F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
April 28, 2005

Happy Jacques' back
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) For the first time in a while, Jacques Villeneuve feels 'great.'

The bespectacled French Canadian has endured a tough time with Sauber in 2005, speculation hinting that poor form will soon end his career.

But JV, 33, returned to speed at Imola.

''I could really push the car,'' he enthused in an interview.

''I never had any doubts but life will for sure be easier now.''

Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion, reveled in the car's revised aero package, more freedom to set it up, and a new traction control system.

He said the latter was developed 'based on my input.'

Jacques isn't sure, though, that the upward curve can be maintained in Spain next weekend.

''We had a difficult test there,'' he recalled, ''but the goal is to keep up the momentum.''

F1 testing apace
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) Formula One's testing week continued apace around Europe on Wednesday.

At Ferrari's sunny Fiorano circuit near Maranello, Sauber plugged on with Felipe Massa, with Jacques Villeneuve to run on Thursday.

Scarlet duo Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello tested at nearby Mugello, each with a F2005 car, as did fellow local team Minardi, and BAR, who went quickest.

At a third venue, meanwhile, Williams' new tester Nico Rosberg debuted in his 'official' post at Silverstone, albeit outpaced by Mark Webber.

''As he hadn't driven the FW27 before,'' said test manager Tim Newton, ''(Nico) spent the (day) acclimatizing.''

Another debutant in grey Northamptonshire was Nicky Pastorelli, 21, the Dutch-Italian test driver - quicker than Tiago Monteiro - getting his first real run for Jordan.

Date set for Ralf appeal
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) In a saga surely to become known as BAR-gate, it'll be determined next Thursday whether Jenson Button's F1 car is legal.

The 'International Court of Appeal' confirmed it will hear the governing body's case against Imola stewards' no-action ruling on Wednesday.

''The decision is expected (on Thursday) afternoon,'' read a statement.

In a separate communiqué, a date - the day before, Tuesday - was also set for Toyota's appeal against a penalty slapped on Ralf Schumacher.

Again, a decision is due the next day.

Bernie has 'eye' on F1
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) F1 'impresario' Bernie Ecclestone has a shiny new motorhome.

Ditching a silver and ever-antiquated silver 'bus' used for years, the 74-year-old rolled into Imola with a daunting, grey and black monster.

It is reported that two huge, black-tinted, oval-shaped windows are there so that Mr. E can keep an eye on paddock goings-on throughout the European tour.

Moving on to F1's next stop, it was confirmed on Wednesday that Circuit de Catalunya is an unprecedented sell-out for Fernando Alonso's home Spanish grand prix next weekend.

115,000 will pour through the gates on Sunday.

''The atmosphere will be amazing,'' Renault's championship leading Spaniard predicted.

''I hope it'll be a big party for everyone.''

'Let's keep Sir Jackie'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) There's 'revolution' afoot inside the BRDC, owner and F1 promoter at British GP venue Silverstone.

But Ray Bellm, recently ousted as chairman, denied the 'revolt' is personal payback after rows about the grand prix with Sir Jackie Stewart.

He wants Stewart, president and ex-triple F1 champion, to quit as a 'director' but retain a mere 'ambassadorial' role.

''Personalities are not the issue,'' Ray told UK's Daily Mail.

''This is not a Jackie v. Ray show. (Jackie is) great. He opens doors.''

JYS, though, is resolute, and will face the music on May 12 when members vote on whether to remove Stewart as 'president and director.'

''In name, fame and contacts,'' Bellm - insisting that Stewart should not be in charge - wrote in a letter, '(Jackie) has contributed much.''

Rules 'failed' - Webber
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) F1's new rules have failed to inspire more overtaking, Australian driver Mark Webber said.

Williams' 28-year-old claimed that the single-tire-per-race regulation, even more than in the past, has led to 'high speed train' processions in grands prix.

''It is (harder to overtake),'' he agreed with a reporter.

''In the past, when you could pit for new tires a lap or two earlier than the guy ahead of you, you stood a chance.

''But now, whoever pits second will always win the battle.

''In fact,'' said Mark, ''the rule provides even less on-track overtaking because you can't be as quick on your out-lap.''

'Hands off' Newey
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) A McLaren spokeswoman confirmed that Adrian Newey, technical director, has signed a new contract.

But she declined to answer speculation that, preceding a sabbatical or retirement, it'll only take him to the end of 2005.

Signaling the truth, though, Paddy Lowe was named new engineering director, with Newey in a less 'hands on' position.

It's also hypothesized that Newey may have agreed a longer term deal to only return beyond 2006 if it's with Ron Dennis' Woking based team.

''(The terms of the contract) ... will be kept between Adrian and the team,'' the spokeswoman - admitting Adrian's role in longer term 'reorganization' - maintained.

Minardi misfortune
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) Hong Kong driver Marchy Lee Yin-Kin's F1 debut has been called off, Minardi said in Mugello.

