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NEW CARS AND OWNERS

Valencia’s Ricardo Torno circuit was the venue for the unveiling of the second and third new cars for 2005. Both BAR and Sauber showed up with their new cars and of the two the BAR was generally the quicker. The BAR 007 in the hands of Button and Davidson completed three days of running and set quite good times, but they did have two engine failures so Honda seems to have some work to do.

The test was dominated by McLaren with Montoya being quickest on day one and Alexander Wurz topping the sheets for the remaining two days. Wurz was in fact, over a second faster than anyone else during the test with a time of 1’09.510.

Renault were also there, still with last years cars and ended up with second and third best overall times to Alonso and Montagny respectively. They continue to rack up plenty of miles for Michelin.

Sauber turned up with their new C24 model with Jacques Villeneuve at the wheel for the first two days doing set-up and long distance work and Felipe Massa, who took over on the final day to record the forth best time of the test.

Meanwhile, at Jordan a deal has been struck for Russian born Alex Shnaider to take control of the team. The team will continue, for 2005 at least, to be called Jordan Grand Prix but may change its name to Midland in the future. This means that Shnaider’s Midland F1 team that was to use Dallara designed chassis next year will now no longer have to pay the $48 million entry deposit and will have immediate access to Jordan’s F.O.M. funding.

Eddie Jordan confirmed that he will continue to play a role in the team, taking on the role of commercial director while Shnaider will be the team principal. “I will remain involved with the team throughout the 2005 season and will be working with Jordan in a variety of capacities as we move forward.

“I have devoted 35 years of my life to motor racing and have had some really fantastic times. The last fourteen years when I have been lucky enough to be involved in Formula 1 have been a highlight, naturally, and winning our first Grand Prix in 1988, which broke the grip that the top teams of the time had on the sport, is for me a personal triumph.”

One hopes that Eddie will continue with the team in the longer term, it really would be a shame to lose his flamboyant style for ever.

BEST TIMES DRIVER CAR TIME 1 Alexander Wurz McLaren MP4/19C 1'09.510 (2,3) 2 Fernando Alonso Renault R24 1'10.688 3 Franck Montagny Renault R24 1'11.179 4 Felipe Massa Sauber C24 1'11.215 5 Jenson Button BAR 007 1'11.255 6 Juan Pablo Montoya McLaren MP4/19C 1'11.336 (1) 7 Takuma Sato BAR 006C 1'11.388 8 Anthony Davidson BAR 007 1'11.499 9 Enrique Bernoldi BAR 006C 1'11.724 10 Jacques Villeneuve Sauber C24 1'12.217

(-) fastest on day

Sam Snape

23-1-05

FERRARI TOPS THE LIST

Ferrari broke out of their winter hibernation and topped the timesheets at the end of the latest test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya. This, however, was not all that it seemed. Michael Schumacher in last years car was the one at the top of the list, were it should be but in the car running with this years aero package they struggled to better the times set by the new Toyota. Indeed on day 1 Michael was six tenths slower than Trulli and only marginally faster on day two. It was only on the final day that Rubens Barrichello managed to slip in a fast time on a day that the Toyotas were beset by engine and hydraulic dramas.

Toyota themselves were content to concentrate on set-up work on the new cars although this was hampered by the very slippery track conditions as well as the mechanical problems. With only four cars running this years package, which has about 20% less downforce, it was no surprise that the two new Toyotas were near the bottom of the timesheets overall. The only other two were the Ferraris and of them on Barrichello broke under the 1 minute 17 second barrier with his quick day four time.

The only other two teams in attendance both continued their respective “driver shoot-outs” with once again Nick Heidfeld proving a match for Antonio Pizzonia in The Williams and Christian Klien showing a clean pair oh heels to Liuzzi at Red Bull. Although Pizzonia actually pipped Heidfeld for the first time here it was mostly because his fast time was set late in the day on a cooling track with fresh tyres. Heidfeld however, was still very impressive, setting second best time on day two, just three tenths behind team leader, Mark Webber.

At Red Bull, David Coulthard continued to show his ability and actually topped the charts on day three with the third best time of the entire test. Despite a massive head on crash into the barriers Klien still set a time exactly one second faster than Liuzzi’s best although Liuzzi impressed when he beat both Klien and Coulthard on day two.

