F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 22, 2005

Fisi to get 'B' engine
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) Giancarlo Fisichella has confirmed that the 'b' engine will be fitted to his Renault at Imola.

''It's a bit lighter,'' the Roman said at the 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' circuit in northern Italy.

He added: ''Not stronger -- but we can run with a few more revs.''

Teammate and drivers' championship leader Fernando Alonso, though, will - as per the two-race rule - make do with the Bahrain V10.

Fisichella's engine blew up at Sakhir.

He also downplayed a suggestion that Spain's Alonso is showing him the way in '05.

But GF, 32, insisted: ''It will be quite difficult to win here -- in first qualifying I'll be out very early.''

Heidfeld 'fine'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) A shoulder injury will not sideline BMW-Williams' Nick Heidfeld at Imola.

The German sparked a muscle 'spasm' when he drove over a bump at Paul Ricard last week.

''It's fine now,'' he said in northern Italy.

''It's still a bit irritated but won't be a problem here.''

Heidfeld, finally with a top-flight team and a podium finisher at Sepang, lauded recent improvements to the FW27.

''We're ahead of where we thought we were going to be,'' the 27-year-old confirmed, ''even if we would ideally like to be even stronger.''

Liuzzi knew he'd debut
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) Vitantonio Liuzzi always knew he would take Christian Klien's race seat at Red Bull from Imola.

The reigning F3000 champ, to debut at a home circuit, revealed that he was told in December that the pair would share.

''The situation has been quite clear,'' he said at the San Marino GP venue.

''It's been difficult to see Christian drive on TV, because I am born to race. Fortunately, now it's my turn.''

Red Bull, who shook down small changes to the RB1 car at Silverstone this week, showed up at Imola with an impressively dominant three-storey motorhome.

Schu may race beyond '06
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) Seven time champion Michael Schumacher may stick around in F1 beyond the end of a '06 contract.

The German, at Imola, said he has had 'a private chat' with team principal Jean Todt about the future.

Schumacher let the story slip when earlier asked about a link between Ferrari and Fernando Alonso.

''I said that ... (Ferrari) talk less about Fernando than ... my future,'' Michael explained.

He said Ferrari have an 'open door' policy regarding Schumacher and contract extension.

''Open means open,'' MS smiled when asked for clarification.

He continued: ''I could not have a better situation.''

Michael is also confident the new F2005, with a new aero package and Bridgestone tire construction, will not - like at Bahrain - break down on Sunday.

McLaren rumor-monger
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) Montoya on a motorbike and Raikkonen on the drink?

According to Mercedes' motorsport director Norbert Haug, someone in the F1 paddock is starting false rumors.

The German expressed cynicism after both negative stories about McLaren F1 drivers emerged at the same time in Bahrain.

''We know there is a (team),'' Haug told sport.de, ''who spread these (rumors) ... probably to destabilize us.

''But we are strong enough as a team that it does not succeed.''

Haug did not name the team in question.

Richards' $100k
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) Former BAR principal David Richards has donated $95,000 (50,000 UK) to the British prime minister.

ft.com reported that Tony Blair's Labor party 'accepted' the gift.

Richards' Prodrive company, the report explained, is a government advisor for investment in the racing sector.

The donation, though, is likely to be controversial, as DR - a CBE recipient - is also opposed to the outlawing of tobacco advertising in motor sport.

In 1997, Bernie Ecclestone donated 1m to Blair, just prior to the government's decision to exempt F1 from a tobacco ban.

Shell and Ferrari
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) 'Shell' will stay on Ferrari's grand prix livery until the end of 2010.

It is believed that Chinese oil rival Sinopec tried to land the multi million dollar deal.

The contract will be 're-signed' at Imola this weekend, a Ferrari statement explained.

''We have one of the strongest ... relationships in pitlane,'' said principal Jean Todt.

Red Bull's 'exclusive' V10
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) At Imola, Red Bull and Minardi will be fitted with identical-specification Cosworth V10s.

The debut of Faenza-built 'PS05' means Minardi can ditch the outdated unit and run TJ2005 -- a 60hp improvement.

But Tim Routsis, managing director at the engine supplier, said Red Bull will enjoy an update at either the American or Canadian grand prix.

''It will be exclusive to Red Bull Racing,'' he explained, ''with a gain of 30 (horse power).''

Routsis also revealed that next year's V8 design is already on the dyno and 'routinely' clocking up 20,000rpm.

An F1 V10 peaks at around 19,000.

So who'll be powered by Cosworth in 2006, then? The MD said negotiations 'are ongoing.'

Rubens' smiling again
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) Rubens' was a broader smile in the Imola paddock.

The Brazilian, Ferrari's Mr. Barrichello, had traveled to Bahrain with scarce experience of the new F2005 -- but San Marino will be different.

He's been hard-at-work in Italy ever since.

''We have made progress in every area,'' the 32-year-old reported, ''from aero, to engine, to (Bridgestone) tire.''

RB and Ferrari colleagues also pounded around Mugello, Fiorano and Monza, and experienced no gearbox trouble.

He, therefore, dismissed talk of a scarlet crisis.

