16 January: The FIA today confirmed that the French Grand
Prix will be included in the 2004 Formula One World Championship.
The race remained provisional pending both the finalisation of a
contract between the race organisers and Formula One Management and that
all the teams agree. This make this year's championship consist of 18
The FIA press release read "The inclusion of the French Grand Prix
in the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship was confirmed today,
following a meeting of FIA President, Max Mosley, Formula One Management
President, Bernie Ecclestone, and the Formula One Team Principals."
14 January: Rubens Barrichello has extended his contract with
Ferrari until 2006. Last year Ferrari extended the contracts of
Michael Schumacher, Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Paolo Martinelli and Rory
Byrne until 2006 but not Barrichello's. This raised speculation
surrounding the future of the Brazilian with the team and gave a number
of other drivers some hope to drive for Ferrari sometime soon. Now this
announcement puts an end to that. rThis extension means that all the key
staff at Ferrari will remain under contract until that time.
Rubens Barrichello said "I am really happy and proud to
continuing working with Ferrari. It means that we believe in each otherís
work. There has recently been contact with other teams but I always had
faith in my continuing at Maranello; it was only a matter of time. I
never had any doubts that the renewal would come, nor was I concerned
that other members of the team had already signed because I have always
signed at different times to the others. Fundamentally, the renewal was
based less on anything I said and more on my performances on the track
over the years.
On his chances of winning with Ferrari with Michael present he said
"I am very proud to work with Michael, racing alongside him is a
privilege and not a problem, but I do hope to become world champion. And
if I have to win, Iíll win now and not when he retires. Ferrari
believes in me and in the possibility of winning races and the world
title; this is why I signed. In the next three years there is the chance
to win the championship. In 2006 I will be 34. If I still have the
desire, Iíll continue."
12 January: The Sauber Petronas team
launched their 2004 challenger today with the aim of improving their
performance from last season. The team should get a boost from their new
Wind Tunnel as well as receiving the 2004 specification Ferrari engine. The
driver line-up of Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa is also a strong
one and will help the team achieve their aims.
Team Principal Peter Sauber said "Our goal is clearly to improve
our performance. How well we'll manage to do this will largely depend on how
quickly we'll be able to translate the results from our new wind tunnel to the
race track. With seven works teams supported by global automotive corporations
taking part in the series, the competition in Formula 1 has become tougher
than ever. What's more, budgets have virtually exploded in recent years.
The whole team is highly motivated, we're determined to prove to ourselves,
and to our partners, that even as a private team we're able to stand our
ground against the seven automotive manufacturers. This is not an easy task,
to be sure, but we're ready to accept this challenge."
Technical Director Willy Rampf said "The 2003 season soon made us
realise where our weakness was. Owing to the fact that our new wind tunnel
will not be operational until after the roll-out of the C23, we had to find
another way of designing a good car with optimum prerequisites for further
development during the course of the season. This approach made it possible
for us to reach our stated objective.
The C22 already allowed us to drive with a lot of ballast. This results in a
low centre of gravity as well as enabling highly flexible weight distribution,
which is a critical factor for future tyre development."
Head of Powertrain Osamu Goto said "We are delighted to be able to
continue our extremely successful cooperation with Ferrari and to have the
same model engines for the first time. Although the mileage of the engine has
been increased significantly due to the changes in regulations, another major
weight reduction has been achieved, which benefits the overall performance of
Giancarlo Fisichella said "I had a good feeling already in
testing; good power, good engine, easy to drive, so now I'm looking forward to
using the 2004 engine. It has the same specifications as Ferrari, and we have
the 2003 gearbox so it's looking good."
Felipe Massa said "I'm really happy to be back here. After one
year as a race driver at Sauber and one year as a test driver at Ferrari I
think my experience is now completely different. Last year at Ferrari I
learned a lot, not just driving the car but also on the technical side."
5 January: The Williams F1
team was the first team to launch their 2004 challenger. The aim is
to be competitive from the very first race of the season and ultimately win
the 2004 Formula 1 World Title. Team Principal Frank Williams said "We have acknowledged our
shortcomings of 2003. In 2004, we must be competitive from the off if we are
to realise our potential. I have every confidence that the team has all the
elements necessary to win in 2004."
"Six years have passed since we last won a Championship title and that
hurts! However, I love the anticipation that comes with each new season.
Neither Patrick nor myself have ever been one of those people that live in the
past. Each day brings new challenges and, for me, those challenges are whether
our car crosses the finish line in front of everyone elseís. So that is my
ambition for the forthcoming season, to win every race, steal Ferrariís
crown and add another Championship title to the record."
Technical Director Patrick Head said "We are acutely aware of the
need to be challenging in every race - from Melbourne right through to Brazil
in 2004. I am reassured that we have left no stone unturned at WilliamsF1 in
our preparation for next season."
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen said "We have to master
complex tasks in order to achieve our goal of the World Championship title.
The Sporting Code introduced in 2004 prescribes the use of a single engine for
the entire Grand Prix weekend. This means that endurance is our priority.
However, we also want to field the most powerful engine on the grid despite
the new rules."
Chief Designer Gavin Fisher said "There is a great deal of
anticipation on our part about this new car. It is has challenged us
throughout its development, and there is certainly a sense that the day that
it runs for the first time will be more significant than launch days in
previous years. All of the team members will be proud that they have made
enormous efforts to push the performance of this car as far forward as
possible, and that in doing so will have written the opening chapter in what
will become a successful season."
The FW26 features a distinctively short nose cone, with the the front wing
main plane and associated assemblies mounted on extended 'tusks'. The
startling interpretation of the front profile has been conceived in tandem
with a twin keel monocoque design, aiding air flow both under and over the
front geometries of the car, and improving global aerodynamics right through
to the rear wing of the FW26. The front profiles of the car are augmented by a
narrower sidepod footprint, enabled by revised cooling packaging, all
assisting aerodynamic performance.
Juan Pablo Montoya said "Our main intention is to come out
fighting from Australia, no excuses. In seasons gone by, we have always looked
to see where the opposition is after the winter. I hope this year that the
other teams at least will have as much concern about our performance as we
traditionally do about theirs."
Ralf Schumacher said "The expectations for our team are high and
after the last season, mine are naturally also high. I hope that the FW26 will
be up to the competition from the start and that the BMW engine will once
again be the best in the field. Then we could start talking seriously about
the title and finally dislodging Ferrari from the top position."