The Chinese-domiciled youngster was scheduled to run at the Italian circuit on Thursday.

Paul Stoddart-owned Minardi, based at nearby Faenza, announced in a statement that the run was 'temporarily postponed' due to a 'logistics problem.'

On day one of the tiny team's rare run in Tuscany, meanwhile, Christian Albers - in a new PS05 - collided with Israeli test driver Chanoch Nissany when trying to overtake.

Both cars had to be repaired.

''One zigged when he should have zagged,'' a spokesman - revealing a 'disappointed' team - said.

''It's a shame we lost time with (mechanical) problems,'' said Austrian Patrick Friesacher, in a second PS05.

Kimi can 'still win title'
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) Kimi Raikkonen for 2005 world champion?

Don't rule it out, McLaren's Finnish race driver has insisted.

He told Autosport magazine that, despite a 29-point deficit to title leader Fernando Alonso, the game is still on.

''There are so many races left (that) it is a waste of time to worry about the ... gap,'' 25-year-old Raikkonen - nicknamed 'iceman' despite throwing his steering wheel across the garage at Imola - said.

KR broke down whilst commanding the San Marino grand prix.

In the same publication, Ralf Schumacher explained four grands prix of trailing Toyota teammate Jarno Trulli as down to the car's brake-handling.

''(At Williams) I often braked ten meters later than my teammate,'' the German said, ''but I cannot do that (here).''

Renault's visitor
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) French sport minister Jean-Francois Lamour visited Renault's Viry (engine) factory on Wednesday.

''Congratulations ... for your start to the season,'' he told the entire Anglo-French collaboration in a statement.

Lamour watched a V10 on the dyno. ''I leave Viry amazed,'' he added.

Renault, with the car designed and built at Enstone (UK), will - with Fernando Alonso and Franck Montagny at the wheel - kick off a test run at Jerez (Spain) on Thursday.

Zanardi to test F1 car
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) As previously reported, Williams' 1999 driver, Alex Zanardi, will steer one of Sir Frank's grand prix cars again.

The Italian, who in 2001 lost both legs in a Champ Car smash, visited Imola last weekend and tried the spare FW27 car's F1 cockpit for size.

The next step is a proper seat fitting in Britain, ahead of a (yet undisclosed) test.

Speculation says the 38-year-old may power a hand controlled F1 racer around Indianapolis in June, or at the Nurburgring a few races later.

It's also suggested he may simply do a 'normal' European test.

''A seat will be made for him soon in our (Grove) factory,'' a spokesman told f1racing.net.

Red Bull to begin '06 car
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) Work on Red Bull's 2006 F1 car can now begin.

With a Ferrari engine deal sealed, chief designer Mark Smith - formerly at Renault and (briefly) Jordan - is now seeking the crucial measurements of the Maranello V8 so as to build a racer around it.

''We needed to make a quick decision (about future engine supply),'' the currently Cosworth-powered team's owner Dietrich Mateschitz revealed, ''so we can get on with the RB2 design.''

Elsewhere, it is reported that a group of Red Bull project engineers actually traveled to Ferrari HQ this week to collect data about the V8.

Alonso duel to resume
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) Ferrari 'can win' at Barcelona next weekend, according to unlucky team driver Rubens Barrichello.

Not for the first time in 2005, the 32-year-old Brazilian, at Imola, had to park his red car after - reportedly - a piece of debris damaged an electrical piece.

''We can go proudly to Spain,'' he nonetheless proclaimed to the country's Marca newspaper.

Barrichello said whilst testing at Mugello: ''We tested (at Barcelona) a few weeks ago and were strong. In fact we always seem pretty strong there.

''I am convinced we can win.''

The scarlet duo, though - featuring Michael Schumacher - still have to deal with Imola winner, Renault's Fernando Alonso.

And, if Gian Carlo Minardi had a dollar to bet, he'd put it on a 23-year-old who used to drive a Faenza-built machine.

'''When Schumacher caught him (at Imola),'' the team founder told an 'AP' report, ''everyone around me said 'that's it -- the race is (Michael's)'.

''But I know him well -- Fernando never has a moment of weakness. He's Schumacher's heir.''

Minardi's new muscle
(GMMf1NET -- Apr.28) If Minardi glimmer a little more brightly at Barcelona, you'll know why.

Team principal Paul Stoddart was handed the keys to seven new 'MAN' transporters at Imola.

''It is fun to support the smallest team in Formula One,'' MAN vice president Fred van Putten - whose employer is a personal sponsor of Dutch rookie driver Christijan Albers - was quoted on the albersf1.com website.

MAN also supply Williams and Toyota.

Meanwhile, Minardi insisted it is not breaking the voluntary 'gentlemen's agreement' on testing by running three cars at Mugello.

''We're only allowing two cars on the track at any one time,'' team manager Massimo Rivola explained.

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