F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 7, 2005

Jordan defend 'green' verdict
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) 'Midland'-owned Jordan have defended the decision to race their maiden season in F1 with a totally 'green' driver duo.

Christian Horner, chief of the similarly new 'Red Bull' (nee Jaguar) outfit, said Jordan's rookie pair Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan represent a 'mistake.

''Formula One is a totally different animal,'' he told Reuters.

Dieter Mateschitz-owned Red Bull, by contrast, signed David Coulthard -- bettered only in experience by Michael Schumacher.

Interestingly, 31-year-old Horner made a failed bid for Eddie Jordan's team.

Jordan's 'Midland' boss Colin Kolles, however, said Karthikeyan and Tiago - although only with test mileage - are ''a notch above many of the already established (drivers) in F1.''

He added: ''That's the problem with the F1 establishment -- their heads are (in) the clouds.''

Schu can't match top time
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) Valencia's F1 test ended last Friday with world champion Michael Schumacher atop the timesheet.

But top duo Renault and McLaren had left the Spanish circuit, and Ferrari's winner - albeit in a 2004 scarlet model - didn't manage to edge their earlier, startling, lap effort.

''I think a difficult start to the season awaits us,'' Michael told La Gazzetta dello Sport. The German said those already with a 2005 model on track can count on 'vast margins for improvement.'

Only BAR, Williams and Toyota also circulated on the final day.

This week, Jerez de la Frontera - also in Spain - will host the majority pre-season action.

Trulli's Toyota like a Jordan
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) Toyota's new F1 car is like a 2001-spec Jordan.

That's the disquieting claim of Jarno Trulli, the team driver who last year won the Monaco grand prix.

Prior to a stint at Renault, the Italian departed cash-strapped Jordan, where he said the car lacked race-pace due to a problem with excessive rear tire wear.

Talking about Toyota's TF105, he told La Gazzetta dello Sport: ''We have three weeks left (until freight departure for Melbourne) and we hope to solve it.

''We still haven't worked out whether it is an aero problem or mechanical.

''It's a shame because the car is easy to handle.''

New BAR not Ferrari-beater
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) BAR-Honda's new F1 model is not a Ferrari beater, it would appear.

It's also presently slower than Renault and McLaren's 2005 offering, team driver Takuma Sato admitted to Autosport.

''The handling is okay,'' said the Japanese, ''but some of the other cars are quicker.

'''We have much less grip than we'd hoped for.''

It's also understood that Honda, marred on Friday by their fifth new V10 engine failure since 007's track debut, are now running a rev-limiter.

Sato, meanwhile, said his 'jaw dropped' last week when he saw Renault and McLaren's turn of pace at the Valencia track.

BAR, though, will enjoy a new aero kit in time for Melbourne.

Sam Michael underwhelmed
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) Like BAR and Sauber, Williams' Grove-based F1 team seem underwhelmed with their 2005 F1 challenger.

The FW27 model - to be steered by Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld from Melbourne - debuted at Valencia last week, following Monday's launch.

Technical director Sam Michael made a point of saying that 'a lot of development work' stands between the BMW-powered car and a 'competitive' debut at Albert Park.

F1's youngest technical director added: ''I've no doubt 2005 will be a long, hard battle for the championship with competition from all teams.''

'Ferrari usurper, Renault'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) Renault's 'R25' car might be up to the task of usurping Ferrari and Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso said.

The team's Spanish driver told UK publication 'People' that Enstone have turned up the horse power and churned out an easier-to-handle contender.

''I want to be on the podium more often (in 2005),'' he added.

''My biggest goal is to win the championship while (Schumacher) is still around.''

Alonso said a drivers' title, with Germany's number one somewhere lower in the order, would mean 'ten times more' than a post-Schumacher triumph.

36-year-old Schumacher, though, warned that Ferrari will return to Albert Park with all guns blazing next month. ''Our most difficult challenges,'' he said, ''come after Melbourne.''

Minardi's 'radical' F1 racer
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) Minardi will undrape a 'radical' F1 car to contest the 2005 championship, according to Paul Stoddart.

'PS05' will be the first all-new Faenza-built car since 2002.

''You haven't seen a Minardi that looks like this,'' Stoddart, the team owner and principal, promised in Autosport.

