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HEIDFELD CLOSES IN

The battle for the number two seat has concluded with Nick Heidfeld again outpacing Antonio Pizzonia on the only day that they ran similar programmes. Heidfeld suffered an engine failure on the first day to finish half a second down on Pizzonia but on the second day, when they were both put on the same programme with identical fuel loads, Heidfeld edged out his team mate and topped the days times. Pizzonia set the overall second best time for the test on day three, however this was after Heidfeld had departed the test and the pressure was off. Pizzonia is a quick and promising driver but Heidfeld, with less experience with the team, settled in remarkably quickly, provided good feedback and has been generally the quicker of the two. I cannot see anything but Heidfeld being named as Williams’ number two driver on Monday.

Red Bull’s David Coulthard surprisingly topped the test times with a rapid 1’09.175 and once again Klien proved the quicker of the two aspirants for the second seat on the one day that he and Liuzzi ran together. Liuzzi set the forth overall best time, over a second faster than Klien, but this was after Klien had left the test. Klien startled everyone by being the quickest on day one. All in all a good test for Red Bull, despite the fact that they were the only team still using last years (faster) cars, after the turmoil of having both their popular team principal, Tony Purcell, and managing director, Dave Pitchforth inexplicably fired and replaced by Christian Horner and Gunther Steiner, who had previously sacked from the job when the team was called Jaguar.

One of the teams running their 2005 cars was Toyota who had Trulli, Panis and Zonta continuing to rack up miles in the TF105 with Trulli finishing 7th fastest overall. The new BAR 007 was a bit disappointing with both Sato and Button being off the Toyota’s pace and with more engine problems from the new Honda. Another two enormous engine failures during this test, makes it a total of four since the new car began testing just last week.

Renault were the fastest “new car” team at Valencia as they debuted their latest car, the R25. It was a promising start with Alonso, despite encountering hydraulic problems, finishing the test with the 6th best time ahead of Trulli and with Fisichella ending up just one tenth slower than the Toyota’s quickest time.

Meanwhile, at Catalunya, Ferrari turned up with the car that they will start the 2005 season, the 2004M. Michael Schumacher gave the car its first public outing and ended up second fastest to team-mate and test driver, Luca Badoer in the interim car. Despite an oil leak on Schumacher’s car on day two the Ferraris ran like clockwork and raced up a total of 402 laps between them.

Juan Pablo Montoya briefly ran the new McLaren, the MP4/20 on the first day and although putting in just 37 laps was only half a second down on Schumacher’s time. One expects that it will get faster once it has a serious hit out over a longer test.

Sauber were also on hand to test the reliability of their new car and although off the pace of the Ferraris, covered over 1400 kilometres on one engine before Jacques Villeneuve brought proceedings to a premature halt by having a big accident at the forth gear Campsa corner, completely destroying the right rear corner of the car.

VALENCIA

BEST TIMES DRIVER CAR TIME 1 David Coulthard Jaguar R5B 1'09.175 (3) 2 Antonio Pizzonia Williams FW26C 1'09.447 3 Nick Heidfeld Williams FW26C 1'10.079 (2) 4 Vitantonio Liuzzi Jaguar R5B 1'10.224 5 Franck Montagny Renault R24 1'10.252 (4) 6 Fernando Alonso Renault R25 1'10.398 7 Jarno Trulli Toyota TF105 1'10.597 8 Giancarlo Fisichella Renault R25 1'10.636 9 Takuma Sato BAR 007 1'10.803 10 Anthony Davidson BAR 006C 1'10.841 11 Christian Klien Jaguar R5B 1'11.241 (1) 12 Olivier Panis Toyota TF105 1'11.460 13 Jenson Button BAR 007 1'11.557 14 Ricardo Zonta Toyota TF105 1'12.676 15 Andy Priaulx Williams FW26C 1'12.790

(-) fastest on day

BARCELONA

BEST TIMES DRIVER CAR TIME 1 Luca Badoer Ferrari F2004B 1'15.446 (1,2,3) 2 Michael Schumacher Ferrari F2004B 1'15.902 3 Juan Pablo Montoya McLaren MP4/20 1'16.536 4 Felipe Massa Sauber C24 1'17.470 5 Jacques Villeneuve Sauber C24 1'18.108

(-) fastest on day

Sam Snape

31/01/05

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