F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 24, 2005

Schu in imperfect F2005
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.24) Ferrari's new 'F2005' F1 model is not yet perfect, the world champion team has admitted.

It's understood the car, with a reported engine glitch on Rubens Barrichello's earlier Mugello debut, might also still be suffering from overheating.

''Normally we'd have a month or two to sort these things out,'' technical director Ross Brawn, desperate to fast track the car's debut to next weekend, said.

On Wednesday in central Italy, Michael Schumacher - with a fresh V10 fitted - tried the scarlet racer for the first time.

He called F2005 a 'good step.

''I realized immediately that the car is fast,'' the German explained.

Ferrari will decide on Thursday whether F2005, or the less competitive F2004M, will be flown to Bahrain for the April 3 GP.

Bernie did a deal
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.24) F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has agreed an unknown settlement with the trio of disgruntled banks.

An apparent confidentiality agreement prevented the behind-doors outcome to be known, but lawyers told the High Court judge that the case would no longer need to proceed in May.

It's unclear whether Ecclestone, 74, relinquished control, or - perhaps - persuaded the banks to give up their claim for power over Bernie's Formula One Administration.

The banks own 75 per cent of SLEC, F1's holding company.

It is suggested that the deal might prevent a damaging split in F1, precipitated by discontented carmakers including BMW, Mercedes and Renault.

But a GPWC spokesman insisted: ''(This) doesn't change our strategy.''

BAR on top in France
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.24) BAR's Anthony Davidson led a field of eight as grand prix testing moved to the south of France (Paul Ricard) on Wednesday.

The Englishman, 25, sat atop a hard-working field, including test driver colleagues for McLaren, Renault and Toyota, including Olivier Panis.

Finland's Heikki Kovalainen got his first taste of the race-winning Renault R25, while Franck Montagny steered another.

''We have two 2005 cars available to the test team extremely early,'' chief test engineer Christian Silk noted.

McLaren, in contrast, plugged away with two older MP4-19B's.

Finn to be Renault 'reserve'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.24) It's not inconceivable that Heikki Kovalainen could line up as Formula One's next 'Flying Finn' at the Canadian or US grands prix.

The 23-year-old, victor over Michael Schumacher in the latest 'Race of Champions', will apparently travel to the circus' North American double-header as Renault's 'reserve' driver.

Usual suspect, Frenchman Franck Montagny, has been given permission to contest fabled Le Mans.

Kovalainen will contest GP2 in 2005.

''I haven't been officially told yet,'' he clarified to Autosport whilst testing in the south of France.

Liuzzi's haircut
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.24) 'Have you seen Liuzzi's hair?!'

That catchcry was heard more than once during last weekend's Malaysian grand prix.

Red Bull's 'Friday' driver, and probable race starter in April's San Marino GP at Imola, sported an odd mock-Mohawk look.

''I decided I needed it to aid cooling,'' he jokingly told the ITV website, ''and asked for something different.

''I think it worked!''

More seriously, though, the Italian - reigning F3000 champion - struggled a bit at Sepang, and spun off after a failure.

He admitted: ''I was a bit scared, because in Australia I (also) went off.

''Fortunately, they found the (broken suspension).''

McLaren to challenge Renault
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.24) Renault once again looked dominant, but Kimi Raikkonen actually steered the fastest lap in Sunday's Malaysian grand prix.

Race winner Fernando Alonso, in fact, managed only the fourth-best time -- a significant half-second slower than the leading McLaren.

In a grand prix evaluation, though, renaultf1.com said the lap chart 'doesn't tell the whole story.'

Indeed, the best 'ideal' lap - taken by combining fastest sectors - belonged to Spain's Alonso.

But Renault maintains that McLaren, when the MP4-20 gets clear air in a grand prix, will 'have the pace to fight at the front.

''The battle ... will be tighter than ever,'' renaultf1.com predicted.

Full-'Speed'-ahead to F1
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.24) Scott Speed, America's grand prix hopeful, tried F1 power for size at Barcelona on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old tested for Red Bull, perhaps in view of becoming the team's 'Friday' driver if racer Christian Klien is stepped down after Bahrain.

