F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 11, 2005

Sauber's Massa rubs salt
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Felipe Massa rubbed salt in Sauber teammate Jacques Villeneuve's wounds when he suggested he could have scored points in Melbourne.

Massa, the young Brazilian, started the Australian grand prix from the back of the grid, but - despite off-the-pace Villeneuve's lucky fourth qualifying spot - finished tenth, ahead of the French-Canadian.

The 23-year-old told his website: ''I can't say where I should have finished.

''But for sure, if I'd started a few row further up, I could have collected some points.''

BMW happy with F1 lineup
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) BMW might be piling the pressure on Williams, but at least the German manufacturer is happy with Sir Frank's 2005 driver choice.

With Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya jumping ship, the wheelchair bound principal signed up Australia's Mark Webber, and - on BMW's advice - Nick Heidfeld.

''I have a high opinion of both,'' motor sport director Dr Mario Theissen told Williams' website.

''They're fast and committed, so I wouldn't be surprised if they're hailed a positive surprise at the end of the year.''

Brace for 'open' battle
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) F1 can expect a 'very open' 2005 championship, Ferrari's Jean Todt predicted.

But that doesn't mean the Frenchman enjoyed seeing a shaken-up grid, Michael Schumacher crash, and Rubens Barrichello make the best of a bad situation with second in Australia.

''I hope for us, in the future, the races are less lively and difficult,'' he smiled.

Todt admitted that the 'old' F2004M car is not the fastest on the grid, not to mention Renault's apparent lightening pace.

He added: ''We know that (race winner Giancarlo) Fisichella is a strong driver.

''I can imagine him winning some more.

''But it's a bit early to say. I'm sure some other teams will become competitive during the upcoming grands prix.''

Jerez: Toyota on top
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Toyota's Ricardo Zonta leapt to the top of the timesheet as F1 test action intensified at Jerez.

The Brazilian, in an older model, outpaced McLaren's Alex Wurz, as BAR, Renault, Williams and Ferrari also laid rubber on the Spanish circuit.

A Renault statement said Jerez is in 'poor condition' while nearby construction work throws dust onto the asphalt.

Finland's Heikki Kovalainen ran in a second blue-and-yellow car, while over at Ferrari, Luca Badoer - for the first time - pitted the new F2005 against its opposition.

The Italian test driver set the 7th fastest time.

Williams' Antonio Pizzonia, meanwhile, ran special Malaysia-spec cooling, and the only race driver on track was Ralf Schumacher.

''I had a few problems in the morning,'' said the Toyota driver, ''so spent much of it in the garage.

''Later, we looked at a few things for Bahrain.''

Jordan man in Oz
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Jordan's departed team manager, Tim Edwards, has re-emerged in Australia.

The long-serving Australian will become 'motor sport director' at Ford Performance Racing, the Dave Richards (Prodrive)-owned V8 Supercar team.

Edwards left Jordan, sold recently by Eddie Jordan to billionaire steel tycoon Alex Shnaider, in December last year.

He'll start at FPR in April.

Tim started in motor sport as an F3 mechanic, later working in sports car racing but joining Jordan for its 1991 debut.

At UK-based Jordan, his role has been filled by another long-serving team man, Andrew Stevenson.

Life's 'easier' without Dave
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) BAR star Jenson Button has admitted that life is 'easier' at the F1 team after David Richards' exit.

Compelled to live out a Brackley contract in 2005, Button, 25, insisted: ''But I don't hate the guy.''

In an interview with F1 journalist Matt Bishop, JB refused to be drawn on whether 'one person' - even a widely lauded team principal - can make or break success.

Richards' former right-hand-man, Nick Fry, is now at the BAR helm.

''(Fry) doesn't seem like he needs to be in the limelight,'' Jenson told F1 Racing magazine.

''He doesn't need to be in front of the cameras all the time.''

Briscoe in a spin
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Life is not easy in the round-and-round world of American 'IRL' racing.

That's the lesson '04 Toyota F1 test driver and Australian Ryan Briscoe is rapidly learning.

Indycar team owner Chip Ganassi, referring to Scott Dixon's similar faux pas last year, fumed after Ryan's Miami-Homestead oval incident: ''A crash on the way to the pits?

''It's getting a bit old.''

Briscoe then shunted again, during the race.

Hotter trial for F1's Indian
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Narain Karthikeyan, admittedly exhausted after his F1 debut in Melbourne last weekend, is bracing for an even tougher challenge.

India's first ever grand prix driver, already in Kuala Lumpur to acclimatize, was expecting a race forecast for Malaysia between 33-35 degrees C.

''It's already hot and humid,'' he told the Indian Telegraph.

''I'm training in the hotel gym four hours a day.''

The 28-year-old Jordan driver, though, picked up a newspaper last night and saw a long-range Malaysian GP weather prediction -- 41 for Sunday.

He said: ''If that's true, it's really going to be taxing.''

Toyota 'lost' - former driver
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Toyota's grand prix team is 'completely lost.'

That is the dire prophecy of Cristiano da Matta, the Brazilian who felt the Cologne-based outfit's boot mid last year.

He told Brazilian newspaper Diario de Sao Paulo that he and Toyota did not gel 'politically.

''I've always spoken my mind, wherever I am.

''But whenever I pointed out a weakness on the car, so the team could work on improving it,'' Cristiano, 31, added, ''people got upset -- everyone was sensitive and insecure.''

The '02 Champ Car champion will return to the US-based open wheeler category this season.

Malaysian rain
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) If you travel to Malaysia next weekend for the grand prix, take a sunhat and an umbrella.

That's the advice of the Sepang track's general manager.

Ahmad Mustafa said the weather around Kuala Lumpur is sunny, hot and windy, but prone to 'sudden' changes and rain.

In Malaysia today, for example, it'll reach a scorching high (35) but also offer a muggy thunder storm or two by sundown.

Moreover, heavy rain is expected early next week, with an up to thirty six-dg. high.

The long range weather forecast also noted a definite chance of a wet GP weekend.

Alonso was Oz's top driver
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) Giancarlo Fisichella kept the punters happy, but Renault teammate Fernando Alonso actually earned the Australian GP 'driver of the day' accolade.

That's the claim of the winning team's engineering chief Pat Symonds, who heralded the 23-year-old Spaniard's climb from midfield to the lowest podium rung.

''(He did) four clear overtaking moves,'' Pat told Reuters, ''and that's normally impossible.

''Giancarlo didn't need to be (driver of the day) -- he was so far ahead.''

Meanwhile, team principal Flavio Briatore insisted there would be no Ferrari-like team orders should Fisichella, of Italy, face Alonso in a title head-to-head.

'No F1 for London' - GP chief
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.11) London cannot land a Monaco-style street grand prix, according to Ron Walker.

The blonde Australian, biggest cheese at Albert Park every March and a key ally of Bernie Ecclestone, said - with Silverstone secured - the F1 calendar won't sustain two British races.

''And it would have been difficult for London to raise the money,'' the Oz GP chairman told F1 Racing magazine.

Walker, author of a Bernie-commissioned feasibility study into the street bid, also claimed that - while the Melbourne GP is crucial for tourism and promotion - London does not need it for either.

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