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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

THE RAIN IN SPAIN

Falls mainly on Jerez when the F1 brigade go testing there. Most teams turned up on Wednesday for a four day test and apart from one or two moments when the track was not quite as wet as the rest of the time they all got to do a lot of wet weather tyre testing. Final times were meaningless as Felipe Massa set a time in the Sauber of 1’17.513, almost a whole two seconds up on the next fastest driver, Jarno Trulli, while running in almost dry conditions on the first day. The fact that team mate Jacques Villeneuve was quickest on each of the next two days and could only manage a 1’28.345 on the third day tells the tale.

Ferrari had Badoer and Gene’ on hand again to do aerodynamic work while BAR had no less than five drivers on hand to go through their programme. Along with Sato and Bernoldi came South African Alan van der Merwe and Brits, Adam Carroll and James Rossiter. Carroll and Rossiter were well off the pace in their first runs in a F1 car but Van der Merwe showed some promise. Bernoldi completely destroyed one of the 006 chassis and plenty of data logging equipment when he aquaplaned under braking for the tight right hander at the end of the back straight. Renault had Fisichella and Montagny on hand again, having to abandon their planned programme and just concentrate on getting more mileage in the conditions.

Webber was out again for Williams and set a fine third fastest on the only day he ran. He was joined by Pizzonia again and Nick Heidfeld who gave a fine account of himself by finishing up six tenths faster than Pizzonia. It is believed that the Williams management were very impressed with the German’s performance and will be asking him back for another test shortly. It would be nice to see Nick in a good car finally.

McLaren, Sauber, Red Bull and Toyota all ran the same drivers (minus Montoya & Zonta) as last week with good pace being shown by Trulli in the Toyota (second overall), Klien (second on day 2) and Liuzzi (ninth overall). They were joined this time by Jordan who had Robert Doornbos and Christijan Albers on hand running with last years Jordan Cosworth combination matched to next years aero kit. Needless to say they were not on the pace and ended up near the foot of the time sheets with Albers showing Doornbos the way by some eight tenths of a second. After his fine test with Minardi last week, Albers is showing some genuine speed but as always, is going to have to find some cash to get a permanent drive. The same can be said of Aussies Ryan Briscoe, Will Power and Will Davison. If only…..It would be quite nice to have four of us on the grid in Melbourne.

DRIVER CAR TIME 1;Felipe Massa Sauber C23 1'17.513 2;Jarno Trulli Toyota TF104B 1'19.287 3;Alexander Wurz McLaren MP4/19C 1'19.750 4;Pedro de la Rosa McLaren MP4/19B 1'19.766 5;Mark Webber Williams FW26B 1'20.171 6;Enrique Bernoldi BAR 006 1'21.370 7;Luca Badoer Ferrari F2004B 1'21.672 8;Takuma Sato BAR 006 1'21.724 9;Vitantonio Liuzzi Jaguar R5 1'21.900 10;Giancarlo Fisichella Renault R24 1'22.206 11;Jacques Villeneuve Sauber C23 1'22.379 12;Marc Gene' Ferrari F2004B 1'22.403 13;Nick Heidfeld Williams FW26B 1'22.713 14;Christian Klien Jaguar R5B 1'22.731 15;Ralf Schumacher Toyota TF104B 1'22.836 16;Franck Montagny Renault R24 1'23.296 17;Antonio Pizzonia Williams FW26B 1'23.382 18;Alan van der Merwe BAR 006 1'23.730 19;Christijan Albers Jordan EJ14 1'24.452 20;Robert Doornbos Jordan EJ14 1'25.291 21;Adam Carroll BAR 006 1'28.885 22;James Rossiter BAR 006 1'31.194

Sam Snape
5-12-2004

2005 STARTS NOW

It may only be mid November but the fight for the 2005 World F1 Championships has just started at a pair of empty and cold circuits in Southern Europe. The warmer of the two, the Catalunya Circuit in Spain hosted the majority of the teams for five days with all but Jordan and Minardi in action. New combinations were the order of business with BAR being the only team to have both their existing race drivers in action. Ferrari used test drivers Luca Badoer and the newly recruited (from Williams) Marc Gene’ to try out some of next years aero kit. Gene’ was quickest on the first day but from then on the Ferraris were stuck solidly in midfield which probably means nothing except that they were possibly the only ones running at the correct weight. The BAR trio of Button, Sato and Enrique Bernoldi were surprisingly off the pace in both the “concept” car and last years model with the three of them rounding out the bottom of the lap chart, 2.5 seconds down on Montoya.

