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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 9, 2005


Minardi's well earned break
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) Minardi's Paul Stoddart and Patrick Friesacher have touched down in south capital Adelaide for a well-earned break.

They're accompanied by forty traveling members of the little F1 team, which spent the Australian grand prix - in fellow city Melbourne - embroiled in a political nightmare.

Christijan Albers, Friesacher's rookie teammate, instead opted for a holiday on Hayman Island, further north.

''He might have got it wrong,'' team owner Stoddart said, referring to a cyclone expected to strike near Albers' destination.

Paul said Melbourne had been 'very, very, very stressful.

''We thought Adelaide's the right place (to recover). It's a great place to unwind.

''I've said 'go out and enjoy the country', because - compared to the rat race they're normally in - well, it's not much fun.''








DC slams engine rule
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) David Coulthard is not only critical of F1's controversial qualifying system.

Scotland's veteran driver said the implication of the equally new one-V10-per-two-races rule is 'also ridiculous.

''Schumacher did three laps (in Melbourne Friday morning practice) and Kimi one,'' he noted.

''Think of all the people, who paid their good money, and want to see these guys on the track.

''I understand the desire to cut spending, but we need to be out there -- I'd go out and do sixty laps if it was sensible.''

He suggested that each driver be assigned a 'practice engine' so as not to compromise track action.

33-year-old DC's manager agrees. Martin Brundle, the former GP racer, said he wandered the paddock during a practice session in Melbourne and saw Raikkonen 'watching TV.

''He should be out there,'' the Briton said, ''thrashing about.''







Heidfeld to get new V10
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) Nick Heidfeld will enjoy a fresh engine at next weekend's Malaysian grand prix, BMW has confirmed.

Dr Mario Theissen, the Munich marque's motor sport director, said Heidfeld's shunt with Michael Schumacher at Albert Park excluded the German from the new two-race requirement.

''After Australia, both engines were absolutely okay,'' said Theissen, also German, explaining that the regulations allow for an engine change in the case of a DNF.

Teammate Mark Webber, though, will combat the extreme heat and humidity of Sepang - near Kuala Lumpur - with the same engine used at Melbourne's Albert Park.








'Deliberate' loophole - DC
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) The FIA may have 'deliberately' left F1's new two-race engine rule vague, David Coulthard suggested.

The Red Bull driving Scot, apparently referring to BAR's controversial deliberate DNF in Melbourne, said if a loophole exists, 'then it will certainly (be exploited).'

33-year-old DC asked: ''Why wouldn't you, if the rules allow that to be played out?''

Tongue-in-cheek, Coulthard suggested that the FIA don't actually mind if a team tries to exploit a regulation to the full, to create 'controversy.

''Hopefully it fills the two week break,'' he smiled, ''and probably an FIA hearing in Paris!''








McLaren to shed 'grey' image
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) McLaren may by trying to improve a dull image in 2005, after the F1 team turned out in Australia with a new, bright-orange look.

Although, with Mercedes-Benz, McLaren's corporate coloring is grey and black - with a flash of red - McLaren traditionally raced in an orange livery.

''I like it,'' new recruit Juan Pablo Montoya told usgpindy.com of the orange kit.

''The first time you see it, it's like, 'Whoa!' -- especially if you are used to black, but it is great.''

Colombia's 29-year-old said the image of a 'too serious' McLaren is 'wrong.

''(But) when you're inside, (you realize) it's not like that.

''This reflects a bit of what we're really like.''








Bahrain F1 upgrade
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) Bahrain's Formula One track has undergone renovations prior to its April grand prix.

A statement said a wider Turn Four at the desert circuit in Sakhir has been installed, while 'sand-colored' asphalt run-off replaces every sand/cement trap.

This is 'to enable the cars to return to the course if they slide off,' the statement added.

The statement also said: ''Each spectator ... will be provided with a radio set to listen to the (circuit's) ... broadcast.''

''We are pushing ourselves in every manner to host a thrilling race,'' the track's general manager, Martin Whitaker, told the Bahrain media.








Ferrari set for fast track
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) World champion team Ferrari will decide after this week's Jerez test when to introduce the new F2005.

French principal Jean Todt admitted that, if all goes well, 'we could decide to bring (the car's) debut forward.'

Ferrari previously announced that the 'old' car would stick around until May's Spanish GP.

But Todt told La Gazzetta dello Sport: ''While waiting for the (new car), a second place (at Melbourne) suited us fine.''

