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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 23, 2005


Sauber win BMW grunt
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) Peter Sauber's F1 team will end a near decade long collaboration with engine supplier Ferrari at the end of the year.

Sir Frank Williams, whose own outfit is powered by BMW, said the German carmaker 'have decided' to also supply Sauber, after vowing to offer a customer program to a smaller team.

Frank said at a media lunch: ''(BMW motor sport director) Mario (Theissen) ... said they have had two approaches -- one (from) Sauber and another.''

Although Williams' so far six-year BMW arrangement will no longer be exclusive, it will continue, the team co-owner confirmed.

Ferrari, isolated in the GPWC-Ecclestone political row, may supply the 'Midland' entry in 2006.








McLaren slam one-tire rule
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) In the climate of a genuine need for cost cutting, McLaren has hit out at the governing FIA for imposing ineffectual aerodynamic and tire rule changes.

The company's operations director Jonathan Neale said while the two-race engine is arguable, the whole-grand prix tire regulation, for one, actually 'cost (us) even more money.

''Think about how many kilometres we've had to do in developing the new tires,'' he remarked.

''(And) it's all long runs, and that costs a lot.''

Neale also played down a suggested that the new MP4-20 car's radical-looking airbox 'horn wing' may, ultimately - like many F1 innovations - be banned.

'Our package is completely within the rules,'' he said, ''even though (it) may look quite dramatic.

''The 'middle wing' is just a complimentary aero component, like any other.''








Pizzonia stays put - team
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) Antonio Pizzonia will not be granted leave to race in America's Champ Car category in 2005.

The Brazilian, gutted after missing out on Williams' spare F1 seat, is to be contractually retained by the Grove-based team, to continue testing.

Frank Williams said he'd let the 24-year-old go if he landed an F1 drive. ''But Champ Car,' he wondered at a media lunch in England, ''... we would not look at it favorably.

''We need him as a test driver.''

Moreover, the knighted team co-owner hinted that, should Nick Heidfeld let the BMW-powered team down, Amazon-bred Pizzonia would take the grid spot next to Mark Webber.








Sense of humor not frozen
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) It continued to snow at English F1 venue Silverstone on Tuesday.

But a Renault statement said the weather improved by early afternoon, giving Franck Montagny a chance to 'shake down' a Melbourne-bound R25 car.

Later, it snowed again, but not after Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella practiced a pit stop or three.

Renault's test engineer Christian Silk joked: ''We continued preparations for the winter Olympics ... although the progressive improvement in conditions somewhat hampered our program.''

McLaren also ran, Kimi Raikkonen shaking down the MP4-20 that he'll race in Melbourne, after the Finn crashed it at Barcelona last week.








Jordan confirm Dutch-Italian
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) As earlier revealed, Dutch-Italian driver Nicky Pastorelli is Jordan's new test driver.

Although the newly-owned team may or may not run a third EJ15 on the Friday of GP weekend, it said the 21-year-old champion of Euro 3000 is Midland's first 'Young Driver Program' member.

Pastorelli, who - in Narain Karthikeyan's helmet and seat - tried the yellow car at Barcelona last week, also tested a Minardi in the winter period.

''He's quick and has demonstrated that he is a winner,'' said team MD Colin Kolles.







F1 world 'stinks' - Sir Frank
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) Question -- How does it smell inside F1 racing's inner sanctum?

''(It) stinks,'' said team co-owner and principal Sir Frank Williams.

All the politics are one thing, but Frank is unnerved mostly crossly by FIA president Max Mosley's recent assertion that every top team - except Ferrari - are 'rubbish.'

In the GPWC quarrel, though, wheelchair-bound Williams stopped short of following Ron Dennis' lead in threatening to quit the sport.

''He might,'' Frank speculated, although admitting that a wrong move could put a team out of business.

''(But) I can't afford to be too hard line.''

Williams then confirmed that the carmakers' alliance is most riled by Max Mosley's push to rid F1 of technology, while co-owner Patrick Head called the FIA chum's leadership style 'willy nilly.'








Whiskey to replace 'West'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) McLaren's 30-year association with tobacco will end in August, when the Johnnie Walker whiskey brand replaces 'West' as main sponsor.

The close to $31m a year deal, to coincide with a ban on tobacco advertising beyond July 31, is with UK-based hard liquor giant Diageo.

Turkey's inaugural grand prix near Istanbul, then - the first after the ban's chop - will herald the arrival of the famous 'striding man' logo.

But team CEO Ron Dennis admitted that hard liquor and grand prix driving is potentially even more controversial than tobacco, especially - perhaps - in light of McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen's recent winter rampages.

Ron admitted at a news conference: ''You can't hide from these issues, and we are not going to.''

In a statement, Diageo said Johnnie Walker would also 'tackle the issue' by spending 2m every year 'on responsible drinking programs.'








'We're fifth best' - Grove
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) Williams' new FW27 may be only the fifth best F1 challenger at the Australian grand prix, the team co-owner admitted.

At a media lunch, Sir Frank said McLaren and Renault lead the way for 2005, with Ferrari and BAR also set to be 'serious players.'

The problem, according to engineering director and Williams' team partner Patrick Head? A 'discrepancy' between the scale wind tunnel 'model' and the actual car.

