F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 15, 2005

Ralf's new F1 man
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) A new man started work for F1 driver Ralf Schumacher last week.

Guido Piedade is the Toyota star's new personal assistant and spokesman, and will follow Schumacher, 29, to every grand prix, test session and official event.

It's believed that Piedade's predecessor clashed with the Toyota PR department. ''I'm in charge of marketing and media work,'' 37-year-old Guido - to be a sort of co-manager to Willi Weber - said.

He used to be former team principal Dave Richards' PA at BAR.

Alonso 'flattered' Schu
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) Michael Schumacher, F1's seven time world champion, is flattered.

At Jerez last week, 23-year-old Spanish rival Fernando Alonso said he'd rather win his maiden drivers' title while the Ferrari veteran is still competing.

''(It'd be) ten times more important than the first title after Michael has retired,'' he said. ''You don't know when it will be Michael's last (year in F1).''

Someone asked Schumacher, at 36 the oldest driver on the 2005 grid, if Alonso's comments served as 'extra motivation' for the new F1 season.

''First, it's a nice compliment,'' said the German, ''but I don't lack motivation.''

Max mocks F1 'danger' fear
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) FIA president Max Mosley has scoffed at Paul Stoddart's claim that the new long-life tire regulation will swell, rather than shrink, danger in F1.

''I don't think it'll be any more dangerous,'' he said, ''and I'm sure it'll improve the racing.

''(Critics) don't know what they are talking about.

''We might have an incident, but it is no more likely than when you change tires.''

Stoddart, though - the Minardi team owner - is astonished that Mosley introduced the regulation under an emergency 'safety' clause.

''How on earth can it possibly be more safe,'' he wondered on Melbourne radio SEN.

The Australian added: ''If there is a serious accident (in '05) ... the person who brought these regulations in will be totally responsible.''

Bernie's crack legal team
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) Grand prix supremo Bernie Ecclestone will employ a crack legal team in a race to retain control of Formula One.

It's reported that the 74-year-old, battling with a trio of rights-owning investment banks, signed on lawyer firm 'Richards Butler' following a recent High Court defeat.

Law firm Lovells, still involved with the case, went it alone in the initial defeat, thelawyer.com said. The banks' battle, now against Bernie's Formula One Administration, is scheduled to resume May 10.

When contacted, Richards Butler made no comment.

British TV's new F1 sponsor
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) British F1 television broadcaster ITV has found a new sponsor for the '05 season -- LG.

The electronic company, to pump in a reported $6.6 million - and sponsor of the 2004 London F1 street parade - replaces The Daily Telegraph (UK) newspaper, who took over from Toyota last year.

The package includes broadcast and 'itvf1' website sponsorship.

''(Telegraph) decided not to renew its contract at the close of last season,'' a media source revealed.

LG president James Jeong said: ''The (F1) audience is an extremely good fit with our individual brand profiles.''

Saturday is RBR 'D-day'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) Saturday's the day for Christian Klien or Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Then, we can reveal, Red Bull's driving duo will discover who has been selected to race alongside David Coulthard at the Australian and Malaysian grands prix.

Dr. Helmut Marko, motor sport 'advisor' to Red Bull team owner Dieter Mateschitz, said the decision would 'definitely' be made immediately following the week's Barcelona test.

Both drivers will be in action in Spain.

But, whoever gets the nod and whoever is left unseated, Austrian-born Marko - himself a former GP journeyman - insisted that Red Bull retain 'an option' on Liuzzi and Klien for 2006.

'Smooth' JB to ace F1 rule
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) Jenson Button is likely to ace Formula One's new long-life tire regulation.

That's the claim of his boss, Nick Fry.

The new-in-2005 team principal said one of 25-year-old Button's best qualities is 'smooth driving.'

In 2005, a driver must select a single set of harder F1 rubber, and use it throughout qualifying and the entire grand prix.

Fry continued: ''There's a couple of drivers out there ... (that) are better than the others (at tire preservation) and Jenson is one of them.''

Schu back on track
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) With twenty days to go to the Australian season opener, world champion Michael Schumacher returned to the F1 test track.

At the slightly windy 'Ricardo Tormo' (Valencia) track on Monday, the veteran German - on an artificially watered surface - lapped the short layout a colossal 169 times.

36-year-old Schumacher now moves to Barcelona.

He played down an observers' ability to predict the outcome of the Melbourne grand prix, and tire war. ''The temperatures (in Spain are) no comparison at all to Australia, and especially Malaysia.''

Oz GP facing 'mass boycott'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) Should Minardi be barred from the Australian grand prix, F1 could face a mass team boycott.

Paul Stoddart, head of the little Faenza-based squad and (incidentally) fronting the 'group of nine' alliance, hinted that - in the face of a ban - '(no team) would compete.

''I don't think it'll come to that,'' he told Melbourne radio Sports Entertainment Network, ''but you never know in F1.''