Technical director Ross Brawn agreed that a 'small possibility' of racing F2005 in Bahrain - round three - exists.

''If we go to Malaysia and get a few backsides' kick,'' he added, ''that will make deciding easier.

''We know about Renault, and although McLaren seemed to have some problems (in Australia), they look quite fast.''







Fisi win 'good for F1'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) Flavio Briatore said Giancarlo Fisichella's Australian grand prix win was 'good for the sport.'

An avid advocate of 'the show' - as opposed to financial waffle and politicking - Renault's principal denied that re-hiring the Italian driver from Jordan and Sauber was 'a gamble.

''(Fisichella's) the man for the season,'' Flav predicted.

''I like a gamble but not with drivers. It's not (a gamble) with him.''

It's clear, though, that colorful and flamboyant Briatore is not yet dreaming of stealing Ferrari's title thunder.

He said both Fisichella and Spanish teammate Fernando Alonso need to take 2005 'race by race.

''There is still room for us to improve.''








Schu nominated for award
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) F1's Michael Schumacher is again nominated for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award.

Up against cyclist Lance Armstrong, tennis' Roger Federer, swimmer Michael Phelps and MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi for the men's prize, the German's F1 employer, Ferrari, is also nominated -- for the Team award.

Forty sport celebrities will name the winners, short listed by 500 journalists, to be announced in Portugal in May.

36-year-old Schumacher bagged the 2004 prize, but Ferrari was pipped by the England Rugby squad.








Albers' new deal
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) Minardi rookie Christijan Albers has renewed his management contract with 'GR8 Industries.'

The Dutchman, with Lodewijk Varossieau as manager, said the GR8 team did an 'impressive' job to map a career path all the way to F1.

''Never change a winning team,'' said the youngster.

25-year-old Christijan ground out of the Australian grand prix, his debut race, with gearbox trouble.

''I lost second gear, then first,'' he explained. ''I knew when I pitted that it wasn't likely I'd be leaving again.''








Did BAR 'forgive' Button?
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) Have BAR-Honda 'forgiven' Jenson Button for trying to leave the Brackley-based team ahead of 2005?

''I've never actually asked,'' the English F1 driver told UK's The Guardian newspaper.

The 25-year-old did, though, admit that - when he announced the intended (but ultimately thwarted) switch to Williams in August '04 - the atmosphere at BAR become 'a bit difficult.

''That's understandable,'' JB added.

''We didn't go about it in the right way. But a driver's career is not that long -- you have got to choose the correct direction.

''Being second ... isn't good enough.''








Schu's in a good mood
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) Australian GP non-scorer Michael Schumacher is actually in a good mood heading into next weekend's round-two Malaysian grand prix.

The German shunted out of contention at Albert Park, but he took heart in teammate Rubens Barrichello's climb from the midfield to a podium place.

''I wasn't surprised about Renault at all,'' Schumacher, 36, said, referring to the winner.

''But I thought we'd be further back, much further back -- we're using the old car, remember.''

One splash of caution, though, is reserved for the intricacy of the Melbourne layout -- Ferrari 'always' do well Down Under, Michael noted.

He said: ''So it could be completely different in Kuala Lumpur.''








Winning days 'are over' - DC
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) The days when Scotland's David Coulthard lined up on a grand prix grid with a sporting chance to win, are over, the veteran admitted.

''But that doesn't mean I've lost the desire,'' he insisted, following a surprise fourth - and near podium - in Australia.

DC, 33, said the grand prix pace of his Red Bull car was actually 'quicker than Williams'.

''And McLaren had some problems too,'' he remarked.

''I know the car is better than the (2004) Jaguar, and we're not embarrassing ourselves with the Cosworth engine.''








Schu to race Oz engine - team
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.9) Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, who crashed out of the Australian grand prix, will not race a brand new engine in Malaysia.

Team principal Jean Todt said that, even though the move would be allowed under the new engine rule, 'we probably won't (change it).'

The Frenchman told La Gazzetta dello Sport: ''The (new) one ... for Malaysia would have to last for the following race in Bahrain too.

''And these are two very hot venues.''

By plugging ahead in Malaysia, though, a fresh V10 would be ready to go in April's Bahrain GP.

Todt, however, said he wasn't even sure if the Oz-spec had been damaged in the Albert Park shunt with Nick Heidfeld.

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