F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 21, 2005

PS05 run 'called off'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) F1 rookie Patrick Friesacher will get his first-ever taste of the new PS05 at Imola on Friday.

Minardi called off Wednesday's planned 'shakedown' run at an airfield near Faenza HQ (Italy).

A source reported that the 24-year-old Austrian's car, despite teammate Christijan Albers' run last Friday, was simply not ready for the test.

Albers told website f1racing.net: ''We have to wait and see what the car can do at Imola, but the first day of testing ... felt good.''

Albers' backer out of F1
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) The Netherlands' Christijan Albers has lost a main F1 backer.

Computer firm Trust, who used to sponsor Jos Verstappen, has withdrawn from Formula One.

Minardi rookie Albers, 26, previously wore the 'Trust' logo on his helmet, cap and overalls.

It seems, though, that Christijan's seat at the Faenza-based minnow is not also in jeopardy, despite a need to replace the personal backing.

Bernie to change qualifying
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) F1 'impresario' Bernie Ecclestone is on a mission to, once again, overhaul qualifying.

The 74-year-old will, at Imola, convene team principals in an bid to install a better method for determining the grand prix grid.

In 2005, the new 'aggregate' Saturday/Sunday-morning system has been widely condemned.

It's reported that Bernie, the commercial rights holder, wants a single Saturday session.

''A lot of people agree that the (current) format is ... meaningless,'' Red Bull's Christian Horner told The Guardian newspaper, ''as it falls short of reaching a conclusion on Saturday afternoon.''

Ecclestone's latest format, pending team unanimity, could be installed almost immediately.

Renault bag Spanish sponsor
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) Championship leader Renault has a new Spanish sponsor -- insurance firm Mutua Madrilena.

A statement said the agreement, Mutua's first sports foray, would be 'long term.'

'MM' branding will appear on the R25 car from May's Spanish grand prix at Barcelona.

''This agreement is proof that our team is in excellent health,'' Flavio Briatore commented.

Mutua recorded a profit of 371m Euro last year.

Renault's Spanish F1 ace Fernando Alonso is leading the drivers' world championship.

Meanwhile, team rival BAR announced a deal with seatbelt supplier Takata, and renewed the existing 'SAP' contract.

Jordan to launch 'b' car
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) Jordan will unveil a 'b'-spec grand prix car in July, it is reported.

In a news statement, Portuguese driver Tiago Monteiro said he was 'impressed' after a scale model of the EJ15B was unveiled.

Monteiro commented: ''(Jordan are) making a lot of effort to give us a better car for the second half of the season.''

Eddie Jordan's ailing outfit was bought by Russian-Canadian billionaire Alex Shnaider prior to '05 kick-off.

Pre-EJ15B, though, Tiago warned that revised parts for the existing car, tested at Paul Ricard, are 'not revolutionary.

''So we shouldn't expect miracles (at Imola).''

Ferrari declined Imola run
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) Ferrari considered testing at Imola in the week before the circuit's San Marino grand prix on Sunday.

Sporting director Stefano Domenicali revealed that the option was open as there is 'no testing agreement in place.'

In previous years, the unanimous 'Suzuka' agreement prohibited testing at a track in the month prior to its grand prix.

But Ferrari, after point-blank refusing to sign the disgruntled group of nine's 'gentlemen's agreement' to limit testing to 30 days, thus deem the old pact defunct.

Domenicali added: ''Although we have a different approach ... we respect ... not testing at a (GP) venue just prior to a race.

'''We want to respect the idea we set with the other teams.''

Webber - 'watch Imola'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) Want to know the real pecking-order in F1?

Then, if you follow Mark Webber's advice, check out Sunday's San Marino GP at Imola.

''(The return to Europe) will be a real indication for the form guide,'' BMW-Williams' Australian driver told the country's 'Herald Sun' newspaper.

Webber, 28, also predicts the resurgence at Imola of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher.

''And BAR can only get better -- but we will too,'' he warned.

''We haven't got quite the results we wanted, but then we haven't deserved anything yet.''

Alonso 'not the new Schu'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) Fernando Alonso is not on a cruise to succeed Michael Schumacher as F1 world champion.

That's the belief of BAR driver Jenson Button, who - in 2002 - raced at Renault alongside a notable Spanish tester.

JB, 25, said Alonso - with back-to-back wins in the bag - is doing a 'great job' in the R25.

