F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 20, 2005

Wurz to race at Imola
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.20) Injured McLaren driver Juan Pablo Montoya will also skip the grand prix at Imola.

With a fractured shoulder, the Colombian is to be replaced - unlike in Bahrain where Pedro de la Rosa took the wheel - by regular 'reserve' Alex Wurz.

It'll be the tall Austrian's first start since with Benetton, in 2000.

''Medical experts have advised that it is still too soon for Juan Pablo to return to the ... cockpit,'' read a statement.

Montoya, 29, is suffering from minor atrophy (the shrinking of muscle tissue), but should - it's expected - be back at Barcelona.

De la Rosa will take the 'Friday' drive, and McLaren said it'll decide a full-time resident 'after the Spanish grand prix.'

''It's going to be great to actually race a McLaren,'' Wurz - McLaren tester since 2001 - beamed.

De la Rosa added: ''I am pleased for Alex that he's also having a chance.''

Trulli dampened
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.20) Jarno Trulli is no fan of his 'home' grand prix circuit at Imola.

But the Italian, a surprise second in the drivers' championship, admitted that the pressure to perform is now 'very high.

''We have to keep our feet on the ground,'' the 30-year-old warned.

Perhaps dampening Trulli's enthusiasm is Toyota's dire history over the curbs at the 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' circuit, and a question-mark about Michelin in cooler weather.

Teammate Ralf Schumacher, meanwhile, won his first grand prix at Imola back in 2001.

The German smiled: ''Logic says the next podium should be mine.''

Jordan to stay in Britain
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.20) New team owner 'Midland' has bought the Jordan Grand Prix wind tunnel in Brackley (England).

''This is a capital asset for the future,'' read a statement, indicating that the team - owned by Russian-Canadian billionaire Alex Shnaider - does not intend to relocate.

Midland, to maintain the Dallara link, will also 'invest heavily' in the aerodynamic asset so that it can test a 50 percent car model.

''(This) is definitely the right way to go,'' said Jordan principal Colin Kolles.

Trevor Carlin added: ''Hopefully it will help us build a much more successful car.''

Bahrain search for F1 star
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.20) The hunt is on for Bahrain's first ever Formula One driver.

The ten-year plan was unearthed during a news conference at Sakhir, home of the fledgling Bahrain grand prix.

Any Bahraini aged 18-26 can nominate by collecting an entry form at a 'Bapco' fuel station.

The winner will be funded for a full season in the 'Caterham Gulf Se7en' championship, and receive 'international race tuition from a leading F1 team,' a local newspaper report explained.

DC - 'blah, blah, blah'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.20) 'Blah, blah, blah.'

Those words are not often featured in a grand prix team's pre-race press release.

But Red Bull's David Coulthard is clearly weary of their all-too-traditional banter.

Musing Imola, the Scot said: ''I won't bore you with all the 'Imola is a difficult track, car must ride the curbs, have to be aggressive, overtaking is difficult, blah blah blah ...

''I'm sure you've heard it a thousand times before.''

What, then, does the former McLaren driver want to talk about? ''I like the fact that we're back in Europe,'' DC, 34, said.

''(And) my track record (there) isn't too shabby.''

Villeneuve and Sauber
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.20) All is not well in Jacques Villeneuve-land.

Peter Sauber, the struggling former champion's current grand prix chief, admitted that the team and driver are at odds.

''We are trying to come together as much as possible,'' he told Motorsport Aktuell, ''given our ... constraints.''

Speculation is now endemic that the pairing will soon split.

Sauber, though, denied that the problem is a clashing of personality.

''He is a driver who polarizes, very much so,'' the Swiss admitted, ''but there is no problem on the human side.''

Not even after Villeneuve was removed from the Barcelona test line-up?

Sauber admitted: ''It was probably not pleasant (for Villeneuve).

''And he does need more miles -- but look at (Alex) Wurz in Bahrain. He had never sat in the new McLaren, yet he was quickest.''

Jungle Boy 'ready' to sub
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.20) Williams' Antonio Pizzonia will attend the San Marino grand prix.

It's significant because the Brazilian test driver and official 'reserve' didn't travel - for example - to Malaysia.

Nick Heidfeld (back) and Mark Webber (rib), remember, both pulled out of recent tests for the BMW-powered team with minor injuries.

