Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
May 7, 2005

Alonso in reverse
(GMMf1NET -- May.7) In a comment or two, title leading Spaniard Fernando Alonso has found himself in an argument with Ferrari's Michael Schumacher.

But isn't the Renault driver worried that, post-Schumacher, he might one day want to star for the Scuderia?

Alonso, 23, accused Ferrari of 'unfair play' by not following a nine team test agreement, an attitude rebuked by F1's 36-year-old champion.

He did work hard, however, throughout Friday to tone-down the 'cheating' allegation.

''My words have only had repercussion in Spain,'' said a seemingly undeterred Alonso.

''I don't think it will influence my future. I doubt in two years anyone will remember what I said.''

Fernando also doubted that Ferrari is really three seconds off the pace at Barcelona.

Another nail in BAR-JB coffin
(GMMf1NET -- May.7) BAR's fuel tank saga may have hammered an irrevocable nail into the F1 team's relationship with Jenson Button.

Linked with Williams, and on a performance limited contract, the Englishman refused to deny that 2006 might see him seated elsewhere.

''But I'm not going to say anything yet,'' the otherwise unoccupied 25-year-old said at Barcelona.

''I can't comment, legally, on whether that's true or not.''

He did, though, confirm that - if his mind is not already made up - the allegation of cheating would not be a factor in the thought process.

''No way,'' JB continued. ''I'm completely trusting of everyone that's been involved.''

Button said the Nurburgring, later this month, would 'prove' that BAR's recent speed is genuine.

BAR trick 'crazy' - Mosley
(GMMf1NET -- May.7) FIA president Max Mosley branded banned Formula One team BAR-Honda 'crazy' for crudely cheating.

''It's like club racing,'' he slammed, ''it's primitive. You don't see it in F1 anymore.''

Renault's Flavio Briatore, whose team lost out to BAR last year, joined the dissent, wondering if the rule-breaking dated back further.

''To lose second place (in 2004) was painful,'' he told Gazzetta dello Sport, ''and more so now.''

Mosley said a rumour about BAR's legality had been around for some time, and that he heard about it in December.

He also doubted - even though BAR's Geoff Willis insists the fuel tank is 'fully compliant' - that 'any other team' would dare try the same rule-twisting, and claimed BAR decided against taking the case further because they would have lost.

Max said in Spain: ''(A civil case) would (have) been somewhere between an embarrassment and a disaster.''

Ferrari not 'robust' enough
(GMMf1NET -- May.7) With every grand prix, Ferrari's stance against limiting F1 testing becomes a little clearer.

The F2005, although lightening-quick at Imola, is not 'robust' enough, Ross Brawn admitted.

A sluggish Friday at Barcelona aside, Rubens Barrichello's red car was struck in practice with an hydraulic problem.

At Bahrain and Imola, too, the F2005 broke down.

''It's been a tough and complicated challenge,'' said the English technical director.

Barrichello is a little uncomfortable with the stance against a nine team alliance, but insists he agrees with 'everything' decided at Maranello.

Michael Schumacher doesn't mind. ''If the other teams want to have an agreement,'' said the German, ''that's their choice.

''The rules allow us to do what we are doing.''

BAR go home
(GMMf1NET -- May.7) Banned F1 team BAR packed up and left Circuit de Catalunya without the single turn of a F1 wheel.

Team trucks, carrying the '007' cars, rumbled out of Barcelona late Friday, although the motorhome stayed put -- to entertain Honda and BAT bigwigs.

''We believe we could have won (here),'' said a gutted CEO Nick Fry, and Jenson Button commented later that he would've been even stronger at Monaco.

Fry said the two-race ban, to not be challenged further so as to save F1 'a damaging fight,' would - to honour contracts - cost BAR more than $10m.

Then there's the Button issue, and the fact that meeting performance criteria to retain the 25-year-old Englishman is now near-impossible.

''We've certainly made things more difficult for ourselves,'' Nick Fry admitted.

Stop snubbing FIA - Max
(GMMf1NET -- May.7) Max Mosley urged a peeved 'alliance' of grand prix teams to stop snubbing important meetings about the future.

''It's a pity ... seven teams don't want to sit and talk,'' the FIA president said at Barcelona, referring to everyone except Ferrari, Red Bull and Jordan.

''There are some fundamental questions to decide.''

Max, who said the obedient trio are discussing cost cutting for new regulations, denied that the FIA have to wait for the majority to come on board before the 2008 rules are set.

''On the face of it that's obvious nonsense,'' said the Briton.

