F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 27, 2005

F1 back on testing trail
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.27) After Imola, Formula One is already back on Europe's testing trail.

On Tuesday, three teams ran at no less than three separate circuits in Italy and England.

At Ferrari's private 'Pista di Fiorano' venue, Sauber and Felipe Massa clocked up the first of a three-day program.

Jacques Villeneuve will run on Thursday. ''That we could use the track exclusively,'' said engineer Mike Krack, ''(was a) help.''

Not far away, at Mugello in Tuscany, Ferrari's Luca Badoer and Marc Gene shared a new model.

It was Spaniard Gene's F2005 debut.

Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello will take over on Wednesday.

Lastly, in rural Northamptonshire, Williams' Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia splashed around in the rain.

''Hopefully it'll dry up tomorrow,'' said test manager Tim Newton.

On Wednesday, German-Finnish tester Nico Rosberg will replace Pizzonia. Later in the week, meanwhile, Jerez - in south Spain - will burst into life.

JPM backed, by Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.27) Michael Schumacher has seemingly backed F1 rival Juan Pablo Montoya amid suspicion the Colombian broke his shoulder in an off-road motorbike crash.

JPM's official version is that he slipped on a tennis court.

But Schumacher, 36, hinted that a driver should not be condemned for taking a 'risk' or two.

Indeed, Ferrari's German spent all winter on Norwegian ski slopes. ''You can't just hide yourself away,'' Schumacher - who also admitted to trying to master the art of snow boarding - insisted.

''You can't just say 'ok, I am a (race) driver, I must sacrifice my whole personal life'.

''No -- you would soon lose your motivation.''

Alonso to get 'b' engine
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.27) Fernando Alonso will get his hands on Renault's new 'b' spec Renault engine at Barcelona.

For the Imola race, the Spaniard had to make-do with his well-used - and slightly damaged - Bahrain specification, whilst teammate Giancarlo Fisichella tried the 'b'.

''The (Imola) weekend was incident free for the (new) unit,'' engine technical director Rob White revealed, although Fisichella crashed on lap-5.

He added: ''We are looking forward to ... having the opportunity to show (the 'b' specification's) full potential.''

Kimi 'fined 30,000 euro'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.27) F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen is back in the wrong section of the newspaper.

But, this time, the 25-year-old was ordered to pay a 30,000 euro fine by a Finnish court.

Local news agency 'STT' said Raikkonen, who didn't show up in court, was stopped by police more than a year ago pulling an 'illegal' trailer load.

A policeman told the court Kimi was 'pulling three snowmobiles.'

In Finland, the size of a traffic violation is based on monthly income -- which, in Kimi's case, according to the police report, was 150,000 euro.

''He ... initially contested the ... fine,'' STT reported.

'Schu more for F1' - Bernie
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.27) 'Superstar' world champion Michael Schumacher does not do enough for Formula One, supremo Bernie Ecclestone said.

The 74-year-old told UK's 'The Independent' newspaper that the Ferrari driver and his F1 rivals just 'take a lot of money' out of the Paddock.

''I'm happy for them,'' he started.

''But it would be nice if they signed a few more autographs, gave a few more interviews.''

Ecclestone singled-out Schumacher as a particular 'culprit.'

''He's very nice,'' said the commercial rights holder and F1 chief executive, ''but people ... can't get close enough.''

Bernie praised more 'outspoken' drivers like former Ferrari man Eddie Irvine, or Jacques Villeneuve.

He also doubted that the threatened carmaker 'breakaway' would ever come to anything.

''I don't even think they want it (to),'' Ecclestone said.

'We didn't cheat' - BAR
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.27) Nick Fry lashed out at claims that F1 team BAR-Honda 'deliberately' cheated at Imola.

Amid talk of a secret fuel tank that masks an underweight car, the Brackley-based 'CEO' told the media that the team 'hid nothing.'

Fry said owners BAT and Honda have 'huge integrity.

''Does anyone really think we would deliberately do anything (that is) against the rules?''

Moreover, the FIA - to appeal Imola stewards' decision to clear Jenson Button's podium-getting racer - 'has seen' the fuel system in question, Fry insisted.

If found guilty at next Wednesday's hearing, though, BAR face possible race bans or total exclusion.

Nick, meanwhile, hinted that the saga may be someone's attempt to 'destabilize' the team.

But he warned: ''(It won't) work. We're bigger than that.''

John Love
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.27) Zimbabwe-born F1 driver John Love has died, aged 80.

The multiple South African champion and 1962 British saloon car champion's greatest moment came when he led the 1967 South African grand prix at Kyalami in an outdated Cooper, but had to pit for fuel.

Born in 1924, he died of Cancer.

'I didn't enjoy Imola duel'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.27) At least one observer of 'Alonso v. Schumacher' at Imola didn't really enjoy the duel -- Jean Todt.

The Ferrari principal said he squeezed 'a quarter-smile' at the flag.

''The only thing that makes me happy is Ferrari winning,'' Todt said.

''I didn't enjoy (the battle) as much as everyone else because I knew (Michael) probably could not overtake.''

McLaren's Ron Dennis, meanwhile, moved to temper the Frenchman's optimism that - if not for qualifying - Schumacher would've easily won.

The Woking CEO revealed that Kimi Raikkonen, who led commandingly before a driveshaft failure, would have pitted later 'than anybody.'

Ron told Speed TV: ''(He) probably (would have) walked it.''

Berger to 'bet on Schu'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.27) Michael Schumacher. Fernando Alonso.

Former F1 driver Gerhard Berger knows who he'll be betting on -- the German champion.

''After what I saw happen in Imola,'' the Austrian - also former joint BMW motor sport director with Dr Mario Theissen - told a Frankfurt newspaper, ''I'd bet on Michael.''

Berger, 45, said that in Italy, Alonso's Renault was clearly a 'weaker' grand prix car.

But the young Spaniard, he countered, did a mega job of keeping a seven time title winner in the rear view mirror.

Alonso, 23, revealed that he kept Schumacher in check by braking too hard into slower corners, so as to - as well as preserve a dodgy engine - get back on the throttle earlier.

Berger said Fernando drove 'like an experienced world champion.'

Ferrari set for 'big update'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.27) Ferrari will unveil the biggest bodywork update yet for their F2005 car at Barcelona, we reveal.

And, given Bridgestone's resurgence to form at Imola last Sunday, world champion Michael Schumacher is sure he's 'back fighting for the title.'

''Bridgestone screwed up in Bahrain,'' tire rival Michelin's Pierre Dupasquier noted to Reuters, ''but ... they're definitely back in business.''

Spain's Circuit de Catalunya, though, is a completely different kettle of fish to start-stop, anti-clockwise Imola.

Flowing Barcelona, for example, will give - for the first time in 2005 - the front tire a workout.

But Ferrari's Ross Brawn is upbeat.

''The car is very good in fast corners,'' the technical director smiled. ''A great car.''

Turkey runs out of F1 cash
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.27) It's reported that Turkey's new F1 venue has fallen $53 million short.

Zaman Daily Newspaper claimed that the Chamber of Commerce is 'in search of a source (of money)' to complete construction of the track near Istanbul.

Turkey is scheduled to host its inaugural grand prix in August, but 'an extra $55.1m is needed,' the publication went on, 'to avoid ... problems.'

Now tipping the scale at more than $153 million, only $100m was set aside for the F1 project.

''The planned ... increase ... will be presented for parliamentary approval,'' Zaman added.

Coincidentally, German F1 driver Ralf Schumacher visited Istanbul (for Toyota sponsor Panasonic) earlier this week.

''A new track is always a thrill,'' he told a press conference.

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