F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 7, 2005

Quali 'not exciting' - JPM
(GMMF1.NET -- Mar.7) Juan Pablo Montoya became the latest driver to criticize F1's new 'aggregate' qualifying system in Melbourne.

The Colombian said the biggest problem in the Sunday morning session were drivers like Felipe Massa, Takuma Sato and Michael Schumacher, who completed only a slow installation lap.

''I think it's disappointing for the fans who pay their money,'' the McLaren driver remarked.

''I think the big problem is that people don't understand what's doing on.''

He also said that, even when a driver pounded a hot lap, he didn't have to try too hard -- or, indeed, it would've been foolish to.

Montoya added: ''Yeah, well, you're trying to save the tire, so it's not the most exciting thing.

''You're just keeping it on the track.''

Montoya criticized
(GMMF1.NET -- Mar.7) Juan Pablo Montoya 'threw away' a certain second place finish in Sunday's Australian grand prix.

That was how F1 principal Ron Dennis marked the ace Colombian's first ever drive for McLaren.

''He went off, spun off,'' said the curt Briton.

''You can't be too critical of a driver who's trying hard, we all make mistakes,'' Ron remarked. ''But the penalty ... is so big now.''

Montoya, 29, owned up to two mistakes -- one on an in-lap, and another after a 'misunderstanding' with a Jordan.

On the upside, though, teammate Kimi Raikkonen - who stalled on the formation grid - said the MP4-20 car is quick enough 'to win' in 2005.

Fisi roasts Villeneuve
(GMMF1.NET -- Mar.7) Giancarlo Fisichella's will not be a one-off victory for the Roman and Renault in 2005.

Engineering guru Pat Symonds warned rivals that they'll see 'a lot' of the new driving recruit, and the R25 model, until the checker is flown in Shanghai.

''I never really pushed too hard,'' Fisichella said after the race.

''We are in really good shape.''

32-year-old Giancarlo Fisichella's single complaint related to traffic -- and 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.

''I lost two laps behind him,'' he said of the Canadian. ''I don't know why he blocked me -- it was really bad.''

DC's two-finger salute
(GMMF1.NET -- Mar.7) Two time Oz GP winner David Coulthard stuck two fingers up to every critic by finishing one place from a 'dream' in Melbourne.

The veteran Scot, driving for the former Jaguar (Red Bull) car, looked on for a podium for most of the race, but ultimately settled for fourth -- ahead of Williams, BAR and McLaren stars.

''I hit a Minardi at one point,'' said the 33-year-old.

''A podium was achievable today - at one stage I was beginning to dream a little, but I can't complain.

''It's more than we expected.''

Coulthard spent much of the winter, and most of the weekend, reading about those who thought he should've quit a McLaren driver rather than slide ungracefully down the grid.

He responded: ''It's certainly two fingers up to them!''

Rubens' F1 'go-kart'
(GMMF1.NET -- Mar.7) Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello felt like he was driving a go-kart in the Australian grand prix.

The Brazilian, carving through the field from eleventh on the grid, started to 'badly' suffer locked rear brakes at lap-15.

''I had all the braking on the rear so it was like a go-kart -- lucky I won the race in November.''

Then, Barrichello - and a Brazilian team - triumphed in the 500-mile Granja Viana kart event.

He also praised Bridgestone's new long life tire. ''We could do another race,'' the 32-year-old smiled, ''but please don't make me -- not now!''

Is Renault's car quickest?
(GMMF1.NET -- Mar.7) Renault's R25 is arguably the class of the 2005 F1 grid, but - already - car development will soon be seen.

Engineering chief Pat Symonds said the grand prix winning model will receive 'a whole new floor' for the next, Malaysian, race.

''It's quite a big aero update,'' he revealed.

Pat did, though, leave a bit in reserve when asked if the R25 is already quicker than Ferrari and McLaren's offering.

''I'm sure McLaren are as quick,'' he admitted, ''and on some circuits they'll be quicker.

''They just didn't have a good weekend.

''And Ferrari were quick today and ... their new car will be quicker. They're going to be really hard to beat.''

DC's quali-solution
(GMMF1.NET -- Mar.7) David Coulthard was highly critical of F1's new 'aggregate' qualifying system at Albert Park.