''But it is still way to early (to pronounce him winner),'' he told Spanish magazine Sie7e.

Button also denied that Alonso, just 23 and on course to become the youngest ever F1 champ, is 'the next Schumacher.

''And I don't believe he thinks he is,'' Jenson added.

Red Bull thank FIA
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) Red Bull has thanked the FIA and rival F1 teams for letting Christian Klien drive the 'third' car at Imola on Friday.

Klien, the sidestepped race driver, would've sat out Imola had Christian Horner failed to overturn a rule prohibiting experienced drivers from taking the spare cockpit.

''Continuity is very important in F1,'' said Horner, the sporting director.

A spot of bad luck, though, is that former man Friday - GP debutant Vitantonio Liuzzi - will be the first car on track for Saturday qualifying.

''It means I'll have a dirty track,'' said the Italian, ''but I'll just have to do my best.''

'Toyota can win '05 title'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) Toyota can win the 2005 world championship.

Cologne-based technical director said it, but - given Renault's speed and a Ferrari recovery - can it be substantiated?

The Briton, noting that both team and driver (Jarno Trulli) are second in the championship, asked rhetorically: ''Why can't we?''

Gascoyne noted that, at Bahrain, although Fernando Alonso won, the failed Giancarlo Fisichella R25 moved Toyota closer to Renault.

Toyota's rock-hard reliability is a strong point.

''(And) we're only a couple of tenths off Renault,'' Mike told RACER magazine. ''It's not going to be straightforward for Ferrari -- they're a long way behind.

''We're racing (Renault) for the championship.''

Trouble at Fiat
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) Italian carmaker Fiat's financial predicament only worsened this week.

The share value of Fiat, owner of Ferrari and Maserati, has fallen to a record low.

It is believed the situation was not helped by an alleged police raid on Fiat, supposedly connected to improper activity.

General Motors, however - the world's top automobile manufacturer - is also in a financial slump.

''It's hard to believe that Fiat will fail,'' a Dow Jones trader commented, ''but the company is in a very hard situation.''

BAR will vote to change quali
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) A move to overturn 'aggregate' qualifying will get the vote of BAR.

Technical director Geoff Willis said the format's biggest fault is that it 'extends a problem race' over more than one grand prix weekend.

As an example, he explained to Autosport that rather than go hell-for-leather in the Bahrain grand prix, BAR's Jenson Button and Takuma Sato adopted a take-it-easy policy 'to get a decent first qualifying (start position)' for Imola.

''One mistake will blight you for two races,'' he described.

'06 Oz GP hits snag
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) Australia may struggle to woo the usual hordes to grand prix venue Albert Park next year.

F1, in the country, is easily outclassed for popularity by the local 'V8 Supercar' category.

But, given the GP date shift from March to late April - to avert a clash with Melbourne's Commonwealth Games - the premier V8's may not, in 2006, rumble as a support event.

A report in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' newspaper claimed that V8 is 'as popular in Melbourne as (Formula One).'

It continued: ''We may soon find out how many grand prix patrons are there for the V8s.''

Ferrari and Imola
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) Ferrari is urging the Tifosi to cheer Italy's scarlet team to victory at Imola this weekend.

In recent years, sporting director Stefano Domenicali - a local lad - has been disappointed with attendance at the 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' track.

''It was a bit better last year,'' he noted. ''I hope the public respond and come to support us.''

Imola will, however, be a guaranteed sea of red -- Ferrari, based in nearby Maranello, have their own grandstand at Rivazza, and invite more than 1000 guests to the Italian circuit per day.

* At Monza (Italy) on Wednesday, Marc Gene tested a F2004M, while Luca Badoer switched to Fiorano to 'shakedown' the Imola-bound F2005s.

Webber '80 percent fit'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.21) Williams' Mark Webber has shouted down claims he might not be fit enough to race at Imola.

The Australian admitted he pulled out of a pre-San Marino test, at Barcelona earlier in April, with the same rib injury sustained in winter.

''I did 60 laps (in Spain),'' Webber, 28, told Autosport, ''and I just said 'look, I just want to be sure that I don't open a can of worms again.''

And, referring to a merciless stretch of upcoming back-to-back grands prix, he added: ''We know what's coming in May, June, July.''

Webber put his recovery at '80 per cent.'

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