F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 4, 2005
Kimi broke own lap record
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Max Mosley won't be pleased at the outcome of
Thursday's F1 test at the 'Tormo' circuit in Valencia.
The 'slow down' FIA president will discover that Kimi Raikkonen's
quickest lap, in the 2005-ready MP4-20, is a shade better than the old
World champion Michael Schumacher, meanwhile - in an unmodified F2004
- finished an unspectacular eighth. ''I had an engine problem,'' the
''I'm not worried,'' he added, apparently responding to speculation
that the Ferrari might not be up to Melbourne's task.
Toyota, Renault, BAR and Williams circulated their new F1 cars, while
Adam Carroll - another young development driver - got on with trying
to land a full time job at Brackley.
Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault R25, sixth, ground to a halt.
But test engineer Christian Silk said: ''We are very pleased with the
new car's performance.''
BAR's banned 'box
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.3) BAR-Honda will race an arguably illegal gearbox
design in Melbourne.
Some in pitlane reportedly say that the Honda-developed design is a
'continually variable transmission' (CVT) -- forbidden by the
We noted in December that the gearbox would have allowed a driver to
change gear 'without losing any engine drive.'
The FIA, then, clarified that a definite gap must separate F1 gear
''There is a break in power,'' Honda VP Otmar Szafnauer countered in
''(It's) a lot quicker than before, but (the gearbox is) not CVT.''
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Is F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone fearful of the
'break away' threat?
''All (GPWC) can do,'' the 74-year-old told the Sunday Telegraph
newspaper, ''is talk about what they want to offer.
''But what do they offer? Nothing!''
Bernie's bona fide anxiety, though, is probably better evidenced by
the recent action of staunch ally and Australian grand prix chief Ron
He, Autosport said, wrote a letter (or two) to every other F1
promoter, urging them to snub any subsequent 'breakaway' advance.
''I've also asked for a meeting with (the F1 Commission-member
tracks),'' Ron confirmed, ''to talk about loyalty.''
He also revealed that '98 per cent' of everyone he's written to 'will
Wurz to aim for F1 return
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) The manager of twice world champion Mika
Hakkinen, Didier Coton, has penned a contract with McLaren tester Alex
Coton, a Frenchman who also works with Toyota's Olivier Panis,
established a new management group.
It's understood that Austrian-born Wurz - on a fixed McLaren contract
that may have thwarted the approaches of Jaguar, Red Bull and Sauber -
is frustrated that he's been unable to relaunch a career on the F1
''His racing fire still burns bright,'' Didier Coton told itv.com.
30-year-old Wurz used to manage himself.
Ferrari reign at end
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Ferrari's F1 reign may be ending.
That's the opinion of returning Renault driver Giancarlo Fisichella,
whose speedy new R25 car is startling the paddock in Valencia testing.
''I hope they can be beaten,'' the Roman said. ''It's possible, even
though Ferrari are still probably going to be team number one (in
Renault ended last year in battle with BAR-Honda for the runner-up
post, but Fisichella is unsure the squad from Brackley will still be
in contention in 2005.
''Really, I think it's going to be McLaren and clearly Ferrari (at the
front),'' he noted.
And that speedy R25, of course.
''(The Renault) looks better, it feels better in the corner, it's more
powerful. We should have a good year,'' GF beamed.
Sauber tester to GP2
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Sauber's former test driver Neel Jani will drive
in the new 'GP2' support category in 2005.
The Swiss youngster signed a contract with Racing Engineering.
''He'll surprise a few people,'' team chief Alfonso d'Orleans - who'll
pit the 21-year-old against teammate and Spanish Formula Three
champion Borja Garcia - remarked.
Jordan men at HQ
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) The 'world's fastest Indian' spent the day at
Silverstone (UK) on Thursday.
28-year-old Narain Karthikeyan, who'll become the first Indian to get
acquainted with the F1 grid in March, visited Midland-owned Jordan HQ
to sign a '05 contract.
''It was front page news everywhere,'' he said of the reaction back
home, ''which to be honest was a bit of a shock -- but F1 is pretty
big in India anyway.''
'05 teammate and fellow rookie Tiago Monteiro, also wearing a bright
yellow overall, posed on the factory floor for a photo with sporting
director Trevor Carlin.
The Portuguese driver, also 28, will take part in Monday's
Jordan-Toyota 'shakedown' at the nearby GP venue, we can reveal.
Ferrari can compete - Schu
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Ferrari champion Michael Schumacher tried to
soften the significance of Renault's turn of testing speed with their
Germany's 36-year-old said he 'expected' last year's cream of the crop
to again be quick.
''Maybe Renault seem a bit stronger (than last year),'' Schumacher
conceded at Valencia.
''But there is also Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Honda to think about.''
The Australia-spec F2004M Ferrari, steered in Spain by teammate Rubens
Barrichello, stood tenth (Thursday) on the time sheet of 14.
But Schumacher said the Maranello-based squad, to withhold the F2005
until Barcelona (8 May), can still aim for an Albert Park triumph.
'Best of both V10's'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Renault's new F1 engine is the best of two
worlds, according to project leader Axel Plasse.
He said the RS25 blends the 'innovative' bits of the scrapped
wide-angle project (2001-2003) with the 'more conventional' 72-degree
''We've taken the strong points from each of them,'' said Plasse.
''We kept asking ourself 'which (engine) had the best solution?''
