F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
January 28, 2005
Oz actor for grand prix
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) Hollywood actor Heath Ledger, an
Australian, will attend March's F1 opener in eastern capital
Melbourne, we have learned.
An insider telephoned to let slip that the Sydney-based star
of 'Candy' and 'Ned Kelly' is a guest of the Grand Prix
Corporation's ten-year anniversary event, and could also
have a 'role with Mark Webber.'
We previously revealed that 70's heartthrob Bo Derek would
watch the action at Albert Park, scene of the Australian
grand prix since 1996.
Bearded Scot on top
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) David Coulthard, sporting a bearded
look, came close to a lap record at near-freezing Spanish
test venue Valencia on Thursday.
The Scot, in the '04-spec Red Bull, was trailed by Williams'
tester Antonio Pizzonia, whose slower time nonetheless
shaded the earlier showing of team rival Nick Heidfeld.
As wind conditions improved, Fernando Alonso took the new
R25 round for third best, ahead of Toyota's Jarno Trulli.
BAR ran Takuma Sato - whose Honda V10 failed - in the field
of ten, which also featured ETCC champion Andy Priaulx.
Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella, still slower in the older
version, will try the 2005 Renault car on Friday.
''Fernando is pleased with the handling,'' said chief
Renault test engineer Christian Silk.
Montoya in new McLaren
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) On Thursday, Colombian F1 driver Juan
Pablo Montoya got a taste of McLaren's new F1 model at
Circuit de Catalunya.
The 29-year-old, in the private session near Barcelona, said
the maiden run in MP4-20 was affected by Spain's unusually
''I saw the (new car) for the first time Monday,'' Montoya
revealed, ''and I've been looking forward to getting my
hands on it ever since.''
On JPM's first out-lap at 9am, the temperature was minus-2
(c). ''We waited an hour or two for (the track) to warm
up,'' Juan Pablo explained.
''I've been able to start learning about the feel of the
car, which so far is positive.''
Grove set for Monday line-up
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) A spokesman for Frank Williams'
BMW-powered F1 team confirmed that a 2005 teammate for Mark
Webber will be announced on Monday, at the Valencia launch.
It's understood that technical director Sam Michael will
work through the weekend on a 'presentation' of contending
duo Nick Heidfeld and Antonio Pizzonia's head-to-head test
Williams, and team co-owner Patrick Head, will view the
presentation on Sunday, prior to traveling to Spain for the
For the record, Pizzonia's best Valencia lap time on
Thursday - albeit not in a head-to-head match up - shaded
Heidfeld's earlier Endeavour by more than half a second.
''I wanted to break the record,'' 'Jungle Boy' was reported
as saying. ''I hope everything is going to be okay.''
Junior duo on road to F1
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) Nico Rosberg's race to emulate a
legendary father will turn another high-speed corner in
The German-born teenager, son of Finland's 1982 world F1
champion Keke, has signed a contract to drive in support
category GP2 for 'ART Grand Prix.'
Newly-formed team ART is run by Nicolas Todt -- another
famous son. The Frenchman's Dad is Ferrari principal Jean
''Nico ... is one of the most talented drivers of his
generation,'' said Todt Jr.
Rosberg contested the highly-competitive F3 EuroSeries in
Minardi wail in Amsterdam
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) The Netherlands' Formula One driver
Christijan Albers steered a Minardi through the slim streets
of Amsterdam on Thursday.
''I wanted to do a donut,'' he told Dutch website
f1racing.net, one of Albers' new sponsors, ''but the streets
were so packed with fans.''
The youngster pulled up outside Cineac, a trendy nightclub,
where a swath of more Dutch sponsors - who vowed to support
Albers' imminent debut at the pinnacle of motor sport - were
unveiled by team owner Paul Stoddart.
Minardi, and 25-year-old Albers, return to Misano for
another test session next week.
Karthikeyan and Jordan
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) India's Narain Karthikeyan has
wandered into contention to become the next rookie in F1.
He's renewed an old Formula Three acquaintance with former
boss Trevor Carlin, now sporting director at Midland F1,
Jordan's new team owner.
28-year-old Madras-born Karthikeyan, who won twice in the
2004 Nissan World Series, would be the first ever
Indian-born grand prix driver.
And, with private backing but also that of India's Motor
Sports Association, Narain has already tested F1 cars for
Jaguar, Jordan and Minardi.
Main sponsor 'Tata' had more than $10 billion in total
revenue last year.
Moreover, Midland has business interests in India, and
Bernie Ecclestone is equally keen to tap into the market of
the hugely populated region.
Firman fixed on F1
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) Ralph Firman will not give up on the
The 29-year-old, who in 2003 drove a Jordan, since raced in
lower formulae and the Le Mans 24-Hour, whilst helping the
new Dubai-based 'A1' championship develop their single
But England's Firman said F1 is the 'main priority' for the
future. ''Maybe ... a testing role,'' he said in a BBC
Firman won the Formula Nippon championship in 2002.
