F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 15, 2005

Montoya will go to Imola
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) Injured McLaren driver Juan Pablo Montoya will attend Imola's San Marino grand prix next weekend.

But it's unknown if the Colombian, who fractured a shoulder bone late last month, will be fit enough to race.

A decision is to be taken no later than Thursday at the Italian 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' circuit, an insider speculated.

An Autosport report, meanwhile, claimed it is 'looking increasingly unlikely' that - after a specialists' consultation - the 29-year-old and new father is recovered enough to drive.

May's Spanish grand prix-return, then, is more probable.

Stellar Sato at Paul Ricard
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) BAR-Honda left test venue Paul Ricard with a one-two on Thursday, Takuma Sato bagging the lap record for good measure.

''I think we've made a good step forward,'' said the Japanese.

Last week at Barcelona, Jenson Button shattered the time sheet.

The Brackley team, plus rivals like Renault, Williams and Toyota, have however heeded adverse weather reports and called off their planned final day.

''We don't want to waste any of our allocated days,'' Ricardo Zonta, of Brazil, explained.

Williams' Nick Heidfeld, meanwhile, hardly broke a sweat before straining a back muscle when correcting snap oversteer.

The German left France on doctors' advice.

Pedro de la Rosa, in a McLaren, also endured a bad day, first with mechanical trouble and then an engine failure at 5pm.

Toyota, Renault, McLaren and Jordan also tested at Le Castellet.

Meanwhile, in the land of Ferrari, Michael Schumacher (Fiorano) and Rubens Barrichello (Mugello) switched tracks for Thursday's development of the F2005.

Klien's green light
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) A sigh-of-relief may be over the top, but at least Christian Klien, 22, will have something to do on grand prix Friday.

Red Bull Racing have successfully lobbied to overturn a FIA rule prohibiting a veteran of more than six grands prix from taking the 'Friday' practice wheel.

Austria's Klien will, from Imola, be replaced at the RB1's racing wheel - at least until the Nurburgring - by former man Friday Vitantonio Liuzzi.

The FIA agreed to amend the Friday rule, permitting CK to slot into the spare cockpit, following rare unanimity along pitlane.

''It would've been hugely frustrating for (him) to be unable to drive,'' said team F1 principal Christian Horner.

Klien added in a statement: ''Great news!''

In their own statement, the governing FIA said 'any driver with a ... super license' can now be a Friday pilot.

'Curvy' new Minardi
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) Two all-new Minardi PS05 contenders will contest next Sunday's San Marino grand prix.

With a single 'curvy' racer to be shaken-down in Italy on Friday, the Imola spare will - however - be an older PS04B.

A third PS05, the first totally-new Minardi since 2002, will then be ready for Spain.

Owner of the Faenza-based team, Australia's Paul Stoddart, told Reuters that engineers actually urged him to delay the car's debut until Barcelona.

''But I said no, we've got to do it at Imola.

''They've been working night and day.''

Asked about reports that PS05 is radical-looking, Stoddart revealed that it's 'more Toyota, Renault, Ferrari-ish' than the outdated former model.

It'll also boast the Red Bull-spec Cosworth -- although the real target is to 'beat Jordan.'

Coulthard and 2006
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) Can grand prix veteran David Coulthard keep his Red Bull seat?

That's a question best directed to former F1 driver-turned-commentator Martin Brundle -- the Scot's manager.

Energy drink magnate Dieter Mateschitz is reported as intimating that DC, 33, does not feature in the 2006 lineup.

''I expect to be talking to (them) about David's contract for next year,'' Brundle told ITV, ''and, to be honest, some other teams too.

''David's a world-class driver and a big name.''

He didn't look particularly good at Bahrain, though. Brundle, however, said DC's biggest gift to Red Bull is 'knowledge.'

MB wondered: ''Why has (Christian) Klien suddenly turned into a great little driver?

''If (Red Bull) choose to sponge that out of him, well ... it's a tough, tough sport.''

GP2 team with eye on F1
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) Another new team in Formula One?

That, certainly, is the goal of former grand prix car designer Enrique Scalabroni, despite his last involvement being the defunct Asiatech project.

He's top of the 'BCN Competicion' entry in GP2, but reportedly eyeing the 2008 F1 grid.

''I believe it could be possible,'' Scalabroni - unsure about whether to start a team from scratch or 'become involved' with an existing player - was quoted as telling Autosport magazine.

Horner's a busy boy
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) Christian Horner will be a very busy boy in 2005.

Not only is the 31-year-old Red Bull's F1 team principal, he'll reportedly also head the British 'A1 Grand Prix' entry.

