F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 19, 2005
Schu's back in dominant mood
(GMM -- Jan.19) At the end of a nearly three-month holiday,
Michael Schumacher unleashed a predictably dominant
performance as he returned to the F1 test track on Tuesday.
The German, having taken the test team for dinner the night
before, lapped a clear 2.2 seconds quicker than nearest
rival Mark Webber near Barcelona, although he did work at
the wheel of a 2004-spec Ferrari.
''They went back to the (old) configuration,'' said
Michael's PR lady Sabine Kehm, ''because the track was so
slippery in the morning.''
The seven time world champion commented: ''It felt good to
be going again. I really enjoyed it.''
Meanwhile, we can reveal, testing will continue at the
Circuit de Catalunya all week, despite some teams fleeing
after complaining about the asphalt.
To 'rubber-in' the new surface, organizers ran
junior-formula and road cars around Circuit de Catalunya all
Albers guns for F1 license
(GMM -- Jan.19) On Tuesday, back-of-the-grid F1 team Minardi
endured an icy start to a three-day test at Misano (Italy).
The fog and occasional snow meant little running could be
done in the morning, but confirmed 2005 driver Christijan
Albers clocked up some miles before a hydraulic problem.
''The team therefore decided to postpone (Nicky)
Pastorelli's test until Wednesday morning,'' a statement
Albers, the young Dutchman, said it 'felt great' to be
on-track for the first time as a signed-and-sealed Formula
One racing driver.
He added: ''I've been spending a lot of time in Faenza
training and preparing myself physically and mentally for
the season ahead.''
Minardi expect Christijan to achieve enough running on
Wednesday to qualify for an FIA F1 'super license.'
'BAR should've dumped Button'
(GMM -- Jan.19) BAR and Honda should have dumped team driver
Jenson Button for the new F1 season, '64 champion John
The grey haired legend, who also won titles on a two-wheeled
motor, reckons the English countryman was lucky to escape
punishment after trying (but ultimately failing) to jump
''I don't understand why Honda didn't relegate him to the
test team and stick (Anthony) Davidson in,'' John told F1
He added: ''Knowing the Japanese, they would have had to
swallow very, very hard over that.''
71-year-old Surtees also said he isn't sure that Button, 25,
has enough 'fire in the belly' to match other past and
potential world champions.
''As for the (constructors' world) championship,'' he
continued, ''Honda will arrive there ... but will they
arrive with Jenson -- I don't know.''
Sauber to tackle Ferrari?
(GMM -- Jan.19) Sauber will tackle brand new regulations in
Formula One as an opportunity to take giant strides forward.
Technical director Willy Rampf said the revised aerodynamic
code, as well as rule changes governing engines and tires,
could lead to a 'greater shift' in team standings.
''It's no doubt possible (we'll make a leap forward),'' he
added in an interview. ''It won't be easy, because to
progress further we have to beat at least one of the five
works teams and then keep the heavily funded Toyota team in
Rampf also denied that engine supplier Ferrari would be
angry if a Ferrari-powered Sauber started troubling a red
car or two at the front of the grid.
''It would have no influence on our cooperation,'' he
Ferrari to launch near HQ
(GMM -- Jan.19) Ferrari will launch their 'F2005' Formula
One car on February 21, just a fortnight prior to the start
of the new season, we can reveal.
But Maranello's world champion marque won't rock up in
Melbourne with the shining new red car. Michael Schumacher
and Rubens Barrichello will steer an 'interim' F2004B prior
to the new one's debut at the Spanish grand prix (8 May).
Ferrari's F2005 launch will take place near the team HQ in
Likely '05 rival Mark Webber, meanwhile, praised Ferrari's
graduation from underperforming team of the 90's to
'incredible' dominance and 'ridiculous' reliability.
BMW-Williams' Australian driver said: ''I hope we can give
them a few sleepless nights next year, because Michael
(Schumacher) needs a few.''
New Finance man at Grove
(GMM -- Jan.19) Frank Williams' F1 team welcomed a new 'head
of finance' to Grove HQ on Tuesday.
Chris Chapple, having served in Iraq as a member of the
Royal Marines, will arrive next Tuesday to replace Jeremy
Duckworth, who's off to accept a job at 'Autosport'
Oxford-educated Chapple has also worked for Goldman Sachs,
Marconi and Russian company SUAL.
''In the next few years, the future of F1 will be mapped
out,'' said Sir Frank, ''and Chris will play an important
role in representing the financial interests of the company
in these important decisions.''
