F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 8, 2005

Friesacher strikes back
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) F1 rookie Patrick Friesacher has hit back at David Coulthard, after the Scot roasted him for causing a high-speed collision in the Australian grand prix.

Red Bull's Coulthard faintly hit the rear of the Minardi, as Austrian Friesacher slowed down to be lapped.

''It was such hard work to drive the car,'' the 24-year-old said, ''and it was hard enough to just keep it on the track.

''You can imagine that I could not look in the mirror all the time.''

Minardi chief Paul Stoddart, in contrast to DC's assessment, called both team drivers' effort - in an untested and hobbled-together 2004 car - 'absolutely heroic.'

Friesacher is now desperate for round four, the San Marino grand prix, to come around.

''I really hope (the 2005 car) is a lot better,'' he smiled dryly.

Flush Coulthard's smirk
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) David Coulthard's smile in Melbourne was not only due to the pure satisfaction of finishing fifth.

For the Scot, on a cash-for-points-only Red Bull contract, it also meant pay-day had come earlier than expected.

Paddock insiders put the 33-year-old's deal, negotiated by manager and former driver Martin Brundle, at about $38,000 per point.

DC, therefore, earned nigh on $200,000 for a day's work.

''In the end we cut a tight little deal,'' Brundle told The Daily Telegraph.

''(It's) charity ... if the team do not score points, because he is paying his own expenses.''

Bahrain debut unlikely - Todt
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Ferrari is now unlikely to debut their new F2005 car earlier than May's Spanish grand prix.

It had been reported that the Maranello-based team, particularly if the win went begging in Australia, might fast track the introduction to Bahrain (round three).

''We're not yet where we want to be with the new car,'' said principal Jean Todt, whose test team have already run the car in Italy, ''so we keep on testing.''

Nonetheless, insiders maintain - and Ross Brawn is still hinting - that Bahrain (April 3) remains a possible F2005 race date.

Todt did admit that the older F2004M is now perhaps not the quickest on the grand prix grid.

The Frenchman also said Bridgestone have 'a few things to improve,' and predicted a 'very open' 2005 title fight.

'Ferrari still strongest'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Ferrari may still be the 'strongest' grand prix team, according to runaway Melbourne victor Renault.

Enstone's technical director Bob Bell is wary of the scarlet team's imminent debut of F2005, and is expecting McLaren to join the front runners.

But he lauded the R25 car, with which Giancarlo Fisichella drove to victory in Sunday's race.

''So far,'' said Bell, ''we have not seen any obvious weaknesses with this car and engine.''

And an update is due in Malaysia.

Bob added: ''We anticipate taking an improved car to every race.

''But Malaysia's a bit of an unknown -- we've got to use the same engine, and the weather is likely to be much more extreme.''

Oz stewards 'correct' - Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Although Michael Schumacher said he was not to blame, the German agreed with stewards who deemed the clash with Nick Heidfeld as a normal racing incident.

''It's absolutely correct,'' the seven time F1 champion remarked, even if Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn thought Michael's compatriot was at fault.

Schumacher, 36, is also quite happy with the 'old' F2004M car, as he expected the team in red to be squarely trounced in Australia.

''So what has happened with Rubens (Barrichello, who finished 2nd,) gives me a good feeling for the next few races,'' he added.

But Michael admitted that a Ferrari victory in the Malaysian grand prix near Kuala-Lumpur is actually a bit unlikely.

For now, though, he's off for a short holiday with wife Corinna.

No loophole protest - Brawn
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) No F1 team will protest BAR's tactic to slide through an engine rule loophole in Australia.

Both of Brackley's men were called in to pitlane on the last lap, so as to qualify for a DNF and be able to be fitted with a fresh V10 for the next GP.

After the race, Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said it's every team's 'option' to make the most of the rulebook.

Sources said technical men had met prior to the green light at Melbourne, to discuss the loophole.

A change is unlikely as other teams might later opt to exploit the rule.

Brawn added: ''We'll see how it goes.

''If they chose to (deliberately retire), others can do the same in the next race.''

'Come and sign my Concorde'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Bernie Ecclestone is calling on more teams to dispense with the manufacturers' GPWC and sign the new F1 'Concorde' agreement.

''Then we can have peace,'' he told a German newspaper, ''and an end to the apparently endless discussion.''

Without naming names, the F1 supremo revealed on Sunday that two more outfits had joined Ferrari in siding against the threatened breakaway alliance.

Those teams are thought to be Jordan and Red Bull.

