F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 28, 2005

Jordan to run 'third' car
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) F3000 race winner Robert Doornbos will be Jordan's reserve and 'Friday' test driver in 2005, the Midland-owned team confirmed.

The 23-year-old Dutchman also filled the role late last year.

''I'll drive the team's third car during all nineteen grands prix,'' he revealed at an event near Moscow's Red Square.

New Ferrari may debut early
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) THE newly-launched Ferrari 'F2005' may debut at Bahrain's round-three grand prix.

Maranello chiefs had planned for a Barcelona (round five) start, but Ross Brawn said in Italy last Friday that a new decision will be taken following the car's initial test period.

''It also depends how the F2004 M goes,'' said the England-born technical director.

Test driver Luca Badoer will try F2005 next week.

World champion Michael Schumacher, meanwhile, admitted that he would've liked to have raced the new car in Australia.

'Stick around' - Oz's Webber
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) FAR from predict a winning Williams debut, Australia's Mark Webber said it'd be 'great' to depart Melbourne with a mere 'seventh or eighth.'

''It's not what you want to hear,'' he told a local reporter, ''but stick around and I promise you we will be a force (in the near future).''

After driving a BMW-powered runner across the fabled Sydney Harbour Bridge early Sunday morning, the national hero said the biggest goal would be to 'improve' on fifth place, scored on grand prix debut in a Minardi (2002).

He called completing a dozen 'runs' of the usually bustling Harbour Bridge 'a bit eerie.

''I was amazed how nervous I was before we went,'' said the 28-year-old, ''because so much can go wrong (with the car) and so much effort had gone in.''

Red Bull nick Smith
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) RED Bull confirmed that lauded designer Mark Smith had joined the F1 team as Guenther Steiner's 'deputy' technical director.

''He's one of F1's most experienced technical experts,'' Steiner said of the 43-year-old Briton.

Red Bull has also nicked former Ferrari man Anton Stipinovich, the South African to be head of development.

Rookie on time for F1 debut
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) HE may drive for back-of-the-grid Minardi, but 25-year-old rookie Christijan Albers can't be accused of being tardy.

The Dutchman - the first F1 pilot to touch down in Australia - jogged the entire Albert Park F1 layout at the weekend, prior to his imminent grand prix debut there.

He said he'd practiced the Melbourne layout on a PlayStation. ''But when I saw it for real,'' the former DTM star added, ''I realized how different it is going to be.

''I intend to go round (the track) in a road car now.''

Albers, on a one-year deal, also said the goal for 2005 was to 'catch the eye' of a bigger team.

F1 parade to draw 50,000
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) UP to 50,000 Melbournians may gather for Wednesday's F1 street parade.

Two Minardis, one driven by Coburg-born team owner Paul Stoddart with a special livery, and Williams' Antonio Pizzonia, will 'bring the city alive,' 50-year-old Stoddart said.

Lord Mayor John So added: ''We're hoping it will be the biggest parade Melbourne's ever seen.''

Schu, JB in 'war of words'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) MICHAEL Schumacher and Jenson Button are engaged in a mini war-of-words just a week before Australia's 2005 opener.

England's 25-year-old Button, driver for BAR-Honda, told BBC radio that Ferrari can't keep winning forever, while his '05 goal is to 'look down on Michael' from the top of the podium.

JB added: ''Michael has the best equipment.

''If you put Raikkonen or Montoya in his position ... they would (do) exactly the same.''

Seven time world champion Schumacher, however, replied by saying that - with four days until opening practice at Albert Park - 'there's no more time for talking.

''Now it's time for proving,'' the German, 36, added.

''Jenson, as a driver, is a question mark for me, but (the potential) may develop.''

Rubens' quali concern
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) FERRARI'S Rubens Barrichello is the latest F1 driver to express concern about the new 'aggregate' qualifying format.

Referring to the Saturday-Sunday system, Michael Schumacher's Brazilian teammate hoped the final result would 'be clear' for the spectator.

''For someone in the grandstand, adding numbers, (it's going) to be difficult.''

The biggest change for the driver, though, according to the 32-year-old, is just a little less time to relax on grand prix morning. ''I'm cool about it,'' he said at the F2005 launch in Maranello.

Tobacco and Malaysia
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) Tobacco advertising in Malaysia, scene of the annual grand prix, will be banned in June.

According to reports, the country is preparing to join the World Health Organization's anti-tobacco framework, which became law in many countries at the weekend.

All tobacco sponsorship in Malaysia, including by F1 teams at the Sepang circuit every March, will no longer be allowed, following the parliament's ratification of new legislation last September.

Sauber duo 'aren't friendly'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) According to team owner Peter Sauber, 2005 F1 line-up Felipe Massa and Jacques Villeneuve will 'never be friends.

''I doubt it,'' he said in an interview.