Warning for David Coulthard
(GMM -- Jan.19) David Coulthard -- you don't know what
you're in for.
That's the gist of former Jaguar (now owned by and called
Red Bull) F1 driver Eddie Irvine's warning to the
33-year-old from Scotland.
''The smaller teams are just so bad,'' the Ulsterman said on
the NEC stage in Birmingham last weekend, ''you don't
Irvine, who never got along with Coulthard - the former
nine-year McLaren driver - made a similar move from Ferrari
to Milton-Keynes' squad in 1999-2000.
He admitted: ''I couldn't believe how bad (Jaguar) were. I'm
sure they're not a lot better now.''
Irvine said DC will ask for things he's used to getting at
Ron Dennis' ship 'and it just ain't going to happen' at Red
Bull. ''You'd be told it'll happen,'' EI recalled, ''but it
didn't -- and it's so frustrating.''
Enge to IRL
(GMM -- Jan.19) Former F1 driver Tomas Enge will drive in
the US' oval-predominated 2005 IndyCar (IRL) championship.
The Czech, who raced in three grands prix in '01 for Prost,
will partner another former F1 runner - ex-Jaguar test
driver Tomas Scheckter - in the 'Panther' team.
28-year-old Enge, thrown out of the 2002 F3000 championship
when he failed a drug test, drove the last two IRL races in
2004 for Patrick.
Another F1 hopeful, Australia's Ryan Briscoe, also signed a
full-time IRL deal for 2005.
''This will be a great chance to show what I'm capable of,''
Honda axed BAR principal
(GMM -- Jan.19) David Richards' BAR tenure ended when Honda
moved to buy the Formula One team.
The Englishman, Brackley's former team principal, told the
British 'Guardian' newspaper that - contrary to the
corporate line - the decision to depart had not been mutual.
''I wish I had longer to finish the work we'd begun,'' he
said in the interview.
Richards' company Prodrive were contracted to restructure
BAR, with the deal able to be terminated once the team had
been sold by owner British American Tobacco.
Richards added: ''As in so many business takeovers, the new
owners wanted to put their own people in place.''
He declined to answer, though, whether the very public row
involving Jenson Button had anything to do with the Honda
''You'll have to ask Honda,'' DR countered.
Bothersome bumps at Barcelona
(GMM -- Jan.19) Williams' biggest complaint with the
resurfaced Circuit de Catalunya F1 track is not a lack of
The UK-based team kicked off a planned test near Barcelona
on Tuesday, despite the warning of fled rival BAR who said
new asphalt would not offer a meaningful venue for
But test team manager Tim Newton said driver duo Mark Webber
and Antonio Pizzonia complained loudest about the bumpy
''The new asphalt was considerably slippery,'' Newton
admitted, ''but grip ... gradually started to improve with
the continual laying of rubber.''
He said he's 'in discussion' with track management about
bumps at Turn One, Three and Four.
''We won't be able to commence work on tire testing until
we've clocked up some more miles and laid some more
rubber,'' Newton added.
Ferrari, Toyota and Red Bull also worked at the Spanish
GPWC would be F1 'disaster'
(GMM -- Jan.19) A carmaker-led rival championship would be
'disastrous' for the pinnacle of motor racing, ousted BAR
principal David Richards claimed.
The Briton reckons Mercedes-Benz, Renault and co. - even BAR
co-owner (and non-GPWC member) Honda - only compete in F1
for selfish and short term gain.
'(So) they're not the best custodians of motor racing,'' he
explained to UK's The Guardian newspaper.
Richards heralded the life's work of F1 impresario Bernie
Ecclestone, and said anyone who claims to be able to
duplicate the 74-year-old 'is deluded.'
He also played down speculation he might be a real contender
to one day take over when Ecclestone will, inevitably, have
''It would,'' Dave laughed, ''be a poisoned chalice.''
Mika Hakkinen warned
(GMM -- Jan.19) Mercedes' DTM star Gary Paffett has warned
'05 teammate Mika Hakkinen not to underrate the talent of
the top German-based touring car category's drivers.
''He's going to be a great measuring stick for ... me,'' the
Englishman and F1 hopeful told Autosport in Birmingham last
Where the Finn and twice F1 champion of '98 and '99 might go
wrong, Paffett suggested, is in overlooking the threat of
young guns but leading DTM drivers, such as another Briton
and future grand prix prospect, Jamie Green.
Gary Paffett said: ''It's a class championship and very hard
to reach the top level of it.
''Mika's going to have to push hard to beat me!''
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