If I had to guess who the number two drivers will be at these teams, it would be Heidfeld for sure, and probably Klien, who has the benefit of a years experience, with Liuzzi as the Friday tester. If Liuzzi proved the faster of the two over the first four races I would then start thinking about a switch.

BEST TIMES DRIVER CAR TIME 1 Michael Schumacher Ferrari F2004 1'15.461 (1) 2 Rubens Barrichello Ferrari F2004B 1'16.131(4) 3 David Coulthard Jaguar R5B 1'16.134(3) 4 Antonio Pizzonia Williams FW26C 1'16.230 5 Mark Webber Williams FW26C 1'16.627 (2) 6 Olivier Panis Toyota TF104B 1'16.796 7 Nick Heidfeld Williams FW26C 1'16.954 8 Christian Klien Jaguar R5B 1'17.035 9 Jarno Trulli Toyota TF105 1'17.335 10 Ralf Schumacher Toyota TF105 1'17.490 11 Vitantonio Liuzzi Jaguar R5B 1'18.035

(-) fastest on day

Sam Snape

22-01-05

LIFE BEGINS ANEW

It is Monday January 10, 2005. It is early in the morning in Jerez, Portugal, it is bloody cold and the Christmas stuffing has only just worn off. It is, however, time to get back to work for the F1 test teams and there will be hardly a day that goes by between now and the end of February when the planes are loaded up for the flight to Melbourne when someone is not testing somewhere. This test went for seven days with the first five planned for (hopefully) dry weather and the last two for wet tyre testing.


Williams and BAR were the first two teams to break cover for the new year. Williams had Webber and both race hopefuls, Nick Heidfeld and Antonio Pizzonia on hand in “B” versions of last years car evaluating new suspension and gearbox components but with last years aero package. BAR had their “concept” car on hand, last years chassis with an upgraded Honda engine and this year’s gearbox, suspension and aero kit, for Button and test drivers, Anthony Davidson and Enrique Bernoldi.

Williams, with last year’s aero kit, were always going to be amongst the fastest and sure enough, one of their drivers topped the timesheets on each of the first three days. The surprise was that it was Nick Heidfeld who topped the sheets on day 1 beating team leader Webber’s best by a tenth of a second. Webber topped the times for the next two days with a best of 1’16.347, which would be the second best of the entire week. Heidfeld continued to impress the Williams team, after pipping Webber on day one, he was just two tenths down on day two and bettered anything that Pizzonia could come up with during the rest of the week. Admittedly Pizzonia suffered a string of niggling problems which hampered his runs but as every test goes by where Heidfeld is faster than he is, it becomes more likely that the German will get the race drive. Pizzonia needs to show some speed, fast.

BAR were the quickest of any team running a 2005 aero package on their 006 “concept” car. Buttons best of 1’17.568 was half a second up on the new Toyota and the interim Ferrari. Davidson was just a couple of tenths off Button and while Bernoldi was at the bottom of the time sheets at the close of proceedings he did top the list on day six in the wet.

Toyota and Renault turned up in time to start running on Tuesday, Renault had test driver Franck Montagny doing long distance Michelin tyre testing with last year aero kit so he was never going to be all that quick. In his four days of running he completed 444 laps, the equivalent of almost seven Grand Prix distances. Toyota were the first to reveal their new 2005 car, the TF105, and had one for Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli with test driver Ricardo Zonta running in one of last years chassis. Both Ralf and Jarno expressed optimism with the TF105 with Ralf saying “I must say it is one of the few cars that felt good from the start.” That it is running with an interim aero package, they will not reveal the final version until just before the Australian GP to avoid giving anything away, is a promising sign for Toyota. That they finished ahead of Ferrari who had an early version of the car with which they will start the season is a sign of how far they have come. It must be noted however, that Ferrari had just Marc Gene’ on hand. As competent a driver as Gene’ is, he ain’t no Michael Schumacher. Gene’ finished the test with the second slowest best time, a whole two and a quarter seconds off the pace. I couldn’t imagine that happening with the German in the seat. Ricardo Zonta showed some good pace in the old car and set the best time on the forth day of the test ahead of the battling McLaren twins.