''We're using last year's (Jaguar) to carry out engine testing,'' principal Christian Horner explained.

Switzerland's Neel Jani is also slated to run.

Speed won the inaugural 'Red Bull Search' for an American grand prix driver back in 2002.

He said: ''My dream to compete in Formula One no longer seems so out of reach.''

'Webber will win' - Williams
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.24) Australian driver Mark Webber is capable of winning grands prix.

That's the claim of Sir Frank Williams, boss of the 28-year-old's new Formula One team.

He finished fifth in Australia and crashed in Malaysia, but Frank said the FW27 has 'come a long way' since February and could be a winner later in the 2005 season.

FW added: ''Mark will win when the car can win.

''We've always believed Mark is capable of winning.''

What Williams didn't know prior to Malaysia, however, was quite how good Webber's new teammate, podium-winner Nick Heidfeld, is.

''On Sunday,'' Frank - who'll travel to Bahrain next weekend - continued, ''we saw a very good racing driver operating at the highest level.

''(But) we know we are still some way behind.''

GPWC to settle on name change
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.25) 'GPWC' is soon to be known by a different name, according to a report.

autosport.com said the frontrunner on a shortlist is Grand Prix Racing -- 'GPR' for short.

Why the name change? Because Honda and Toyota are to formally join the carmakers' breakaway group, and Ferrari recently ditched GPWC to unilaterally align with Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA.

It's also reported that leading men from Williams, McLaren, BAR and Minardi are heading up working groups to devise rules, regulations and marketing.

They'll congregate, for a meeting to be chaired by BAR CEO Nick Fry, on April 7 and 8.

Ferrari debut 3-seater F1
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.24) A three-seater Ferrari F1 car appeared for the first time at Fiorano (Italy) on Wednesday.

Similar to Arrows' 2002 concept, the scarlet-painted car features a passenger on each sidepod.

It'll be used for promotional purposes.

McLaren pioneered the multi-passenger F1 idea with their 1998 two-seater, while a similar design is still used by Minardi.

BRDC member arrested
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.24) According to a report, a member of British GP promoter the BRDC was arrested for fraud.

'Motorsport News' magazine said he's accused of forging Club checks to the tune of $560,000.

The British Racing Drivers' Club, owner of the Silverstone grand prix circuit, battled to retain the F1 event during the winter, amid internal wrangling, such as the enforced exit of chairman Ray Bellm.

The report said no charges were laid, but the staff member was fired late last year.

''(A firm) has been instructed to investigate how this ... happened,'' said BRDC chief executive Alex Hooton.

Verstappen on form
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.24) The Netherlands' F1 veteran Jos Verstappen made an instant impression when he tried a Champ Car for the first time on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old former Minardi and Tyrrell driver steered the 'HVM' Lola entry to the third best lap time of the day.

''It's a lot different to a Formula One car,'' Verstappen - in the company of every team except RuSport - reported at Sebring (Florida).

''I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen now.''

Ferrari defend 'old' car call
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.24) Ferrari has defended its decision to start the 2005 season with an 'old' car.

Technical director Ross Brawn explained that the Maranello-based team, off the pace at Melbourne and Sepang, had almost completed the design of the F2005's new transmission when the '05 regulations became clear.

''We realized our transmission and engine package was not very good,'' the Briton told Motorsport News.

''So we needed the extra time.''

Brawn said enforced changes to the diffuser, in particular, made necessary a fundamental shift in engine and gearbox.

He added: ''We decided we didn't have the right package, so we had to start again. Whether it was right, we can judge at the end of the year.''

Did Renault snub test accord?
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.24) Have back-to-back F1 winner Renault thrown the group of nine's 'gentleman's' agreement on testing in the bin?

After the united gang slammed Ferrari's snubbing of the accord, such as by testing simultaneously at two circuits, it appears that Flavio Briatore's title-leading mob did just that on Wednesday.

While Heikki Kovalainen and Franck Montagny ripped up Paul Ricard, Jose Maria Lopez was photographed testing an '04-spec 'R24' at Silverstone.

It's reported, though, that all the young development driver did at the blue-and-yellow car's wheel was a shakedown for the 'demonstration' car.

It'll be used throughout 2005 for street events.

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