F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 2, 2005

Renault 'must win' in '05
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) A big guest list watched the wraps taken off Renault's 2005 F1 car at the prominent 'Grimaldi Forum' (Monaco) on Tuesday.

Team 'chairman' Patrick Faure said a mere podium presence - or a single grand prix triumph - would no longer be adequate with the R25.

''We must be among the teams who can compete with Ferrari on an equal footing,'' the Frenchman insisted.

Along with a new (albeit still 72-degree) V10 design, driver Fernando Alonso has a new teammate -- former team star and Roman, Giancarlo Fisichella.

Faure said youngster Alonso, from Spain, should 'reach his peak' this year.

No F1 debut for Franck
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) France's Franck Montagny must wait another year for a look at the grand prix grid.

The Renault test driver had been in contention for a Minardi or Jordan debut, but team managing director Flavio Briatore nailed Franck's sail to Enstone HQ.

''I know he'd rather drive on a Sunday,'' the Italian chief confessed in Monte-Carlo, ''and we are seeing what we can do -- but driving an uncompetitive car would be no good for him.''

26-year-old Montagny slipped into the testing role in 2003.

Webber's Sydney stunt
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) As reported last December, Mark Webber will drive across Sydney's famous Harbour Bridge this month -- in a F1 car.

A source told Australian media that Williams' local hero can - with the state government's permission - perform the BMW publicity stunt, but only at a paltry 90km/h.

The event will happen on February 27, one week prior to the season-opening Australian grand prix in Melbourne.

Jordan line-up wrapped up
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) Narain Karthikeyan's new F1 teammate at Midland-owned Jordan will be Portuguese driver Tiago Monteiro.

That's the word on grand prix street, although the team - at least for now - won't confirm it.

Monteiro, who spent 2004 as a part time Minardi tester, would require an FIA 'superlicense' -- as would India's Karthikeyan, another former protege of Trevor Carlin.

Nevertheless, the 28-year-old (Karthikeyan) said in a press conference on Tuesday that the contract will be signed 'by the end of the week.'

''It's very close,'' Carlin - Midland's new sporting director - agreed in a BBC report, also confirming the wait on finalized sponsor funding.

Karthikeyan's backing would involve on-car sponsorship, we can reveal. Carlin, meanwhile, warned that India's first ever F1 star can be 'a bit wild' at the wheel.

Narain said he would now travel to England (Silverstone) to obtain the FIA license and put pen to paper.

Valencia in gear
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) The persistent rhythm of winter testing resumed at Valencia (Spain) on Tuesday.

While Renault unwrapped their R25 over at Monaco, McLaren's Alex Wurz topped the timesheet as three teams each ran with a driving duo.

Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld sat in a pair of Williams' newly-launched FW27, and went faster than Toyota's Ralf Schumacher and (tester) Olivier Panis.

''Mark and Nick ... completed standard systems checks,'' said test manager Tim Newton.

Pedro de la Rosa, in a second McLaren, brought up the rear. Renault, Ferrari and BAR-Honda will later join the action.

Honda, Toyota 'will join'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) With or without Ferrari, a 'breakaway' championship can be raced in 2008.

That's the claim of Renault president and key GPWC figure Patrick Faure.

''We have nine teams,'' he noted, ''and on the other side, only one.''

The Frenchman also suggested that non-GPWC members, Japanese F1 duo Honda and Toyota, may now formally sign up if a new-identity manufacturer group is established.

He revealed: ''We have agreed to create a new company or a new club, with a different name, and then they will join it.''

Frank sold jet for F1 fancy
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) Sir Frank Williams sold a $43 million jet to help finance a second wind tunnel at Grove HQ.

Team co-owner Patrick Head also pledged a sacrifice -- instead of hopping to work in an executive $4.5m helicopter, he'll now ride on a 125cc BMW scooter.

''Hopefully it'll save a lot of money,'' said the long-serving engineer.

''It'll take me longer (to get from London to Oxfordshire), but our will to win is very, very strong.''

Patrick boasted that BMW-powered Williams are therefore now the only team to utilize two 'on site' wind tunnels.

Head's daily commute - more than half an hour longer - will also involve a mid-trip train journey from Paddington to Didcot.

Renault's 'V-keel'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) Forget 'single' or 'twin' -- the new Renault R25 has an innovative 'V-keel' front suspension design.

''It's a good structural and aerodynamic advantage,'' said technical director (car) Bob Bell.

He said he'd been pleased to note that no other 2005 contender's design team - so far - also thought of the new chassis technology.

Renault's R24 had a single-keel design.

EJ's 'skilful' F1 retreat
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) A one-two at Spa? Challenging for the 1999 championship?

No -- according to Eddie Jordan, the greatest pleasure in thirteen years of F1 team ownership was selling to Russian-Canadian billionaire Alex Shnaider.

The 56-year-old said the recent Midland buyout ensured that Jordan Grand Prix - although it'll have a different name in 2006 - won't 'go to the wall.

