F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 21, 2005

No F1 for Dominguez
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Mario Dominguez will not line up as Jordan's 'third' driver in 2005.

His Champ Car boss Keith Wiggins said the Mexican, who briefly tried a yellow F1 car in England last week and is strongly linked with a 2006 debut, is 'a contracted' HVM driver.

''(Dominguez) will be racing in Champ Car,'' he clarified.

Dominguez, whose current contract expires at the end of the year, joined Wiggins' team in 2002.

Snow stopped Imola run
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Imola, scene of April's San Marino GP, staged some weekend F1 action.

Minardi, and Sauber, turned out at in Italy on Saturday, the little Faenza-based outfit - in their last test before Melbourne - running '05 line-up Christijan Albers and newly-signed Patrick Friesacher.

''(The test) gave me a chance to test my fitness,'' said Austria's Friesacher, ''which I'm pleased to say seems good.''

A couple of seconds quicker, meanwhile, were Hinwil pairing Felipe Massa - comparing new front wings - and Jacques Villeneuve.

On Sunday, though - Minardi departed - Sauber could barely turn a lap in the rain and snow.

''Testing (would have been) too dangerous and ... pointless,'' said engineer Jacky Eeckelaert.

Sauber intend to try again on Monday morning.

Dutchman to land Jordan job
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Dutch driver Nicky Pastorelli is set to become Midland-Jordan's 'Friday' test driver in 2005.

The 2004 Euro F3000 champion tested, surprisingly, the yellow car - wearing Narain Karthikeyan's helmet and using the Indian's seat - at Circuit de Catalunya last Friday.

A spokeswoman admitted that the 21-year-old youngster, from Grauenhagen, is 'one of the candidates (the team) has been evaluating as test driver.'

''It wasn't perfect,'' Pastorelli - eight seconds per lap slower even than Jordan's Tiago Monteiro - later said, ''like the spin -- but I still really enjoyed (the day).''

He may test at Silverstone this week.

McLaren in F1 quit threat
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) McLaren may quit F1 at the end of 2007, company CEO and principal Ron Dennis has warned.

The 'group of nine' troupe, including McLaren, met with 'GPWC' last week -- a squadron of disgruntled F1 carmakers who threaten to race in their own, more lucrative, world championship from 2008.

''We want to have the choice to take McLaren out of Formula One,'' the principal, at Woking, said.

Dennis' right hand man, meanwhile - 'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh - hinted that GPWC had an 'overwhelmingly' superior position to that of Bernie Ecclestone.

But Ron, far from issue a mere 'breakaway' threat, said McLaren might simply opt to compete in 'another type' of racing.

Williams 'not a top team'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Williams are no longer a top team and cannot claim a Formula One title either this year or next.

That's the prickly belief of 1999-2004 team driver Ralf Schumacher, who joined Toyota for 2005.

He told Germany's Kolner Stadt Anzeiger: ''The high expectation levels (at Grove) ... were totally unrealistic.''

''Apart from the engine,'' 29-year-old Ralf remarked, ''there was not much quality there.''

'Still time' for Verstappen
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) By the end of the week, F1's Dutch nearlyman Jos Verstappen should know what he's doing in 2005.

The 32-year-old, earlier hopeful of one more go on the grand prix grid, is now aiming for American Champ Car racing.

He told The Netherlands' Race Report magazine: ''I would have liked to have done some testing by now ... (but) I don't need many miles to adjust to a racing car.

''There's still time.''

Verstappen, born in Monfort, last raced for Minardi in 2003.

Klien's in - official
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) As predicted last Friday, Christian Klien will be David Coulthard's teammate at Red Bull for the Australian grand prix.

The team announced that the Austrian, backed throughout his career by the energy drink, would race at Albert Park, but may be replaced later on by 'Friday' man Vitantonio Liuzzi.

''I'm honored that the decision has been made in my favor,'' said Klien, who drove in the Jaguar guise last year.

Italian Liuzzi, meanwhile - the reigning F3000 champion - congratulated 22-year-old Klien but vowed to push for a racing shot 'as soon as possible.'

* Klien will work with a new race engineer in 2005. He's Dutch, but can speak 'a little German,' Christian revealed.

