F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 1, 2005

Alonso overawed
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Renault's Fernando Alonso has accused Spain of 'over reacting' to his recent F1 win.

The 23-year-old, the first Spaniard to ever lead the drivers' world championship, said countrymen went 'too far' by camping outside his home.

''Especially journalists,'' Alonso moaned. ''It's a problem -- and not what I want.''

It is reported that Fernando - who called the situation a 'security danger' - had to flee to a friend's house. ''I turned on the TV,'' he continued.

''And saw what was happening,'' said Alonso. ''Their ridiculous position in front of the house.

''Also when I do badly, they say too much.''

Toyota not ready to win
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Maiden podium aside, Italy's Jarno Trulli doesn't think Toyota is ready to fight for the world championship.

''I'm keeping my feet on the ground,'' he said in Bahrain. ''We are not using our full potential yet.''

Moreover, the TF105 - while good in Malaysia - might not be consistent enough to challenge everywhere, Trulli suggested.

He added: ''This is not our title season.''

Team president John Howett, meanwhile, is more optimistic, hinting that finishing in the 'top two or three' teams could be a new target.

''And we'll improve the package a lot this year,'' he revealed.

''We must keep up the momentum -- we think we're going to have our best season ever.''

Jarno Trulli, though, insisted it's 'too early' to start talking about winning races.

Williams wanted Michelin man
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Toyota offered no comment to speculation that F1 rival Williams also tried to woo Michelin's Pascal Vasselon.

''I don't know,'' a coy president John Howett, who won the hunt, said in Bahrain.

''We don't think there was strong competition from other teams, that's not our feeling.''

Toyota snapped up the Frenchman after Michelin, the F1 tyre supplier, tried to ship him off to a non-racing role.

Howett explained: ''He wanted to stay in F1 so we offered him a position in our R&D department.''

Vasselon's new job will be in suspension development, he confirmed.

Ferrari face further failure
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Rubens Barrichello's heard it all before, but repeated the old line -- there is no Ferrari 'crisis.'

''I don't think so,'' the Brazilian, whose scarlet employer hurried the debut of a brand new car following a Sepang kicking, grinned in Bahrain.

''At least I hope not!''

Actually, RB, 32, is 'enjoying the challenge' of helping haul a big team back to the top, opposed - perhaps - to (like last year at Sakhir) following Michael Schumacher home for a one-two.

German racer Schumacher, though, is predicting 'another tough' and hot weekend -- although not as bad as Malaysia, on both counts.

''Renault is clearly very strong,'' said the world champion, ''so maybe people will now believe me when I say the day is coming when we get a fight.''

F1 reacts to jewelry ban
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Jewelry-wearing Formula One stars shrugged at the FIA's new rule banning earrings and necklaces from the cockpit.

''A rule is a rule,'' said champion Michael Schumacher, who blew a fuse last year when he temporarily lost a lucky charm worn around his neck.

''If they tell me I can't wear it, I won't.''

Red Bull's Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi, though, are probably the most affected -- both wear an earring.

''I don't know why they've brought it in -- I don't think it's necessary, really,'' said Klien, 22.

Fernando Alonso often wears a bracelet or gold chain; but never in the car. ''It's a dangerous sport,'' he told ITV, ''and it's better to take them off.''

David Coulthard explained that, even with fireproof clothing, a metal necklace - for example - can burn into skin.

Kimi legless again?
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Has F1's party animal, Kimi Raikkonen, been at it again?

Trouser-less in London and unconscious elsewhere, now a performer at a recent party in Helsinki said he saw the Finn, 25, drink a little too much.

''Now I understand why this wonder boy made a mistake pressing the wrong button on the grid in Australia,'' the performer reportedly said, according to the Telegraph newspaper.

''McLaren insisted that the performer was misquoted,'' the British publication added.

Toyota to side with Ferrari?
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) A letter could indicate that Toyota is readying to side with Ferrari and Max Mosley in the battle for F1's future.

Although GPWC is itching to formally court the Japanese carmaker, Tsutomu Tomita effectively told every other team that Toyota would not automatically commit to the 'breakaway' cause.

A 'source' told Autosport, meanwhile, that Cologne doesn't want to commit to 'either side.'

The so-called group of nine, perhaps forthwith to be known as the 'group of eight,' will meet with the soon renamed GPWC next week.

Elsewhere, it's reported that Tomita's letter urged the remaining eight to present their imminent rules and regulations to the FIA, and Bernie Ecclestone, 'for consideration.'

JB on road back to Grove?
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Following Jenson Button's Malaysian 'not good enough, Honda' outburst, the BAR driver was called to an immediate meeting, he revealed.

''Then I went to their factory on the Tuesday, we discussed it, and they apologized,'' the 25-year-old said in Bahrain.

Button's V10 engine blew within three laps, and 30 seconds of his teammate's similar fiery failure, at Sepang.

But JB came in for criticism after Malaysia for dropping the 'corporate' ball -- but he's unrepentant and 'still angry.

''I've got to show a bit of emotion,'' he claimed. ''Maybe I didn't have to shout so loudly.

''But it probably helped ... show them that I do care, that I'm not just along for the ride.''

Others saw the red-faced driver clearing the path for, finally, that long-awaited Williams return.

Jenson, predictably, countered: ''I'm not thinking about where I may or may not be.''

