F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 17, 2005

Karthikeyan 'worried'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.17) What's got Indian F1 rookie Narain Karthikeyan a 'little bit worried'?

According to Jordan physio Gerard Gray, the 28-year-old - and Portuguese teammate Tiago Monteiro - 'realized' after Melbourne that they needs to 'prepare even more' for Malaysia.

''It's the most physical race of the year,'' he said.

''Every day, (they) were in the gym.''

Karthikeyan said he walked the Sepang circuit this week and was struck by the humidity.

Meanwhile, Monteiro - also 28 - stayed in Australia in the two-week break to get over a cold.

Indy 'safer' for F1 pilots
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.17) A Ralf Schumacher-like shunt at Indianapolis should never re-occur.

The Motor Speedway said it has installed a 200-foot 'SAFER' barrier at the oval's turn one -- turn 13 of the grand prix layout.

There, last year, Schumacher backed into the concrete at more than 300km/h and subsequently sat out several races with fractured vertebrae.

A statement said the barrier would 'add protection for (F1) drivers,' and Indy's director of engineering Kevin Forbes claimed that SAFER is a 'vast improvement' over bare concrete.

Report 'untrue' - Bridgestone
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.17) Bridgestone have denied speculation it is 'unhappy' with Formula One partner Ferrari.

A report on Wednesday claimed the Japanese marque felt let down by Jean Todt because the French principal declined to send a race driver back to Europe for pre-Malaysia tire testing.

''It's totally untrue,'' said Bridgestone's F1 media delegate Adrian Atkinson.

''We are happy with the feedback we receive from Ferrari's three test drivers.

''Of course we welcome confirmation from the race drivers but Ferrari's testing plans are an issue for the team.''

Luca Badoer continued testing the new F2005 at Fiorano on Wednesday, and later traveled to Mugello - also in Italy - for Thursday's running.

Renault lose key member
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.17) A key F1 team member has left Renault.

Deputy managing director Bernard Dudot 'decided to retire,' a statement read, 'with the full agreement of Patrick Faure and Flavio Briatore.'

Rob White, engine technical director, and Andre Laine will fill the gap as 'joint' deputy MDs at Viry-Châtillon (France).

''(Bernard) re-joined Renault at a critical time,'' said president Faure, ''and played a key role.

''I'm sure his retirement will be extremely active!''

Sato's swipe at FIA
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.17) Takuma Sato has taken a swipe at the FIA.

The BAR driver, who - like teammate Jenson Button - struggled for pace in Australia, begged the governing body to 'put speed back' into F1.

''We don't even go as fast as we can in qualifying,'' he told a press conference in KL.

Not only did the new engine/aero/tire code hinder the 2005 tempo, but Sato - the fluently English-speaking Japanese - said new aggregate qualifying is also not a flat-out contest.

''We run low fuel in the first session,'' he remarked, ''but you also have to consider the tires and the full fuel load on race day.

''We, like other teams, have suffered.''

Sepang, though, might be a different story for the Honda-powered team. ''I was surprised by how much our car lacked speed (in Melbourne),'' 'Taku' admitted.

'Fisi' eying biggest prize
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.17) Forget a back-to-back win -- Giancarlo Fisichella's got his eye on an even bigger prize.

'Of course,' the Roman answered when asked if the Melbourne winning Renault R25 is good enough to do it again at Sepang.

''We have a good feeling for the championship.

''I will try my best to qualify on top and win again,'' the 32-year-old vowed.

Luck and rain, though, played an undoubted part in Giancarlo's Aussie feat -- heat and humidity, in Malaysia, will surely join in.

So, too, will the Italian's Spanish teammate, Fernando Alonso. ''Sepang is one of my favorite tracks,'' he told the media in Kuala Lumpur.

''And the best cars come right to the front here.''

Kimi 'chilling out'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.17) How did '03 Malaysian grand prix winner Kimi Raikkonen spend the week leading into Sunday's race?

''Just chilling out, playing golf, spending time with my wife,'' the Finn, who touched down in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, told the local 'Star' newspaper.

He also settled on a British F3 driver for his co-owned 'Raikkonen Robertson' racing team -- Dan Clarke.

The other is Bruno Senna, nephew of Brazil's late world champion.

''When we looked at all the future prospects,'' said Kimi, 25, ''Dan stood out of the pack.''

While on the topic of F1 drivers' own junior teams, Giancarlo Fisichella named an Italia F3000 teammate for Luca Filippe -- Alessandro Ciompi.'

BAR 'won't be penalized'
Kuala Lumpur (GMMf1NET -- Mar.17) Notwithstanding the FIA's 'loophole' rule clarification, BAR will race new engines in the Malaysian grand prix.

A spokeswoman dismissed speculation that the Honda-powered team could be penalized for breaking the rule due to an action taken prior to the re-interpretation.

The FIA's statement said, from now, an engine change is only allowed at a subsequent grand prix if the DNF was 'beyond the control' of the driver.

However, a spokesman for the governing body suggested it would be a matter 'for the stewards' if Jenson Button or BAR teammate Takuma Sato tackled Sepang with fresh V10s.

German brawl after Oz clash?
Kuala Lumpur (GMMf1NET -- Mar.17) Nick Heidfeld laughed at a suggestion that he and Michael Schumacher nearly came to blows following their Australian clash.

''That's complete rubbish,'' said Williams' German, who pointed the finger at Schumacher after trying to overtake him in the season opener.

He added: ''It was a racing incident.

''We have a good relationship -- actually, we haven't even spoken to each other about it yet.''

27-year-old Heidfeld, though, couldn't help but note that Ferrari is 'no longer' the dominance force in grands prix.

'''But the real question,'' Nick suggested, ''is 'when will they debut their new car?' ''

He said his own FW27 will wear a few aerodynamic tweaks in Malaysia.

''Actually (in Australia) we were faster than we expected,'' Heidfeld insisted.

''We are reasonably competitive.''

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