F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 12, 2005

Nick 'surprised' Frank
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.12) It's not an easy feat to 'surprise' Sir Frank Williams.

But Germany's Nick Heidfeld has achieved the plaudit.

''He's a very good racer at the highest level,'' the knighted principal and co-owner said.

''I love his moves!''

Heidfeld, 27, has already outclassed highly rated teammate Mark Webber in one statistical department -- the podium.

'Quick Nick' did it for Sauber in 2001, and took Williams' FW27 to the top-3 last month.

Sir Frank said: ''We look forward to seeing him on the podium more often this year.''

It's no secret that BMW motorsport director and compatriot Mario Theissen is also a fan.

He claimed: ''We're quicker than we were during the winter, and that's partly down to Nick.''

F1 ancestor revived
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.12) The ancestor of modern grands prix? 'Gordon Bonnet' cup, 1905.

The Automobile Club d'Auvergne will mark the centenary of the landmark event on June 2-5 near Michelin HQ at Clermont-Ferrand.

''150 vintage racing and luxury cars ... are expected,'' read a Michelin statement.

It explained: ''(They will) cover the same (140km) track ... at the foot of Puy-de-Dome.''

PS05 'may not be ready'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.12) Minardi's new 'PS05' contender may not be ready for a Friday shakedown at Mugello, a spokesman insisted.

A Christijan Albers press release claimed that the Dutch rookie would drive the 'aggressive-looking' car ahead of its debut at Imola (April 24).

The little Faenza-based team, though, implied that no definite decision has been taken.

And the spokesman tempered: ''If (the car is) ready by the end of the week, we'll obviously give it a shakedown (in Italy).

''When we are ready, we will issue an announcement.''

PS05, meanwhile, has passed the FIA's mandatory crash tests.

'I could've won' - Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.12) Michael Schumacher says he and Ferrari could've beaten Fernando Alonso to the Bahraini checker.

The world champion claimed he had 'no trouble keeping up' with the Spaniard's Renault 'and (I) could have gone even faster.

''But I wanted to go easy on my tires,'' German-born Schumacher added.

On lap eleven, though, hydraulic failure struck the 36-year-old's brand new F2005.

But Michael is certain Alonso, 24, or his blue R25, cannot win all nineteen grands prix.

''It looked like I could do it last year,'' he noted, ''but I thought then that it's impossible.''

Girl-racer takes the flag
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.12) Brands Hatch, 1980. Long Beach, 2005.

At both, and at no other time, a female racer won the major open wheeler race in question.

Twenty five years, ago, it was Desire Wilson in the F1 Aurora Series.

On the weekend in California (USA), 'Toyota Atlantic' rookie Katherine Legge, 24 and from England, trounced the boys.

The former Formula Renault and British F3 driver started seventh and seized the win when leader Rocky Moran Jr encountered technical trouble.

Legge is the first woman to win an open wheeler race in America. ''I don't think it's quite sunk in yet,'' she beamed.

She was born, incidentally, in 1980 -- not far from Brands.

Pedro's final grand prix?
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.12) Better to exit with a bang.

That was the philosophy with which Pedro de la Rosa attacked the Bahrain grand prix.

The Spaniard, 34, slotted into the seat because 1) Juan Pablo Montoya had a fractured shoulder, and 2) Alex Wurz, McLaren's contracted reserve, was too tall to test the MP4-20 beforehand.

''I wanted to finish on the podium,'' said Pedro, who qualified ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, ''but I didn't manage it.''

He did, though, set fastest lap and thrilled the crowd with some audacious overtaking.

De la Rosa (meaning, in Spanish, 'of the rose') continued: ''I wanted the podium as I knew it might be my last ever Formula One race.''

F1 in Champ Car opener
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.12) An F1 aficionado had plenty of reasons to check out Sunday's Champ Car opener at Long Beach.

Reigning title winner and former F3000 champion Sebastien Bourdais conquered the street circuit, with Paul Tracy - who once tested a Benetton - second.

Bruno Junqueira, second-in-line for Jenson Button's BMW-Williams seat of 2000, completed the podium, ahead of ex-Jag and Minardi star Justin Wilson.

2006 'Midland F1' driver Mario Dominguez, and last year's Jordan fill-in, Timo Glock of Germany, rounded out the top-6.

Juan Pablo Montoya's old Chip Ganassi teammate, Jimmy Vasser, was eighth, ahead of Cristiano da Matta, who endured a tricky return from F1 and Toyota.

''But it's good to be back,'' said the diminutive Brazilian.

One-time Prost tester Oriol Servia came next, and '04 Jaguar 'Friday' driver Bjorn Wirdheim, a Swede, finished twelfth.

Quali's 'crap' - F1
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.12) Sunday and aggregate qualifying is 'crap.'

That may be the rough syntax of Australia's Paul Stoddart, but eight out of the ten Formula One teams in pitlane agree.

'F1 Racing' magazine asked a senior rep from every outfit what they think of the new format.

Only Flavio Briatore and Jordan's Colin Kolles gave it a thumbs-up.

''It just doesn't work,'' Minardi principal Stoddart countered. BAR's Nick Fry is already calling for a rule 're evaluation.'

''Qualifying on Sunday morning is just fundamentally wrong,'' said Ron Dennis, while Red Bull's Christian Horner at least went further to explain that the cumulative lap time is 'confusing.'

''We need improvement,'' Tsutomu Tomita (Toyota) concluded.

Midland to paint car blue
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.12) 'Midland F1' will sport a blue, white and red livery in 2006.

Aping the Russian tricolor, the team now owned by naturalized Canadian Alex Shnaider - but in Eddie Jordan's yellow strip in 2005 - will race the predominantly blue, Dallara-built car next year.

Meanwhile, a report on Williams' team website claimed that F1 is benefiting from 'the end of (Ferrari's) dominance.'

It cited a German poll which found that 'nearly fifty percent' of F1 enthusiasts are happy with the rule changes.

''Only a small minority,'' said the report, ''criticized (them).''

Priaulx to test again
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.12) Andy Priaulx is to be given yet another chance at the wheel of Williams' F1 car, we can reveal.

Further to a demo run at Rockingham next month, BMW's 30-year-old European touring car champion is said to have subsequently landed a 'proper' two-day test in Italy.

The Briton debuted for Grove in January, at Valencia (Spain).

Schu slammed
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.12) Beleaguered grand prix driver Cristiano da Matta has lashed out at F1 and Michael Schumacher.

The diminutive Brazilian, who returned to American Champ Car racing at the weekend having last year felt the Toyota boot, called the pinnacle of motor sport 'too political.'

And he told the Detroit Free Press: 'I never liked the way (world champion Michael) Schumacher conducted himself.''

31-year-old da Matta, who left the US as 2002 CART champion, said Schumacher spent more time 'making his job easier' than genuinely trying to beat the opposition.

''If (Schumacher) was a real champion,'' Cristiano slammed, ''he wouldn't cry about things.

''It's good to be back (in Champ Car). It's about racing and you know you have a chance to win.''

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