F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 16, 2005
FIA close BAR loophole
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) F1's governing body has closed a two-race engine
rule 'loophole' exploited by BAR in Melbourne.
An FIA spokesman said 'a distinction will now be made' between an
accidental DNF and a BAR-like decision to park healthy cars on the
As the clarification came post-Melbourne, it is not believed Jenson
Button or Takuma Sato would be penalized for running a fresh engine in
But the FIA spokesman insisted that, should a BAR-like anomaly be
identified in the future, 'we will require the team ... to explain the
circumstances (of the retirement).'
Meanwhile, joining Toyota in criticizing BAR and the loophole, are
Sauber technical director Willy Rampf and Renault's Pat Symonds.
''It is not good for the sport,'' said Rampf, ''or the spectator.''
Pat Symonds branded the loophole 'ridiculous.'
Toyota could 'surprise'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) Only 'a matter of time' stands between Toyota and
a points-scoring finish in 2005, according to team driver Ralf
The German said 'sheer bad luck' with the weather and a seat-belt
drama put him down in Australia.
''It was a missed opportunity,'' Ralf, 29, added.
''My first drive for Toyota was extremely encouraging, also in terms
of car performance.''
Meanwhile, the TF105 car will get a new front wing at Sepang, team
technical director Mike Gascoyne confirmed.
Schumacher's Italian teammate, Jarno Trulli, is also confident. ''With
the new regulations,'' he said, ''we could see some surprises this
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) F1 rookie Christijan Albers has a new sponsor --
Dutch magazine 'Veronica'.
The Minardi driver, 25 - also from The Netherlands - will wear the
weekly's logo on his orange helmet, a team statement said.
''Through our sponsorship,'' editor-in-chief Peter Contant remarked,
''we express our trust in (Christijan's) talent.''
'Ferrari not fastest' - Brawn
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) Although the 'old' car will race again in
Malaysia, Ferrari is plugging away with testing of the shining
At Fiorano (Italy) on Tuesday, Luca Badoer clocked up an impressive
best time of 57.936, despite a former regulation prohibiting F1
testing in the week prior to a race.
A source within a grand prix outfit explained that the preceding
rulebook flew out the window when every team (except Ferrari) shook
hands on the 'gentleman's agreement.'
Technical director Ross Brawn, meanwhile, admitted that - given the
substantial rule changes - running with an old car is a 'bigger
compromise' than in earlier years.
''We may not have the fastest car,'' the Englishman conceded, ''(but)
we are still competitive.
''And we know that F2005 is a big step forward.''
'Bernie must save F1'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) 'Master broker' Bernie Ecclestone can save F1
That's the hope of nine teams' unofficial spokesman, and Minardi
chief, Paul Stoddart.
Given the threat of a carmakers' breakaway, he said in Sydney on
Tuesday that the 74-year-old impresario 'is the only one who can unite
The biggest issue, Stoddart suggested, is Max Mosley - FIA president -
who is 'politically unacceptable' to GPWC.
Every team, except Ferrari, will meet with Ecclestone - apparently
with 'something' to offer - in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
But Paul warned that the 'only way' to avert a 2008 split is if Mosley
and Ferrari 'come back to the table.'
Another woman on track to F1
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) Another girl racer is on F1's right track.
Keiko Ihara, a former Japanese model, will next month debut in British
Formula 3 -- the last leap to the grand prix grid for men like Takuma
Sato and Jenson Button.
''I dream of running on the same track (as) Michael Schumacher,''
Ihara, 31, said in an AFP report.
She'll drive for Carlin, the team owned by new Jordan chief Trevor
Ihara added: ''Motor sport is still very much a man's world. But I
don't feel any handicap.''
Schu at 'ice' gala
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) How will Michael Schumacher spend Thursday
evening in Kuala Lumpur?
The seven time world champion is slated to attend an 'ice'-themed
dinner at the Mandarin Oriental ballroom, in the company of the royal
family and Prime Minister.
Carmen Electra, Jackie Chan, Jean Todt and partner Michelle Yeoh,
Kiss' Gene Simmons and the Black Eyed Peas will also attend, a local
''We are completely sold out,'' said a spokesman.
Schumacher's F1 rivals, including Mark Webber, Jacques Villeneuve and
Narain Karthikeyan, should also be there, we can reveal.
Sauber won't sizzle at Sepang
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) Sauber's driving duo have been talking
enthusiastically about an innovative cooling system aboard the new C24
''It's a good one,'' Felipe Massa revealed at yet another promotional
event for Malaysian sponsor Petronas in Kuala Lumpur.
The Brazilian said: ''We've run it in the tunnel and the car
maintained most of its downforce.''
Separately, Jacques Villeneuve - asked about the heat and humidity
expected at Sepang - bragged about the 'very good' system.
''I just hope the others don't have one,'' the Canadian smiled.
Elsewhere in town, Jordan's Narain Karthikeyan - the first Indian in
F1 - openly wondered if he's fit enough for the physically tortuous
''Maybe I am not,'' he admitted in a local newspaper.
