F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 8, 2005

Button's Barca blitz
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.8) Jenson Button turned a head or two at Barcelona when he, on Thursday, smashed the Spanish venue's unofficial lap record.

Previously, Takuma Sato - his BAR-Honda teammate - had the mantle.

''Our new aero package, of which we have most on the car here, seems to be working well,'' said technical director Geoff Willis.

Every F1 team except Jordan and Minardi plugged away at the sunny Circuit de Catalunya.

Giancarlo Fisichella's dire week of luck in the Renault ended in the high-speed turn three barrier, following a tire blow-up and 255km/h impact.

Teammate Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, took a turn with a car drama.

Shaken, Fisichella - the Roman - emerged unscathed, while BMW-Williams' Mark Webber called it a day when a cracked rib caused him pain, and Jarno Trulli (Toyota) with a stiff neck.

Next week's big F1 test will be held at Paul Ricard (France).

Minardi to test new car
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.8) Minardi plan to test the all new 'PS05' racer in Italy next week.

The cash strapped team are hoping to debut the reportedly radical car at Imola (April 24).

Dutch driver Christijan Albers confirmed that the sleek black machine is 'aggressive looking.

''So I'm really looking forward to Imola,'' he continued in an albersf1.com statement.

''Minardi is the best place to start a F1 career (and) Paul (Stoddart) a fantastic motivator.''

Meanwhile, BAR-Honda's Takuma Sato is also looking forward to getting a new car at Imola, after the Japanese complained of a possible problem with his current '007.'

'Jury's out' for Gil
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.8) BAR-Honda's new sporting director, Gil de Ferran, is to move from America to England.

But the Brazilian, 37 and a recent Indy 500 champion, said the shift should be no problem.

''I lived there for seven years of my life,'' Gil, whose winning career started in Europe, added.

He'll appear with BAR for the first time at Paul Ricard next week.

De Ferran played down any comparison with Bobby Rahal, the American Indy-driver-turned-F1 boss, whose short tenure at Jaguar ended in tears.

''It's a different role,'' Gil - who confirmed he sought the advice of 'friend' Sir Jackie Stewart - said, ''but I also know that the jury is out.

''My first task is to look, to listen, and to get to know Jenson (Button), Takuma (Sato) and the test drivers.

''The last thing I want is to be a disruption.

''I need to find my feet first.''

Toyota. F1 champion?
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.8) Toyota. 2005 F1 champion.

It could happen, according to the Cologne-based team's well paid technical director Mike Gascoyne.

''We have the opportunity to fight for the constructors' championship,'' he told Italy's 'Gazzetta dello Sport' newspaper.

How so confident?

'Gazza' said that even though Renault are quicker, Toyota - for example - outscored the blue-and-yellow team in Bahrain 'thanks to our ... reliability.

''They lost a car to engine failure,'' he noted.

Who wants a Bridgestone?
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.8) Michelin-team alert -- ailing F1 rival Bridgestone is on the hunt for a new recruit (or two).

Japan's Hisao Suganuma told German publication 'Bild' that Bridgestone collect 'enough data' under the near-exclusive Ferrari arrangement.

'05-dominant Michelin, on the other hand, collate the development effort of several carmaker-backed grand prix outfits.

''The quality of our work with Ferrari is high,'' said the technical manager. ''However, if other teams want our tires, we are willing to negotiate with them.''

Suganuma-san said Bridgestone and Ferrari are working 'very, very hard' to recover from defeat.

''There is still time. The 2005 calendar is a long one.

''Ferrari will win again, that I do not doubt.''

Mateschitz's soccer team
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.8) Question for a billionaire.

Which requires more deliberation -- buying a F1 team, or a football (soccer) club?

Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz has just snapped up Austrian football team SV Salzburg, and he said he thought about it 'much longer' than the Jaguar transaction.

The Austrian, 61, insisted that the move will, in conjunction with Red Bull Racing, give his caffeine-fuelled drink 'a second supporting leg in international sport.'

Ferrari on right track - Gene
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.8) Bridgestone and Ferrari are on the right track to recovery.

That's the sanguine claim of test driver Marc Gene, who - although not at the top of the test timesheet - tried a range of new tires at Barcelona.

The Spaniard told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport: ''We are a bit closer (to Renault) now.''

But, undoubtedly, the red package - chewing through the rubber at scorching Malaysia and Australia - was always going to go better back in Europe.

Gene admitted: ''Now that we face cooler races, the situation could improve by itself.''

Williams' former tester also claimed the new F2005 is 'five to seven tenths per lap' quicker than the old car.

Toyota call off test
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.8) F1 team Toyota called off their final day's running
(Friday) at Barcelona.

Italian team driver Jarno Trulli explained that 'some tyre work' had been on
the menu.

''But the weather forecast predicted rain,'' the 30-year-old said.

''So we decided not to waste one of the precious 30 days we are allowed under
the test agreement.''

Also to beat the rain, Renault started their programme a day early, but a
McLaren spokeswoman said - despite the forecast - the Woking team would stick

Sauber will reportedly decide on Friday morning, and Ferrari - defiant against
the 30-day limit - plan to run world champion Michael Schumacher.

Those staying on at Circuit de Catalunya, meanwhile, will observe a minute's
silence at 10am in memory of the late Pope.

And, we can report that - following Takuma Sato's brake wear problem in Bahrain
- BAR-Honda switched to a new 'Brembo' carbon brake material.

Wurz wait
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.8) One Colombian aside, Alex Wurz is probably the most
interested in how injured McLaren race driver Juan Pablo Montoya is going.

If JPM's shoulder is still a problem come Imola, then Wurz - the Austrian
'reserve' driver - is sure to grab the silver seat.

He tested the MP4-20 at Barcelona, but told Autosport: ''I have not been told
anything officially yet.''

The McLaren's more-cramped-than-usual cockpit was recently modified to
accommodate Wurz's notoriously troublesome elbows and knees.

''It's not a matter of making me comfortable,'' he explained to Sport am
Sonntag, ''it's a matter of making it possible (for me to fit and race).

''There is no pain,'' Alexander reported on Wednesday to Autosport. ''I am

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