F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 18, 2005

F1 row into high gear
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) A row over the future of grand prix racing has changed into an even higher gear.

After seven of the ten F1 teams again boycotted an FIA meeting, the governing body incurred their wrath by warning it would soon finalize new regulations for 2008.

The FIA, led by Max Mosley, met in Paris with Ferrari, but also - crucially - independent outfits Jordan and Red Bull.

Previously, the pair were part of the so-called 'group of nine' alliance against Ferrari, Max, and Bernie Ecclestone.

The FIA said the World Motor Sport Council would vote to approve new 2008 rules on June 29, and then send a copy to 'all the main stakeholders.

''The final version,'' read a statement, ''will ... be submitted ... on 28 October.''

'G9' 'spokesman' Paul Stoddart slammed the move as not 'credible' - and maybe illegal - without the other teams' involvement.

Fisi in rainy Rome
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) On Sunday, Roman driver Giancarlo Fisichella blasted an F1 Renault along his home city's streets.

He burned rubber on a circuit, lined by 25,000 fans in heavy rain, which wound around historic Circus Maximus.

''Even though the weather was not perfect,'' the winner of Melbourne's season opener said, ''it was a special day.''

Perfect PS05
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) Christijan Albers, who recently celebrated a birthday, enjoyed the best possible present at Mugello last week -- a faster Minardi.

Not only that, it also ran reliably in the 'shakedown' test.

''It was amazing that we didn't have any problems at all,'' said the Dutchman, now 26.

The Gabriele Tredozi-designed PS05, in unpainted form at Mugello, will debut at Imola this weekend -- back-of-the-grid Miranda's 325th grand prix.

Albers, however, warned that - with so little testing - San Marino could prove 'quite a challenge.'

He added: ''Clearly, we have a great deal to learn about the car.''

New BAR to debut
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) A new aero spec could allow BAR to pick up where it ended last year.

The fully-revised kit - wings, diffuser and sidepod - was tested at Paul Ricard last week.

''I think we'll be up there at Imola,'' the formerly scathing driver Jenson Button predicted.

And, although he may have cut a chicane in doing so, Japanese teammate Takuma Sato collected the lap record whilst testing the package in southern France.

Honda will also run a new engine-spec at Imola.

''We had a very good race weekend there last year,'' said technical director Geoff Willis, ''so ... expect the car to perform well over the curbs.''

Now Trulli's a Dad
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) Like 'daddy' Juan Pablo Montoya, F1 driver Jarno Trulli is now a father.

The Italian, and wife Barbara, also welcomed a baby boy - named Enzo - into the world.

Scotching the Ferrari link, though, a statement said baby Enzo is named 'after (JT's) grandfather.

''He surprised everybody,'' it added, explaining the slightly premature arrival at Pescara.

Barbara and Enzo are apparently 'doing well.'

Trulli, meanwhile, is looking forward to getting to Imola, where he'll race the aerodynamically revised Toyota.

''It's usually a tough track for the team,'' he noted, ''so I won't try to gauge our competitiveness before we start.''

Spaniard in Ricard run
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) Only McLaren and Renault were left at Paul Ricard on the final day (Friday).

Pedro de la Rosa led Alex Wurz and Renault's Franck Montagny, on a shorter track configuration, in drizzle and rain.

''I've become much more familiar with the MP4-20,'' said Alex Wurz, who'll fill Juan Pablo Montoya's Imola seat if the Colombian is unable.

Then, on Saturday - as a reward for winning the Toyota-powered category - 22-year-old Spanish F3 champion Borja Garcia tested a 2004-spec Toyota F1 at Le Castellet.

Heidfeld will race
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) Although he hurt his back in Paul Ricard testing last week, Williams' Nick Heidfeld will race at Imola this weekend.

The German, after feeling a twinge whilst correcting oversteer, left France last week on the advice of a doctor.

But a spokesman at Grove insisted: ''(The injury is) fairly minor.

''We have no concerns whatsoever.''

The FW27 car, meanwhile, is to sport 'several new parts' at the 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' track.

Williams' technical director Sam Michael vowed: ''We have made progress on performance.''

Desperate for a win
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) Ferrari aren't really that far behind.

That's the resolve of principal Jean Todt, desperate for victory after a miserable start to the '05 season.

The Frenchman told Bild am Sonntag: ''We were fast at Bahrain and will be even stronger at Imola.

''The gap to Renault is much smaller than everyone thinks.''

