F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 16, 2005

Stoddart tore up Kiesa deal
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) A grinning Paul Stoddart ceremonially tore up a thick contract at Austria's Casino Velden.

The Minardi owner said it had covered Patrick Friesacher's mooted 'third' testing role, but it might as well have been that of past 2005 shoe-in Nicolas Kiesa.

24-year-old rookie Friesacher will race into F1 alongside Christijan Albers next month, effectively completing the F1 line-up.

The Wolfsberg-born driver, who raced in F3000 last year, said becoming a grand prix racer is the realization 'of a long held dream.'

It's believed that Danish driver Kiesa's pledged financial backing fell through.

Stoddart, though, called second choice Friesacher - reportedly bringing about a third of Kiesa's promised purse - 'quick' and 'consistent.

''I firmly believe Patrick and Christijan provide Minardi with an extremely strong young driver line-up.''

Friesacher's manager is Hungarian GP promoter Thomas Frank.

Kimi injured in smash
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) Kimi Raikkonen emerged shaken and nursing an injured thumb on Tuesday afternoon, following a high-speed, frightening crash.

The Finn, at Barcelona, smashed into the barrier at flat-out Turn 11 when - seemingly - a 'foreign body' damaged the McLaren's wheel rim.

25-year-old Kimi's 'bruised but unhurt,' said a spokesperson, who added that the MP4-20 incurred severe damage. McLaren's race team (not the test team) is handling the week's Spanish run.

Raikkonen will not test on Wednesday, with Pedro de la Rosa to take the - hopefully - repaired car.

''It was a big impact,'' KR later explained, ''and I've hurt my thumb.''

F1's nine set for GPWC summit
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) On Wednesday, every F1 team (except Ferrari) will meet with the rogue 'breakaway' carmaker group.

At the London summit, 'GPWC' will present detail of their threatened 2008 world championship, including an informal counter offer for Bernie Ecclestone's reputed '50 per cent' Concorde income promise.

The breakaway offer is likely to embrace an up to 80 per cent income share, a source said.

Having lost Ferrari to Ecclestone, GPWC is made up of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Renault, with the casual support of Japan's F1 contingent, Honda and Toyota.

''It may be time for a fresh start,'' one team insider told UK's The Guardian newspaper.

Wurz unseen for 'Friday' job
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) Spain's Pedro de la Rosa will drive the spare McLaren car in Friday practice for the initial phase of F1 season 2005.

The team's main six foot three test driver Alexander Wurz, we reported earlier, does not fit in the unmodified MP4-20 model.

''Pedro has done the majority of the (2005 car's) test work ... so far,'' read a McLaren statement.

Austrian driver Wurz, until he can slide into the '20', is limited to mostly tire development at the wheel of a MP4-19B.

But Woking-based McLaren insisted that both men 'will ... work with the team throughout (2005).'

Wurz may, then, assume the 'Friday' role after April's Bahrain grand prix, 33-year-old de la Rosa told a Spanish newspaper.

Pedro also admitted to 'As' that Melbourne, Malaysia and Sakhir represent his 'last chance' to reignite a stalled racing career.

GPWC to call breakaway 'F1'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) 'GPWC' appear destined for a name change -- and it could be Formula One.

The rogue carmaker group, set to undrape the detail of a threatened 2008 world championship, looked likely to call it something like 'Grand Prix Motor Racing.'

F1's commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone owns the 'Formula One' moniker, according to conventional wisdom.

But the 'money' section of UK newspaper The Telegraph quoted GPWC spokesman Xander Heijnen as saying that Bernie cannot restrict GPWC's use of the 'F1' descriptor.

A Patent Office spokesman confirmed that 'Formula One' isn't fully controlled because it is more general than brands like 'Coca-Cola' or 'Marlboro.'

Indeed, 'F1' and 'Formula One' are already used legitimately in triathlon and powerboat racing.

JYS to take Brit GP back seat
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) Sir Jackie Stewart has taken a step back from his job at the top of the British racing drivers' club.

The triple F1 champion and 'president' of the Silverstone owner said - due to increasing time obligations elsewhere - he'd forthwith fulfill the role in a mere 'ambassadorial' capacity.

Scotland-born Stewart, 65, recently took on a new position representing the Royal Bank of Scotland, now a F1 sponsor.

He said it's therefore 'impossible' to devote the same, appropriate, time to the BRDC. Stewart added that the entire structure at the Club would change.

Sir Jackie and ousted chairman Ray Bellm clashed memorably last month, with Bellm calling for the Scot's resignation.

Toyota work on another update
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) Toyota, who on Tuesday unveiled a major remodeling of their 2005 car, will expose yet another update prior to the Malaysian grand prix.

Technical director Mike Gascoyne, who said he'd never had the resources to do a similar thing at Renault, revealed that the TF105 is set to look 'totally different' - again - at the second race.

''We'll have the Melbourne car,'' he said at Barcelona, where Jarno Trulli steered the revised TF105 to ninth, ''and a different (car) in Malaysia.''

Eyewitnesses said a spinning Trulli ended the car's debut in the gravel.

However, explaining the bigger-than-planned car rehash, Mike - internally pressured for a podium finish - admitted that TF105 is too hard on tires.

Ricardo Zonta, meanwhile, in a modified 2004 Toyota, eclipsed Trulli's best lap by more than a second.

