F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 29, 2005
Tire 'secrets' to Toyota?
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) Michelin has downplayed fears that former project
manager Pascal Vasselon may reveal company 'secrets' to new F1
The French tire supplier's competition director, Pierre Dupasquier,
said he's confident his countryman will 'conduct himself
''He is, and always will be, a first class engineer,'' Dupasquier
In an interview, the Michelin chief also denied that Japanese rival
Bridgestone might succeed in luring back an F1 team or two.
''Unless, of course, financial incentives come into play,'' Dupasquier
''We are very wary -- we have a lot of respect for what (Bridgestone)
''They will make progress.''
'Renault can do hat-trick'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) Renault can make it three from three at the
Bahrain grand prix, last-start winner Fernando Alonso said.
The Spaniard, who won from pole in Malaysia, said - given Giancarlo
Fisichella's Melbourne win - the team is 'on a high.
''It's hard to be certain,'' the 23-year-old said.
''But I expect the tires to again be competitive, and I think we can
continue to be the benchmark for performance.''
Renault, though, didn't show strongly at the very hard-braking desert
location last year.
However, Rome's Fisichella said the R25 is good no matter where it is
tested or raced.
But he warned: ''We don't underestimate anyone -- we will have a fight
on our hands.''
Bernie's still in charge
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) A trio of banks is now in charge of F1, Gerhard
He's a board member at the German Bayerische Landesbank, one third of
the group that wrested control in a settlement last week with Bernie
''(We) will use this influence ... in a constructive and responsible
manner,'' he said in a statement.
Less known, however, is that - despite the deal - 74-year-old Bernie
will likely remain chief executive, ensuring little change on the
It could be that Ecclestone sees the cease-fire as an opportunity to
tempt F1 teams to sign a new Concorde Agreement.
''F1 with Bernie ... is worth far more than without Bernie,'' former
team owner Eddie Jordan told The Telegraph.
Montoya may miss Bahrain GP
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) An injured Juan Pablo Montoya could sit out the
Bahrain grand prix.
Colombia's McLaren driver fell over whilst playing tennis against his
trainer in Spain.
The 29-year-old has a 'hairline fracture' and some tissue damage in
his shoulder, a team spokeswoman - who said a final decision about
Juan Pablo's participation would be made by Thursday - confirmed.
Montoya will undergo a second scan on Tuesday.
If ruled out, the seat would either go to 'Friday' driver Pedro de la
Rosa, or Alex Wurz, for whom McLaren engineers worked on Easter Monday
to accommodate his height.
Given that lanky Wurz has not tested the MP4-20, though, the Austrian
is more likely to take de la Rosa's 'third' car role.
Mrs. Ralf to race in Bahrain
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) Ralf Schumacher's family touched down in Bahrain
over the Easter break.
There, wife Cora - holding the hand of son David at the airport - will
reportedly take to the F1 circuit for a celebrity 'Mini Cooper
''It's an interesting (F1) race,'' 29-year-old Ralf, grand prix pilot
for Toyota, said.
''If the sand from the desert lands on the racing line, you can spin
pretty easily, and (the sand) can overheat the engine.''
Toyota future secure, for now
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) Toyota's maiden podium result could not have been
Technical director Mike Gascoyne said he - and the Cologne based F1
team's other key figureheads - attended a meeting in Tokyo after the
''There were certainly some ... who were beginning to question the
money that was being spent to finish ... eighth,'' he told UK's The
Gascoyne said the post-Sepang meeting was scheduled to 'bang the
''(But) the mood ... changed ... thanks to the result.''
It's reported elsewhere, though, that team principal Tsutomu Tomita
and president John Howett face an uncertain future beyond the end of
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) Grand Prix billionaire Bernie Ecclestone is now
two wheels poorer.
The 74-year-old race 'impresario' had them swiped - causing bodywork
damage - from a brand new Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG V8 outside his home
''They probably think they can sell them,'' Ecclestone said, referring
to the newly-launched, limited edition car, ''but they probably
Bernie, who didn't report the theft to the police and even offered to
pay the bandit for the wheels' return, said the incident was caught on
Ferrari fiasco not all bad
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) Ferrari's fall from F1 grace is not all bad,
technical director Ross Brawn suggested.
The burly Briton said losing the first grands prix of 2005 and having
to accelerate the new car's debut is 'a stimulus.
''I don't think it will do the team and our (Bridgestone) partnership
... any harm to have our arses kicked for a while,'' he told the
British 'Guardian' newspaper.
World champion Michael Schumacher, meanwhile, is not - even with the
F2005 - expecting an easy ride in Bahrain.
''But things can change quickly,'' said the German, who shook down the
Bahrain-destined cars at Fiorano on Saturday, ''as we've seen
Red Bull form 'no fluke'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) Like Renault, F1 rival Red Bull is also eyeing a
Bahraini hat trick.
Although victory is not on the cards, the former Jaguar team attained
an impressive double points-scoring effort both in Melbourne and
''(Sepang) proved the Australian result was no fluke,'' said team
principal Christian Horner.
After Bahrain, Red Bull Racing will return to Europe for a 'testing
and development program,' he added.
''Last year,' recalled 22-year-old Christian Klien of the inaugural GP
in the Middle East, ''we got caught in a sand storm on the way to the
''It was like driving into fog on an Austrian motorway!''