He won't, though, service F1 with one hand, and A1 with the other. Horner's 'Arden' racing company, also with a Red Bull-liveried team in GP2, will simply also run the A1 franchise.

''Both (chairman) John Surtees and Christian ... have a history of successes in motorsport,'' noted 'world cup' A1 founder Sheikh Maktoum.

A1 will kick off in September.

'I'm paid a salary' - DC
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) Red Bull's David Coulthard, 33, has moved to play down reports that the F1 team only pay him if he's in the top-eight.

A British newspaper started the story by claiming that DC, McLaren veteran, doesn't earn a salary but $38,000 per-point.

''I'm not going to talk about the actual details of my contract,'' Coulthard told autosport.com, ''(but) I am paid a salary that I find acceptable.''

DC said 'everyone' in pitlane earns more if they score points, 'but I do drive for fun.

''I get paid to do ... marketing and media, that sort of thing,'' he declared.

Martin Brundle, the man who negotiated David's deal, also denied the British media's sketchy tale.

''I can tell you it's absolutely inaccurate,'' the former F1 driver insisted. ''He's got a nice little contract.''

Heidfeld's out
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) Nick Heidfeld had to pull out of Thursday's test at Paul Ricard when he strained a back muscle.

Bizarrely, Williams' 27-year-old German racer did the damage, at the start of lap-7, when applying opposite-lock.

He was able to return to the pits, but later left Le Castellet, in the south of France, on the advice - reportedly more out of precaution than necessity - of the team's physiotherapist.

Grove teammate Mark Webber, of Australia, is also nursing an unrelenting injury -- a cracked rib.

Indeed, although thought fully recovered at Bahrain, the 28-year-old pulled out of testing at Barcelona last week when the chest pain persisted.

It might not be significant, but Williams' official reserve driver, Antonio Pizzonia - who did not, for example, travel to Malaysia - will attend Imola.

Alain Prost and son
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) Quadruple champion and former F1 team owner Alain Prost still has racing in the blood.

The Frenchman, now fifty, last month competed alongside another former GP star, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, in a round (Nogaro) of the French GT championship.

They finished fourth in the number-50 Chrysler Viper.

In June, Prost will share a car, with son Nicolas, at Le Mans.

22-year-old Nicolas Prost, meanwhile, also raced at Nogaro (France) -- in the French Formula Renault category.

BAR back in business
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) Mind the pun, but BAR have finally 'turned a corner.'

That neat sound bite is the work of Jenson Button -- the same Englishman who slammed Brackley after a Malaysian failure.

He promised, after trying a new bodywork package at Paul Ricard this week: ''We've found more downforce and stability.

''The car feels pretty much like it did last year.'

Button, 25 - ten times a podium-getter in 2004 - hasn't even finished a grand prix in '05.

Teammate Takuma Sato, also without a checkered memory this season, agreed in Autosport magazine that the '007' is better.

But the Japanese warned: ''We have more downforce ... but not much (more).

''We don't expect to be making a huge jump.''

Paul and Gian Carlo Minardi
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) Many in the grand prix paddock wonder how Paul Stoddart and Gian Carlo Minardi can work together.

Stoddart, current owner and Faenza team principal, is now Gian Carlo's boss; an Italian who brought Minardi into F1 in 1985 but had to sell it to save it.

''People probably thought (the relationship) wouldn't last five minutes,'' Paul - the aviation millionaire - laughed.

He told Motorsport News: ''We certainly have had our squabbles.''

Gian Carlo Minardi's current 'consultancy' role is spotting for driver talent, and seeking-out new sponsorship.

But how can he just sit back and swallow some of Stoddart's more questionable decisions?

''It would be unfair to lie and say I'm happy,'' Minardi, who will travel to Imola for next Sunday's grand prix and new-car debut, admitted, ''but the new boss is fully entitled to control everything.

''If one day I realize I'm no longer useful, I'll immediately retire.''

Minardi to debut at Mugello
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.15) As revealed earlier by Christijan Albers' management (but denied by the team), Minardi will - on Friday - 'shake down' their new 'PS05' at Mugello.

The Dutch rookie will take the wheel at the 'closed-door' test.

''Today marks the culmination of a massive effort,'' said owner and team principal, Paul Stoddart.

Less significantly, Red Bull principal Christian Horner denied that the marketing-savvy energy drink 'told' veteran driver David Coulthard to - like Dietrich Mateschitz - grow trendy stubble.

The 31-year-old chief said in Autosport magazine: ''It's not policy (to grow a beard) here!

''He feels comfortable with it so ... it's up to him.''

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