But what's the solution?

The Scot said on Sunday that adding the times together isn't the biggest problem; it's the one-hour, single-lap format.

He commented: ''In my opinion it should be one hour, 12 laps and you've got to do one flying lap every 15 minutes.''

As well as offering a guaranteed TV slot for less competitive teams, the single-lap format was designed to assure action throughout the quali-hour.

But Red Bull's DC, 33, said MotoGP have the best method.

''I went to a (motorcycle grand prix) last year and you were on the edge -- everyone's out, jockeying for position.''

'05 to reward smooth operator
(GMMF1.NET -- Mar.7) Formula One's new format will reward 'smooth' drivers.

That's at least, what Giancarlo Fisichella and Rubens Barrichello - perhaps the smoothest in the business - hope after finishing first and second in the opening race under the single-tire regime.

''It's hard to tell,'' said Ferrari's Barrichello, ''because it rained on Saturday and it messed up the grid.

''But I'm sure it'll be a help.''

Similarly, GP victor Giancarlo Fisichella - less attacking at the wheel than Renault teammate Fernando Alonso - isn't sure how indicative Melbourne will prove.

But the Italian added: ''The temperature was good today so wear was down -- maybe in the heat, maybe Malaysia, we'll find out.

''But I am smooth so I'm not worried.''

Webber 'not happy'
(GMMF1.NET -- Mar.7) Downbeat national hero Mark Webber left Albert Park on Sunday night 'not at all' happy.

''We're not here to run fifth,'' said Williams' new recruit.

David Coulthard overtook the 28-year-old driver at the first corner, and that's where he spent most of the grand prix.

Webber even claimed a piece of the Red Bull driving Scot's fourth place in Melbourne.

''That's the labors of my hard work last year,'' said the former Jaguar (renamed Red Bull) star.

''Us? We could have been faster, no doubt.

''Really frustrating. At least I know exactly what David's rear wing looks like now!''

April 30 for '06 Oz GP
(GMMF1.NET -- Mar.7) The 2006 Australian grand prix is heading for an April 30 calendar slot, event chairman Ron Walker revealed.

A temporary lull in the traditional season opening date is to avert a clash with Melbourne's Commonwealth Games.

Walker will travel to London this week to talk the matter over with F1 supremo and calendar author Bernie Ecclestone and FIA chief Max Mosley.

''(It) hasn't been confirmed,'' the Australian grand prix corporation chairman insisted.

''But we're hopeful.''

BAR loophole left open
(GMMF1.NET -- Mar.7) A source within BAR said he is confident the Honda-powered team will not be scolded for sliding through a 'loophole' in Melbourne.

''This (deliberate) failure to finish,'' read a Sunday statement, ''provides the opportunity to use new engines in (Malaysia) without ... penalty.''

The source said the matter was actually discussed during a teams' meeting with FIA race director Charlie Whiting prior to the Australian grand prix.

It's also expected that no team will protest the loophole in case they might also want to exercise it later in '05.

DC panned Minardi rookie
(GMMF1.NET -- Mar.7) David Coulthard lashed out at Minardi rookie Patrick Friesacher for nearly taking out two front runners in Melbourne.

Coulthard, the Red Bull driver - running third - made slight contact with the Austrian rookie after he slowed down without warning to let them past.

He said: ''I nearly ran Mark (Webber) off the circuit in the process, so I've apologized to him.

''(Webber) had every right to be bloody annoyed.''

Scotland's veteran driver said backmarking men, especially rookies, should let a quicker car through in a braking area.

''You don't lift in the middle of a quick corner,'' DC criticized.

Oz could have more on F1 grid
(GMMF1.NET -- Mar.7) If not for the domestic V8 championship, Australia might have more drivers on the F1 grid.

That's the claim of the Green And Gold's sole GP envoy, BMW-Williams star Mark Webber.

He said it's 'frustrating' to see so many talented Aussies lured by Supercar, the touring car category, rather than having a go over in Europe.

''They see (V8) as a comfort zone,'' said Webber, 28.

''They should ignore the touring cars for longer.''

Webber lauded compatriot Will Power, working through open wheelers in Europe, and issued a veiled criticism of men like Steven Richards and Russell Ingall, lured back to Oz after dipping their toe in Europe.

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