He also confirmed that RS25, despite the doubling of engine life
requirements, is nonetheless 'more powerful' than its predecessor, and
Woman in race for F1 glory
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) A woman is steering toward ultimate victory in
the top British F3 category.
21-year-old Susie Stoddart, a Scot, will drive for former
title-winning squad 'Alan Docking Racing' in the premier
Nominated for the BRDC McLaren Autosport Young Driver award in 2003
and 2004, Stoddart commented: ''I have no doubt I'll aim for wins.''
Antonio Pizzonia (2000) and Takuma Sato (2001) are notable past
British F3 champions, as is BAR 'development driver' Alan Van Der
Minardi run cancelled
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) The first day of F1 team Minardi's scheduled test
at Misano (Italy) had to be called off.
Snow cover was thick at the so-named 'Autodromo Santamonica' on
Thursday, fruitlessly attended by '05 signing Christijan Albers and
likely F1 teammate Nicolas Kiesa.
The little Faenza-based team intended a two-day run.
India expecting TV boost
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Hugely populated country India is expecting an
equally big boost out of Narain Karthikeyan's grand prix action.
ESPN-Star Sports is the exclusive F1 broadcaster in the region.
''Our viewership is predominantly south India and in metros like Delhi
and Mumbai,'' sports 'MD' R. Venkateish said.
The ESPN-Star man added: ''We now expect to go to second rung cities
The population of India is more than one billion.
Nick's 'not no.2' - team
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Williams' Mark Webber is not a 'number one'
driver, Sam Michael said.
They may be Australian countrymen, but Michael - 31-year-old technical
director - vowed to uphold Patrick Head and Frank Williams' 30-year
''They'll each get the best equipment and the best technical support
we can possibly deliver,'' he said, referring also to Mark's
newly-signed teammate, Nick Heidfeld.
The German driver's salary, though - we revealed earlier - will not be
even half that of 28-year-old Webber, who grew up near Canberra
(Australia's capital city).
But Sam M. persisted: ''No driver can ever walk away from our team and
say he wasn't treated the same as the other (driver).''
Schu 'pleased' for Heidfeld
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Nick Heidfeld 'earned' a spot in Ralf
Schumacher's former F1 team.
That's the opinion of seven time champion Michael Schumacher - Ralf's
older brother - who spoke to the media after driving a Ferrari at
'Ricardo Tormo' (Valencia).
''I'm really pleased for Nick,'' Schumacher, 36, said about Williams'
recent appointment of the young compatriot.
Michael said he's known the Moenchengladbach-born competitor - 27 and
once a F3000 champion - ''for a very long time, and I now regard him
as a serious opponent (for 2005).''
Would Sauber sell-up?
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Jaguar and Jordan did it, and Minardi's Paul
Stoddart would do it if handed the right offer.
So would Peter Sauber, perhaps the last 'bona fide' privateer on the
grand prix grid, also consider flogging Hinwil HQ to the wealthiest
He told an interview with 'Sport1': ''Money alone would not be enough
-- you'd also have to consider the 'sporting' element.''
Sauber, in the past, have been linked with a manufacturer tie-in --
for example, German carmaker Volkswagen.
The Swiss chief would have one condition: ''I'd like the team to stay
here (at Hinwil) for at least the next ten years.''
BMW and the Heidfeld drive
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) So -- German carmaker BMW pressed hard to get
countryman Nick Heidfeld in F1 partner Williams' FW27.
Someone said just that to Antonio Pizzonia, the Brazilian test
incumbent and '04 'sub' who missed the seat.
''I'm sure many people whispered something in Frank (Williams') ear,''
the 24-year-old replied (a little) diplomatically.
'''It's not my place to comment. Sure, I have an opinion.''
Pushed for more information, 'Jungle Boy' changed the subject. ''I've
got to get over it now,'' he added, ''and get to work.
''It's like anything in life -- sometimes it's good and you're happy,
sometimes not. It didn't go my way. But I'm young and Frank told me
that my career is only now beginning.''
'Don't look at timesheet'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Don't worry about the Valencia time sheet, Rubens
He tried to explain how he and champion teammate Michael Schumacher
ended up almost two seconds slower than Kimi Raikkonen's leading pace
at the bumper Valencia test (Thursday).
''(Ferrari) don't test here often,'' the Brazilian said, ''so the
other teams know what type of tire to use while we have to be more
''I don't think we're in bad shape -- right from the start we are
Barrichello steered the 'M'-spec model.
Dominguez to test Jordan
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Mexico's Mario Dominguez could spend 2005 in a
The Champ Car star missed out on a racing gong, but he could hang
around in preparation for a 'Midland'-branded 2006 debut.
According to a report, Dominguez will test the yellow Toyota-powered
car at Silverstone next week, and could be signed to drive the spare
EJ15 in 'Friday' GP practice.
''Mario spoke with the team,'' manager Henri Luzet told Autosport
magazine, ''and they have told him to come to England for the test.''
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Quiz -- what's your favorite moniker for a
Formula One team principal?
Maybe it's 'chief'? 'Team supremo'?
''They're a bunch of idiots,'' slammed F1 'impresario' Bernie
The 74-year-old, not much over five feet, explained the outburst as
his reaction to learning that only Ferrari's 'chief' turned up at a
meeting with FIA president Max Mosley.
The 'snub' could be the teams' collective disdain for unilateral deals
with Ferrari, or a message that there's plenty of time to think about
2008 and beyond.
Bernie has a different theory.
''They know what whatever Max says,'' the diminutive commander
snarled, ''will invariably be true -- and they don't like to be taught
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