The Australian, born near Melbourne city (in Coburg), said - if the 2004 car failed scrutineering - Minardi would run under protest; and, failing that, head to the local Victorian Supreme Court.

Stoddart vowed: ''We've taken some pretty solid legal advice -- it's all been well rehearsed, mate.''

Toyota renovate 2005 car
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) Only the monocoque remains of Toyota's TF105 (2005) F1 racer.

Technical director Mike Gascoyne, formerly of Renault and Jordan, said 'everything' had been updated since the Cologne team launched in January.

The underbody, rear bodywork, braking system, nose cone, front wing and bargeboards are 'all new' on the Barcelona test-spec car, he revealed.

''It's definitely the busier and more expensive (option),'' Gascoyne admitted, ''but (Toyota needs to start) behaving like a big team.

''We've made full use of our resources.''

BAR 'back on track' - JB
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) BAR are 'back on track,' according to lead driver Jenson Button.

The Englishman admitted that the part Honda-owned outfit recently endured one or two 'bad tests' comprising a baffling lack of grip, technical failures and engine drama.

BAR will now test exclusively at Valencia.

25-year-old JB told Autosport: ''Honda is happier with the engine ... so going to Valencia we are positive.''

The 007, in Spain, will - as well as boasting new V10 components - also wear the definitive Melbourne aero kit.

But, despite bolstered optimism, the 2005 Honda V10 - we can report - is still yet to cover a full 1300km two-race distance.

Ferrari owner in cash boost
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) Ferrari's embattled owner, Italian carmaker Fiat, will receive a much-needed cash injection.

To call off an enforceable buy-out 'put option', US manufacturer General Motors promised loss-making Fiat Auto a whopping 1.55 billion euro.

''We now have absolute freedom to design our own future,'' said delighted Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne.

An unnamed fund manager in London, meanwhile, revealed that had Fiat not been paid, it'd face a 'serious' debt repayment crisis.

Ex-Jag tester slams F1
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) Ex-Jaguar test driver James Courtney has slammed Formula One as a world of hard hearted politics and back stabbing.

The Australian driver, now a fixture of the Japan GT scene, said the so-called pinnacle of motor sport had forgotten its foundation -- racing.

''(F1) probably turned me off ... more than it turned me on to it,'' he said in an AAP report.

Highly rated Courtney fell out of F1's back door, under Niki Lauda's problematic Jaguar team management, following a knock out shunt at Monza.

''It's not really a place I ever enjoyed,'' he continued.

Champ Car's tougher - CdM
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) According to ex-F1 driver Cristiano da Matta, it's a tougher ride at the wheel of a Champ Car.

The Brazilian, fired by Toyota mid last year, won the 2002 edition of the American category, and will return in 2005.

Asked which is the toughest open-wheeler, he replied: ''The F1 (car) is easier physically.

''F1 is hard on the neck, with the higher g-force.

''But a Champ Car, because of the braking, no power steering, the manual gearshift, the slick tire -- you're using more muscles. So your heart rate is higher.''

Da Matta also told a media conference that he never thought 'the grass was going to be greener' on the F1 side.

He added: ''I just didn't know what Champ Car's future looked like. And every driver has a dream to try a F1 car.''

F1 on road to radical future
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) The results of two separate studies show that wheel-to-wheel F1 racing could be improved with a radical set of regulations.

Both Ferrari and the governing FIA, led by Max Mosley, came to the conclusion that overtaking would be bolstered by a massive (up to 90%) reduction in downforce.

''The racing hasn't been brilliant,'' the FIA president - also pushing for a return to slick tires - admitted.

A 90 per cent reduction in a F1 car's aero efficiency would, however, lead to a (roughly) 10 second per-lap speed penalty, running the risk that junior series' - like GP2 - might ultimately be faster.

'Reliable' racers
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) David Coulthard praised the apparent reliability of Red Bull's 'RB1' Formula One racer.

The veteran Scot said he covered more than one 'grand prix distance' at the Jerez test last week.

33-year-old Coulthard added: ''We'll only find out exactly where we are in Melbourne, but at least we're not dealing with any major issue.''

Similarly, Williams - whose ultimate speed is equally also hard to gauge - heralded a mileage-rich session in Spain. This week, the Grove team will unpack at Circuit de Catalunya.

''The (FW27) is proving particularly reliable,'' test team manager Tim Newton commented.

'05 tire 'may not make it'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.15) It'll be up to the team and driver, not just the rubber supplier, to ensure a single tire set can make it to the end of a 2005 grand prix.

That's the warning of Michelin competition director Pierre Dupasquier.

He told Reuters that the marque's 2005 long-life product will not be immune to a chronically understeering car, or an overly aggressive pilot.

Dupasquier said that, in such a situation, Bibendum's single set may 'not go to the end.'

The worst part of the new regulation for team principal Sir Frank Williams, though, is the death of the perfectly executed pit stop.

He said: ''It's a bit sad.''

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