F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 22, 2005
Rivals slam Ferrari in letter
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) F1's disgruntled contingent have floored the
throttle in their row with champion team Ferrari.
With the exception of Ferrari-powered Sauber, the 'group of nine'
authored a letter to Luca di Montezemolo condemning Maranello's
'disrespectful' stance on testing.
In an excerpt, and using capital letters, it said Ferrari's recent
tactics - including testing during a GP weekend - have caused 'a COST
The group of nine have vowed to stick to a 'gentleman's' agreement for
2005, where no more than 30-days testing would be done.
Contacted for a response, a Ferrari spokesman insisted that 'it's not
fair' that Bridgestone - allied only to Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi -
do 'much less testing' than rivals.
Team principal Jean Todt, meanwhile, called the continual politicking
''unnecessary. It's a situation we didn't create.''
Webber wins 'supremo' acclaim
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Mark Webber did a 'great job' in Sunday's
Malaysian grand prix.
That's not the claim of Williams' Sam Michael, or partner/manager Ann
Neal, but F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone, clearly impressed with the
Australian's near podium-run.
''It was great to watch -- he showed what he can do,'' the 74-year-old
told the Australian Herald Sun newspaper.
Bernie said: ''He's one of the rising young stars.''
Meanwhile, in the argument with Giancarlo Fisichella over who was to
blame for a Sepang shunt, Webber won the backing of teammate Nick
''It looked like Fisichella had a problem,'' said the German, who
followed the duo on track.
''He went to the inside but braked a bit late and went straight.
''It can happen.''
Firman returns to Japan
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Former grand prix driver Ralph Firman has opted
to return to Japan.
The 29-year-old Jordan star of 2003 will race a Honda NSX in the Super
GT championship -- a category in which he finished runner-up the year
Firman, who did Le Mans and tested the 'A1 grand prix' car, said he
had stuck around in Europe hopeful of lengthening his flirt with F1.
''It was immensely disappointing,'' the Englishman lamented, ''but I
intend to return to single seaters ... (in) 2006, including testing or
racing again in F1.''
Button's still blazing
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Jenson Button, who slammed BAR and Honda when he
exited Sunday's Malaysian grand prix, is no less scathing a day or two
The Englishman, prior to leaving for the Paul Ricard test, called
blowing an engine on lap three 'not good enough.'
You can see his point -- while most of the field plugged ahead with
the same V10 used in Australia, BAR's 'loophole' slide left them
eligible for a fresh unit in Sepang.
''You'd have to say,'' Toyota's Mike Gascoyne tried not to grin, ''you
wonder if they'll have a lot more (problems).''
Button, 25 - and now likely to effortlessly move to Frank Williams'
team for 2006 - added: ''So it's probably the most disappointing race
of my career.
''This shouldn't be happening.''
Button derailed Hakk return
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Mika Hakkinen came within a Button of returning
full time to Formula One.
The double world champion, who retired a McLaren driver in 2001,
revealed in a biography that Frank Williams phoned him on Good Friday
''He offered me a job,'' the Finn immediately informed wife Erja.
The book, called 'Return of the Champion', said Hakk - now 36 and a
little older than Michael Schumacher - met with Williams, but got the
impression another driver had entered the frame.
He was right -- it turned out to be England's Jenson Button, who
'complicated' the matter, Mika said, by becoming embroiled in the CRB
Hakkinen wrote: ''It (wasn't) my thing anymore.
''I'm not going to BAR, Williams or any other team.''
Indian in Bahrain
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) On a fleeting PR visit, an exhausted-looking
Narain Karthikeyan toured Bahrain on Monday -- just a day after
sweating it out in the Malaysian GP.
The Indian caught a peek of the F1 track, to host the big event in
less than a fortnight.
But NK, 28, said that - before then - he'll return to India for the
first time since January.
''The track looks good,'' he told local press, ''and I managed to
check out changes to the track such as in turn four.''
Asked how he felt after the grueling Sepang event, Narain Karthikeyan
''I've been preparing a lot -- up to four or five hours a day.''
Ron - no driver clash, yet
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Right now, there's no 'fire and ice' conflict
down Woking way.
That's the claim of McLaren principal Ron Dennis, who insisted that
Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, and Kimi Raikkonen, are getting along
But he warned: ''If we do have to rope them in a bit, I think it's a
problem we'd welcome.
''But at the moment,'' Ron added, ''they're too busy trying to win to
be spending too much time staring at each other.''
Finland's Raikkonen, 25, however, admitted that it's 'always
important' to end up ahead of the only other driver with the same
''Why? Because he's the only one you can really compare yourself to.
But, really, you need to be beating everybody.
''That's the real goal,'' Kimi said.
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) The Italian media united in condemnation of
Ferrari's form in the Malaysian grand prix.
'La Gazzetta dello Sport' newspaper called Sepang 'a disaster' and the
Prancing Horse 'unrecognizable' in the mist.
'Tuttosport' crowned Renault's Italian chief, Flavio Briatore, and
called the 'old' F2004M car 'outdated.
''Ferrari must go full speed ahead to Mugello,'' the article urged,
''to ready the new car for its debut in Bahrain.''
'La Republica' said dark cloud had descended over Maranello, and
prepared the Tifosi for at least a 'month of suffering.'
'Corriere' laughed at Ferrari's defeat at the hands of Red Bull, while
Spanish newspaper Marca said of Fernando Alonso: 'Here comes the
Germany's Bild, though, devised the biggest insult -- it caricatured
Schumacher as a snail.
Can Red Bull keep it up?
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Red Bull can compete with bigger rivals, even
when their car development goes full steam ahead.
That's the claim of Helmut Marko, who answered veteran driver David
Coulthard's concern that the dark blue RB1 might fall behind
''We're getting an additional thirty horse power or so from Cosworth
around Montreal or Indianapolis (June),'' he explained to Sport am
Austria's Marko, a former GP pilot himself, is racing 'advisor' to Red
Bull Racing team owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
He added: ''We can get even closer to the teams at the front.''
Coulthard, 33, though, warned that 'the same car' will be shipped to
Bahrain, while Ferrari, Renault, McLaren, Williams, BAR and Toyota are
likely to bring some improvements.
He insisted: ''The challenge now is how to keep pace with their
Ferrari's wake up call - Todt
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) Jean Todt confessed Ferrari's lack of pace in
2005 with an analogy.
''If we had got a bit sleepy,'' Maranello's team principal said,
''this will wake us up.
''So it's good.''
The Frenchman admitted even he didn't expect the Bridgestone-shod
package, though, to be quite so far behind.
But he said: ''It's the whole package (to blame) -- we're in this
''Bridgestone are a fantastic partner.''
Meanwhile, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone chimed into the testing row by
- perhaps surprisingly - siding against Todt.
''We're trying to cut (testing) down,'' he said. ''And Ferrari are
doing the opposite.''
BAR face wait for Imola
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.22) England's Jenson Button will have to wait until
Imola for a faster BAR car, we can reveal.
Although technical director Geoff Willis says he's found a fix for the
007's lack of pace, it probably won't be fitted until April's San
''We believe we know what's wrong,'' said Willis, ''and have found
something to unlock the car's true potential.''
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