Valentino's success if he just jumped on a bike.''








Brit GP in trouble again?
(GMM -- Jan.17) Doubt may return to the future of the British grand prix without a man of ousted BRDC chairman Ray Bellm's caliber.

That's the belief of UK sport minister Richard Caborn.

In UK's The Times newspaper, he called Bellm a 'visionary.'

''The implementation of (Bellm's) vision ... (for the Silverstone event) could be put in doubt without a man of his ability.''

Caborn said Bellm was the 'main architect' of the five-year deal to stage the grand prix from 2005.

Bellm, meanwhile, called for an 'emergency meeting' at the British Racing Drivers' Club to remove Sir Jackie Stewart from the position as president.








BAR to run tobacco livery
(GMM -- Jan.17) F1 team BAR said it may defy UK legislation and keep a cigarette-ad livery at non-European races beyond July 2005.

Team CEO Nick Fry said 'one interpretation' of the legislation is that BAR will commit a crime if, for example, British TV airs a 'Lucky Strike'-branded car from Turkey.

He said: ''We don't believe that the (UK) government intended that.'' Fry also said, to no avail, that BAR asked the government for clarification.








Honda to break F1 pact
(GMM -- Jan.17) If Ferrari sign up for a 24-day limit on in-season F1 testing, then BAR will, too.

''But if they don't agree then we will have to reconsider,'' Honda, engine partner and team co-owner, said through vice president Otmar Szafnauer, according to Autosport.

Meanwhile, engineering director Shuhei Nakamoto said BAR-Honda want to win the world championship, so 'why should we limit our testing' if pacesetter Ferrari does not?








Fisi had early birthday gift
(GMM -- Jan.17) Rome's Formula One driver, Giancarlo Fisichella, turned 32 last Friday.

His present, though, came almost half a year earlier -- on the Wednesday before the British grand prix (July 2004).

''I went to Flavio Briatore's house in England,'' said the Italian, ''he threw down a pen and I signed a contract he had there for me!''

A few days later, with lawyers' approval, Fisichella was set to switch from Sauber to big-hitter Renault in 2005.

On Friday evening, he partied at the Café Renault in Rome.

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