In pre-season testing, Brazil's Massa - nearly a decade younger than 1997 world champion and Canadian Villeneuve - was almost always the quicker of the pair.

Switzerland's Sauber has no answer for why, but answered in the negative when asked if they're getting along as friends.

But he downplayed the significance: ''In F1, (friendships) are few and far between, and we aren't looking for that, anyway.

''Professional collaboration ... is much more important.''

Sauber also denied that Renault and McLaren are set to usurp Ferrari's F1 dominance.

''In the end,'' he said, ''we'll again see Ferrari at the very front.''

Button 'fitter than ever'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) Jenson Button is 'fitter than ever' ahead of the 2005 season, according to the English F1 driver.

BAR's 25-year-old told people.co.uk that, in the off-season, he trained in the heat of Thailand and amid the Swiss alps' freezing altitude.

''I felt that you just needed to be fitter for the (2005) season,'' said Button, who had hoped to switch to the Williams team.

He concluded: ''I'm feeling so much better, (also) mentally.''

It's hot in Melbourne
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) On Monday, it's a hot 31-degrees in Melbourne, scene of the weekend's Australian grand prix.

But, for opening practice on Friday, it's expected to drop to a cloudy 23, with an even cooler - and overcast - day to hold sway for first qualifying.

Come Sunday, race day for the '05 season opener in the southern Albert Park, the cloud will have settled-in and a cool 18-degrees should linger all afternoon.

No rain is forecast.

Indian's F1 preparation
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) How did Narain Karthikeyan, India's first F1 driver, prepare for the Saturday night flight to Melbourne, scene of his grand prix debut?

He played Geoff Crammond's PC computer game, GP4.

28-year-ikd Karthikeyan told Sunday Mid Day: ''It's really realistic, as far as track measurement goes.

''But one of the first things I'll do when I get to Melbourne is walk (Albert Park).''

On Friday, Narain's Jordan team launched their 2005 campaign in the freezing snow of Red Square, Moscow (Russia).

''I think India and Russia are similar in a lot of ways,'' he said, ''although the weather is certainly not one of them!''

New Brit GP chairman
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) Following Ray Bellm's departure, the British Racing Drivers' Club on Friday named a new chairman.

Board member Stuart Rolt got the nod after a meeting at Silverstone, home of the Club's own British grand prix.

Sir Jackie Stewart, president, said Rolt won an unanimous vote.

And, despite the axe nearly falling on the 2005 F1 event, circuit manager Richard Philips said the July race is nearly sold out.

France's man re-elected
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) French grand prix promoter Jacques Regis has been re-elected for another four-year term by the FFSA.

The 60-year-old became president in 1997.

Mark's 'more committed'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) Mark Webber is one of the most committed men on the Formula One grid.

That's the opinion of countryman and colleague Sam Michael, Williams' 33-year-old technical director.

He told The Australian newspaper that Webber, 28, visits Grove HQ 'three times a week -- even when we're testing.'

The newspaper said the departed Juan Pablo Montoya visited the team's Oxfordshire factory three times ... per year.

Michael admitted: ''Some drivers are as fast as Mark in the car but they don't have his level of commitment.''

He also said FW27 won't be ready to win at least until mid-May.

No Villeneuve 'honeymoon'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) Jacques Villeneuve is not enjoying a so-called 'honeymoon' period with new F1 employer Sauber.

The 1997 world champion, regularly outpaced by young Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa in testing, said bad weather has hampered winter running.

''So we didn't do enough (mileage),'' the 33-year-old - who memorably clashed with team management at BAR - said at his 'Newtown' restaurant in Montreal.

He also claimed Peter Sauber's squad is 'not used' to working with an experienced driver. ''We have to adapt our way of working better,'' Villeneuve admitted.

JV did, though, praise Sauber's prioritization of budget. ''Unlike other teams,'' he said, ''every penny goes into how to make the car faster.''

Ferrari's new main man
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) Italian Aldo Costa designed the new Ferrari, Rory Byrne admitted.

Byrne, who maintains the chief designer title, called F2005 the 'best ever' scarlet car, but said Costa was responsible 'for the entire ... project.

''I'd like to congratulate him and his team.''

Technical director Ross Brawn, at the car's launch at Maranello last Friday, admitted that F2005 isn't 'radical.'

He added that South Africa's Byrne - now in a 'different' role - acted as a 'father' figure for Costa.

Meanwhile, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said he's 'glad' that McLaren and Renault appear so competitive. ''It will make things more interesting,'' he said at the launch.

Ferrari's oil trick
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) Switching between different oil blends may be one way F1 manufacturers tackle the new 'one-engine-per-two-races' regulation.

Ferrari's supplier, Shell, said it would offer a 'suite' of oils for the world champion marque to choose from at each grand prix in 2005.

