F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 9, 2005

'I earned the job' - Heidfeld
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) Williams' German engine partner BMW had little to do with Nick Heidfeld's appointment as F1 teammate for Mark Webber.

Some suggested that the German, albeit highly-rated, got the job because his backing outweighed that of Antonio Pizzonia, who nonetheless enjoyed sponsor Petrobras' support.

''I think I had a better view of (that),'' the 27-year-old driver said, ''and I can tell you that the media said it played a bigger role than it did.''

BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen backed up Nick's claim, heralding the Moenchengladbach-born racer as 'one of F1's very best' -- particularly in the wet.

He added: ''And I've hardly seen a better driver technically. I think Nick and Mark represent probably the best driver pairing (in 2005).''

Big smash for Sato
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) BAR driver Takuma Sato emerged from a huge smash at the Jerez (Spain) track on Tuesday.

The Japanese's rear wing failed at top speed prior to braking for Turn 1.

''I was doing over 300km/h,'' the basically unhurt Sato told Autosport. ''It's the first time I ever lost a rear wing.''

Sato, 27, complained of a sore knee and had it checked in the circuit medical centre. He later returned to the hotel and, according to a source, will not test Wednesday.

The son of former champion Nelson Piquet, meanwhile, ran in an older BAR, and - despite a late spin - lapped near team cohorts' pace.

FIA to drop cost cut crusade
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) Max Mosley might give up on trying to reduce the amount of cash spent at the pinnacle of motor sport.

The FIA president suggested, in a letter - a reply to Minardi's Paul Stoddart - that all teams except Ferrari skipped a recent meeting to shun the discussion about cost cutting.

''That is ... understandable,'' he wrote, referring to the fact that Jaguar and Jordan - most threatened financially - have now been bought by wealthy companies.

Max added: ''There are now those in the FIA who question whether further time and effort should be expended in seeking cost reduction in F1.''

He warned that all effort may be abandoned after March's World Motor Sport Council meeting.

McLaren's 'horn' innovation
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) Juan Pablo Montoya's new McLaren ran with an unique 'horn'-like wing on the airbox at Jerez (Tuesday).

It's the continuation of a winter trend for aerodynamic innovation, including Ferrari's lower front wing addition, the two-storey Sauber front wing, and Jordan's newly-displayed sidepod wing pair.

''We did very little in the morning on the damp track,'' said Colombia's Montoya, ''as it's best not to risk damaging a new car.

''I feel comfortable in the car.''

Over at Sauber, Felipe Massa rolled-out a second C24 car, and - contrary to anxiety about a fundamental design flaw - topped the timing sheet.

Toyota featured, as did the impressive Renault R25 of Fernando Alonso, sixth despite a day spent endurance running. Only Minardi and Jordan are not testing.

Jungle Boy to America
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) Brazil's Antonio Pizzonia is considering a switch to Champ Car racing, his manager admitted.

Jaime Brito, who recently flew to Chicago for - purportedly - a meeting with Carl Haas' team, confirmed that he and Antonio are 'assessing' the best thing to do following Williams' decision to plump for Nick Heidfeld.

Brito told Autosport magazine: ''The priority will be racing.''

Any Champ Car contract for Pizzonia, 24, would almost certainly be for one year only, so as to allow a return to F1 in 2006.

'Respectable' Cosworth
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) Red Bull Racing and Minardi will share the same specification of Cosworth V10 engine in 2005.

Christian Horner, chief of the energy-drink owned rival formerly run as Ford's manufacturer squad, called the new unit's horse power outfit 'respectable.

''We'll get a step mid season,'' he added, ''but (Cosworth are) competing against some very big opponents.

''It's difficult.''

RB driver David Coulthard, meanwhile, revealed that Cosworth - or another engine supplier - have a lot to do with whether he'll still steer a blue-and-silver car beyond '05.

''I still don't know what engine (the team) will have in 2006,'' the Scot remarked.

