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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 1, 2005


Nick got FW27 on track
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) Mark Webber's 2005 teammate, Nick Heidfeld, debuted Williams' new F1 car at Valencia on Monday afternoon.

''We're naturally cautious about our prospects for 2005,'' said owner Sir Frank at the morning launch, ''but equally ... determined to be a force.''

The FW27, unlike its twin-keeled and innovative 'tusk-nosed' predecessor, is a more traditional single-keel car design.

27-year-old Heidfeld said the blue-and-white challenger 'looked great' at the launch at the airport.

''I only drove a couple of laps,'' the German explained, ''but already it's feeling familiar.''

Webber also sampled the FW27 ahead of a full test at the Spanish circuit.








Schu 'needs Ferrari' - JB
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) Michael Schumacher owes his success to world constructors' champion Ferrari.

That's the claim of F1 rival Jenson Button, who said the seven time drivers' winner might not lead the pack if he steered a lesser car.

''Some people don't realize how important the team is,'' the Briton told Germany's Sunday edition Der Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

JB said: ''Michael needs Ferrari to win.''

Button, 25, also warned that German-born Schumacher - drivers' title holder in every campaign so far this Millennium - may not be so dominant in 2005.








Minardi to pack meaner punch
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) Minardi's new F1 racer will pack a meaner punch, according to 2005 driver Christijan Albers.

The 'PS05' model won't be ready until May, but Albers - the young Dutchman - said he's snuck a peak at progress at Faenza HQ.

''It looks really good,'' he told f1racing.net.

'''The (Cosworth) engine is a huge step forward -- it'll have 60 bhp more than we have currently, which is amazing.''

Minardi return to the Misano test track on Thursday.








Split 'could happen' - GPWC
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) GPWC struck back at Max Mosley's recent claim that talk of a breakaway world championship is mere 'huffing and puffing.'

Spokesman Xander Heijnen said a split 'could happen.'

He added: ''We will (split) if necessary.''

There's no doubt, though - given Ford's grand prix retreat - that the already dwindling carmakers' group suffered a near knock-out blow when Ferrari sided with the FIA and FOM in vowing to sign a new commercial (F1) agreement.

''Definitely it was a loss,'' Heijnen conceded, ''there's no need to deny it.

''It was a surprise and a major blow.''







F1's romantic - French GP
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) F1 can be romantic.

That, at least, is the claim of the French grand prix promoter, who are pedaling a 10 per cent ticket discount for the July event.

The offer runs out on 15 February -- the day after an amorous date.

''It's a great opportunity for an innovative Saint Valentine's gift,'' said a spokesman for FFSA (the promoter).








Big money in F1 auction
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) An auctioned drive in the Australian grand prix celebrity race found the hammer at a staggering AUD$100,102.

Every cent will be donated to Oxfam's tsunami relief effort.

''We were looking ... at what we could do for the tsunami-affected areas,'' said Peter Hosking, CEO of Melbourne-based Global Machinery Company, the eBay auction winner and F1 fan.

Hosking later tried the BMW 1-Series for size in Albert Park's F1 pitlane.








da Matta back to America
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) Former Toyota F1 driver Cristiano da Matta has signed a deal that'll see him return to the US' Champ Car category in 2005, a source insisted.

Despite speculation of a Newman/Haas reunion, the little Brazilian, 31, will apparently be co-owner/driver Jimmy Vasser's teammate at PKV.

Cristiano, from Belo Horizonte, won the 2002 Champ Car championship - then called CART - and graduated to F1.

He'll drive in the Daytona 24-Hour event at the weekend.








BMW scrapped 2005 engine
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) BMW had to scrap the new 'P85' V10 design following the FIA's late imposition of a new two-grand prix F1 engine regulation.

Motor sport director Mario Theissen admitted that the unit fitted to the FW27 car in 2005 will be called 'P84/5' -- a development of the existing engine.

''We had quite an aggressive development program running on the P85,'' he claimed, ''but (we) decided to go back and adapt the P84.''

The German slammed the FIA's move, saying it only added to the cost of developing an alternate design 'rather than save money.'

He said: ''This was a radical and late (rule) change.''

Theissen also admitted that the P84/5 is slightly bigger, heavier and less powerful than in 2004.








'GP2' taking shape
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) On Monday, many 'GP2' teams collected their first new single seater from Dallara HQ in Parma (Italy).

