F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 10, 2005

Schu in Malaysia
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.10) F1's Michael Schumacher played football in Malaysia on Wednesday.

Ahead of next weekend's grand prix near Kuala Lumpur, the seven time world champion played - and scored - against a 'village youth' team.

The 36-year-old Ferrari driver's teammates? Resort workers, according to Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times, which reported a crowd of 1000.

Later, the German departed on a Harley Davidson.

''We've seen him cycling in the evening,'' said a villager in Dangun, ''but he never speaks to or smiles at us.''

'Just rubbish' - Stoddart
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.10) Paul Stoddart has struck back at Australian GP chief Ron Walker's claim that the Minardi principal should leave F1.

The Australian-born team owner said he and Walker 'are great mates.

''So it's a shame he said that.''

Walker is no doubt siding with ally Bernie Ecclestone, and therefore FIA president Max Mosley, following the political furor in Melbourne last weekend, and the resultant threat against the Oz race.

Stoddart said Ron should have 'left ... this sh*t' behind after the Albert Park gantry cried 'go' for the Melbourne event.

''I was prepared to do that,'' said Paul. ''This is just rubbish.''

Ferrari team R&R
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.10) Ferrari's traveling F1 team will spend the week in sunny Kota Kinabalu ahead of the upcoming Malaysian grand prix.

On the agenda for the 100-strong army of mechanics, engineers and technicians, is a climb up Mount Kinabalu, white water rafting, and R&R on the Tunku Abdul Rahman beach.

The grand prix (March 18-20) will be held at Sepang, near Kuala Lumpur.

It's also reported that Jordan's 'Friday' driver Robert Doornbos - a Dutchman - is also already in Malaysia.

''I'm here with my trainer,'' he said.

Trulli's Toyota tire trouble
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.10) Not everyone got away with F1's new single-tire regulation at Albert Park.

Although neither supplier reported a problem, Toyota's Mike Gascoyne said Jarno Trulli suffered with a badly blistered right rear Michelin.

The technical director added: ''As soon as he went out (after a pit stop) ... the rear tire just gave up.

''It cleared up as it wore down,'' he told Autosport, ''but he was knackered by then.''

Gascoyne did admit, however, that Italian-born Jarno 'pushed like hell' whilst running second in the first stint.

He also insisted that a podium, later in the season, is still possible.

BAR may race old engines
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.10) Despite using the DNF rule loophole in Melbourne, BAR-Honda may not actually install new engines for the Malaysian grand prix.

The F1 team's controversial last-lap tactic, theoretically, cleared the path for exclusion from the 2-race regulation.

But it's reported that a spokesperson said fitting fresh V10s for Jenson Button and Takuma Sato remained a mere 'option.

''We will not decide (until later),'' the spokesperson was quoted.

But Honda racing president Shoichi Tanaka - opposed to the 2-race rule - told Italian paper Gazzetta dello Sport that a decision had indeed been made.

The Japanese said: ''We've decided to change the engines. I am certain ... many will follow our example.''

Red Bull and Honda
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.10) Red Bull's F1 team is close to landing an engine deal with Honda for 2006.

The Japanese manufacturer's project leader, Takeo Kiuchi, denied a deal was done but said 'some teams' are interested in a customer program.

He said he'd 'prefer' that Honda concentrate exclusively on BAR, the team 45% owned by Honda.

But the carmaker would offer a V8 engine 'in the best interests of the sport,' Kiuchi added, and for the 'independent teams,' he said, according to Autosport.

A Honda deal would cut fledgling Red Bull's Cosworth engine deal in half, it is expected.

The team, though, is definitely not counting every penny.

A party in Melbourne cost Red Bull $1.2m euro, and the Anglo-Austrian team spent around the same on the painting and re-painting of Jaguar's old trucks.

'I can live without F1' - EJ
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.10) Giancarlo Fisichella's Australian grand prix win was a dream come true.

A text message from the Italian's former boss, Eddie Jordan, to Fisichella - via manager Enrico Zanarini - read: 'I had a dream you got pole position and won the race.'