DC almost joined Ferrari
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) David Coulthard traveled to Maranello last year and nearly took a job as Ferrari test driver.

The 33-year-old McLaren refugee, who ultimately snapped up the Red Bull role, said he would have 'felt at ease' inside Michael Schumacher's Italian team.

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: ''In the end I had the chance to race.

''Once I was at Maranello, and in Enzo Ferrari's room, I really felt the weight of (it) -- of a team that has made and continues to make history.

''It was an honor to be there.''

'Ferrari could've quit F1'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) Ferrari considered quitting F1, and on more than one occasion, managing director Jean Todt admitted.

The little Frenchman said the road car division - responsible for a big chunk of the team's annual F1 budget - often complained that the high-priced sport was a drain.

Todt thus argued to Britain's The Times newspaper that Ferrari had to - logically - sign up to Bernie Ecclestone's more lucrative 2008-2012 'Concorde.'

''Ferrari could have been in a position to stop being in F1,'' he said. ''We have to act in the interests of Ferrari.''

FIA stirred political pot
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) The governing FIA has been blamed for stirring F1's political pot in the weeks leading in to the '05-opening Australian grand prix.

In another letter, Minardi's Paul Stoddart slammed president Max Mosley for canceling a planned meeting (December 9) of the F1 Commission.

''I'm sure that,'' he wrote, ''had it taken place, many of the issues now arising in F1 could have, and should have, been laid to rest.''

But Mosley, in response, called time on the war of the letter, even accusing Stoddart of having 'a ghost writer.

''Slightly pompous legalese is not your usual style,'' he told the Australian, also questioning how the team principal found time to compile another detailed manuscript.

And of the racing-not-politics criticism? ''I believe,'' Max wrote to Paul, ''we can look forward to an excellent sporting season.''

'Powered by Toyota'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) Jordan's new yellow contender will feature 'Powered by Toyota' branding on the engine cover, and the team shall be known as Jordan-Toyota.

In the original media release, Japanese carmaker Toyota - the team's new customer supplier - said their name would 'not be used' in conjunction with Jordan's.

A spokesman, though, said Toyota discovered that an FIA regulation requires that a team's engine supplier be named.

Russian-Canadian businessman Alex Shnaider recently bought Jordan from Eddie Jordan, and will re-name it 'Midland' next year.

Indian on cash-lined track
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) Money, it seems, was no object to Narain Karthikeyan's F1 debut.

To promote the first Indian ever to contest a grand prix, one of the 28-year-old's main sponsors - JK Tires - said price was 'not really a consideration.'

Sanjay Sharma, who - with other backers - collated about $30 million in backing - told AFP: ''It did not take us long to agree (to Jordan's offer).

''We had to put an Indian on the racing map.''

Meanwhile, motor racing could be set to usurp India's traditional 'number one' sport -- cricket.

Racing hack Anard Philar predicted that F1 should beat cricket to TV ratings' top spot on March 6, despite an India v. Pakistan clash.

Red Bull to decide - CK
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) Austrian Christian Klien, at Red Bull's Salzburg HQ last week, strolled up to Helmut Marko with one simple question.

The 22-year-old driver asked, cheekily: ''Should I book a flight to Melbourne?''

Marko, also Austrian, is motorsport 'advisor' to Red Bull team owner Dieter Mateschitz.

Race contender Klien did dismiss, though, any suggestion that team principal Christian Horner - because of a friendship with F3000 champion Vitantonio Liuzzi - might opt for the rated Italian.

CK said Mateschitz and Marko, unaided, will make the call.

Should Liuzzi get the nod, Klien is too qualified to slip into the 'Friday' test driving role.

New Sauber not flawed - Massa
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) Brazilian driver Felipe Massa scotched a claim that the new Sauber C24 is fundamentally flawed.

The concern arose following a dismal recent run for the little Hinwil-based team, and Peter Sauber's uneasy appraisal, at Circuit de Catalunya.

