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F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
March 31, 2005


FIA call for April summit
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) F1's technical regulations will stay the same until the end of 2007, the world motor sport council ruled.

The FIA body met in Paris on Wednesday, deciding that - for example - the proposal to kick a tire supplier off the grid would not be implemented.

In a statement, all teams were also invited to discuss the potential 2008 rulebook on April 15, despite their recent snubbing of a similar summit and consternation about how the sport is governed.

''The new regulations (will) be published ... no later than December 31 2005,'' the FIA vowed.








Sauber accept some blame
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) Sauber has accepted at least some of the blame for Jacques Villeneuve's dire full-time return to Formula One.

Peter Sauber admitted that, despite a whiz new wind tunnel at Hinwil HQ, the C24 car is not generating enough grip.

''I was delighted because at our first test with Michelin in November,'' said the Swiss, ''we were fast (with the old car).

''Unfortunately we're missing grip -- we're therefore not using the tires to full effect.''

The team owner, who has attended 197 of Sauber's 199 grands prix to date, confirmed that wind tunnel work is feverish back at base.

Sauber concluded: ''(Finding more grip) will mean the drivers don't have to play so much with the setup.''








No scarlet 'panic' - Ferrari
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) Ferrari has denied it panicked after a Malaysian GP thrashing.

Since then, the Maranello-based team fast tracked the new F2005's debut to Bahrain, despite an original Barcelona (8 May) plan.

''Everyone's working as methodically as ever,'' said technical manager Nigel Stepney.

He added: ''Nobody is panicking.

''We know the importance of being strong.''

Undoubtedly, though, the crew wearing scarlet look set to be the most stressed in the desert setting near Al Manama.

To help them adjust to a brand new racer, though, some team members didn't travel to Malaysia, but instead worked on the new car's test program.

Stepney revealed: ''Therefore we should encounter less surprises.''








Australia and racing
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) Australia has stepped into world motor sport's limelight.

Not only has Champ Car team Walker Racing been bought and renamed Team Australia, 1980 F1 champion Alan Jones unveiled the Australian 'A1' entry in Sydney.

Sheikh Maktoum's 'World Cup' championship is also slated to race at the 'Eastern Creek' track west of the city, while Jones' son - Christian - is expected to take the green and gold car's wheel.

Aussie neighbor New Zealand will also get an A1 franchise, Maktoum said.

''Melbourne has F1,'' Jones noted, ''the Gold Coast has Indy and Adelaide has the (Supercar) 500.

''I think it'd be good to have A1 in Sydney.''








Ferrari 'bold' - Bridgestone
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) Beleaguered F1 supplier Bridgestone has hailed Ferrari's 'bold' decision to race the new car in Bahrain.

The Japanese marque admitted it was to blame for the champions' miserable performance so far in 2005, despite the fact that Ferrari plugged ahead with the 'old' car.

Ferrari's sparkling F2005 will race on new rubber in the sandy setting near Al Manama.

But technical manager Hisao Suganuma warned: ''This is only the (new car's) debut race.

''We will undoubtedly extract more and more potential ... as it runs over the rest of the season.''







F1 'jewelry' banned - FIA
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) F1's governing body has banned the wearing of jewelry, such as earrings, whilst driving.

A spokesman said the 'immediate' ban, apparently proposed by the FIA medical commission, was ratified at the world motor sport council summit in Paris.

The ban, including heavy chains like that worn by Red Bull 'third' driver Tonio Liuzzi, would also apply to world rally and other pilots, a statement added.

Red Bull's Christian Klien wears an earring, while world champion Michael Schumacher always drives with a sentimental 'amulet' around his neck.

The FIA also vowed to adopt World Anti-Doping Agency rules for F1 and other motor sport.








Red Bull suggest Sauber loan
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) Two more names have been added to speculation that Sauber may dump Jacques Villeneuve.

Red Bull's Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Dieter Mateschitz, who bought Jaguar from Ford late last year, said he'd loan one of his youngsters to Peter Sauber if his old chum came knocking.

The Red Bull magnate used to own a chunk of Sauber.

He told Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell: ''Villeneuve might suddenly regain his old form ... but the possibility (of a loan) exists.

''I would definitely consider it.''

Red Bull appear determined to alternate Klien and Liuzzi alongside David Coulthard in 2005, although if Klien is moved aside, he's too qualified to take up the 'Friday' job.

It's also suggested that Red Bull would like to put American Scott Speed into the 'third' car for June's Indy GP.

DM added: ''We want both (Liuzzi and Klien to be) fully serviceable ... next year.''








'I can win again' - Fisi
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) Giancarlo Fisichella has touched down in Bahrain aiming 'to win.'

''We've done it twice already,'' said Renault's Roman, the Melbourne winner who - in Malaysia - controversially ran into Mark Webber.

