F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 15, 2005

Tilting point in F1 row
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) Bernie Ecclestone will travel to Malaysia and attempt to quell the F1 teams' 'breakaway' menace.

A meeting will be staged at the grand prix circuit near Kuala Lumpur to 'sort all this out,' Minardi chief and unofficial 'shop steward' Paul Stoddart said.

He said Ecclestone, 74, is - somehow - vowing to appease GPWC.

''I hope he can,'' Stoddart told an Australian 'AAP' report.

PS hinted at a possible deal with the banks' trio, or either Max Mosley's resignation or a commitment that the FIA president will 'stop messing with the regulations.'

And, whispering that the latter was at the core of the Melbourne storm, the Australian insisted that 'everyone' was 'fully aware' of what transpired - including court injunctions and team agreements - last weekend.

Frank's 'a friend' - Button
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) Sir Frank Williams is a 'great friend.'

That's the claim not of Mark Webber, or Nick Heidfeld, but Jenson Button -- the driver whose '05 Grove switch buckled under the will of BAR and the contract recognition board.

''Definitely,'' the 25-year-old said when asked if he might work with Frank again in the future.

''There are always possibilities.''

JB called the wheelchair-bound boss, who signed a teenage Button out of F3 for 2000, a great friend. ''He really is,'' Jenson continued.

''He was one of the first people to phone me on Christmas Day. I hope Webber reads that!

''We'll see if (Frank) phones Mark as well!''

Toyota oppose Honda loophole
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) F1 collaboration BAR-Honda flaunted the 'spirit' of the new two-race engine regulation in Melbourne, according to Toyota.

Honda's staunch Japanese rival hit out at their decision to retire healthy cars in Australia in order to slip through a rule 'loophole.'

''We're against (it),'' said engine technical director Luca Marmorini.

Like BAR-Honda, Toyota - who may have formally asked the FIA for clarification - finished outside the top-eight at Albert Park, but chose to pass the checkered flag.

Marmorini said every team has a responsibility to 'the F1 show.

''(Our action) increases our chance of having a failure in Malaysia,'' the Italian added, ''but this is what we understand by the concept of racing.''

Renault to fly in KL - Alonso
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) If you thought Renault looked mighty in Australia, Fernando Alonso's message is 'you ain't seen nothing yet'.

The Spanish driver, who holidayed in The Maldives last week, said that - more than at stop-start Albert Park - the R25 should scurry around Sepang's high speed layout.

''(Malaysia) is one of the races we are most looking forward to,'' said Alonso, 23.

''I love the track.''

He said the difference between the best and worst car in Melbourne 'is quite small.

''It's the opposite of Sepang,'' Fernando continued.

A1 race for Sydney
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) Sydney is set to host Australia's leg of the F1-like 'A1 grand prix' championship, Alan Jones said.

Williams' 1980 champion, heading up his country's team franchise, told national broadcaster ABC that details would be released later in March.

''We're not really going head to head with F1,'' said the Australian, 58.

''We're going to be running at a time of the year when F1 isn't running.''

Jones' compatriot, Mark Webber, drove a modern Williams across Sydney's fabled Harbour Bridge a week prior to the Melbourne grand prix.

Sepang's 'exciting' - JPM
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) Malaysia's Sepang circuit is a drivers' favorite.

McLaren ace Juan Pablo Montoya said the high speed track near Kuala Lumpur is 'really fun.

''Turns five and six, the fast 'S' section, is really exciting,'' the Colombian - having, in Singapore, completed a strict race preparation - added.

Meanwhile, the team's 'CEO F1' Martin Whitmarsh admitted that McLaren must 'improve our performance' after a disappointing Australian grand prix.

''Hopefully,'' he added, ''(we can) reflect the pace we believe there is in (the) MP4-20.''

Schu - 'I have faith'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) Shunting out of the season opener has given Michael Schumacher an 'extra boost' ahead of the round two Malaysian GP.

''For sure,'' the Ferrari driver said after a short holiday with wife Corinna and manager Willi Weber, ''zero points was not what I expected.''

But the world champion, 36, is adamant that the so-called 'old' F2004M car is 'still competitive.

''Actually, much more than I thought possible,'' Schumacher added.

''I have faith -- we were very consistent in Melbourne. We're ready.''