Schu better than me - DC
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Gone is the perpetual 'this is my year' rhetoric: GP veteran David Coulthard can now admit that his dream of becoming champion is over.

The Scot, 33 and pedaling toward the end of a more than decade-long flirt with Formula One, said he 'deserved' the results he amassed.

He told Germany's Bild: ''I did all I could to become champion, but it didn't happen, and it won't happen now.

'''Michael (Schumacher) was - is - better than me and I accept that.''

Coulthard, in the interview, also doubted that Ferrari can be beaten in Melbourne, and criticized BMW-Williams for naming a second driver so late.

The Red Bull driver said: ''It'll put them months behind.''

Cosworth's F1 coup
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Cosworth will debut a near fifty horse power engine boost at the Australian grand prix next month.

Despite former backer Ford's F1 pull-out, and the longer life V10 regulation, an Autosport report said Cosworth pulled off 'a miracle' with the 910 hp '05 design.'

Oz minister to drive F1
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Australia's federal foreign minister will drive in the celebrity support race during the grand prix weekend in Melbourne.

Adelaide-based Alexander Downer is slated to take the wheel of the 220km/h BMW 1-Series against the likes of Olympic swimmer Kieren Perkins and boxer Kostya Tszyu.

''A politician has never won (the race),'' he said, ''but I won't crack under the pressure.''

Schu nearly joined McLaren
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Ferrari's Michael Schumacher nearly joined arch rival McLaren, Woking chief Ron Dennis revealed.

The silver-clad CEO hinted that the switch would have occurred around 1999-2000, but McLaren bosses ultimately opted against it.

Dennis said: ''I believe we could have arrived at a point where he would have driven for us. But we didn't get to that point (of asking Schumacher).''

Asked if he regretted letting the ultimately seven time world champion slip through his fingers, Ron replied: ''We reached our decision collectively.''

He's more open, meanwhile, about paying the late Ayrton Senna 'more money' than McLaren could afford ($1m per race) in 1993.

'Flaw' in FW27 design
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) A flaw in Williams' new aerodynamic wind tunnel might have affected the design of the 2005 'FW27' car, according to speculation.

Team tester Antonio Pizzonia, who may flee to American Champ Car racing for the start of the season, let slip last week that 'some problems' at HQ had marred Grove's pre-season preparation.

Pressed for detail, the Brazilian added: ''I don't think I should (say any more).''

British publication Autosport, meanwhile, hypothesized that the problem might be one of tunnel calibration, a notoriously delicate job.

'Why I fired Frentzen'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Former team owner Eddie Jordan has explained why he sacked top driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen in 2001.

The Irishman, who sold Silverstone-based Jordan Grand Prix to a Russian-Canadian billionaire in January, said the controversial decision had been about power.

He told Ireland's Sunday Independent: ''I couldn't let (Frentzen) renew his contract because my only way of holding onto the Honda engine was by giving (Takuma) Sato the drive.

''I loved Frentzen, I wanted to keep him, but I couldn't.''

Germany's Heinz-Harald, now 38 and in DTM, is still Jordan's most successful ever driver.

GPWC win seventh F1 team
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Sauber have joined six fellow Formula One teams in signing a new 'memorandum of understanding' with the carmaker group.

Last week, they all met in London, where only the Swiss camp, Red Bull and Midland-owned Jordan held off signing up, pending 'internal consultation.'

Britain's The Times newspaper also hinted that, Sauber signed, the other pair 'are likely to follow.'

But just how did GPWC convince the 'group of nine' to side so robustly against Ferrari and Bernie Ecclestone? They might not have needed to.

The Times revealed that Ferrari's new Concorde deal included, to the other teams' chagrin, the 'right of veto' in any mooted regulation change.

'I don't want Bernie's job'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Renault principal Flavio Briatore mocked speculation he might one day see himself in Bernie Ecclestone's white shirt.

The shambolic-haired Italian, who may leave F1 altogether at the end of 2005, said the 'attraction' of F1 for him is 'competing.'

Briatore entered F1 with Benetton in the mid 80's.

He also told the UK's Sunday Telegraph newspaper that a booze-fuelled Kimi Raikkonen, rather than bringing F1 into disrepute, breathed a wind of 'fresh air' during the winter period.