Fisichella, 32, urged Italian fans, in local magazine La Gazzetta dello Sport, to support him.

''I don't want to rob Ferrari of fans,'' he insisted, ''it's just that I think Italians should back an Italian.''

In Fisichella's home town next Sunday, he - and test driver Franck Montagny - will steer blue-and-yellow R24s around the Circus Maximus stadium.

He smiled: ''I hope I'll be doing it as a winner!

''I never dreamed I'd drive an F1 car on the streets of Rome.''








A1 'not serious' - Ecclestone
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone has laughed at claims the new 'A1' championship is a genuine threat.

The 74-year-old boss of grand prix racing told US agency Bloomberg that Sheikh Maktoum may be struggling to sell the concept to free-to-air television.

Indeed, in Sydney for the Australian launch on Wednesday, the Dubai royal admitted he was talking to a local pay-per-view broadcaster.

''(A1) would be on a satellite channel in the middle of the night,'' Bernie said from London.

''It's not serious.''

The Sheikh, who admitted A1 is a 'risk' that he 'hopes' will make money, denied he established the so-called 'world cup' of racing in a direct challenge to Ecclestone.

''Bernie is a friend,'' he said in Sydney, ''and, anyway, I'm not stupid enough to go against him.''

Maktoum conceded that he hasn't yet signed a single television deal for A1, despite a September start date.








'Baby' Alonso is F1 tip
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) With Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso is - according to one bookmaker - equal favorite to become world champion in 2005.

It's well worth a flutter, the Spaniard reckons.

''At the moment, we're the best,'' the Renault driver, 23, told the 'Kicker' magazine.

''Our program says we'll have a developed car basically every two races,'' Fernando added, ''and if we keep it up, I definitely have a chance.''

Alonso, who'd become the youngest ever Formula One drivers' title holder, is the current world championship leader.

''I want to be world champion,'' he said, ''but whether I'm youngest or not, it's not that important to me.

''Anyway, I have another two years to try it!''

Ever cautious, FA insists that Renault still face competition -- particularly on the imminent return to Europe.

He said: ''The other teams, like Williams, McLaren, Ferrari and Toyota, are usually better in (those) races.''







Williams' new rear
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) Take a long look at Williams' rear-end at the Bahrain grand prix -- it's new.

According to some reports, the modified FW27 could be worth between two to three tenths per lap on the desert layout.

''Hopefully the new parts will bring us a bit nearer to the dominant Renaults,'' team co-owner and principal Frank Williams said.

He revealed that the aerodynamic department at Grove HQ have produced 'many' new bits, following a calibration error found on the wind tunnel.

Williams continued: ''But we've got to keep working if we're going to join in the fight for the world championship.''








Wurz for Imola?
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) Should the injured Juan Pablo Montoya skip a second or third grand prix, Bahrain 'third' driver Alex Wurz might line up on the grid.

Spain's Pedro de la Rosa got the nod this weekend, because he's already collected more than 2000km at the MP4-20's wheel.

''I'm definitely going to enjoy it,'' said Pedro, a Bahrain track rookie who last raced in F1 for Jaguar.

On the other hand, Wurz - the very tall Austrian - will turn his first lap in a hurriedly modified cockpit in Friday practice.

McLaren said he'll then test the MP4-20 in Europe after Bahrain, to 'be able to share ... duties with Pedro at future races.'

''Of course I would have preferred to race,'' said a disappointed Wurz.








Tire 'delight'
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) Formula One's warring tire suppliers expressed delight that a proposed 'monopoly' was voted down by the world motor sport council.

Michelin, in particular, said it wouldn't have stuck around without rival tire 'competition.'

''It only makes sense to commit,'' said motor sport director Pierre Dupasquier, ''if you can compare ... and show you can offer an advantage.''

In a statement, Japanese foe Bridgestone said it was 'pleased' with the decision to 'retain healthy competition' in F1.








Fisi to burn rubber in Rome
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) Giancarlo Fisichella can't wait to drive an F1 car through Italy's capital next Sunday.

The grand prix winner, born in Rome in 1973, will be the star of the Renault 'road show.'

A 1.2km track will wind around Rome's historic 'Circus Maximus' chariot stadium.

Renault's Spaniard, Fernando Alonso, completed a similar 'road show' event in Madrid last year.

''We couldn't miss the opportunity to allow Giancarlo to run in Rome,'' said principal Flavio Briatore.








JPM's title dream ended?
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Mar.31) McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya does not think sitting out Bahrain has killed his 'championship challenge.'

The Colombian, who apparently slipped and cracked a collarbone when playing tennis, hinted that anything can happen in such a long F1 calendar.

''I'm obviously disappointed,'' the 29-year-old revealed in a statement.

''It's difficult but we have to follow medical advice. I'll cheer for the team from my TV.

''At least it's early in the season.''

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