Liuzzi set for Imola gong
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) According to conventional Paddock wisdom, Red Bull 'Friday' driver Vitantonio Liuzzi will take over Christian Klien's race seat for the April 24 event at Imola.

Team principal Christian Horner admitted that a policy of 'positive competition' was in place at the former Jaguar team.

He told the Sunday Times: ''Christian's reacting to that.

''That seat will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.''

Solid speculation, however, says Austrian-born Klien, 22, and F3000 champion 'Tonio' Liuzzi, will alternate the seat next to David Coulthard on a 3-race basis.

Horner continued: ''To have a fight for the drive is no bad thing.

''(Liuzzi) is extremely talented and you can see Christian's confidence grow.''

Button to wed in August
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) F1 driver Jenson Button will marry fiancÚ Louise Griffiths in August, a British tabloid said.

UK's News of the World newspaper claimed the event would occur near Goodwood, in England.

The couple were engaged in October 2003.

''I want to have three children ... but I would also like to adopt ... as well,'' Griffiths, a budding pop singer, told the Daily Mirror tabloid.

BAR boy to return
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) English driver Jenson Button is playing down BAR's dire showing in the first grand prix of 2005.

The 25-year-old, scathing of the '007' model's pace in the hour or so following the Melbourne race, said the 2004 car also didn't fare well at Albert Park.

''It looks pretty bad,'' he admitted to the Sunday Mirror, ''but we followed (2004) with four consecutive podiums.

''There's no reason we can't do that again.''

In fact, Button claimed that Renault's R25 was the 'only car' clearly quicker - in ultimate speed - in Australia.

Even compatriot and friend David Coulthard 'cannot believe' the Frome-born ace, 'so strong' last season, 'will stay down there for long.'

Minardi men to get new V10
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) Minardi's current Cosworth V10 is not strong enough to last two grands prix.

That's the claim of team rookie Christijan Albers, who qualified for a Malaysian engine change by grinding out of the Australian GP.

''But we would've probably changed it anyway,'' the Dutchman told f1racing.net, ''because our old engine might struggle to last two races.''

Minardi, plugging on with the hurriedly modified '04 contender, must wait until late April for the new 'PS05' car and Red Bull-spec Cosworth unit.

Christijan revealed that teammate Patrick Friesacher's black Minardi will also be fitted with a new V10, even though he finished at Albert Park and will cop a grid penalty.

Red Bull negate knockers
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) Albert Park proved that Red Bull Racing is 'serious' about Formula One.

31-year-old Christian Horner, the youngest principal in pitlane, argued in UK's The Sun that Dietrich Mateschitz did not buy Jaguar just 'for publicity.'

''Some people did question (us),'' he admitted.

''The result in Melbourne,'' Horner - referring to David Coulthard's fourth and seventh for teammate Christian Klien - ''was just the start we needed.''

He also revealed that Coulthard sent a letter back with Horner to Milton-Keynes (England), which the chief read to HQ staff.

So -- same again at Sepang? ''It'll be a tall order to repeat (Australia),'' CH smiled.

Heating up at Sepang
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) The F1 engine faces an unprecedented challenge in Malaysia this weekend.

BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen said F1 manufacturers, for the first time, head to hot, humid Sepang - near Kuala Lumpur - with worn V10s.

''And we're expecting a very hot, hot race,'' the German said.

He added by email: ''We had no problem ... in Melbourne -- but this challenge will be different.''

Theissen said teams will have put in place additional cooling for Malaysia -- like bigger or more air intakes, slits in bodywork, and fans in the pit connected to dry ice.

Meanwhile, Toyota's engine man, Luca Marmorini, revealed that the team simulated Malaysian heat in a Cologne dyno.

Expect a closer race - Fisi
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.15) Ferrari and McLaren should be 'much stronger' in Malaysia, Melbourne winner Giancarlo Fisichella warned.

''Let's see what happens,'' said the Roman.

Still, 32-year-old Fisichella is expecting the mighty R25 to again be a front-of-the-grid pretender.

But he warned: ''If rain doesn't play a part, I'm sure Malaysia will be a lot closer.''

Likewise, Renault's Pat Symonds - who stood on the Albert Park podium - agrees that Australia didn't show the 'true form' of some players.

''The picture may change,'' he cautioned. ''It won't take much for the pendulum to swing.''

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