Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
May 3, 2005

Ferrari resume F1 flaunt
(GMMf1NET -- May.3) Ferrari, in action at Fiorano, continued to flaunt its nine rivals' test agreement on Monday.

Italian test driver Luca Badoer steered the F2005 around the privately owned venue near Maranello HQ, at the start of a multiple-day session.

The opposed 'group of nine' are sticking to a voluntary - gentlemen's - 30-day limit in 2005, including not testing during the week of a grand prix.

Meanwhile, Ferrari supplier Bridgestone's director of motorsport predicted that Michael Schumacher will again be 'right up there' for victory at Barcelona this Sunday.

''We intend to keep up the momentum,'' Hiroshi Yasukawa said. ''Spain will ... produce another big showdown.''

Relaxed JV to tackle Barca
(GMMf1NET -- May.3) Jacques Villeneuve will race into the Circuit de Catalunya with a bit of pressure off his shoulders.

A new rear aerodynamic package for the Sauber, and more 'freedom' on the setup front, helped the former champion join the pace last time out.

''I am hoping I can carry on from Imola,'' Canadian JV, 33, said.

''Scoring some points has helped a lot after the first three races.''

But the fast and flowing Barcelona, with a lot of quick corners, is not usually a strong suit for Hinwil-based Sauber.

Indeed, JV languished off the pace at a recent Spanish test.

Villeneuve insisted: ''But we didn't have the new package then.''

Technical director Willy Rampf agrees that the C24 should now be 'in better shape.'

Fisi set for F1 fightback
(GMMf1NET -- May.3) Although gutted at Imola, Giancarlo Fisichella has vowed to be 'positive' despite a DNF hat trick.

All the while, teammate Fernando Alonso - last time out at Imola - held up three fingers for a different reason.

''I've been in F1 a long time,'' said Melbourne winner Fisichella, 32, ''and I know that you (have) to be positive.

''These things happen in Formula One.''

On the bright side, given the run of technical trouble, Giancarlo said the R25 - to be 'really quick' in Spain - is now 'faster and more reliable.

''I am determined to respond in the same way.

''In testing (at Barcelona) we have been fast and consistent,'' 'Fisico' reported.

''Fernando will, of course, have huge support.''

BAR await crucial court date
(GMMf1NET -- May.3) Jenson Button and Takuma Sato will touch down in Barcelona unsure of their F1 employer's immediate future.

On Wednesday in a Paris court, the FIA will argue that BAR-Honda's fuel system for the 007 race car is illegal.

A ruling is not expected until the next day.

Britain's 'The Times' newspaper said the Brackley based team have hired a 'leading barrister' because the prospects of race bans - one possible penalty - 'would be a serious blow.'

The ultimate sanction, though, is total championship exclusion.

But 'CEO' Nick Fry insisted: ''I am sure the court will ... see we are doing everything we can to stick to the rules.''

At the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, meanwhile, judges will 'consider' Toyota's request to drop their appeal against Ralf Schumacher's penalty, an FIA statement said.

DC on the run
(GMMf1NET -- May.3) David Coulthard's manager is talking to many teams about next year, the Scot has revealed.

DC, 34, said manager and commentator Martin Brundle is looking elsewhere in pitlane ''as my aim is to be in F1 in 2006.''

Infer from that, then, that the Williams and McLaren veteran's future at Red Bull - for whom he signed a one-year contract for 2005 - is doubtful.

But, despite talk of a Christian Klien-Tonio Liuzzi pairing next year, DC insists 'nothing is decided' within the camp owned by an energy drink.

He told Scotland's Daily Record: ''It is still early in the season.''

New Minardi on right track
(GMMf1NET -- May.3) F1 rookie Christijan Albers has lauded the progress of Minardi's brand new 'PS05' car.

The Dutchman, 26, said the sleek black racer lapped at Mugello last week a full 'two seconds (per lap) faster' than at a mid-April shakedown.

''I am sure we can make (it) even faster when we get to know it better,'' he told personal website albersf1.com.

''I can't wait until (Barcelona) to see how the car does with all the things we've improved.''

The curvy PS05, meanwhile - following the double-failure on debut at Imola - is also now more reliable, team manager Massimo Rivola insisted.

'Dancer' Liuzzi
(GMMf1NET -- May.3) Formula One driver or professional dancer?

Believe it or not, if Vitantonio Liuzzi had not landed next to Michael Schumacher on the F1 grid, he might have earned a buck on the dance floor.

''Maybe I would've been a soccer player,'' he said in a Q&A with British broadcaster ITV, ''or maybe a dancer. I love dancing.

