F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 3, 2005

New Red Bull car to debut
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) Red Bull's 2005 challenger will debut on Thursday.

The blue-and-silver machine is slated to run at Ford's private Lommel track in Belgium, with Christian Klien at the wheel.

'RB1' will then debut publicly at Jerez, next week. Dieter Mateschitz-owned Red Bull, though, cancelled their intended launch at the Spanish venue.

David Coulthard is the former Jaguar squad's key driver.

Minardi sign Israeli tester
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) A 41-year-old Israeli will be Minardi's 'official test driver' in 2005.

Chanoch Nissany will not contest Friday free practice, but he'll take part in the small team's testing program.

''Although he hasn't competed in single-seater racing for that long,'' principal Paul Stoddart said in Tel Aviv, ''he nonetheless has experience of a wide range of machinery.''

The Australian team owner went on to praise as a 'good thing' the inevitable promotion of grand prix racing in Israel.

Nissany, who's also tested for Jordan, first raced in 2002, in Hungarian Formula 2000.

'F1, start talking' - FIA
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) The FIA's Max Mosley has urged brooding Formula One teams to 'start talking' about the future.

Only their staunch track and political rival Ferrari turned up at a recent meeting to consider 2008.

''The sooner we start (talking),'' the president said in a letter addressed to every principal, ''the more likely we are to find consensus.''

He'd even like to impose earlier change, but - realistically - it would only be possible if 'everyone' turned up at the next summit, on April 15.

Mosley said: ''I urge you to come.''

In the minutes of the snubbed FIA meeting, it was agreed (with Ferrari) that standard ECU, fixed bodywork, long life gearbox, standard drive-train and reduced (based on mileage) testing could be achieved.

Moreover, the governing FIA is 'strongly in favor' of imposing a control tire situation, and bringing back slick tires.

Renault blitz F1 timesheet
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) F1 team Renault fired a warning shot to every rival in Wednesday's Spanish testing.

Alex Wurz might have been quicker in a McLaren, but Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella - who experienced a bit of technical trouble - blitzed the 2005-specification field.

The newly-launched R25 lapped quicker than Williams' FW27, the BAR 007, Kimi Raikkonen's gravel-hopping MP4-20, the Toyota TF105 -- even a Melbourne-ready Ferrari F2004M.

''Our main priority was to do long distance running,'' said chief engineer Christian Silk.

And Rome's Fisichella reportedly told Autosport: ''We're much quicker than the others at the moment.''

BAR's Anthony Davidson quipped: ''Bloody hell -- they're so fast! I couldn't keep up with them.''

Elsewhere in the Honda-powered camp, meanwhile, young driver pairing James Rossiter and Alan van der Merwe - vying for a full time BAR role - were also in action.

'Let's try' Sunday qualifying
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) Ferrari's 'no racing' policy is hurting F1, according to Renault chief Flavio Briatore.

The grey-haired Italian said the sport had endured times of utter dominance before, but the battle at the front remained thrilling.

''You had Senna and Prost fighting against each other (at McLaren),'' Briatore recalled.

''Ferrari (are doing a) better job, but a good fight is good for the sport. That's what we are missing.''

The flamboyant managing director also denied that F1 should immediately scrap the plan to stage final qualifying on Sunday morning, from Melbourne.

'Flav' said F1 'should try' the innovation.

''Maybe it'll be a disaster,'' he said, ''but don't forget, 80,000 people turn up (on grand prix day) with nothing to watch.''

'I'm not Alonso's number two'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) For Giancarlo Fisichella, 2005 is the realization of a long dream.

One of F1's very best, the Roman can finally call a top team home, and realistically aim for the top of the podium -- maybe even the drivers' title.

''I feel really strong physically but especially mentally,' he said.

Giancarlo's even smoothed the edge off a reportedly unkind relationship with Renault manager Flavio Briatore, after a row and split in 2001.

He said: ''We spent a nice week together in Kenya for training, with Fernando (Alonso), and we spent nice time together.''

Speaking of Alonso, the incumbent and highly-rated Spanish teammate, 31-year-old 'Fisico' denied that he's to play the part of subordinate 'number two.

''I'll have the same car, the same chance,'' he insisted.

Ferrari owner in mire
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) Ferrari owner Fiat is in a solemn financial state, it would seem.

The Italian carmaker is locked in battle with GM, whom it said - according to an agreement and 'put option' - must buy a chunk of struggling 'Fiat Auto.'

It's led to speculation that Luca di Montezemolo, president of both Ferrari and Fiat, signed up for Bernie Ecclestone's cash-dripping 2008-2012 'Concorde Agreement' (F1) in genuine fear of jeopardizing the marque's future.

The Fiat-GM dispute will likely now be contested in court.

F1 man set up new company
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) Jaguar's former F1 PR man Nav Sidhu has set up a new company.

With Cecile Simon, London-based 'Sidhu & Simon' is a communication consultancy agency, rumored to boast a high-profile client -- F1's Jenson Button.

Sidhu, also a former Williams employee, was credited with the innovative 'Ocean's Twelve' promotion at Monaco last year, including expensive diamonds and notable Hollywood A-listers.

''We are under no illusions about the challenges that lie ahead,'' Nav commented.

Sidhu & Simon started work on January 1.