'Wurz'-case scenario
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Visibly frustrated, Alex Wurz tried to put on a brave face in the Bahrain paddock.

The tall Austrian, although contracted as McLaren's number one test driver, did not fit in the MP4-20 car until now.

Therefore, had hadn't tested it.

''I said to the team that if I were boss, I would go for the safe option,'' Wurz said Thursday.

''I've done zero miles in this car.''

His deputy, then - Pedro de la Rosa, 34, - is injured Juan Pablo Montoya's race replacement.

Wurz, 31, said: ''I could go home and cry, slit my wrists, or show what kind of guy I am.

''I prefer to look forward.''

He'll test the silver car in Friday practice.

DC defends injured Montoya
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Scotland's David Coulthard tried to stamp on a Paddock rumor that Juan Pablo Montoya broke his collarbone in a motorbike shunt.

Although the former McLaren driver admitted he didn't know for sure, he said the Colombian - injured, officially, swinging a tennis racquet - would have no reason to hide the truth from Ron Dennis' team.

''McLaren had nothing in (my) contract to stop me doing anything,'' said DC, 34, in Bahrain.

''Accidents happen. We've all had the odd injury.''

Webber injury 'better'
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Mark Webber's cracked rib is a 'lot better.'

Williams' Australian driver insisted the injury, sustained at a pre-season test, never affected his speed.

''When I'm sleeping, doing up my shoelaces, then it does your head in,'' he smiled in Bahrain.

The 28-year-old said: ''I hope, here, we can get a sniff of the podium.''

And, although a mate of world champion Michael Schumacher, Webber's enjoying the lull - however temporary - of Ferrari.

But he warned: ''That's when they're strongest.''

Championship leader Fernando Alonso, though, warned Schumacher to take a different approach to the Bahrain GP.

''He should be looking in the Renault garage,'' said the Spaniard, ''not the other way around.

''For sure, their new car will be better.''

Glock to America
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Former Jordan driver Timo Glock has completed a switch to America's Champ Car category.

The German, with Deutsche Post backing, will drive alongside Ryan Hunter-Reay at Rocketsports.

''With success in Champ Car,'' he said, ''my position will become better ... there and in F1.''

Spaniard feeling 'pressure'?
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Spain's Fernando Alonso, 23, denied he's feeling 'the pressure' of leading the drivers' championship.

''It's not really a problem,'' he said in Bahrain.

Alonso is the first Spaniard to ever sit atop the F1 table.

But, although Spain thinks otherwise, the phlegmatic youngster - who'd be the youngest ever world champion - is not getting carried away.

''We're only two races in,'' he noted. ''If if was two races to go, maybe I'd feel pressure.

''We've got to forget all that and think race by race.''

Alonso also confirmed that, after nearly collapsing from dehydration in Malaysia, 'everything is okay' with a brand new drink bottle design.

Red slump 'good for F1'
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Ferrari off the podium?

It's good for Formula One, says Flavio Briatore.

The Renault chief might be a beneficiary of the scarlet slump, but Briatore - the colourful Italian - said newspapers and websites paint it best.

''All you guys used to say 'how boring, Ferrari first and second, oh my God, Schumacher again','' he said in Bahrain.

''I think this is great, it's better.''

Briatore also professed to not care about the debut of Ferrari's all-new F2005 racer.

''I only look in our garage,'' he said. ''I don't care about anyone else.''

De la Rosa 'relaxed'
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) You couldn't have wiped the smile off Pedro de la Rosa's face even if you'd tried.

But it's clear that the Spaniard, 34 - who hasn't raced since 2002 with Jaguar - might have liked a more suitable circuit on which to return.

Back then, the Sakhir layout was a mere idea in Hermann Tilke's head.

''Obviously I'd choose another circuit,'' he told the media in Bahrain. ''But I look at the bigger picture -- I'm going to race a McLaren.''

'Relaxed' de la Rosa is replacing the injured Juan Pablo Montoya. ''I feel nothing,'' he said, ''no pressure at all.''

De la Rosa, who's never attacked a single-lap Quali session, reported that JPM, on the phone, sounded 'pissed off.'

F1's permanent Spaniard, meanwhile, is 'very happy' to see a countryman on the grid. ''F1 is big in Spain now,'' said last-start winner and Renault driver Fernando Alonso.

''I'm also happy because (Montoya) won't get a lot of points here!''

Bahrain's boiling
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) Bahrain's boiling for the grand prix.

The FIA timing screen showed 36-degrees for the green light of Friday practice at 11am, and a track temperature near 50.

''I don't mind,'' said Malaysian GP winner Fernando Alonso, ''as heat is good for our (Renault) car and (Michelin) tyre.

''The important thing is the humidity -- it's very low compared to Malaysia so that's fine.''

It'll top a dry 35 on Saturday, and again for race day.

'Renault still a Schu-beater'
In Al Manama (GMMf1NET -- Apr.1) If he's concerned about a brand new Ferrari, Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella did a good job of hiding it in the Bahrain paddock.

''I still think we're in better shape than them,'' said the 32-year-old Roman, although he admitted F2005 'will be quicker.'

The winner of the season opener also downplayed teammate Fernando Alonso's concern that Bahrain - not a suitable track for Renault last year - might catch the hat-trick-gunning team out again.

''I see no reason why we can't fight for the win,'' he insisted.

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