''You cannot judge a season on three races,'' said Rubinho, ''especially this year (with a very long calendar).''

Can Liuzzi handle it?
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) Can Tonio Liuzzi handle the pressure?

It's a question Christian Klien, Austria's 'replaced' Red Bull racer, whispered in the Imola paddock on Thursday.

Until now, Liuzzi was Klien's Friday deputy.

''I think Tonio will face great pressure,'' Christian, 22 - to assume the Friday role - stated.

''Test driving is one thing, but racing is quite another.''

Italian rookie Liuzzi, though, comes to the grid with some impressive credentials. He crushed all in F3000 last year, and - in 2001 - was the man who stopped Michael Schumacher winning a one-off world kart event.

''We haven't talked (about that),'' Tonio - full name 'Vitantonio' - grinned to The Independent.

'Schu could quit' - Button
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) Michael Schumacher fans should despair if the Ferrari driver comes back to win an eighth drivers' world F1 championship.

Jenson Button thinks the German, 36, will quit if he conquers 2005.

''(But) I think if he loses ... he'll continue,'' BAR's Englishman told the AFP agency.

JB could be forgiven for secretly hoping that Michael's long career is nearly at an end, thus opening a coveted grand prix seat.

But he said the loss of Schumi would be 'disappointing.'

Button also admitted that, after a couple of positive tests, he's 'been thinking' about that still-elusive first win.

''We (have) found quite a bit with the aero, and sorted out our reliability.

''We need to be looking at ... the podium.''

No pressure on Fernando
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) If Spain's F1 title leader Fernando Alonso is feeling the pressure, he's not letting it show.

The Renault driver, with a 10 point lead to Jarno Trulli, said he used to feel 'more pressure' in his go-karting days.

''There,'' he told Associated Press, ''if you don't win you don't race -- you go back to school.''

Fernando - who played soccer in San Marino with Giancarlo Fisichella, Michael Schumacher and Jarno Trulli on Wednesday night - continued: ''(But) if I don't win in Imola, I'll try in Barcelona.''

Imola shouldn't, though, pose a problem on the road to Renault victory, as far as the team's Pat Symonds is concerned.

''Ferrari will come back,'' he told the Daily Telegraph, ''but I'm not convinced it'll be here.''

Friend of Felipe
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) Often, in racing - and in life - it's not what you know, but who.

Brazilian GP2 driver Alexandre Negrao, 19 - teammate to Nelson Piquet Jr - has won a distinct advantage over his rivals.

A GP2 pass at Imola does not grant access to the F1 paddock.

Negrao, though, is a friend of Sauber driver and countryman, Felipe Massa -- who hastily organized a guest pass.

''I'll need to get to F1 on my own merit,'' he said on his website. ''That's (how) I'll ... get through that ... gate without ... someone else's help.''

JV denies Sauber rift
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) Sauber straggler Jacques Villeneuve has denied he is 'at a difficult point' with the team.

In the Imola paddock, the French-Canadian and former champion said an interview with Peter Sauber to that effect 'must have been' badly translated.

''I am not sure where that came from,'' said JV, 33 and reportedly in danger of losing his spot at Hinwil despite the two-year agreement.

He rejected claims he fell out with Sauber after being stood down at a recent F1 test.

Villeneuve said: ''We've always got along.

''(Getting up to speed) is just taking longer than expected.

''I don't intend to just walk out.''

'Too early' for Schu talks
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) Alonso, Raikkonen, Massa, Webber -- they're Michael Schumacher's top four.

Ferrari's 'number one' doesn't often, as he did at Imola on Thursday, list his favorite few, but he was fighting out of speculation linking Fernando Alonso to Ferrari.

In so doing, he pressed the case for the other three 'very good drivers' - and started talking about his own future.

''I don't think Michael will stop in 2006,'' Germany's 'Bild' newspaper quoted father Rolf Schumacher as saying.

Michael's manager Willi Weber, though - conceding that a 'private chat' or two might have taken place - denied that serious contract negotiations are already in play.

''It's far too early (for that),'' he told DPA.

'It'll be a wet race'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) It'll almost certainly be a wet San Marino grand prix.

A ninety per cent chance of showers in the region of the 'Circuit Enzo e Dino Ferrari', throughout April 24, is forecast.

Imola rookie Narain Karthikeyan likes the sound of that.

''It rained on Thursday morning,'' he told mid-day.com. ''I think (it will) be a wet-dry kind of race and I do well in those conditions.''

His Jordan team, meanwhile, announced an 'official mobile provider' (sponsor) -- T-Mobile.

'I can be champion' - Fisi
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.22) Giancarlo Fisichella believes he can still become 2005 champion.

The Roman might be sixteen points behind runaway title leader and teammate Fernando Alonso, but he insisted he has 'the same chance' to do well.

''Anything can happen,'' said the Renault driver, who crashed in Malaysia and suffered a blown engine at Bahrain.

''Fernando has an advantage over me but we still have the same car.''

Fisichella also admitted feeling the pressure of racing at Imola, in northern Italy.

''Definitely,'' he said, ''but it's not necessarily a bad thing -- I can handle that.''

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