Renault slower off the grid
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) One 'clarified' FIA electronic rule may cost Renault at the start of a GP.

Until '04, the blue and yellow car boasted easily the quickest system for launching off the grid.

But asked if Renault will maintain the advantage, director of engineering said: ''I think we will -- although (the advantage) may not be like last year.

''I think we can do it as good as anyone else.''

Rival technical director Ross Brawn thought the Renault leapt off the line because of 'compromise' weight and suspension set-up.

Symonds is smilingly 'stunned' that a team as good as Ferrari can't figure out the Renault secret.

He said: ''That's very unusual in F1.''

'Advance Webber Fair'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) 'Advance Australia Fair' -- that's what Mark Webber would like to sing in about four weeks' time.

The national anthem hasn't been heard on the F1 podium since 1981, when Williams' Alan Jones was reigning champion.

''Australians love our sports,'' the 28-year-old - who grew up near capital city Canberra - said. ''Driving for Williams means I have a chance to fulfil the expectation of my countrymen.''

Webber also likened Michael Schumacher to respected Australian cricket legend Don Bradman, and vowed to try and 'bowl' the seven time champion in 2005.

'I messed up' - Briatore
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) Flavio Briatore cost Renault second in last year's world championship.

His words, not ours.

The Italian managing director admitted that, near the end of season '04, he ordered that all development of the R24 car be stopped.

''We couldn't develop (it) and start the new one (at the same time),'' Flavio said, ''so I said 'stop development'. I thought we could still do second (place) -- I messed up.''

Renault and Briatore, though, could redeem themselves with a winning R25.

''If we're quick and we win, we are geniuses,'' the flamboyant chief claimed. ''Only the future is important, the past forgotten.''

Jordan-Toyota to debut
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) The first Toyota-powered Jordan (Midland) will run at Silverstone next Monday, it's reported.

India's Narain Karthikeyan reckons he'll be at the wheel, under the eye of the FIA's superlicense observer.

After that, the yellow-clad camp will head to Circuit de Catalunya (Barcelona) for a final pre-Melbourne test session.

''I am so happy to have the number one driver spot,'' Narain said in India earlier in the week.

Portugal's Tiago Monteiro, a 2004 Minardi tester and former Champ Car driver, may also be in with a shout.

He, like Karthikeyan, has the support of new sporting director Trevor Carlin, who told Autosport: ''(Tiago is) a solid driver, which is what a new team needs.''

Dutch driver Robert Doornbos, and Mexico's Mario Dominguez - meanwhile - have also not been discounted.

FIA deny Ferrari bias
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) The FIA exists to 'protect' and represent Ferrari, according to a widespread view in Formula One.

That was the gist of a huge 42-page letter, dated 19 January, to the president, Max Mosley. Author: Minardi's Paul Stoddart, seemingly on behalf of the 'Group of Nine.'

The Australian insinuated that, when Ferrari show their hand in F1 politics, the FIA usually adopts their position.

Stoddart said the letter was an attempt to 'avert a disaster.'

An FIA spokesman, though, said the body fail to understand 'precisely' what the 50-year-old is proposing. He denied Stoddart's claim that Mosley does not support a tyre monopoly, or 'an FIA-regulated' restriction of testing.

''(The FIA) are entirely neutral in our approach to the teams,'' he told us exclusively.

No 'age cap' in F1
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) A salary cap and 'maximum age' rule will not descend on Formula One.

The cost cutting ideas, actually dreamed up by Renault's Flavio Briatore in a document sent to the FIA, were broached at a teams' meeting with Max Mosley last week.

Only Ferrari turned up.

The published minutes of the meeting, however, showed that the FIA was 'not in favour' of the salary cap idea, and Ferrari concurred.

Briatore said the controversial proposal - applied in the NFL, NBA and Super League in Rugby - would help to 'limit domination' by one F1 team.

The 'maximum age' for a team's second driver idea, though - also collectively rejected by the FIA and Ferrari - really had heads scratching. Briatore said the rule would have promoted 'young talent' and limit drivers' fees.

'Cut out the politics' - Flav
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) Flavio Briatore has urged F1's key figures to stop chiming about politics.

The Renault principal said 'our customer' - the public - is not interested in cost cutting, Ferrari polemics, the 'GPWC' or 2008 regulations.

''I think (they) want to see a race.

''I think they want to read about F1 in the sport section of their newspaper -- not in the finance pages.''

Briatore, who started out in fashion marketing prior to being asked to lead Benetton, attacked journalists in China last September when asked about F1's dire financial state.

He had fumed: ''I think this press conference is disgusting.''

F1 threat 'will go' - Frank
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) F1's current political threat will 'come and go.'

That's the claim of Formula One team principal and co-owner, Sir Frank Williams. He said 'good racing' - and little else - will be key to a strong future for the sport.

''As long as we have that,'' he said, ''F1 will flourish.

''So much energy is wasted (on the politics), but if we stay focused on the important elements (of F1), the rest will follow.''

The wheelchair-bound boss does, though, advocate the action of team partner (and key GPWC member) BMW in 'analysing the existing (F1) setup' in order to race into the future.

Williams said: ''The bottom line is, we've got to have teams that are financially viable, (but) we've also got to have the manufacturers.''

He insisted, though, that Williams remain fully 'independent.'

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