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Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
May 2, 2005


'I should be back' - Montoya

(GMMf1NET -- May.2) Juan Pablo Montoya isn't sure if he'll be fit enough to contest Sunday's Spanish grand prix.

McLaren's Colombian, 29 - with an injured shoulder, sat out Bahrain and Imola following a supposed tennis accident.

''I'm going to spend a couple of days in the factory,'' he told Autosport, ''to see if I can ... (drive) comfortably.''

JPM confirmed that the problem now is muscle atrophy (wastage).

''I think ... I should be okay (for) Barcelona,'' he reported.

Juan Pablo, meanwhile, answered 'probably' when asked if Alex Wurz will take the seat if he's not cleared to return.

Other candidate Pedro de la Rosa, though, indicated that a decision has not yet been made.






Brit F1 duo hit the town

(GMMf1NET -- May.2) F1's British duo Jenson Button and David Coulthard enjoyed their weekend, according to a tabloid.

UK's 'Sunday Mail' said the pair, both engaged, were spotted in a car with two 'mystery girls' after an alcohol-fuelled night in London.

''It's just as well they left the driving up to a chauffeur,'' said an observer.

Meanwhile, closer to the F1 track, 34-year-old DC shrugged off being beaten by Red Bull rookie teammate Tonio Liuzzi last weekend at Imola.

''It is a mark in the sand for the future,'' he admitted to Scotland's Daily Record newspaper, ''but I'm not so worried.''






Alonso 'favorite' - Schu

(GMMf1NET -- May.2) Despite chasing Renault's Spaniard to the Imola chequer, Michael Schumacher has branded title leader Fernando Alonso 'favourite' to win in Barcelona.

''We'll be there too,'' the Ferrari driver - also singling out McLaren and BAR - told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

But Schumacher, 36, acknowledged that, like at Imola, mistakes - especially in qualifying - will not be forgiven.

The German told the Italian newspaper: ''It's very hard to pass at Montmelo too (so) we'll need to start in front.''

He also refused to counter brother Ralf's accusation that Ferrari is being 'unfair' in regard to testing.

23-year-old Alonso, meanwhile, said: ''Barcelona, as a circuit, should suit our Renault. I'm not too stressed.''







Pedro on the money

(GMMf1NET -- May.2) Pedro de la Rosa came within a blip of capturing the Jerez lap record during testing last Friday.

The McLaren test driver, at the wheel of car mods for Barcelona, led a field of eight featuring Renault's Fernando Alonso, Red Bull and Toyota.

Renault, meanwhile, insisted it would debut the new 'b'-spec engine at the Spanish grand prix, despite a huge blow-up for Frenchman Franck Montagny.

Ralf Schumacher, in the Toyota, practiced going to the limit in low-fuel qualifying. ''I feel I can improve that,'' said the German.






Spain 'better' for Toyota

(GMMf1NET -- May.2) Spain should be a better grand prix venue for Toyota, technical director Mike Gascoyne has said.

The Briton called Imola, where the TF105 car struggled, 'one of the toughest' for the Cologne based team.

''I don't see why we can't fight for points at every event this season,'' said Mike.

''Spain will be slightly better for us than Imola.''







Bernie and Chelsea
(GMMf1NET -- May.2) F1 'supremo' Bernie Ecclestone has revealed he made a bid for the Chelsea football club in Britain.

The 74-year-old said he and Renault principal Flavio Briatore 'had the money' before Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich rolled into town.

''We weren't outbid,'' Bernie told Sunday Express.

''(But I did) get fed up and (said) 'to hell with it'. Flavio and I were deadly serious.'

Although indicative of billionaire Ecclestone's interest outside of F1, the fact that Abramovich took the wheel was probably best for Chelsea.

Bernie said he wouldn't have pumped in the same kind of cash.






F1 Indian to stick around

(GMMf1NET -- May.2) Narain Karthikeyan looks set to become more than a typical one-hit-wonder pay driver in F1.

Trevor Carlin, long time supporter and sporting director at Jordan, said the first Indian in grands prix could be around for 'a long time.'

When Karthikeyan landed in Melbourne, some saw him as an accident ready to happen, and not fit enough for Formula One.

''His fastest lap (at Imola) was quicker than ... Webber, Schumacher and Coulthard,'' Horner told the Press Trust of India.