It's understood that the new Minardi is visibly most revolutionary in both the front nose/wing and engine cover region.

PS05, with the latest-spec 90-degree V10 Cosworth engine, will debut in April's San Marino (Imola) grand prix.

Boost for Indian grand prix
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) Having an Indian on the grid could accelerate the country's own plan to stage a grand prix, according to Narain Karthikeyan.

The 28-year-old, Jordan's new recruit, said he'll 'definitely' bolster local interest in the top motor racing category.

''A (grand prix) could come (to India) in the next 3 to 4 years,'' he said from Silverstone (UK), where he'll test the Toyota-powered car from Wednesday.

Karthikeyan added: ''But the government must realize that (F1) is a great business model.''

Narain might be new to F1, but former F3 chief Trevor Carlin - now 'Midland'-owned Jordan's sporting director - has already installed 'familiar faces' at the team.

''It's a big advantage,'' the rookie claimed.

New Sauber's 'design flaw'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) A recent Barcelona test might have exposed a fundamental design flaw in Sauber's 'C24' F1 car.

Although Felipe Massa and Jacques Villeneuve's '05 mount initially performed well at Valencia, it 'lacked speed' at the more flowing and aero-essential Circuit de Catalunya, Peter Sauber confessed.

He told Autosport: ''We don't seem able to find a good balance.

''We presume there must be a hiccup somewhere.''

C24 was designed in Sauber's ultra-modern and multi million dollar wind tunnel at Hinwil HQ.

McLaren to challenge
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.4) Renault and Mercedes-powered McLaren have emerged most likely to challenge Ferrari for the 2005 F1 crown.

The latter, Woking-based squad emerged from last week's bumper Valencia (Spain) test - courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen and the MP4-20 model - with a ripper lap time.

Mercedes' Norbert Haug, though, downplayed the feat's significance, but agreed: ''We're pleased with ... the (car) so far.

''I just wouldn't read too much into the lap time.''

Perhaps even more noteworthy, Finland's Raikkonen - who earlier hit the barrier - suggested, was a trouble free grand prix distance.

Tester Pedro de la Rosa, meanwhile - in another silver MP4-20 - did, though, endure teething trouble.

Zsolt chatter at 'stalemate'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) The final Formula One seat on the 2005 grid is a straight fight between favorite Nicolas Kiesa, and incumbent Zsolt Baumgartner.

Although the young Dane, not Hungary's Baumgartner, tested the Minardi at Misano last week, Zsolt - earlier hopeful of a Jordan gong - claims he's still in the running for the drive.

''My management is still having talks (with Paul Stoddart),'' he told Sky Sports.

24-year-old Zsolt said Minardi actually offered him the drive a fortnight ago, but a personal sponsorship package wasn't concluded to the point of giving a green light.

Baumgartner added: ''Since then we haven't (talked).

''I was (also) keen on working with Jordan ... (but) we couldn't make an agreement.''

Stewart slams scientist
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) According to a new report, dyslexic people are not good drivers.

Not surprisingly, triple Formula One world champion and dyslexic, Jackie Stewart, doesn't agree.

He told UK's The Independent newspaper that the Norwegian scientist's claim of slower reaction time is 'not representative.

''It was a very small survey,'' the knighted Scot noted.

Another girl on road to F1
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) Another female driver is on the right track to Formula One.

31-year-old Keiho Ihara, a Japanese, has signed to race for Jordan principal Trevor Carlin's British Formula Three team.

''One day, there will be a successful female driver in F1,'' Carlin said with reference to the former model.

Ihara is backed by make-up company Ivy.

Japan's Takuma Sato, now at F1 team BAR-Honda, won the British F3 title for Carlin in 2002.

Austrian eyes 'Friday' job
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) Austrian F1 hopeful Patrick Friesacher has targeted a test driving berth for the 2005 season.

Once locked in negotiations with Minardi about a full time drive, the 24-year-old admitted that he did not manage to scrape together enough (around $7m) sponsor cash.

''A test drive would be a good back up option,'' he said at the weekend.

Jordan, and 'back of the grid' comrade Minardi, are yet to name a 'third' occupant for the spare car in grand prix Friday free practice.

Red Bull wait on F1 line-up
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) Red Bull are no closer to naming a racing teammate for David Coulthard.