The only other team to show was McLaren who again were doing tyre testing for Michelin but also let their drivers do some quick short runs so Juan Pablo Montoya can get a feel for how the car feels on light tanks. Of the three, test driver Alexander Wurz was the best with a time of 1’16.052, which was also the fastest of the week. Montoya set the week’s third fastest time, half a second slower than Wurz with Kimi Raikkonen a further three tenths back. On the only day that they ran together however, Raikkonen pipped his new team-mate by a tenth and could depart a happy man after winning round one in what is shaping up as one of the highlights of the year. If McLaren can produce a car that is capable of winning we could have some great races between Raikkonen and Montoya.

And it is just six weeks to Melbourne.

BEST TIMES DRIVER CAR TIME 1 Alexander Wurz McLaren MP4/19C 1'16.052 (5) 2 Mark Webber Williams FW26B 1'16.437 (2,3) 3 Juan Pablo Montoya McLaren MP4/19C 1'16.558 4 Ricardo Zonta Toyota TF104B 1'16.672 (4) 5 Nick Heidfeld Williams FW26B 1'16.736 (1) 6 Kimi Raikkonen McLaren MP4/19C 1'16.814 (7) 7 Antonio Pizzonia Williams FW26B 1'17.070 8 Franck Montagny Renault R24B 1'17.458 9 Jenson Button BAR 006B 1'17.568 10 Anthony Davidson BAR 006B 1'17.705 11 Jarno Trulli Toyota TF105 1'18.048 12 Ralf Schumacher Toyota TF105 1'18.242 13 Marc Gene' Ferrari F2004B 1'18.255 14 Enrique Bernoldi BAR 006B 1'18.589 (6)

(-) fastest on day

Sam Snape

18-01-05

SIGNINGS

The last week has seen a couple of contract signings in F1and a fantastic one for Australia in the WRC. Firstly, as expected, David Coulthard signed for one year with the new Red Bull team after his impressive test at Jerez. It extends the career of F1’s second most successful current driver into a 12th season but after having only driven for Williams and McLaren in his career, it would seem he has begun his slow slide down the ladder and out. A pity, because DC is probably the nicest guy in F1 at the moment, and is always willing to stop and chat, to fans and media alike. Who knows, maybe we will see some of that speed that has always lurked just below the surface and he can resurrect his career.

Dutchman, Christijan Albers has had an early Christmas present with his signing for the under funded Minardi team. He will bring Sponsorship from Dutch company Lost Boys, which had previously sponsored the Arrows team with Jos Verstappen. After a fairly successful stint in the German Touring Car championship he performed outstandingly in two recent tests for both Minardi and Jordan. Undoubtedly Minardi boss, Aussie Paul Stoddart, will hope that more Dutch sponsors will follow.

In a big surprise, Queenslander Chris Atkinson, who finished a fine fifth outright in the recent Rally Australia, has been signed for a full season in the second factory Subaru Impreza in the World Rally Championship. Atkinson joins former World Champ Petter Solberg and former F1 Minardi driver, Stephane Sarrazin in the squad and will share the nomination as the second Manufacturers points scoring spot with Sarrazin. It is likely that Sarrazin will be the nominated points scorer on tarmac rallies and Atkinson will get the nod on the gravel events. Due to his late signing he will not contest next months Monte Carlo Rally but will debut in the Swedish Rally in February.

Unfortunately it appears that Ryan Briscoe’s chances of being on the grid in Melbourne are pretty much over. Jordan, who were expected to take him along with the Toyota engines, are still struggling to find funding for next year and are after more money than Briscoe can raise. On the bright side however, it looks almost certain that Briscoe will join fellow Antipodean, Scott Dixon in the Target Chip Ganassi Racing Team in the IRL which has strong ties to Toyota.

Sam Snape
23/12/2004

Shoot Out at Jerez?

