F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 6, 2005

Prince of Monaco dies
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.6) Prince Rainier III of Monaco, Monarch of the tiny grand prix state, has died in a hospital on the fabled harbor.

The 81-year-old, married to Hollywood star Grace Kelly until she died in a car crash, came to the throne in 1949.

A keen supporter of the famous F1 street race, Prince Rainier is succeeded by bachelor-son Prince Albert, 47.

Monaco residents like David Coulthard and Jenson Button enjoy the principality's controversial income tax setup.

The 2005 Monaco GP in Monte-Carlo will be raced on May 22.

Klien out, Liuzzi in
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.6) Christian Klien's out, the Red Bull F1 team announced on Tuesday.

The young Austrian will be replaced from April's Imola race by current 'Friday' driver, grand prix rookie and reigning F3000 champion, Vitantonio Liuzzi.

A statement said the 24-year-old would drive at Imola - a home event - and also 'Barcelona and Monte Carlo.'

''It was always made clear to me that Tonio would get an opportunity to race,'' said a disappointed Klien, 22.

He can't even assume Liuzzi's 'Friday' role -- CK, racer last year for Jaguar, is too experienced.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner defended the controversial decision by stating that the team want to gauge Tonio's 'true potential.

''This is in no way a reflection on Christian's ability,'' he insisted.

For the record, Liuzzi won at Imola, Barcelona and Monaco last year.

He told ITV: ''After my three races, Red Bull will make a decision between Christian and I.''

Alonso's high speed scare
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.6) Bahrain winner Fernando Alonso is already back in action -- and still quick.

The Spaniard, 23, topped the first day of what'll prove a bumper F1 test at Barcelona; but not before a high speed scare.

In Spain, Alonso's Renault R25 shed a rear wing at La Caixa, but - despite a spin or three - didn't hit the barrier.

Renault were scheduled to start on Wednesday, but chose to get going a day early to avoid rain, forecast for Friday.

Giancarlo Fisichella went second fastest, but - similar to Sakhir - encountered an engine glitch.

''We'll Endeavour to fix it tonight,'' said the test team's Christian Silk.

Bringing up the field of three's tail was another Spaniard, Marc Gene, in a F2004 M Ferrari. He also ran into tech trouble.

Red Bull, Toyota, BAR, McLaren, Williams and Sauber will all kick off on Wednesday.

'PS05' to debut - Stoddart
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.6) An all-new Minardi grand prix car will debut at Imola on April 24.

Paul Stoddart has already hinted that it resembles no other on the Formula One grid.

The 'PS04B' design, used throughout last year and in the first grands prix of 2005, was based on the '03 Minardi -- a derivative of the PS02, steered by Mark Webber.

It is, therefore, the first truly new racer produced by Faenza (Italy) in quite some time, and said to pack at least a second per lap advantage.

The newer Cosworth engine should, also, boost Minardi by as much as sixty horse power.

''We will introduce the new car at Imola,'' principal Stoddart confirmed. ''Hopefully it'll be the start of improved ... performance.

''We're confident -- we know the (PS05) is a lot quicker.''

McLaren 'too gentle'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.6) McLaren's 'MP4-20' grand prix car is too 'gentle' on its tires.

That's the admission of chairman and CEO Ron Dennis, responding to Kimi Raikkonen's warning that he won't win this year until the silver car is a better qualifier.

After Bahrain, RD vowed to speed up scheduled (for Spain) car changes (to Imola).

He said he'd ask Michelin for a 'softer' tire, and order Woking to work on MP4-20 so that it's harder on the rubber.

''What is extremely good about Michelin,'' Ron added, ''is that they're ... prepared to develop tires for specific teams.

''It's a very strong contrast to the other tire manufacturer.''

'No regret' - Ferrari's Brawn
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.6) Ross Brawn said Ferrari does not regret completely re-designing the gearbox for the new F2005 car.

Maranello's technical director told 'La Gazzetta dello Sport' this week that the 'key' to the new aero rules is in the car's rear end.

''In the gearbox ... specifically,'' the Italian newspaper quoted him as saying.

Rubens Barrichello, like Michael Schumacher racing F2005 for the first time, grappled all weekend in Bahrain with persistent - and unique - gearbox glitches.

''We could have found a solution based on the 2004 design,'' Ross admitted, ''(but) the (new) concept is not questioned.

''I'm sure that in a couple of races we'll see the advantages.''

So is Brawn enjoying the '05 chase, as opposed to being chased?

''That's F1,'' the Englishman smiled. ''I'm optimistic.''

Gil de Ferran to run BAR
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.6) BAR-Honda is to be run by a former Champ Car and Indy 500 winner.

Brazil's Gil de Ferran, 37 and famed at the wheel of a Penske and today an Indy Racing League commentator, will join Brackley as 'sporting director.'

'The Guardian' reported that the move is inspired by co-owner Honda, who believe 'the team needs more pit lane direction.'

New 'CEO' Nick Fry will assume a more factory based role, the newspaper continued.

Speed TV, meanwhile, reported that Gil flew from Indianapolis to Europe on Tuesday for the official announcement, expected Wednesday.

Since Fry succeeded David Richards, BAR - second in the '04 constructors' chase - have failed to finish a grand prix.

Wurz should win Imola ride
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.6) It'll be 'fair enough' if Alex Wurz races at Imola.

That's the fair-minded claim of the Spaniard he'll likely replace -- 'driver of the day' at the Bahrain GP, Pedro de la Rosa.

A straw poll in the media centre last Sunday agreed that de la Rosa, 34 and filling in for the injured Juan Pablo Montoya, drove the most charging and entertaining race.

But he told Autosport that, should Colombia's JPM be still unfit, he wouldn't begrudge Wurz's San Marino ride.

''He deserves it,'' said PdlR.

''I have no hard feelings for Alex.''

Wurz, official 'reserve' and a test driver at McLaren since 2001, played second fiddle at Sakhir because, previously, he didn't fit in the MP4-20.

The tall Austrian will, though, test all week at Barcelona.

Dudot abandons retirement
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.6) When Bernard Dudot recently left Renault, Patrick Faure predicted that the Frenchman's retirement would probably be 'extremely active.'

Indeed. He's joined 'GP2' as full time head of engineering.

''(Dudot) will oversee all ... technical decisions made from this point forward,'' read a statement.

So what happened to that retirement, Bernard?

''When GP2 approached me,'' Dudot - who, as well as F1, also overlooked the GP2 project at Renault - explained, ''I could only say yes.''

GP2 organizer Bruno Michel commented: ''I'm happy we managed to convince him to come out of his brief retirement.''

JV turned down cash offer
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.6) F1 veteran David Coulthard offered to split point-bonus money earned in Bahrain with Jacques Villeneuve.

A previous report revealed that Red Bull's Scot is on a $4m retainer with a staggering $183,000 per-point bonus.

DC nudged Villeneuve, also on a (albeit lower) retainer/pay-per-point agreement, off the track in Bahrain whilst finally on a near certain road to eighth place.

''A real shame,'' the Canadian said afterwards. ''I could certainly have got a point.''

It's reported, though, that JV, 33 and Coulthard's close friend, turned the offer down.

Villeneuve, struggling to get to know the C24 car, will now test for two days at Barcelona.

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