2005 rules 'have failed'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) New regulations have failed to slow F1 down.

FIA president Max Mosley, in the face of Valencia (Kimi Raikkonen) and Barcelona (Michael Schumacher) track records in winter testing, admitted that the theoretically slower 2005 field is 'just as fast' as last year.

He insisted: ''But it's where they would have been that is important.

''The most we can hope to do is contain (speed).''

The major 'safety' changes for 2005 include more aerodynamic limitations, and rules requiring longer lives from engines and tires.

Max is also sure that the 2006 move from a V10 to V8 engine formula will similarly 'contain' - rather than reign in - the speed of F1 development.

Austria's back on F1 grid
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) Austria, once a dwindling spirit in the F1 paddock, is back with a vengeance in 2005.

In late 2003, with the A1-Ring no longer a fixture of the grand prix calendar, the only Austrian presence in Formula One was test driver Alex Wurz.

Last year, though, Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz funded Christian Klien's F1 (Jaguar) debut, and - now - is owner of the Red Bull team.

Klien will be joined on the 2005 grid by countryman Patrick Friesacher, to drive a Minardi car, who harks from (and still lives in) Wolfsberg.

''It's very good to have some more Austrians in F1,'' said triple world champion Niki Lauda.

Countryman Gerhard Berger, who last raced in 1997, recalls 1984, when a driving trio - himself, Lauda and Jo Gartner (killed at Le Mans, 1986) - represented Austria in F1.

Red Bull halt expectation
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) Guenther Steiner is playing down expectations ahead of Red Bull's Melbourne F1 debut.

Bought from Ford in November, the team is running their 'RB1' car - basically Jaguar's intended 'R5' model - in Barcelona testing this week.

''I'm not going to make a prediction,'' said the defiant, newly-appointed technical director, a German-speaking Italian.

''It would be wrong, though, to expect too much.''

Steiner, last year working in DTM, problematically filled Jaguar's technical director role in 2001.

Ralf no fan of 'new' F1
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) Ralf Schumacher, badly injured last year in a 300km/h smash, is not a fan of the 'slower' F1.

While struggling with understeer in Toyota's TF105, the German admitted he preferred the pre-2005 style of racing.

''I liked it the way we had it,'' said 29-year-old Schumacher, younger brother of the world champion (Michael).

He added: ''I think it's a good idea to be slower so we are safer, but on the other hand ... I'm not sure what everyone, including the spectator, really would prefer to see.''

Ralf also denied that the new aerodynamic, engine and tire regulation combination had made it any easier to overtake.

Fiery Fernando, cold Catalan
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) Fernando Alonso, to be named a Spanish UNICEF ambassador, set a mean pace in Tuesday's Circuit de Catalunya F1 testing.

The Renault driver led a field comprising seven rival teams and twelve other runners.

Michael Schumacher (tenth), in the F2004M Ferrari, continued to trail the pace, but insists he'll be up there when F1 goes to Melbourne next month.

The German, at the initially chilly track, said: ''Everything is going to plan, and I am sure we are going to fight right at the front (at the season opener).''

Also of note was Antonio Pizzonia's first appearance since missing out on the Williams drive, in the FW27, with the new Jordan duo - Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro - listlessly bringing up the rear.

''I did more laps today,'' said India's NK, ''than I've ever done in an F1 car before.

''I've got a lot to learn in a short period.''

F1 in spin over tire change
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) F1's new single-tire regulation still has many key players in a spin.

From 2005, a driver must select a single set of rubber prior to Saturday qualifying -- and use it right through to the end of the 300km grand prix.

''What I'm finding,'' said Michelin-clad Red Bull driver Christian Klien, ''is the tire wears quite a bit in the first ten laps and then evens out.

''We have a bit of work still to do on minimizing the wear (rate).''

Toyota's Ralf Schumacher, though - on the same French product - is finding a 'performance drop' throughout a long run.

''Then it comes back up,'' the German remarked.

''We aren't sure how it's going to go on every circuit, especially hot ones like Malaysia.''

On the F1 pitwall, though, it's a different story -- Renault's Pat Symonds is pleased that, from now on, a grand prix might be raced right through to the checkered flag.

Last year, he said, the winner 'was determined after the last pitstop.

''Nothing really happened after that.''

Jacques Villeneuve, meanwhile, is finding that a harder - and more worn - tire, makes it easier to make a mistake. ''The cars are more nervous in braking,'' said Sauber's French-Canadian.

Technical director at Toyota, Mike Gascoyne, tips the scale in favor of near-exclusive Ferrari supplier, Bridgestone.

He said: ''I think the present trait is Bridgestone being consistent, with maybe Michelin having an initial edge but lacking in consistency.''

Barcelona 'improving'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.16) The much-discussed track surface at Circuit de Catalunya, Spain's grand prix venue, is improving.

Following a total resurfacing for the New Year, many teams - like BAR, who called off a January test there - complained of an almost total lack of grip.

But Renault, like six other grand prix rivals, plonked - for the first time - their impressive R25 on the Spanish tarmac on Tuesday, and said the surface is now 'picking up grip.

''At the moment,'' said chief test engineer Christian Silk, ''it means the fastest times are posted quite late in the day, but we hope to see conditions stabilize later in the week.''

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