''But I am fast enough and I hope I can extend my stay in F1.''
Ferrari upset Bridgestone?
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) According to speculation in the Italian media,
Ferrari tire supplier Bridgestone is unhappy.
With the Maranello based team now full-throttle on a potential Bahrain
debut for F2005, Bridgestone asked for either Michael Schumacher or
Rubens Barrichello to return to Europe prior to Malaysia to help
develop the car's new, bespoke, tire.
But Jean Todt said no; Schumacher duly holidayed in south Malaysia,
and Barrichello home in Brazil -- leaving Luca Badoer and Marc Gene to
''Badoer and Gene are really good guys,'' 32-year-old Rubens said in
Malaysia on Tuesday, ''and it means we could take a break after
''That's important ahead of a long season.''
Barrichello and Schumacher, however, will return to Europe after
Sunday's Sepang race to try F2005 for the first time.
A wet Malaysian GP?
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) The chance that rain will affect the weekend's
Malaysian grand prix is rising, a weather report said.
It's a cloudy and dry 34-degrees C on Wednesday, but despite similar
heat, scattered thunderstorms will now almost certainly affect first
Rain is less likely on Saturday, but a shower or two could fall on
both qualifying and the grand prix, the report added.
''Even in a tropical rainstorm,'' Michelin's Pierre Dupasquier
explained on Monday, ''the track temperature at Sepang can be more
Mexico, Brazil for 'A1'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) The American continent's Mexico and Brazil will
field teams in the new 'A1' world cup category.
Mexican Champ Car (and future F1) driver Mario Dominguez showed off
the specially-liveried open wheeler on the old grand prix track in
A1 founder Sheikh Maktoum, in Mexico, also announced that Brazilian
football legend Ronaldo had bought the Brazilian franchise.
''It's an honor to represent Brazil in any way I can,'' Ronaldo said
in a statement.
A1 will kick off at Brands Hatch (UK) in September.
Indian to Bahrain
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) After Sunday's F1 grand prix, Narain Karthikeyan
will travel straight from Malaysia to Bahrain.
The first ever Indian in F1 has agreed a one-day visit to promote the
upcoming grand prix there.
He'll meet with 2000 children from Indian schools.
''I'm thrilled,'' he told newspaper Gulf Daily News, ''(to meet
people) from India who've made Bahrain their home.''
C24's the problem - JV
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) Sauber's biggest problem was a lack of winter
running, struggling team driver Jacques Villeneuve has insisted.
The '97 champion, hazily criticized by Peter Sauber after trailing the
pace in Melbourne, pointed to 'problems' honing the C24 car.
''We still don't fully understand (it),'' he claimed. ''We had weather
problems (in testing), the car breaking.
''F1 is like any other sport -- training is the key. We just haven't
done enough with C24.''
33-year-old Villeneuve, in Malaysia, acclimatized to the hotter
weather on Australia's Gold Coast. ''I did a lot of jogging on the
beach,'' he told his website.
''I got a bit sunburned, I must admit!''
Give F1 rulebook 'more time'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) Give F1's radical rulebook more time.
That's the suggestion of top men from 'big four' grand prix outfits
Renault and McLaren.
Pat Symonds, engineering chief at the former, said - for credibility -
'it's important not to rush into' a change.
''I think we'll get one chance to make a change to qualifying,'' he
said, ''and we've not yet seen how it works with constant (weather)
'''It's still too early to make a judgment, even if I think there are
tweaks to be made.''
McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh, similarly, pointed out the 'extraordinary'
circumstances in Australia, and a subsequent need to wait a couple
''Then,'' the team CEO said, ''we'll have a fuller understanding of
how (it) will operate.''
What's wrong with McLaren?
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) What's wrong with McLaren?
With the possible exception of Red Bull, or BAR, most teams performed
true to winter form at last weekend's Australian GP.
But McLaren, earmarked as a possible contender for Ferrari and
Renault, never truly shone on the Albert Park layout.
''I agree,'' said Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn.
''McLaren left me a bit puzzled.
''I'm sure their car is very strong, but in the race they never quite
''Why? No idea.
''But I certainly don't expect it to stay that way. Their car is very,
Stoddart vows quiet weekend
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.16) Minardi will not play Melbourne-like political
hardball at the Malaysian GP, Paul Stoddart has vowed.
The Australian businessman dominated the pre-race headlines last
weekend, when embroiled in off-track theatre involving Ferrari,
stewards, the FIA and a Supreme Court.
''We won't have problems this time,'' the Faenza-based team's owner
and principal promised at a news conference in Sydney.
''It's all been well highlighted and what we need to do is leave the
politics at the green light.''
Superficially, Stoddart's Albert Park-row hinged on wanting to race an
'illegal' 2004 car, but alleged a wider quarrel with FIA president Max
Mosley over the future of F1.
The resolute PS declared: ''If the price for fixing F1 leads to my
demise, then I'll pay.''
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