F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 14, 2005

How low can JV go?
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.14) At least a dismal 2005 isn't affecting ex-world champion Jacques Villeneuve's market value.

''It was so low before Sauber,'' the French-Canadian told German magazine Auto, Motor und Sport, ''that it can't go any lower.''

So what, exactly, is the problem? Remember, Villeneuve also struggled at Renault late last year.

JV, 33 and the drivers' title winner in 1997, speculated that the electronic-governed modern grand prix car is easier to drive 'for the young generation' -- like Felipe Massa.

''They grew up with them,'' said Villeneuve.

''I just don't have any confidence with it -- I'm driving tense, not with feeling.

''I feel like a passenger, not a driver.''

A flawed test day at Barcelona, meanwhile, didn't help the situation at all, JV revealed.

'Schu'll fight back' - Weber
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.14) Fear not, Schumacher-supporter -- Ferrari's top man can, and will, defend his drivers' crown.

So said Willi Weber, the Schumacher brothers' manager, who predicted that Michael - non-stop champion since 2000 - might 'again be at the front' from next Sunday at Imola.

The German told Stuttgarter Nachrichten: ''Ferrari are able to react to make everything look different at Imola.''

He also slammed as 'nonsense' any claim that Schumacher, 36, has forgotten how to drive a scarlet car, whilst playing down the inevitable comparison with Renault's young title-leader, Fernando Alonso.

''Last year (Alonso) made many mistakes,'' said Willi. ''So far this season, he has driven error free.''

F1 test update
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.14) McLaren showed it is a force to be reckoned with by outpacing Renault as Paul Ricard (France) testing started on Wednesday.

Pedro de la Rosa, in the MP4-20, went quicker than Giancarlo Fisichella's dominant R25.

Amazingly, it was veteran Fisichella's first-ever run at Ricard, so he spent some time acclimatizing to the visually unique test facility.

Also in sunny Le Castellet are Toyota, BAR, Williams, and - rarely - Jordan's Narain Karthikeyan bringing up the rear.

BAR's Enrique Bernoldi must've felt tired at the end of the day -- the Brazilian clocked up an inconceivable 182 laps.

''I am still getting used to the car,'' McLaren's Alex Wurz, nearly a second slower than the other silver contender, commented.

Elsewhere, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello continued to plug away at Mugello and Fiorano. On Thursday, the Ferrari duo will swap venues.

Red Bull to attend FIA summit
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.14) Red Bull will reportedly attend Friday's supposedly boycotted meeting with the FIA and Ferrari.

Despite the group of nine's earlier decision to again snub the summit, the fledgling team - and maybe Jordan plus one other - look certain to go in a bid to stay neutral.

''It's very likely that we will (attend),'' a spokeswoman admitted.

Minardi's Paul Stoddart, the unofficial Go9 'shop steward', criticized RBR's apparent decision as not 'in the spirit' of the team alliance.

The FIA sent a letter to the principals last week informing that four teams had asked for new issues to be broached at Max Mosley's meeting.

It's remotely possible that Red Bull simply want to talk about the Friday practice rule.

Stoddart, meanwhile, doubted whether Jordan or Sauber would follow the Red Bull defection.

Ferrari on road to 'crisis'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.14) A fully-fledged Ferrari 'crisis' is just around the corner.

That's the warning of Pedro de la Rosa, the McLaren test driver who at Sakhir subbed for injured regular Juan Pablo Montoya.

The Spaniard thinks the scarlet machine should be quick at home (Imola) next time out.

''I'm also sure that if they don't win,'' Pedro told Spanish newspaper Marca, ''alarm bells will be ringing.''

He hinted that, until now, Ferrari's problem may have been Bridgestone, and the heat.

But, at Imola, that excuse - de la Rosa said - is defunct.

PdlR also warned Michael Schumacher's rivals to 'fear' the German.

''I spoke to him in Bahrain,' Pedro revealed, ''and saw he is more motivated than ever.''

'I'm a little scapegoat'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.14) Departed, Cristiano da Matta is showing he's not afraid to aim fire at Formula One and Toyota.