Also in Welt am Sonntag, 74-year-old Ecclestone called the GPWC 'unstable' and 'fragile,' and - because of the nature of a carmaker - not offering a rock-hard future.

He also defended the decision to go it alone with Ferrari as due to the need to 'start things off' with a top outfit.

'Schu bad loser' - Germany
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Michael Schumacher did not emerge from Sunday's clash with young compatriot Nick Heidfeld smelling like a rose.

German daily Bild asked: ''Is (he) really that bad ... a loser?''

The newspaper pointed out that at least twice in the past, at Adelaide in 1994 and Jerez (1997), the world champion seemed more intent on collision, than to cede a competitor's quest to overtake.

''Rambo Schumi,'' read the Bild headline.

''He offered (Heidfeld) no apology.''

Another German newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, said the country's seven time title winner 'has no conscience.'

BAR defend loophole slide
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) BAR defended its decision to exploit a new rule loophole by outlining a 'significant advantage' for the next GP in Malaysia.

Team CEO Nick Fry said deliberately retiring the cars, in principle sanctioning a change of V10 engine despite the two-race regulation, will allow his drivers to run 'more revs' at hot Sepang.

''Having a new one ... could be a competitive advantage,'' he claimed.

Loopholes, though, are definitely not BAR's leading issue after the season opener.

Lacking pace from the 007 car, Fry said Jenson Button and Takuma Sato struggled with a lack of tire heat -- apparently an aerodynamic problem.

''It's definitely a case of catching up,'' he stated. ''We're off the pace.''

Schu're not popular - Indian
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Is Formula One's Indian rookie more popular than Michael Schumacher?

Believe it, Narain Karthikeyan, 28, said.

''I'm on the front page of every magazine and newspaper in India,'' he said, following his debut for Jordan in Melbourne.

But it's not only Indians in India barracking for Karthikeyan.

NK said at least five hundred were at the Albert Park track, waving India's tricolor.

Jordan principal Trevor Carlin said the next objective is to 'improve the car a little' for Malaysia and beyond.

Slow Sato facing 'tough' '05
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Takuma Sato didn't expect the Australian grand prix, and - indeed - season 2005, to be 'this hard.'

The Japanese, much like teammate Jenson Button, never troubled the pace in Melbourne, despite Brackley powering the team to the runner-up constructors' spot last year.

By (wet) Saturday qualifying, Sato had shunted on an out lap, and - in the dry grand prix - ran midfield.

''We're off the pace,'' 27-year-old Sato admitted, ''and it's going to be a tough year.

''We have to pick up speed.''

New tires pass first test
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Neither F1 tire supplier struggled to get their product to the end of the 58-lap Australian grand prix.

Despite the new single-tire regulation, Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier - whose French product shod two of the Melbourne podium's three members - said 'everything (ran) smoothly.

''We had no tire wear problems at all,'' he told f1.com, although he did mention that cooler weather surely played a role.

Bridgestone's Hisao Suganuma sung a similar tune, the Japanese claiming the tires kept their performance 'from beginning to end.'

Indeed, Ferrari's Ross Brawn said the team would 'be a little more aggressive' with the tire selection, if he could relive the Melbourne race.

Scottish 'satisfaction'?
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Beating McLaren and Williams must have been a satisfying feat for the man both former F1 employers rejected.

The smile told otherwise, but Scottish veteran David Coulthard - now a driver for fledgling team owner Red Bull - said his Melbourne fourth fulfilled no 'extra satisfaction.

''I had many good years at McLaren,'' he told The Mirror, ''and we beat Williams as well -- on speed.''

DC's boss between 1996 and last year, McLaren chairman Ron Dennis, couldn't help but laud the former Jaguar outfit, and its 33-year-old driver.

''That car has been well developed,'' he praised, ''and David did a good drive.''

But Ron stopped short of considering Coulthard a genuine threat to McLaren. ''Let's just say,'' he added, ''the only people in front (who) concern us are Renault.''

'Benetton is back!'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Benetton is back!

Whatever you do, don't squeal that catchcry in the presence of Renault principal Flavio Briatore.

Although the Italian led Benetton to double title glory with Michael Schumacher in the 90's, and Renault bought the team in 2000, Briatore does not see Giancarlo Fisichella's Oz triumph as a sort of Benetton return.

''This is a new team, new time,'' he said.

''And it's only the start, anyway -- only one race.''

I should retain seat - Klien
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Christian Klien believes he should remain a Red Bull racer all year, after driving his 'best ever race' in Australia.

The Austrian, 22, is only assured the Cosworth-powered seat until Imola, where F3000 champion Vitantonio Liuzzi - another Red Bull-backed favorite - could be given a shot.