Karthikeyan, 28, has also knuckled down to throw off the suggestion he underestimated F1's physical rigour, the team chief insisted.






Caution at Hinwil

(GMMf1NET -- May.2) Jacques Villeneuve's 'C24' Sauber model may not look so impressive at Barcelona this weekend, Willy Rampf has warned.

Hinwil's technical director lauded an apparent step forward at Imola last weekend, but said the Italian track is a 'special' F1 venue.

''We were one of the few teams that tested (there) prior to the season,'' said Rampf.

''I think we'll have a clearer picture after Barcelona.''

He suggested that Sauber's budget, smaller than seven of the other nine teams, is a limiting factor, such as the fact that - although on Michelins - the car was designed for a Bridgestone tyre.

Rampf said: ''At the moment, we have to live with (that).''






Schu's $37m jet

(GMMf1NET -- May.2) Michael Schumacher's new private jet has a bed, bathroom, DVD and computer.

The F1 world champion picked up the 'Falcon 2000 EX' for a cool $37 million, UK's tabloid 'The Sun' newspaper reported.

''Michael wants to visit his wife Corinna and kids as often as possible between races,'' said the Schumacher brothers' manager Willi Weber.

The Ferrari number one is the highest paid driver in pitlane, with a total income topping $50 million per season.







Webber 'can win' - Frank

(GMMf1NET -- May.2) Mark Webber 'can win races', his F1 team boss Sir Frank Williams told the Australian media.

Born near capital city Canberra, 28-year-old Webber had come under fire 'down under' after a lackluster '05 start.

But wheelchair-bound Williams put the blame on the FW27 racer.

''(Mark is) superb,'' Frank told the Sydney Morning Herald, ''(and) more than we expected.''

Technical director Sam Michael, meanwhile, told f1.com that the 2005 lineup - also with Nick Heidfeld - is a 'strong' one.

''Driver-wise I'm happy. They're not prima donnas, but most importantly, they are fast.''







DC as politician

(GMMf1NET -- May.2) In a rare dabble as politician, David Coulthard said FIA president Max Mosley 'is not responsible' for every ill in F1.

Red Bull's Scot told Britain's 'F1 Racing' magazine that criticising someone is 'the easiest thing in life.'

''Max Mosley is very intelligent,'' the 34-year-old added.

Elsewhere, Coulthard told Scotland's Daily Record newspaper that former teammate Kimi Raikkonen could join a three-way battle - with Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher - for '05 glory.

''Alonso has been faultless,'' DC said, ''but both (Kimi and Michael) are capable of leapfrogging him.''







Hakk back on the podium

(GMMf1NET -- May.2) In Germany at the weekend, twice F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen had a champagne shower for the first time since 2001.

The Finn, 36, finished third in his Mercedes (DTM) touring car.

''It's a great feeling, fantastic,'' said Mika, who retired three years ago after nine seasons in F1 with McLaren.

''It's great to taste the champagne again.''

The next race is at Spa-Francorchamps.







Renault lose advantage

(GMMf1NET -- May.2) Renault have lost their previous start line advantage in 2005, Williams' Sam Michael claimed.

The technical director said Grove HQ and BMW have been hard at work to improve their own sluggish system on the FW27.

But he denied that the blue-and-yellows are, like in 2003 and 2004, still quickest to turn-1.

''Now they're (just) good,'' Michael told formula1.com, ''and ... maintain their position.

''It looks like they've changed their car setup so it doesn't give them the same advantage.''





'I'm Schu's heir?'

(GMMf1NET -- May.2) Fernando Alonso brushed aside speculation he is seen as the long term successor to Michael Schumacher at Ferrari.

The 23-year-old - who would become the first Spaniard to win in Spain at the weekend - called the scarlet gossip 'nice.

''But I don't believe (it),'' Alonso told The Guardian newspaper, ''because if Kimi gets pole (at Barcelona) and wins ... then he will be replacing Michael.

''And maybe Webber next time, or Massa. It's only talking.''

The young championship leader, meanwhile - despite going slower than Michael Schumacher at Imola - agrees he is probably favourite for Sunday victory.

It'd be win-four on the trot.

Fernando said: ''I don't think we will face the same (Ferrari) strength as in Imola.

''Historically, Barcelona is a much better circuit for Renault.''

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