Last time, the little Brazilian - back in Champ Car - slammed Michael Schumacher and the Paddock's fabled politicking.

Now, the 31-year-old's lining up Cologne-based Toyota, who gave him the boot mid last year.

''They needed a scapegoat,'' he told Associated Press, ''and I was it.''

Toyota, only now starting to reap the benefit of a more than billion-dollar investment in F1, boast pitlane's biggest ever budget.

Da Matta said: ''There was tremendous pressure on them.

''It would have bothered me more ... if I knew the problem was me. But nobody else did better with that car.''

'Will Villeneuve jump?'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.14) 'Will he jump or will he be pushed?'

That is Martin Brundle's musings on ailing 1997 world F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve.

The former Jordan and McLaren driver, now a grand prix commentator for ITV, told the British F1 broadcaster that he does not believe JV will see out season 2005 with Sauber.

Brundle, 45, is also David Coulthard's manager, and revealed that he negotiated last year with owner Peter Sauber.

''He said to me, 'no, I'm going to ... go for youth'. And then he signed (33-year-old) Jacques!','' said Brundle.

Martin, meanwhile - who never himself won a GP - summed up Quebec-born Villeneuve as a 'great driver' who 'fell off the ledge.'

McLaren must wait for pace
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.14) After Bahrain, McLaren vowed to speed up car developments originally planned for Barcelona.

It might, however, not be possible, according to a source.

''The MP4-20 will be basically the same car as (in) Bahrain,'' the Woking based source revealed.

He said the Spanish grand prix, the race following Imola, will herald the first 'major revisions' of the season.

McLaren's main problem is qualifying, namely not extracting the full potential of the car over a single flying lap.

The MP4-20 is too gentle on the Michelin tire.

Ron Dennis, though, said in Sakhir that he would be asking the French supplier for a 'softer' Imola compound.

'Very loyal supporter'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) The funeral of Monaco's late Prince Rainier will be held on Friday.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone called the 81-year-old, who died on April 6 near the Harbour, a 'very loyal supporter' of the grand prix and F1.

Bernie, 74, told agency AFP: ''He did everything he could (for the race).''

In October last year, the Prince won the first ever FIA 'Gold Medal.'

The governing body's statement at the time said the Monaco grand prix wouldn't have lasted so long without His Excellency's 'long standing support ... and leadership.'

Title 'not lost' - Ferrari
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.14) Ferrari 'can cope' with their miserable start to the 2005 championship.

Jean Todt noted that, if you look at last year's championship, the red team could have similarly started badly and still won the title.

''The championship is not over for us,'' the team's French principal concluded.

''But we must score points quickly.''

Imola, about a 45-minute drive from Maranello, is expected to suit the F2005/Bridgestone package more than Malaysia and Bahrain.

Technical director Ross Brawn, though, warned that solving the tire wear problem is more complicated than simply ordering a 'harder' Bridgestone.

He told Auto, Motor und Sport: ''If we did that, we'd finish the race but be too slow!

''It's up to the team to adapt the car to the tire.''

DC's popular
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.14) Red Bull's David Coulthard is a popular man down Milton-Keynes way.

Thanks to him, and teammate Christian Klien, every F1 team member is a cool $2300 richer.

Like DC, albeit a lot less lucratively, they're all on a cash-for-points bonus structure.

For every point earned, they score about an extra $200 (100 British pounds).

''I didn't know that,'' Coulthard, 33 and highest scorer with nine, grinned to Racer magazine. ''These guys graft and work hard, and deserve every pound they get.''

Honda to inject more cash
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.14) Team co-owner Honda may pump more cash into the F1 collaboration with BAR.

New racing president at the Japanese marque, Yasuhiro Wada, told 'Autosport' magazine that 'more resources' may need to be thrown in.

The Brackley-based grand prix team, second overall to Ferrari last year, has not scored a single point - nor even merely finished a race - so far in '05.

''Our aim is to win the world title,'' Wada-san emphasized.

''We will ... deal with our current problems.''

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