''I think I showed that I deserve this seat,'' the youngster, a solid points-scorer at Albert Park, insisted.

Moreover, Klien's quickest lap of the race was actually a breath quicker than fourth placed teammate David Coulthard.

He said that achievement is especially significant given the fact that Klien and Liuzzi did 'only half' the testing of their Scottish cohort.

Sauber 'too slow' - JV
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Jacques Villeneuve has admitted he has 'a lot of work to do' in order to get up to speed with Sauber.

The '97 world champion, still in Australia prior to flying to Malaysia at the end of the week, said after a 'bad' Melbourne race that he's still learning 'how the team work.'

''I guess it's like this when you join a new team,'' he told jv-world.com.

''You first have to understand their structure to be able to extract the best out of it.''

The French-Canadian blamed the C24's basic lack of downforce on falling from fourth on the grid to finish a lowly 13th.

''(The car) was just too slow,'' JV added.

''Things should get better in a few races.''

Ralf S. 'hard headed' - agent
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) They might be brothers, but German duo Michael and Ralf Schumacher are very, very different -- in terms of personality.

According to their common manager, Willi Weber, 29-year-old Ralf - the younger Schu - is 'hard headed' in some situations.

''Sometimes he does not want to listen to advice,'' said Weber, known by some as 'Mr. twenty percent' due to his lucrative agreement with the pair.

''Sometimes, with Ralf, it takes longer to reach a common denominator.''

Ultimately, though, they found one for 2005, following six essentially barren years at Williams.

Weber said Schu Jar could achieve 'nothing more' with the Grove-based team. ''I am safe,'' he said, ''as Ralf will achieve his potential (at Toyota).''

Briscoe unstuck
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Former F1 tester Ryan Briscoe crashed on debut in America's premier 'IRL' open wheeler category.

The unhurt Australian, who also brushed the wall a day earlier, came unstuck at the Homestead-Miami oval's turn four.

Sydneysider Ryan drives for Toyota-powered Chip Ganassi.

'Astonishing' Red Bull
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Following F1 veteran David Coulthard's debut fourth for fledgling Red Bull in Australia, the team's Christian Horner said 'a podium' had become the next target.

The team principal said the former Jaguar team headed Down Under hoping to achieve 'credibility.'

''It's now building from that,'' he told Reuters.

33-year-old Coulthard reckons a podium had been 'possible' at Albert Park.

He added: ''(It) would've been ... as fine as a win.''

Red Bull drew praise from elsewhere in the Paddock, too -- most notably in the comments of Sir Frank Williams and Michael Schumacher.

Schumacher's Ferrari principal, Jean Todt, also said the blue-and-silver outfit performed 'astonishingly' in Oz.

I don't like new quali - Todt
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Jean Todt is no fan of F1's 'aggregate' qualifying system, debuted in Australia last weekend.

The Ferrari principal, used to seeing a frequently red front row, had to - with rain ruining Saturday - watch Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher line up a modest 11th and 19th.

''That's not something I like,'' the Frenchman smiled.

''If you ask, I always say that I prefer the old qualifying -- one hour, 12 laps and the quickest time counts.

''But everybody's against it.''

Todt, though, noted that the objective of 'aggregate' qualifying was to fill the gap on Sunday morning, and shake up the grand prix order.

He added: ''So that's been achieved.''

Fisico's a Cowboy!
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) F1 fan and Hollywood actor, Nicolas Cage, casually awarded Giancarlo Fisichella a broad-rimmed cowboy hat for winning the Australian GP.

The American was one of a string of celebrities at the tenth running of Melbourne's big race.

Also in town were Cirque duo Soleil founder, and friend of Flavio Briatore, Guy Laliberte, 70's heartthrob Bo Derek, F1 legend Sir Stirling Moss, 500cc champion Mick Doohan, Jacques Villeneuve's former girlfriend Dannii Minogue and Australia's Ian Thorpe.

''The sound is almost unbelievable,'' the Olympic swimmer told f1.com during the GP.

Quali reconsidered - again?
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.8) Don't react too soon to F1's controversial 'aggregate' qualifying format, Ross Brawn has warned.

The Ferrari technical director, although his drivers lined up down the grid due only to bad Melbourne weather, said everyone should wait 'at least two races' before assessing the change.

''Clearly (Australia) wasn't a good example,'' the Englishman said.

''But I'd say that after Malaysia, or maybe Bahrain, when we can see it running normally, if we don't see a reasonable spectacle, then things might be considered again.

''We seem to be going from poor solution to poor solution.''

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