The rest will be ready 'over the next three days,' a statement read, and the gearbox and Renault-built engine delivered some time in March.

''Today is an important day for the series,'' said championship organizer Bruno Michel.

The first GP2 race, to replace F3000 as Formula One's main support category, will be run at Imola in late April.

The 2005 driver line-up includes Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Rosberg, Gianmaria Bruni, Nelson Piquet Jr and Scott Speed.







Max's plan for 'no wing' F1
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) If Max Mosley had a free hand, he'd take a grand prix car's front and rear wing off, and slap-on a chunky set of slick rubber.

Then, the FIA president added, we'd be in for some racing. ''It would produce a lot more overtaking,'' Mosley claimed.

If he got his own way on a technical code for 2008 and beyond, it might just happen. And it could even be imposed earlier -- pending a (near impossible) unanimous teams' vote.

''Well, we're looking at it,'' he vowed. ''We're getting some outside advice on it, but there does seem to be a case (for doing something).''

Max's ideal F1 car would also likely feature standard braking, a standardized centre of gravity, and a fixed ECU (electronic) unit.








Webber's 'not like AJ'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) Mark Webber is nothing like Williams' first Australian-born world champion, Frank Williams insisted.

The pair are inextricably linked but 1980 winner Jones - rough and solid - and 27-year-old Webber, could not be more different, the knighted team owner claimed.

He told Reuters: ''(Mark's) the antithesis of Alan -- he's a bit like (Nigel) Mansell and (Alain) Prost mixed together.''

Frank also said Webber reminds him of 'someone in a red car.'

''He has immense determination, like Mansell,'' the Briton continued, ''and is always thinking, like Prost.''








Webber happy with German pal
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) Mark Webber, once locked in a war of words with Antonio Pizzonia, happily welcomed alternate choice Nick Heidfeld to Williams' 2005 race line-up.

The Australian said a 'very consistent' teammate is 'absolutely what the doctor ordered.'

Brazil's Pizzonia, younger (at 24) than the final pairing, fought back tears moments prior to the public unveiling of the FW27 car in Spain.

He'd just been told that Germany's Heidfeld got the nod, by Sir Frank himself.

''It was a very, very close call,'' Williams explained, ''and definitely not easy. Antonio is still a very important component of the team.''







Jungle-Girl 'is perfect'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) F1's Antonio Pizzonia is enjoying being a Dad.

The 24-year-old, disappointed on Monday to have missed out on Williams' full time drive, welcomed daughter 'Sofia' into the world just before Christmas.

''She's perfect,'' he beamed in Spain on Monday.

Pizzonia, boyfriend to Brazilian athlete Maureen Maggi, said he's quickly learning the joys of parenthood -- like changing a diaper.

He admitted: ''That's fine -- it's not sleeping at night that I don't like!

''Sofia's arrival was perfect timing, in the winter break, so that I could spend time with her before testing started up again.''








Nervous Nick got the nod
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) A nervy Nick Heidfeld was summoned to Sir Frank Williams' wheelchair in the Spanish airport hangar and told something like 'You've got the job.'

''It didn't sink in immediately,'' said the quietly-spoken 27-year-old, who won the spot next to Mark Webber following a hotly contested testing 'shoot out' against rival Antonio Pizzonia.

Heidfeld said at the FW27's launch: ''It still hasn't sunk in -- it's been a tough few weeks and I can't explain properly now how happy I feel.''

Nicknamed 'Quick Nick' after early career triumphs, the small racer from Moenchengladbach - former Prost, Sauber and Jordan star - admitted harboring an ambition to one day win the drivers' title.








'I'll beat superstar Schu'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.1) Seven time drivers' champion Michael Schumacher is not unbeatable.

That's the claim of Mark Webber, who on Monday sampled - for the first time - the power of Williams' newest F1 challenger.

The 28-year-old Australian said beating Ferrari's scarlet machine to the checkered flag won't be easy, 'but it can - and will - be done.

''Michael is an absolute superstar legend,'' Webber told an Australian media contingent at the launch event, ''and arguably one of the greatest ever sportsmen.

'''But I am not overpowered by that.

''I want to win. I'm not putting hour upon hour upon hour in to finish third.''

Mark Webber's best finish in F1 is fifth place, for Minardi and Jaguar.

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