Pizzonia, 24, is ''ready to race,'' he told Speed TV, ''in case one of the drivers is not in best physical condition.''

Imola to host wet grand prix?
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.20) Rain could fall on the weekend's San Marino grand prix in Italy.

It rained on Tuesday, and more is forecast for Wednesday, ahead of an equally iffy weekend prediction.

A mere top of 10-degrees is expected for the first (dry) day of practice, before cloud rolls in around early evening.

The 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' circuit, not far from Bologna, should remain dry all Saturday -- but GP Sunday is a different matter entirely.

''At this time of year,'' said Williams' Mark Webber, ''it often rains (at Imola) and temperatures are quite low.

''But normally it's a good time to be in a nice part of the world.''

A 60 per cent chance of grand prix rain exists.

F1 champ's grandson
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.20) The grandson of a world F1 champion will share Indianapolis' grand prix track in June.

18-year-old Marco Andretti, son of ex-Ayrton Senna teammate Michael and with 1978 title winner Mario as a granddad, will steer an IRL 'Infiniti Pro' open wheeler.

Porsche Supercup and Formula BMW USA will also support the F1 event. ''There are more ... series than ever,'' enthused Speedway president Joie Chitwood.

Marco's granddad, 65-year-old Mario Andretti, won twelve grands prix, the Indy 500, the IndyCar championship, the Daytona 500 and Sebring 12-Hours.

Ferrari plough ahead
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.20) Ferrari continued to plough ahead with F1 testing in the week of Sunday's grand prix at Imola.

At Monza (Tuesday), Italy's Luca Badoer - in an older F2004M - ran for a second day on the specially-modified track.

Spanish colleague Marc Gene will take over on Wednesday, while Badoer travels to Fiorano for the F2005 'shakedown.'

36-year-old Ferrari racer Michael Schumacher, meanwhile, hinted that luck may have played a part in title leader Fernando Alonso's runaway start to 2005.

The German commented on his website: ''Events have gone in (the Renault driver's) favor.

''However we cannot take it for granted that it will continue.''

Liuzzi 'stressed'?
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.20) Tonio Liuzzi has denied he is feeling the pressure of making a grand prix debut at home.

The Italian, replacing Red Bull's on-form regular Christian Klien at Imola, was born a two-hour drive from the track.

''(But) I don't feel stressed,'' the reigning F3000 champion, 24, insisted. ''I'm quite relaxed.

''Ok, maybe it would be easier if (fellow Italians) Trulli and Fisichella had not done so well,'' he grinned to newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.

Someone, though, forget to tell the team's technical director - Guenther Steiner - about Liuzzi's cool-as-a-cucumber approach to San Marino.

''Tonio will be under some pressure,'' the Italian - with a German-sounding name - predicted.

''But we will keep him focused on the technical side.''

No 'Friday' car - Sauber
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.20) F1 chief Peter Sauber has ruled out running a 'third' car in 2005.

Although having reportedly considered the option, Hinwil's owner and principal told Motorsport Aktuell that Sauber 'do not need' an extra driver.

''We get (enough) support from Michelin,'' he said, ''to decide which tire to use.

''And I doubt that a very young driver would be much help regarding set-up anyway.''

Sauber, who put the 'Friday' cost at around five million euro, had - however - negotiated with Timo Glock (now in Champ Car) and Nicolas Kiesa.

He also explained that a fix for the C24's problems is not likely this year. ''We lack the funding,'' Sauber lamented.

''We will have a proper Michelin car ... only in 2006.''

Imola 'buzzwords'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.20) Curb, chicane, narrow, undulating, technical, brakes, chilly, Tifosi.

These are some of the buzzwords on F1's traditional return to Europe for the San Marino grand prix at Enzo e Dino Ferrari track, near Bologna.


''It can be tough on the car,'' said McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen.

So, too, are the very high curbs, which are - as Jenson Button found out in 2000 - often a surprise for a rookie driver.

''If you get your line wrong,'' warned Fernando Alonso, ''you're in the barrier.''

For Sauber's Felipe Massa, though, the biggest problem - despite the many straights and slow corners - is the lack of overtaking opportunity.

''So qualifying is even more important,'' said the Brazilian.

Imola has also, in the past, been called a 'car' - as opposed to 'driver' - circuit. ''It rewards a complete car,'' Renault man Giancarlo Fisichella agreed, ''that is strong in all areas.''

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