But 24-year-old Massa, fastest of all in a big Jerez test starting Tuesday, told Autosport: ''I'd be worried if we'd also run badly in Valencia too.

''A bad car is bad anywhere -- we just couldn't find a good enough setup (at Barcelona).''

Some doomsayers, though, couldn't help noticing French-Canadian teammate Jacques Villeneuve, at Jerez, dead last in the Spanish field of 17.

The former champion said: ''It didn't matter about lap time -- I kept changing (the setup).''

Webber - 'I'd pack it in'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) F1 driver Mark Webber vowed to pack it all in if the FIA de-tune his grand prix challenger much further.

The Australian, slamming the one-engine and one-tire rule change, said Formula One should be about being 'the fastest.'

Webber told Auto Action: ''And I like the V10's -- they sound fantastic. A V8 (for 2006)? You can have one in your road car.

''Not a big deal.

''But one set (of tires) for the whole race? That's ridiculous. If you're a real racer, it's not ideal.''

Williams' new 28-year-old recruit suggested that Max Mosley and the governing body had gone too far in adapting for safety.

''All the tracks that have been built in the last five years,'' Mark noted, ''are fine (safe).''

'Fire and ice won't clash'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) Fire and ice won't necessarily clash.

That's the opinion of Scotland's David Coulthard, who had to vacate his McLaren seat to make room for fiery Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya.

33-year-old DC, now at Red Bull, partnered McLaren 'iceman' Kimi Raikkonen since '02.

He told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport: ''They're both very fast guys and I'm curious to see who'll win the fight.''

But Coulthard doesn't buy into the popular media interpretation that JPM v. Kimi looks like the most turbulent F1 line-up since Alain Prost took on Ayrton Senna.

He added: ''I don't think their rivalry will cause big problems to the team.''

'Fresh blood' in F1 paddock
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) A trio of new leading men in the F1 paddock represent an injection of fresh blood, according to Dr. Colin Kolles.

The Euro and German F3 team owner - like deputy Trevor Carlin and Red Bull's Christian Horner (F3000) - are part of a 'natural generational handover,' he told f1.com.

Kolles said: ''The paddock ... stalled somewhat in the last few years.''

He accused the existing establishment of having their 'heads in the clouds' and often taking part in a 'fatal game' of driver mismanagement.

''Particularly in the case of Narain (Karthikeyan),'' CK said, referring to Jordan's all-rookie line-up, ''(India) will fall entirely under the spell of F1.''

When Coulthard 'pulled over'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) F1 veteran David Coulthard has refused to concede that pulling over for ex-teammate Mika Hakkinen dictated his future.

The Scot's attitude and character were called into question when, in 1997, he obeyed Ron Dennis' order to step aside.

33-year-old Coulthard then, to many observers' chagrin, pulled over according to a pre-grand prix 'gentlemen's agreement' at Melbourne ('98), one grand prix later.

''I don't waste time looking back,'' he told Autosport. ''I can do nothing other than learn from the past.''

Coulthard, who moved from McLaren to Red Bull for the new season, suggested that the racing media's liberal opinion-making is generally 'article filling.

''It means nothing.

''What means something is how you feel.''

Massa is F1's top overtaker
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.9) Overtaking in Formula One is more about personality than skill, according to Felipe Massa.

One statistician's record notes that the Brazilian youngster, in a Sauber, overtook more rivals than any other grand prix ace last year.

''Most of us (F1 drivers) are brave and skilful,'' he said in an interview, ''so sometimes you have to be really aggressive to get ahead.''

24-year-old Massa's crowning moment came at Spa-Francorchamps, where he out-muscled Juan Pablo Montoya on the entry to the daunting Eau Rouge sweeper.

Asked if it's an ego-boost to pull off a move like that, Sao Paulo-born Felipe agreed: ''Of course.

''Montoya is a really talented driver and I made him back off.''

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