''Definitely nothing to do with studying -- I hate that.''

Undoubtedly, the charismatic Italian, 24, is a real favorite of F1 employer Red Bull, for whom he'll race at least until the Monaco grand prix.

Both cite 'fun' as a priority for the sport.

'Tonio' insisted: ''Everyone is too serious, too stressed. If there was more enjoyment around ... (F1) would be nicer.''

Steadfast Stewart
(GMMf1NET -- May.3) Sir Jackie Stewart has upped a campaign to remain top-dog at British grand prix promoter The BRDC.

Ahead of a May 12 vote to either retain the Scot or kick him out as president and director, Stewart aimed fire at overthrown chairman Ray Bellm.

''It is my belief that the misinformation has been generated through (Bellm),'' the triple world champion wrote in a letter to Club members.

In an earlier letter, Bellm urged Stewart to resign as a director, but remain as a purely ambassadorial president.

But JYS, 65, wrote in the letter published by Autosport: ''I (am not) prepared (stay) if I am required to rescind my directorship.''

Imola rivalry to restart
(GMMf1NET -- May.3) Have no doubt, Renault is still in the hunt.

That's the resolve of Pat Symonds, faced with the image of Michael Schumacher's Ferrari harassing Fernando Alonso for the win a fortnight ago.

Renault's engineering director said Bridgestone-clad Ferrari's Imola advantage was too big to be just the car.

''And our car has been extremely competitive at each Barcelona test,'' Symonds noted.

He added: ''There is no doubt we are in the midst of a very tough battle.

''But it does not automatically follow (from Imola) that Ferrari will have the same advantage (in Spain).''

India 'must get grand prix'
(GMMf1NET -- Mar.3) India's first ever F1 driver has urged the country to 'quickly' secure a grand prix.

Narain Karthikeyan, from Combater, told the 'Sunday Times' newspaper that, like China, India has one of the world's 'rapidly growing' economies.

Indeed, Indian interest in F1 is exploding, with up to 100 million tuning in to every race.

''China has (a grand prix),'' NK said, ''so the feeling is that India ... must get one (too).

''My sponsors are pretty happy,'' said 28-year-old Karthikeyan, with a $10m swag of backing.

Also happy is Midland-owned Jordan, whose sporting director Trevor Carlin believes Narain will still be in F1 next year,

'New bits' at Barca
(GMMf1NET -- May.3) Forlorn after four grands prix, Williams have 'a lot of new' bits for the FW27 at Barcelona.

''Development of the car has been strong since February,'' said technical director Sam Michael, who revealed that the team also worked on improving race starts since Imola.

Most of Williams' aero improvements are around the front of the car, Michael said.

Similarly, Imola saga aside, the BAR-Honda - with more new aero and a revised Honda V10 - is also an updated F1 beast.

''It all seems to be conspiring towards another strong showing,'' according to new sporting director Gil de Ferran.

Jenson Button holds the unofficial lap record at the high speed Circuit de Catalunya, 'so the car is obviously in good form,' he remarked.

'New' Circuit de Catalunya
(GMMf1NET -- May.3) Barcelona's 'Circuit de Catalunya' is one of the most familiar venues on the F1 calendar.

''We do a huge amount of testing (there),'' said Mark Webber.

In the winter period, though, test teams were surprised to roll onto the Spanish track and find it up to twenty seconds per lap slower than usual.

Organizers had laid new asphalt for the first time since 1991.

''It seems to have improved now,'' BAR's Takuma Sato - who had been one of the first to sample the track - quipped.

Previously extremely abrasive, though, Barcelona has become a 'relatively smooth' track, according to Ferrari tire supplier Bridgestone.

But due to the quick corners, the Catalan venue is still 'hard wearing,' technical manager Hisao Suganuma insisted.

Kimi's 'second best' in F1
(GMMf1NET -- May.3) Behind Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen is the second best driver in Formula One, a specialist British magazine has found.

In the May edition, 'F1 Racing' magazine asked 72 insiders - including ex-drivers, world champions, team personnel, journalists and fans - the not-so-simple question.

Raikkonen, McLaren's 25-year-old Finn, earned 27 (to Fernando Alonso's sixteen) votes.

''He has lightening speed,'' said 1979 champion Jody Scheckter, while 1996 title winner Damon Hill singled out KR's near mistake-free talent.

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello earned nine votes, Giancarlo Fisichella eight, and Juan Pablo Montoya - Kimi's Colombian-born teammate - three.

''Kimi may be quiet,'' fellow Finn and '98-'99 champion Mika Hakkinen added, ''but he's got a champion's confidence.''

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