It's undoubted that either team incumbent Christian Klien, or similarly energy drink-backed Vitantonio Liuzzi - the F3000 champion - will land the role.

They might even swap the seat mid-season.

But, upon speculation that 22-year-old Klien had convinced the team to let him drive at Albert Park, Christian Horner said: ''Drivers are one of the smallest issues we have.''

Horner, Red Bull's team principal, was - incidentally - Italian Liuzzi's former Arden F3000 chief.

He added: ''We've got a very good driver line-up in David leading the team and two ... youngsters.''

Russian to test Jordan
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) A Russian driver will test 'Midland'-owned Jordan's F1 car in 2005.

23-year-old Roman Rusinov, a Le Mans driver last year, is scheduled to steer the 2006-bound Dallara in late summer, Russian-born owner Alex Shnaider said.

And he told the Toronto Star newspaper: ''(Roman) might test the (2005) Jordan car before then.''

Shnaider also drew a line between 'Midland F1' and some other competitors on the grand prix grid. ''They are racing teams,'' the naturalized Canadian explained.

''We are a business.''

Honda falling short
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) A 2005-spec Honda V10 has not yet collected a full two-grand prix distance, engineering director Shuhei Nakamoto admitted.

A spectacular blow-up in Enrique Bernoldi's Valencia car on Friday was the fifth since the '007' car hit the track.

Honda's man told Autosport that a modified batch of 2005-spec engine would arrive at Jerez for the next test action.

''At the moment we haven't yet cleared the (1300 kilometer) target,'' Nakamoto confessed.

''We are hoping to have (the new batch) in Jerez and we will see how we do ... there.''

GP demo set for Melbourne
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) Melbourne will stage a London-like F1 street demo in grand prix week, it is confirmed.

Lord Mayor John So predicted that the parade of F1 and V8 Supercar machines would attract 'thousands of people' - up to 200,000 - to the CBD.

It'll occur on March 2, starting in Swanston Street.

Minardi thaw Misano track
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) Minardi, on Friday, squeezed in a day's testing at freezing track Misano (Italy).

Following cancellation, the gravel traps melted enough for a 'shortened' program a day later.

Likely '05 racer Nicolas Kiesa was first out. ''The track conditions were very poor,'' said the Dane.

''I hope to be able to test again.''

Official tester Chanoch Nissany ran more 'acclimatization' laps, spinning several times. Dutchman Albers was more impressive.

''He's fully immersed in the job of being an F1 driver,'' said sporting director Massimo Rivola, ''and the team is happy with ... his approach and attitude.''

Minardi plan to test one more time before Melbourne.

Minardi vow to 'stick around'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) Minardi owner Paul Stoddart has vowed to stick around in F1 at least until 2008.

The Australian entrepreneur denied speculation he could, at any moment, sell up - like back of the grid cohort Eddie Jordan - to the wealthiest bidder.

''I wouldn't ... now,'' he told Autosport.

Bernie Ecclestone's current Concorde Agreement, the commercial contract governing income, runs out at the end of 2007. Stoddart is certain the new one will be more lucrative.

He continued: ''I want to be around when Minardi have a chance to actually do something.''

BAR trio duke it out
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) At Valencia (Spain) last week, a trio of young drivers continued to duke it out for a full time F1 testing ride.

James Rossiter, Alan van der Merwe and Adam Carroll each got another turn at the wheel of the older BAR model following their December (Jerez) debut.

They're under contract to the team until late February, 'when their future involvement ... will be determined,' according to a statement.

The young driver program is led by race engineer Jock Clear.

''The brakes are the biggest challenge,'' said van der Merwe, ''as it is such a step up from what we are used to.''

Clear commented: 'Their lap times have shown good progression.''

Press the Button for F1 glory
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.7) Jenson Button is ready to become Formula One's next Michael Schumacher.

That's the claim of BAR principal Nick Fry, who said the 25-year-old Briton is unrecognizable to a frazzled youngster who (in 2002) felt the Benetton boot.

Fry told Autosport: ''(Now) he's very conscious that he has a role in leading the team.

''That's what Michael Schumacher does.''

David Richards' successor said every world champion understands that mere driving is 'one tenth' along the road to superstardom.

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