''(But) it does need discussion. If people refuse to talk you don't get a solution.''

Teams tie up new deal
(GMMf1NET -- May.7) F1's smallest teams, Jordan and Minardi, have each sewn up a new deal.

Minardi named 'Tifosi Optics' its official eyewear supplier, while Alex Shnaider-owned Jordan did a communication deal with Samsung and STL.

''Tifosi ... will provide eyewear for the entire Minardi F1 Team,'' a statement issued by the Faenza based minnow explained.

F1 title 'closer' - Alonso
(GMMf1NET -- May.7) Fernando Alonso, F1's youngest ever champion.

It's a 'dream' that's 'getting a little bit closer,' the 23-year-old Spaniard admitted on the eve of his home race at Barcelona.

''I am not nervous,'' said the Renault driving title leader, ''because it was not our target. But we seem to be in a good position to do it now.''

Title aside, one thing is crystal clear -- the pressure won't get to F1's cool customer.

''I'm not stressed just because I'm in Formula One,'' he told the Guardian newspaper.

''I've always been calm.''

But what about the obvious pressure of performing for 115,000 expectant Spaniards, at least ten per cent of those from the Asturias Principality, Alonso's home region.

''There's always pressure,'' FA insisted. ''It's normal in F1 -- you have to deal with it.''

JB can't wait to flee
(GMMf1NET -- May.7) Jenson Button, whose team was banned for alleged cheating, couldn't wait to flee the Catalonian F1 paddock on Friday.

''I don't want to hang around,'' the Englishman told journalists as the whine of grand prix machines hung in the air.

With all the disappointment, he even had to do the usual schmoozing in the Paddock Club, and for BAT and Honda executives, on Friday in Spain.

But that left-in-the-cold feeling is probably going to feel even worse at Monaco in a fortnight -- JB, 25, lives there.

''I'll wake up in my apartment,'' he glumly forecast, ''with cars going round without me being in one of them.''

And BAR CEO Nick Fry confirmed that - still without a car to occupy - Button's schmoozing will probably continue in Monte-Carlo.

''It's going to be a bit weird,'' said Button.

'I may be booted' - Stewart
(GMMf1NET -- May.7) Sir Jackie Stewart fears he may be kicked out as president and director of the BRDC next Thursday.

The triple F1 champion, 65, told the 'Herald' newspaper that an 'appalling' campaign against him has been waged, ostensibly by ousted chairman Ray Bellm.

''To be honest, I am not ... confident of surviving this vote,'' he said of next Thursday's meeting at Silverstone, where the BRDC will promote the British GP in July.

''It's clear that I am being confronted with bully-boy tactics,'' Jackie opined, ''but that's made me doubly determined.''

Stewart said he campaigned hard, for example by visiting England's Downing Street, to save the historic Silverstone race.

''So I won't lie down meekly,'' he blasted.

BAR ban: right or wrong?
(GMMf1NET -- May.7) Circuit de Catalunya buzzed with opinion and counter-opinion as the Paddock scrutineered F1's harshest penalty in two decades.

Toyota's Mike Gascoyne, a rival technical director, called the court of appeal's verdict - a two race ban - 'too lenient.'

Ferrari designer Rory Byrne found the penalty, for using fuel in a residual tank as ballast, 'a bit harsh,' but Giancarlo Fisichella - Renault driver - said BAR's behaviour was 'unsporting' and must face whatever sanction.

''I remember when Toyota was punished extremely heavily in rallying,'' team founder Gian Carlo Minardi told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

Meanwhile, BAR's first ever driver - ousted at the end of 2003 - steered remarkably clear of blatant BAR denigration.

''If they really rigged something (illegal) ... then the punishment is right,'' said Canadian Jacques Villeneuve.

''(But) if it was a mistake ... it is too heavy.''

Rivals enjoy BAR saga
(GMMf1NET -- May.7) In one fell swoop, Tonio Liuzzi scored a championship point on debut, a plasma television, and a new ... bed.

The BAR saga may not be good news for Jenson Button and Takuma Sato, but it is for the trendy Italian, who nipped in to the Imola top-eight.

''It's not all good,'' Red Bull principal Christian Horner - who teasingly promised Vitantonio the TV and bed if he scored a debut point - smiled.

Why the bed?

Tonio - who would 'rather have scored the point on the track' - is buying a house in England.

Peter Sauber also enjoyed the BAR DQ. Last year in Spain, Hinwil's independent team had a single point, but now - with Jacques Villeneuve's elevation to fourth - there's seven.

''Bravo Jacques!'' Sauber told La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

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