Early in the week Williams management were talking about a “shoot out” between Antonio Pizzonia and Nick Heidfeld to take place at the Jerez Test beginning December 7. If indeed it was a shoot out then Pizzonia is lying mortally wounded in the dust as Heidfeld was not only three tenths faster on the only day they both ran but was fastest of all in the wet on day five and the fastest of all three Williams drivers over the whole six days. By the end of the week, Sam Michael, Williams Technical Director, was talking down the “shoot out” claiming that any comparisons were worthless because of car issues. The only problem with that comment is that the only car “issues” affected Heidfeld who had a hydraulic leak on the Friday morning. Pizzonia had no such dramas on the day completing a trouble free 141 laps. Heidfeld was simply impressive all week. On his first day (Thursday) he completed 122 laps and finished the day just 0.049 seconds behind team leader Mark Webber, on the Friday he beat Pizzonia and on the Saturday he was the quickest in the wet by almost nine tenths of a second over the next best driver. It would appear that Frank and Patrick now have some serious thinking to do regarding their second race driver for next year.

Another driver who was having a make or break test was Red Bull hopeful, David Coulthard. Despite being written out of the drive by new team owner Dietrich Mateschitz just a week ago he now appears to be back in favour. On the two days that he ran he was comfortably faster than any of the other Red Bull drivers on hand. On Tuesday in his first day in the car he set a time of 1’18.079 which was six tenths better than regular driver Christian Klien and one and a half seconds better than the other hopeful for the seat, Vitantonio Liuzzi. On Wednesday he was again six tenths faster than Klien and eight tenths up on Liuzzi. One would think that he hasn’t done himself any his chances any harm in this showing. After Coulthard had left on the Friday,, which was the quickest day of the six, Klien set a creditable seventh best time of 1’17.117 and ex Sauber tester Neel Jani managed a 1’19.002.

Ferrari began it’s mammoth Bridgestone tyre testing sessions with three drivers on hand. Luca Badoer racked up an enormous 369 laps in just four days supported by Marc Gene’ who completed 228 laps in two days and Rubens Barrichello, back from a short holiday, who did 134 laps in his two days. Bridgestone technical manager, Hisao Suganuma said,”We’ve looked at ten constructions and ten compounds and it has been a very good test. We tested many new things and will now assess the data to decide which tyres we will bring for testing in January.”

Time wise, the best of the test was the McLaren team who had three of their four drivers in the top three positions overall. Pedro de la Rose was the only driver to dip under the 1’16’ second bracket with a brilliant lap of 1’15.837 on Wednesday. He continued this form being fastest on Sunday as well in the wet. He was followed by Raikkonen who was quickest on Thursday and Friday and second overall, and Montoya in third who set the best time on day one.

Toyota also continued to show off-season form with Trulli, Ralf Schumacher and Ricardo Zonta all showing good pace and Ralf was delighted with the progress that the team has made since he began testing with them.Also in action were B.A.R. and Renault who continued to do plenty of mileage for Michelin. B.A.R. Were running their “concept” car with the 2005 rear end bolted onto this years chassis for drivers Button, Sato, Davidson and Bernoldi and Renault had Fisichella and Montagny on hand running with a 2005 aero package.

BEST TIMES

DRIVER CAR TIME 1Pedro de la Rosa McLaren MP4/19C 1'15.837 (2,6) 2Kimi Raikkonen McLaren MP4/19C 1'16.307 (3,4) 3Juan Pablo Montoya McLaren MP4/19C 1'16.545(1) 4Nick Heidfeld Williams FW26B 1'16.740 (5) 5Rubens Barrichello Ferrari F2004B 1'16.800 6Jarno Trulli Toyota TF104C 1'16.838 7Luca Badoer Ferrari F2004B 1'16.932 8Ralf Schumacher Toyota TF104C 1'16.937 9Antonio Pizzonia Williams FW26B 1'17.097 10Christian Klien Jaguar R5C 1'17.117 11Ricardo Zonta Toyota TF104C 1'17.154 12Alexander Wurz McLaren MP4/19C 1'17.308 13Mark Webber Williams FW26B 1'17.521 14Franck Montagny Renault R24B 1'17.650 15Giancarlo Fisichella Renault R24B 1'17.850 16David Coulthard Jaguar R5C 1'18.009 17Jenson Button BAR 006C 1'18.155 18Anthony Davidson BAR 006C 1'18.243 19Takuma Sato BAR 006C 1'18.400 20Marc Gene' Ferrari F2004B 1'18.789 21Vitantonio Liuzzi Jaguar R5C 1'18.792 22Neel Jani Jaguar R5C 1'19.002 23Enrique Bernoldi BAR 006C 1'19.007

(-) Fastest on day.

Sam Snape
13-12-2004