Jordan, in Dubai for a holiday while the circus raced Down Under, said he regretted not putting a bet on -- some punters reported winning odds of around 15 to 1.

He said Fisichella - a Roman - 'needs to be ... loved' by his employer.

''I think,'' the Irishman told Reuters, ''he's back with a team that can do that.''

Melbourne was the first grand prix in decades not watched by EJ. ''Now I know I can live without (F1),'' he said, ''but I don't want to.''

BAR's new front wing
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.10) BAR will unveil a new front wing at the Malaysian grand prix, in a bid to recoup the aerodynamic shortfall exposed in Melbourne.

Technical director Geoff Willis said the Sepang-spec would be the fourth wing design since the launch of the disappointing '007' model.

He commented: ''We need to do more ... running to identify what the car's ... characteristics are.''

Willis did, however, hint that the main problem is the car's reluctance to put heat into the tire.

''Our car performance was not up to the standard we have come to expect,'' CEO Nick Fry agreed.

JV/Sauber pairing on skid-row
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.10) The fledgling Sauber and Jacques Villeneuve-pairing is on the road to disaster, if the Australian grand prix is any indication.

In his first race for the team, the Canadian and '97 champion lapped well off teammate Felipe Massa's pace, dropping five places on the first lap alone.

''I'd rather not comment,'' said a clearly disappointed Peter Sauber.

He added: ''Villeneuve isn't saying much.

''In certain phases of the race he had some problems -- and that's all he's told us.''

Still, the Swiss team's owner admitted that the time difference between Massa and 33-year-old JV at Albert Park was 'big.'

Jordan 'will win' - chief
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.10) Grand prix team Jordan-Midland 'will win,' Trevor Carlin has insisted.

The new F1 'sporting director' is confident that, given the team's past success with Eddie Jordan at the helm, and even with new management, the 'guys know how to (win).

''That's the difference (between Jordan and) so many teams,'' he told Autosport. ''Even bigger ones.''

Forget it, though, if you think the yellow-clad outfit - although now owned by a billionaire - can climb the podium in 2005, Carlin warned.

He said Midland is concentrating on next year's car, in collaboration with Dallara.

Ferrari in decline - Button
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.10) Ferrari's day of dominance may be over, according to Jenson Button.

BAR's English driver said winter testing and the Australian grand prix indicate a 'clear downward trend' for the scarlet champions.

''And it's not just because of the new rules,'' he told an interview with Germany's Bild.

And, although his own team didn't shine at Albert Park - and JB tried to switch to another unimposing outfit last season - 25-year-old Button said he wouldn't necessarily join the Prancing Horse if Jean Todt came knocking.

He insisted: ''I want to be where I can be world champion.

''If (Ferrari) were to no longer offer that possibility, then it would appear less attractive (an option).''

Ralf defends big brother
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.10) Ralf Schumacher has defended brother Michael following the champion's clash in Melbourne.

Compatriot Nick Heidfeld pointed the finger of blame, and the German media lashed out at 36-year-old Schumacher, invoking memories of the Ferrari driver's on-track past.

''He doesn't surrender one centimeter of track without a fight,'' Ralf, 29, agreed in newspaper Bild.

''He'll always go to the limit when he's in the car -- but not at any price.

''Michael would never do something to deliberately endanger himself or his competitor.''

Schu Jr suggested that his seven time drivers' championship-winning sibling is 'so successful' because he's 'hard on himself' and rivals.

Ralf insisted: ''But he's not unfair.

''And I doubt Heidfeld would have done anything differently.''

Another F1 street demo
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.10) Grand prix duo Felipe Massa and Jacques Villeneuve will drive their F1 cars in Kuala Lumpur this Sunday.

The Sauber pair are set to fly into the city on Thursday, Malaysia's Star newspaper reported, ahead of the London and Melbourne-like street demo.

And, on Saturday, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will launch Sauber oil and engine backer Petronas' celebration of a decade in F1.

Elsewhere, it's reported that, in August, Dutch rookie Christijan Albers and a Minardi PS04B will be stars of yet more F1 street action, in Rotterdam (the Netherlands).

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