Giancarlo Fisichella got reacquainted with some of his old crew at Renault who also had tester Franck Montagny on hand to do most of the Michelin donkey work. Having his first run in a good car was Australia’s Mark Webber who had ex-Jaguar team mate Antonio Pizzonia as back-up. Despite being hampered by drive shaft problems and completing over 200 laps in the test Webber ended up ninth quickest overall just 0.070 seconds slower than Pizzonia who has been testing and racing for Williams for a year and a half. Webber was also quicker on four out of the five days of the test.

At McLaren, new signing, Juan Pablo Montoya got his year off to the best possible start setting the overall best time for the test on his very first day. He was not, however, given any set programme, just told to settle in with one of last years MP4/19Bs and have some fun. “I’m very happy so far, its been great. It’s been an exciting day and the first time I actually went out of the garage in the car was special. There is a lot of work for us to do before Christmas and I can’t wait.” Test drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Alexander Wurz who were doing the real work of the test ended up down in 12th and 15th places respectively.

Jacques Villeneuve had his first run for Sauber and was 3rd fastest on the only day he ran. Overall he was 0.6 seconds down on team mate Felipe Massa who had run on the two previous days. Over at Jagu…er sorry, Red Bull Christian Klien was showing good form and finished 6th quickest overall while potential team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi also showed good pace to finish 10th. Rounding out the runners were the Toyota boys with both race drivers, Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher being joined by tester and occasional racer Ricardo Zonta. The Toyotas were quick with their drivers filling three of the top five positions on the time sheets by the end of the test. Ralf was the quickest of the three and second overall just four tenths down on Montoya’s best. Trulli was fourth overall just another two tenths down

Over at Misano in Italy Minardi were testing on their own giving a lot of young hopefuls a few laps in which to impress both the team management and potential sponsors. Dutchman, Christijan Albers was the quickest of the bunch and the only one to drop under the one minute, eleven second mark. Venezuelan teenager, Pastor Maldonado was also impressive as he made the big jump from Formula Renault, in which he was Italian Champion this year, finishing third fastest behind Austrian Formula 3000 exponent, Patrick Friesacher. About half a second behind Maldonado was the first of the Australian “Will twins”. Will Power set a very creditable 1’11.790 to pip Will Davison (1’11.900) and demolish Israeli driver Chanock Nissany (1’14.000) to be the fastest on their day of the test Also in action was Champ-Car refugee Tiago Montiero who ran on the first day setting a 1’13.240.

Barcelona Times

DRIVER CAR TIME 1;Juan Pablo Montoya McLaren MP4/19B 1'14.202 2;Ralf Schumacher Toyota TF104B 1'14.618 3;Felipe Massa Sauber C23 1'14.661 4;Jarno Trulli Toyota TF104B 1'14.881 5;Ricardo Zonta Toyota TF104B 1'14.935 6;Christian Klien Jaguar R5B 1'15.148 7;Antonio Pizzonia Williams FW26B 1'15.174 8;Jacques Villeneuve Sauber C23 1'15.219 9;Mark Webber Williams FW26 1'15.244 10;Vitantonio Liuzzi Jaguar R5 1'15.351 11;Giancarlo Fisichella Renault R24 1'15.404 12;Pedro de la Rosa McLaren MP4/19B 1'15.419 13;Marc Gene' Ferrari F2004B 1'15.613 14;Luca Badoer Ferrari F2004B 1'15.649 15;Alexander Wurz McLaren MP4/19C 1'15.871 16;Franck Montagny Renault R24 1'16.435 17;Takuma Sato BAR 006 1'16.736 18;Jenson Button BAR 006 1'16.738 19;Enrique Bernoldi BAR 006B 1'16.864

Misano Times

DRIVER CAR TIME 1;Christijan Albers Minardi PS04B 1'10.800 2;Patrick Friesacher Minardi PS04B 1'11.150 3;Pastor Maldonado Minardi PS04B 1'11.330 4;Will Power Minardi PS04B 1'11.790 5;Will Davison Minardi PS04B 1'11.900 6;Tiago Montiero Minardi PS04B 1'13.240 7;Chanock Nissany Minardi PS04B 1'14.000

Sam Snape
28-11-2004