Webber's cracked rib
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) Mark Webber contested the Australian and
Malaysian grands prix with a cracked rib, he revealed.
Williams' 28-year-old told Australasian Motorsport News that he had to
race with the aid of pain killers after doing the damage in February
The magazine reported that an ill-fitting seat, coupled with
Barcelona's high speed sweepers, caused a small fracture - and damaged
cartilage - in the number-5 rib.
Webber sat out last week's test, also at Spain's Circuit de Catalunya,
to fully recover.
Ferrari to cancel F1 run
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) In an apparent conciliatory move, champion team
Ferrari will cancel a planned June test at British grand prix venue
According to the nine teams' 30-day 'gentleman's' test agreement
(which Ferrari refused to sign), testing is prohibited at a venue if
it will host a grand prix within a month.
But Ferrari, despite insisting their own program for 2005 is more
efficient than the group of nine's, now say they'll only run at the
old Northamptonshire airfield with the agreement of everyone else.
A Ferrari source told Autosport: ''Our etiquette is not to gain an
Winning to save Renault
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) A charge to victory should have secured Renault's
future on the F1 grid, Louis Schweitzer said.
He's company chairman, but in April will be replaced by the
cost-cutting savvy Carlos Ghosn, not a lover of motor sport.
But Schweitzer told France's Radio Classique: ''My successor thinks
like me -- if one wins in Formula One, it is necessary to remain
Meanwhile, Renault principal Flavio Briatore said he'd spend 'from now
to the end of the season' deciding whether or not to continue in F1
He told Reuters: ''There is plenty of time to think about (it).''
Sato's back in F1 saddle
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) Takuma Sato will be back in the saddle at the
weekend's Bahrain GP.
The Japanese, who sat out Malaysia with a viral infection, said he
'can't wait' to again race the BAR-Honda around the desert location.
''Last year, at the same race, I had a strong weekend,'' said Sato,
who came fifth to teammate Jenson Button's podium.
Meanwhile, like Toyota, BAR called off the final test day at rainy
Paul Ricard last week.
And Honda, given the fiery embarrassment of Sepang, is 'confident'
there won't be a repeat in Bahrain, engineering director Shuhei
He said: ''We've put a countermeasure in place.''
Pizzonia in wall
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) Williams' tester Antonio Pizzonia was lucky to
walk away from a big shunt at Barcelona's turn nine on Friday.
The Brazilian lost control of the FW27 but Grove said - contrary to
reports - the car sustained 'only minor damage.'
On the same day, over at Paul Ricard in the south of France, Renault -
testing alone - nonsensed BAR's decision to pack up after finding a
damp morning circuit.
''The conditions ... were the best of the week,'' said Christian Silk,
F2005 'amazing' - Barrichello
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) The debut of the new Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain
will return a smile to Rubens Barrichello's face, the Brazilian
After a dismal Malaysian grand prix, he tested F2005 for the first
time at Mugello last week.
''It's amazing through the high speed corners,'' the 32-year-old
driver revealed, ''but also better in almost every area.
''With this car we can really fight the opposition.''
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher won the inaugural Bahrain event by more
than half a lap.
A lot, though, will come down to how Bridgestone - outpaced so far by
Michelin - can improve.
But Barrichello insisted: ''We can't just blame them.''
Klien made to wait
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) Red Bull Racing will decide in Bahrain whether to
ask Christian Klien to move over for a trendy hotshoe from Italy.
But although all signs indicate a changing of the guard, the
impressive Klien, 22, said it's not a foregone conclusion.
''I think I've done a very good job so far,'' he told the German Sport
am Sonntag program.
Christian Horner, Dr Helmut Marko and team supremo Dietrich Mateschitz
will meet after the grand prix to determine if F3000 champion (but F1
rookie) Vitantonio Liuzzi should be given a go from Imola.
Klien added: ''It's obvious that I would like to stay where I am.
''But it's not my decision. I've got to wait.''
Stop changing Quali - Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) The biggest problem with qualifying is not the
That's the argument of world champion Michael Schumacher, despite
condemnation - and calls for further change - in the Paddock of a
complicated, dull layout.
He points out that the real issue is just how often F1's
grid-determining session is changed.
Since 2002, it's undergone a shake-up four times.
''It's impossible to please everyone,'' the Ferrari driver, 36, noted.
''On the other hand, it's always easy to complain.
''I think the biggest problem is that we keep changing (the system).''
No engine deal yet - Sauber
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) Despite speculation of an imminent BMW deal,
Peter Sauber says he hasn't yet signed an engine supply contract for
And, further dampening the BMW talk, the Swiss revealed discussions
with 'BMW, Toyota and Ferrari.'
Sauber have been Ferrari-powered since 1997.
''Nothing has changed,'' he told Autosport when asked for an update on
the power situation.
''I would not expect any decision within the next two weeks.''
Schu defends Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.29) Ralf Schumacher has leapt to the defense of elder
Toyota's German driver said the local media's lambasting of
Schumacher, 36 - after another poor showing in the Malaysian GP - was
''As a driver, there's little you can do in that situation,'' said
''He didn't do anything wrong -- Ferrari did.''
But, nonetheless, 'Schu Jr' won't be putting a single cent on Big
Brother cruising to a sixth consecutive drivers' title.
He said: ''Renault is already too far ahead.''
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