''Without overplaying it too much,'' he added, ''we're now going through a process of understanding exactly why that (occurred).''

Head said one of the most frustrated men at Grove is new Australian recruit Mark Webber. ''(And) he's not disguising his disappointment,'' the Briton - revealing an aero and downforce deficit - smiled dryly.








'05 engine 'more powerful'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) Cosworth, despite Ford's shock recent withdrawal, has admitted it will race into F1 '05 with a more powerful V10 engine.

We reported on Monday that the unit, to be fitted to both Red Bull and Minardi's (2005) grand prix challenger, is a mighty 50bhp stronger - 910 horse power - than in 2004, despite the longer life regulation.

''Yes,'' head of development Alex Hitzinger told Autosport, ''(and) there is more to come in the middle of the season.''

'Cosworth Limited' is today run by Champ Car co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe.








Renault 'nicked' Minardi star
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) Renault 'nicked' up-and-coming Venezuelan teenager Pastor Maldonado from Minardi.

That's the charge of Faenza team founder and continuing staffer, Italy's Gian Carlo Minardi.

''I behaved in good faith,'' he complained on the 'Italiaracing' website, ''(but) let (Maldonado) be nicked from me.''

Last November, 19-year-old Maldonado made his F1 debut in a Minardi at Misano. Gian Carlo Minardi, at the time, hinted that a youngster at the circuit has 'a future' on the F1 grid.

Now, though, Pastor's in Renault's 'driver development program.'







F1's 'lonely' - rookie
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) Formula One is a bit of a 'lonely' world, India's first ever Indian driver admitted this week.

Narain Karthikeyan told Indian media group IEG that every waking moment is calculated 'to the last minute' by grand prix employer Jordan.

''Coping is not a problem,'' said the former F3 and World Nissan star, ''it's just a totally different ball game.''

The 28-year-old said life had become a constant routine of travel, testing and sporadic respite.

And he added: ''It's also kind of lonely -- it gets tough with (all) the thought.''








'DC, grow a beard'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) For the first time in more than a decade, F1 veteran David Coulthard - in the winter pre-season - grew a tatty beard.

Why?

Because Red Bull Racing team owner Dietrich Mateschitz, apparently, told him he could.

The Austrian energy drink billionaire admitted: ''I took David to one side (at a recent test) and told him, 'in our team you don't have to shave every day'.''

Not only did marketing-savvy Red Bull impose a beard-if-you-like policy; out went old school (Jaguar) management duo Dave Pitchforth and Tony Purnell, and enter Christian Horner, the 31-year-old novice.








Williams' Webber in wind
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) Williams' Mark Webber proved the FW27 should not be written off by topping the test time sheet at Valencia (Spain).

On Tuesday, the Australian also demonstrated Grove's notable reliability as he fended off the Schumacher brothers' Toyota and Ferrari challenge, scarlet man Rubens Barrichello, and the BAR of Takuma Sato.

''It really was too windy to do much work this afternoon,'' said Williams' manager Tim Newton.

Webber, 28, is now bound for Sydney.








Albers' 'net support
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) The Netherlands' biggest news website, nu.nl, will sponsor 26-year-old rookie Christijan Albers in 2005.

A logo will be displayed on the black Minardi car's rear wing end fence, and Dutchman Albers' overall.

Nu.nl is owned by ilse media bv.

''We already had a good relationship with (ilse),'' Laren-born Christijan said, ''and it is great news that nu.nl decided to support me.''








McLaren 'ready to roll'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) McLaren is in good shape heading into the first grand prix of 2005, 'Friday' driver Pedro de la Rosa said.

The Spaniard, who'll pilot the spare MP4-20 in free practice, was 'surprised' when he first took to the wheel of the new Mercedes-powered car.

''It's so easy to drive,'' he grinned, ''and that's not often the case with a new car.''

Woking-based McLaren is marked out as probably the most likely Ferrari challenger this season, although Renault is proving a near match.

de la Rosa remarked: ''We are being careful. Let's see.

''Let's say we are ready to go now.''







Max's the catch - Grove
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) Williams' take on the GPWC-Concorde row became clearer at Tuesday's media lunch -- FIA head Max Mosley is the problem.

Engineering chief and team co-owner Patrick Head called the Briton's style 'autocratic,' with a tendency to deride anyone who's non-compliant.

He said improperly imposed rules, like the two-race engine regulation, have got the collective (albeit non-Ferrari) pitlane saying 'enough is enough.'

''They don't believe (Max) ... is a safe pair of hands (anymore).''

Sir Frank, meanwhile, speculated that Mosley would like to drive the manufacturers out of F1, and claimed that everyone is 'pissed off' with the exclusive commercial deal made with Ferrari and the FIA.








Russian race removed
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.23) A planned Russian round of the German touring car (DTM) championship has been called off.

It's understood that the street race, to be held in Moscow in June, will now be delayed until mid-2006, because organizers could not have prepared the circuit in time.

Brno (Czech Republic) will step in to fill the void.

''Safety is priority number one,'' said DTM chief Hans Werner Aufrecht, ''therefore we won't make any compromises.''

Double F1 champion Mika Hakkinen will race in DTM in 2005.

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