''Prost, Arrows, Brabham, Lotus, they all did (disappear),'' Irish-born Jordan said at the weekend. ''I wasn't prepared to let that happen.

''I'm an entrepreneur and the skill is knowing how and when to exit while looking after your workforce.''

200 people work for Silverstone-based Jordan.

Nick pondered 'Schu-jump'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) Williams' Nick Heidfeld will earn three million Euro in 2005.

Germany's Bild newspaper, though, said the diminutive man from Moenchengladbach - chosen at the last minute for the F1 drive over Antonio Pizzonia - could potentially make five million this season, with a performance 'bonus' clause.

Australian teammate Mark Webber, in contrast, is on a seven million (euro) retainer.

But Frank Williams and Patrick Head will be satisfied -- at a total ten million Euro driver payroll, 2005 is a huge saving on last year's 20m bill for Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya.

''When Frank said I have the drive,'' Heidfeld told Bild, ''I felt like doing a huge leap into the air -- but I stayed calm.''

da Matta move confirmed
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) Former F1 driver Cristiano da Matta's speculated return to the US-based Champ Car championship was confirmed on Monday.

The Brazilian, 31, will drive the second car for 'PKV' in '05.

''This is the strongest driver line-up we've had in our three year existence,'' said Dan Pettit, referring also to 1996 champion Jimmy Vasser.

Da Matta captured the '02 crown, prior to moving to F1 with Toyota.

Nick's no 'number two'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) Nick Heidfeld is not Williams' 'number two' F1 driver, Australian teammate Mark Webber said.

''I was just the first to be announced,'' the hotly-rated Australian clarified at FW27's first full test run in Spain.

Team co-owner and principal Sir Frank Williams is confident he's picked the right men - comprising an all-new line-up - for the task.

The wheelchair-bound chief said: ''You cannot underestimate the incentive it provides to everyone in the company, to be working with new faces.

''We must not make the mistakes of 2004 again.''

BMW to 'de-tune' V10
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) BMW will 'de-tune' their P84/5 V10 engine in a bid to conquer the new longer life regulation.

Motor sport director Mario Theissen said the German marque, partner to Frank Williams' squad, plumped for that option over limiting the track program at grands prix.

He explained that, after practice, the 2005 unit will then be turned up to the max again.

Germany's Theissen also criticized the FIA's rule that would put a driver to the back of the grid if he suffered an engine failure during a race.

He asked: ''What if (a driver) deliberately failed to finish, in order to ... have a fresh engine for the next GP?''

Cricket legend's F1 hero
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar has a new F1 hero.

The Ferrari car owner, and self-confessed Michael Schumacher fan, vowed to switch allegiance to a man in a yellow car.

''It's always a special feeling to make history,'' Tendulkar, referring to countryman Narain Karthikeyan - India's first ever grand prix competitor - told website mid-day.com.

Meanwhile, Chennai-born Karthikeyan, 28, told a media conference that Jordan planned to test at Barcelona prior to the Australian grand prix.

Renault budget 'enough'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) F1 team Renault has a new sponsor -- Italian watchmaker 'Chronotech.'

Flavio Briatore said the deal demonstrated the 'robust commercial health' of the Enstone-based grand prix competitor.

''Our budget is not the biggest in Formula One,'' he later told a reporter, ''but it's enough.''

Tecnomatix and Champion were also revealed as new suppliers.

Alonso set winning target
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) Fernando Alonso is impressed with Renault's new R25 F1 car.

The Spanish driver, to kick off his third season with the French-owned team in Melbourne, warned against judging the machine - similar in appearance to the 2004 model - too soon.

''There are lots of new things (on the car),'' he said.

R24's main weakness was a difficult handling characteristic, but Oviedo-born Alonso said the team appear to have fixed the problem.

He added: ''I still have some work to do to adapt the car to my style. I'd like to fight for victories this year.''

Renault's blurred future
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) Renault's future in Formula One is assured -- but only if the French-owned marque becomes a regular winning presence.

That's the blurred statement of team chairman Patrick Faure, who denied suggestions that new Renault chief Carlos Ghosn would like to axe the F1 program.

''He said if we have good results then we are there,'' Faure insisted at the R25's Monaco launch, ''especially if we find a way of reducing costs.

''But he is not pro or anti-F1 -- he's pro-Renault.''

Ghosn succeeded Louis Schweitzer, a patent 'pro-F1' enthusiast.

Renault and tobacco
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.2) Japan Tobacco-backed Renault intend to maintain their 'Mild Seven' livery to the end of season '06.

It's not yet clear how a European Union advertising ban, set for mid-2005 and to make it illegal (for a UK-based team) to beam logos back to Britain, will in fact affect F1.

Renault chairman Patrick Faure said in Monaco: ''We think we can keep tobacco for 2005 and 2006.''

''(We) will do everything with respect for the law,'' the Frenchman - confirming that Renault would 'seek clarification' prior to July 31 - added.

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