''You don't want drivers to be like book-keepers,'' Briatore, who said most of the grid's peddlers are 'the same', continued.

''Maybe they should give (Kimi) a drink before he speaks to the press in future.''

Schu set for 'difficult' year
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Finally, a wind of change looks set to whistle down Melbourne's F1 pitlane next month.

In winter testing, Ferrari and Michael Schumacher - the impenetrable force of the new Millennium - appear genuinely outpaced by McLaren and Renault.

Michael's younger brother Ralf said: ''At the moment, Ferrari are not in front. That could change, but at the moment it looks interesting.''

36-year-old Schumacher is similarly not immune to the timesheets' apparent message: ''Whatever mistakes (our rivals) have made in the past, they now probably won't repeat.''

He told the Sunday Times: ''I'm sure it'll be a much more difficult year.''

'Ferrari still favorite'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Fernando Alonso was warned against branding Ferrari anything other than absolute favorite for 2005 F1 victory.

The Spaniard, who broke the Barcelona lap record last Friday, is seated in probably the quickest car on the F1 grid, according to evaluation of winter testing.

But Renault's man recalled that Maranello-based Ferrari also didn't look too hot a year ago.

''Then we went to Australia,'' he told Autosport, ''and (they) were way ahead. I am sure they (are keeping something) to themselves.''

Renault's R25 is undeniably quick, and the Michelin tire much better than the 2004 product, but Alonso is still also worried about iffy reliability.

Ralf likes Sunday quali
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Ralf Schumacher has defended F1's new 'aggregate' qualifying format.

The Toyota driver said that, rather than detract interest in Saturday, the first single-lap session will spark intrigue into 'who is really fastest' and therefore most likely to blag Sunday's pole and the GP win.

''I think that was something missing (last year),'' said Germany's 29-year-old, ''so it'll be better in my opinion.''

Ralf also said Toyota's all-new aero package improved the car ''massively. We still have work to do but we're quite happy.''

RB to tackle Schu - Brawn
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Michael Schumacher may face a tough challenge to beat teammate Rubens Barrichello in 2005, according to Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn.

He noted that one of German-born Schumacher's prominent strengths is the ability to drive an 'unbelievably quick' 20-lap (or so) stint.

But this year, with the new single-tire regulation, each grand prix must be tackled as an entity.

Brawn also told the UK's Sunday Times that Barrichello, of Brazil, does not wear out a tire as quickly as 36-year-old Schumacher.

Ferrari will launch their F2005 model on Friday (Maranello).

Fisi on track for Oz triumph
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella expects to be among the leading pace at Albert Park (Melbourne) next month.

The Roman told Spanish newspaper Marca, following the team's storming final day at Barcelona last week, that the 'R25' car package - engine, chassis and (Michelin) tire - is 'excellent.

''Therefore we're going to Melbourne to win,'' he remarked, ''or at least finish on the podium. But we are very confident in the speed of the car.

''I expect an excellent start to the season.''

32-year-old Fisichella also heralded his new relationship with Fernando Alonso as 'better than (with) any former teammate.'

Renault's final pre-season test will occur this week, at Silverstone, with Frenchman Franck Montagny to sample the sleek 'R25' for the first time.

Jordan to run 'third' car?
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) Midland-owned Jordan may not run a 'third' car in Friday practice at the Australian grand prix.

Although Nicky Pastorelli is racing toward the test driving role, Jordan's new chief operating officer Adrian Burgess said he 'doesn't know yet' if the spare EJ15 will be unwrapped in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, as earlier anticipated, former team owner Eddie Jordan will not travel to Australia for the 2005 season opener, he confirmed.

The Irish veteran told Ireland's Sunday Independent newspaper that the Midland-owned camp 'don't need me there ... being seen to interfere.'

Malaysia and India
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.21) The Malaysian grand prix is pleased that an Indian has made it to the pinnacle of motor sport.

Last year, a thousand tourists from the sub-continent traveled to Sepang - near capital city Kuala-Lumpur - for the March 21 race.

''With an Indian driver and Indian sponsors,'' said Sepang's event director Ahmad Mustafa, ''I'm confident we can get more (spectators) from India.''

Jordan's Narain Karthikeyan is the first ever Indian star in F1.

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