BAR, again, to foil F1 pact
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) Formula One squad BAR-Honda may again
rupture an agreement to limit in-season testing in 2005.
Despite new confirmation that a 30-day
'gentlemen's-agreement' is settled, BAR CEO Nick Fry said
his signature is just a 'means' of enticing Ferrari to also
If not, BAR and Honda may - again - recoil, he warned.
''It would make a mockery of (Formula One) if one team is
out there testing with no limits,'' Fry told Autosport.
Earlier, teams like Toyota and Williams said the nine teams'
game had been to embarrass the non-cooperative champion
marque into following suit.
'No more buzz' for F1's Ant
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) Mere 300km/h F1 testing is beginning
to bore Anthony Davidson.
The 25-year-old, with a burning desire to finally find a
racing berth, neared a role with Sauber, Jaguar (Red Bull),
BAR and Williams for 2005.
Now, the long time BAR tester is linked with
''Sometimes (testing) can be boring,'' Davidson admitted to
ESPN. ''After three days (testing), all you can think about
and dream about is going home. The speed doesn't give (me) a
''It's like a job, work.''
Nicknamed 'Ant', the diminutive Englishman - who said he
came 'really, really close' to a 2005 grid spot - is however
determined to stick around until it finally happens.
Why 'Jordan' in 2005?
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) Why won't Midland F1, who - contrary
to some reporting - bought 100 per cent of Jordan, change
the team's name ahead of season 2005?
Canadian-Russian team owner Alex Shnaider, CEO of the scrap
metal dealing Midland Group, said the fact that 'Jordan'
will race on this year is illustrative of the fact that
nothing much will immediately change.
''We don't have time (before Melbourne) to really change
anything to the car or the team,'' he told Autosport.
''So we decided there's no point changing the name.''
In 2006, Jordan - to subsequently enjoy a bigger budget this
year - will become 'Midland F1' and enter a Dallara-built
Priaulx in F1 debut
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) On Thursday, Andy Priaulx - the
European touring car champion - tried a grand prix car on
Technical director Sam Michael said the British driver
handled his 64 laps 'well.' BMW motor sport director Mario
Theissen concurred that Andy's run had been 'pleasing.
''If it hadn't been for technical problems,'' said the
German, ''he would have been quicker.''
Priaulx lapped 3.5 seconds off the leading pace, but only a
second or so slower than F1 ace and countryman Jenson
Button, in the new BAR.
He said his neck didn't trouble him at all, either. ''I'd
like to have achieved a better time,'' Priaulx added, ''but
just as I went out on a fresh set of rubber ... someone had
Will Honda go the distance?
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) Although they deny it, Honda's RA005E
(2005) Formula One engine still has not notched up a
complete two-grand prix distance (1000km) in winter testing.
At Valencia on Thursday, Takuma Sato's V10 example blew up
-- on the second flying lap. It's the third new unit to do
Meanwhile, at the twisty Spanish circuit, Williams' 2004 car
- the 'interim' FW26C model - ran for the last time ever.
Technical director Sam Michael said the Grove-based team is
'in the middle' of the build period for the new BMW-powered
FW27, that'll be launched on Monday and debuted at Valencia
No Sauber scandal - JV
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve
says new regulations will restore the importance of
experience in Formula One.
The French-Canadian, who struggled to get back up to speed
late last season, said grands prix will be more about
'strategy' than a string of flat-out laps in 2005.
He said good drivers, this year, will race whilst
considering the effect of their driving style on engine and
''We're going to have to connect speed with intelligence,''
said the 33-year-old, ''so the drivers' responsibility will
He added: ''That's good, if you're experienced.''
JV's also enjoying a team atmosphere where, unlike BAR,
'dirty laundry' is not aired in public. ''At Sauber,'' said
Jacques, ''there's no media scandal -- if there's a problem,
it's dealt with internally.''
Stoddart will miss 'JJ'
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) Minardi's Paul Stoddart will miss
He may have called the flamboyant Irishman 'JJ' (Judas
Jordan) instead of the more widespread EJ, but Stoddart said
he and Jordan got on well.
''He's a hell of a character but ... I am a little bit
lonely now,'' Paul told Reuters.
Lonely? The Australian thinks the arrival of Midland cash
may accelerate the yellow team and leave Minardi
unaccompanied at the very back of the GP pack.
He added: ''Perhaps (we may have) a very minute budget
compared to the nearest rival.
''We've got to get real -- we've got to lift our game.''
TF105 'is better' - Panis
(GMMF1.NET -- Jan.28) Toyota's new F1 car is an improvement.
That's the claim of retired team racer and Frenchman Olivier
Panis, who's still a test driver.
The 38-year-old, who left Michael Schumacher to be the
oldest driver in grands prix, tried the fledgling TF105
model at Valencia this week, but did not impress the timing
He said of the Cologne-built car, though: ''Mechanically
''We'll have to see what the (Melbourne spec) aero kit is
like,'' Olivier told Autosport, ''but (the car is) more
stable -- the rear is definitely better than last year.'
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