''We'll be able to offer the engine increased protection during practice sessions,'' said F1 technical manager Mike Copson, ''before we switch to a more viscous, power-liberating blend for the race.''

'Definite' Oz favorite
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) Renault are 'definitely' favorites for victory in the weekend's Australian grand prix, according to Sam Michael.

Williams' Australian technical director said the rival team's R24 car, to be steered at Albert Park by Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso, is 'extremely' strong in the aero department.

He told Autosport magazine: ''McLaren (are) right behind them.

''After that the pack is pretty close.''

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello also admitted that a scarlet car will not necessarily lead the pace at the season opener. ''(Renault) are looking really quick,'' the 32-year-old Brazilian remarked.

'We deserve more' - Ferrari
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) According to Jean Todt, Ferrari deserves a bigger slice of Formula One's cash pie.

The Prancing Horse's managing director, amid rivals' frustration of an inferior new commercial deal, said Ferrari is 'special' and more 'tied' to grand prix racing than others.

''(We) helped create what F1 is,'' said the Frenchman.

''It's like in a movie where a big star gets paid more because the producer knows he will sell it all over the world.

''Ferrari is a star and wants to be paid like a star.''

Todt suggests that Ferrari's dominant success is the main catalyst for some rivals' frustration.

But he remarked: ''I'm sure if they were in our position ... they would demand the same.''

BAR wanted 'more time'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) F1 team BAR is not as well prepared for the F1 season opener as it would have liked.

That's the admission of technical director Geoff Willis, who said the Honda-powered '007' car encountered 'a number of problems' in the winter period.

''With a bit more time,'' he said, ''we would have felt more confident.''

So, despite the end-of-season pledge to challenge for prevalent wins from 2005, Geoffrey Willis concluded that Brackley-based BAR-Honda will 'travel to every circuit aiming (to be) on the podium.'

Kimi's no 'ice man' - JV
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve says he knows why F1 is boring.

The French-Canadian, returning full time to pitlane this year with midfield team Sauber, said in an interview with The Guardian (UK) that the grid is devoid of 'heroes.'

Rather than blame Ferrari, then, 33-year-old JV said car manufacturers and multinational sponsors instruct drivers to not 'say what you think.

''If you're ... not allowed to have a personality,'' he asked, ''how can you be a hero?''

Villeneuve accused Finland's Kimi Raikkonen of deliberately trying to appear 'one dimensional.

''It's sad. He's not the ice man.''

'Anti Ferrari' tire rule?
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) F1 tire supplier Michelin said it dreamt up F1's new-for-2005 'single tire' regulation.

Bibendum's competition director Pierre Dupasquier said the concept, as well as reducing cornering speed by requiring more durable and therefore harder rubber, 'saves money.

''(We're) absolutely behind the concept.''

Interestingly, technical director Ross Brawn - whose Ferrari team run on rival Bridgestone tires - said he also 'likes' the rules' 'challenge.'

Michael Schumacher, too, isn't worried that the changes - often pronounced as 'anti Ferrari' - will be enough to curb Maranello's advantage.

The German said: ''Usually those who are better can react quicker and better and adapt.

''It's the same for everybody.''

Oz GP rocked by departure
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) The Australian grand prix has lost a key figure mere days ahead of the event's tenth race.

Geoff Harris quit the role as top media man, reportedly citing mismanagement of Mark Webber's Sydney Harbour Bridge over-drive and the visit of 1970's actress Bo Derek.

In an email, he slammed 'excessive bureaucracy' and the leadership of the Corporation's executive Tim Bamford.

''(Harris) was the driving force behind the grand prix,'' said a 'shell-shocked' Minardi chief Paul Stoddart.

Meanwhile, Australian GP security general manager Mario Siesta was suspended following an appearance in a Melbourne court on 88 fraud charges.

Bamford said the AGPC would, as a result, 'review' the contract with Wilson Security.

Midland could retain Toyota
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) Despite speculation of a Ferrari deal, F1's new 'Midland' (Jordan) team may retain Toyota power next year.

Sporting director Trevor Carlin admitted that Ferrari was an option, but said the Toyota V10 is proving 'powerful and ... reliable.'

He added at Friday's team launch in Moscow: ''We have a good relationship with them (so) we'd like to keep that ... going.''

Austrian set for shaky start
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.28) You'll forgive Patrick Friesacher if he makes a shaky start to his grand prix career at Albert Park.

Minardi's late-confirmed Austrian rookie, 24, has never completed a race distance in a Formula One car.

''It's going to make the first few races quite tough,'' he admitted at a PR event in Melbourne.

Asked how he thinks he'll cope with the 58-lap Australian grand prix, then, Friesacher replied: ''I don't know!

''You'll find out, so will I.''

Dutch teammate Christijan Albers, though, insisted that Friesacher is 'definitely on the pace.'

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