In another Sunday newspaper, technical director Ross Brawn said he'd be 'very disappointed' if the new F2005 doesn't fight for the win on home soil.

He suggested that tires and poor reliability were, until now, Maranello's main weaknesses.

Scarlet driver Rubens Barrichello agreed that neither is likely to be a big problem from now on.

The Brazilian told La Gazzetta dello Sport: ''Anyway, at Imola - despite what we've found in testing - the (Bridgestone) tires should simply work better.''

Ferrari's Luca Badoer resumes testing on Monday, at Monza.

Spanish sell-out
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) An unprecedented sell-out crowd will encourage Spain's Fernando Alonso to grand prix victory next month at Barcelona.

Circuit de Catalunya said 115,000 would flock there on May 8.

The 23-year-old's dominant Renault team, though, is sure to face a Ferrari-fuelled fight -- even if test driver Franck Montagny doesn't think so.

''I'm not sure (Ferrari) have the pace,'' said the Frenchman, ''to fight for the win.''

On the other hand, Toyota's Mike Gascoyne is expecting a red resurgence. ''Undoubtedly,'' said the technical director, ''Ferrari will not remain where they have been.

''They will make progress, as will Bridgestone.''

'A1 v. F1'? - Surtees
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) Former Jordan driver Ralph Firman faces stiff competition to land the British ride in the new 'A1 grand prix' championship.

He'll go head-to-head at Brands Hatch next month with Adam Carroll, Robbie Kerr and Alex Lloyd.

Chairman of the British A1 franchise is 1964 world champion John Surtees, who played down any talk of the Dubai-funded series being a 'rival' to F1.

''A1 is different,'' said the 71-year-old, ''and - if anything - complements Formula One.''

Friesacher to test PS05
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) Minardi will 'shake down' a second new PS05 in Italy on Wednesday.

Following Christijan Albers' maiden run last Friday, Austrian teammate Patrick Friesacher is to take the wheel just two days prior to opening practice at Imola, near Bologna.

The 24-year-old driver will be at Faenza HQ on Tuesday for a seat fitting, prior to the purely 'systems check' dash.

Gil won't test BAR car
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) Gil de Ferran has 'no plans' to test BAR-Honda's Formula One contender.

He may be a Champ Car and Indy 500 champion, but the Brazilian - new sporting director at Brackley - has had enough at the racing wheel.

De Ferran retired as a winning IRL driver at the end of 2003, and said he's since turned down several offers to drive.

''I have no desire to (test the BAR),'' he insisted, ''and - even if I did - I'm not sure I'm in good enough shape!

''So there might not be any point.''

Gil will attend his first grand prix in the new role at Imola.

Schu and DTM
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) Remember Michael Schumacher v. Mika Hakkinen?

Most motor sport fans acknowledge that they'll never see the multiple world champions wheel-to-wheel again.

Tell that to Hans-Jurgen Abt, though, and he'll just say you lack imagination.

According to the German 'Sid' agency, Abt - Audi chief in the German 'DTM' touring car championship - has invited Schumacher to switch 'any time.

He reportedly said: ''If (Michael) ever gives up on F1, there'll always be a place for him here.''

Even Mika himself wouldn't mind another shot at the seven time drivers' world champion.

''We always had hard but fair duels,'' Hakkinen - who finished eighth on DTM debut at the weekend - told 'Bild' newspaper.

(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) Ferrari's Jean Todt does not have a 'Schumacher-on-standby.'

Asked whether Fernando Alonso is all signed up to slide into the German's soon-to-retire shoes, Todt told Bild am Sonntag that he has an eye on 'several talented drivers.'


Todt's hotter for another notable charger.

JT insisted: ''I consider a young man who drives for a German-English team to be the best choice.''

Kimi Raikkonen, maybe?

''Next question,'' Jean smiled.

Advantage Fisichella
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.18) There's more to come from Giancarlo Fisichella.

The Roman won Melbourne, but - unlike Renault teammate and drivers' leader Fernando Alonso - he said a 'perfect balance' for the R25 still eludes him.

''From my point of view,'' the 32-year-old admitted, ''I have more performance to find.''

However, in terms of engine performance, he might enjoy an advantage over Alonso at Imola.

Because Fisichella's engine blew in Bahrain, a 'b'-spec unit may be available for him -- while Alonso plugs away with his winning Bahrain unit.

Renault engine man Rob White insisted: ''The final decision ... depends on dyno tests and ... analysis ... from testing.''

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