Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
May 8, 2005

BMW strengthen Sauber link
(GMMf1NET -- May.8) Mario Theissen kept a zipped lip when asked about speculation that carmaker BMW might buy Sauber.

''We generally don't comment on speculation,'' he said in Spain.

The marque's motorsport director does, though, expect to have sealed an engine deal with the independent Hinwil based team by the end of June.

''Some problems have to be solved to make our engine work in their car,'' the German explained, ''so that's why it is not completed yet.''

At present, BMW - frustrated with progress since 2000 despite building a top-notch product - is the sole supplier of engines to Williams.

Company director Helmut Panke admitted BMW's disappointment.

''(We) will ... find a way to be successful and become champion in Formula One,'' he vowed.

Kimi 'favorite' - rival
(GMMf1NET -- May.8) Kimi Raikkonen is 'favorite' for glory at the Circuit de Catalunya.

That's the claim of grand prix rival Giancarlo Fisichella, who - with arguably the best car on the grid - struggled to eighth on Saturday.

''We had the dusty track right at the start (of qualifying one),'' said the Italian, ''so it's dusty and you can't give 100 per cent.''

But it didn't appear to trouble Raikkonen's McLaren, as he flirted with provisional pole despite the early start.

''His qualifying pace was very good,'' said 32-year-old GF.

Meanwhile, Kimi's boss - McLaren principal Ron Dennis - slated the current qualifying system for robbing Raikkonen of pole.

He said that when a driver fails to finish, he is doubly penalized by having to run early in qualifying at the next race, ''and that isn't right.''

Stoddart 'misled' court - FIA
(GMMf1NET -- May.8) Max Mosley has tempted open warfare by suggesting that Minardi's Paul Stoddart - a key figure in the fight for F1's future - misled a Melbourne court.

The FIA president called the Australian's March 'injunction' - later abandoned - against alleged illegal regulations 'a complete farce.'

''The court was grossly misled,'' Max said at Barcelona, going so far as to use the expression 'contempt of court.'

Ahead of the grand prix at Albert Park, Stoddart - claiming Mosley introduced changes illegitimately - attempted to snub the new aero rules.

But he dropped the argument when the future of Australian motor sport came under threat.

''(Stoddart's lawyer) was obviously given some extremely misleading instructions,'' Mosley charged.

Toyota to be car in front
(GMMf1NET -- May.8) Cologne based Formula One team Toyota could collect its first ever grand prix triumph at Barcelona.

And both provisional polesitter Jarno Trulli and teammate Ralf Schumacher are in with a shout, technical director Mike Gascoyne insisted.

''Jarno wasn't sure about qualifying,'' the Briton said, ''but he's (fastest), so can't complain.

''Ralf's also up there and there's nothing stopping him getting pole.''

Gascoyne, calling Circuit de Catalunya a real 'aero' track, claimed TF105 is just about a match, now, for Renault.

Meanwhile, champion Michael Schumacher also took the time to single out Toyota's Spanish speed.

''They are going for the victory,'' Ferrari's German assumed.

''After Imola, I did not expect that but they've obviously worked well to improve.''

Barrichello's broken block
(GMMf1NET -- May.8) Rubens Barrichello's engine suffered a uncommon failure on Saturday -- a cracked cylinder block.

''It's the first time we've had it,'' said Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn.

With the consequential ten-spot grid penalty, 32-year-old 'Rubinho' - ninth in qualifying one - will start near the back of the grand pack.

And, with Michael Schumacher just seventh, Saturday also left the Scuderia ruing Bridgestone's poor single-lap pace.

''(Michelin) have been able to find performance ... that we've not been able to find,'' Brawn said.

And, Schumacher suggested, the F2005 isn't likely to unveil Imola-like grand prix pace.

''We are stronger in the long runs,'' said the German, ''but if you say 'will you win' then I do not think so.''

Spain sour for Sauber star
(GMMf1NET -- May.8) Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve resumed his Sauber struggle in Spain on Saturday.

Despite a strong Imola showing last time out, the 34-year-old admittedly 'drove slowly' in Barcelona quali-one.

''It seemed like a Sunday drive,'' JV jokingly admitted.

The French Canadian said the main problem is matching young teammate Felipe Massa on new tires, but dismissed the qualifying flyer as 'just poor.'

'Alonso-mania' unproven?
(GMMf1NET -- May.8) F1 champion Michael Schumacher threw a curveball at 'Alonso-mania' at Barcelona by rubbishing any 'comparison' with Spanish hero Fernando Alonso.

''I know it's fashionable at the moment,'' Ferrari's German said, ''but there are a lot of guys who are very fast.''

Alonso, 23, is hot favorite to snare the first non-Schumacher drivers' title since 1999, when Mika Hakkinen took home the trophy.

But Michael, 36, sees McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen - for one - still in with a 'big chance.'

One man, though, who is eager to unearth a fresh-faced champion is 'supremo' Bernie Ecclestone.

The 74-year-old told Spanish newspaper 'Marca' that crowning Alonso - the first ever Spanish winner - would be 'magic.

''Kimi is (also) fast,'' Ecclestone continued, ''but I thought he was going to be the one to become the next superstar.''

F1 refuge for sport superstar
(GMMf1NET -- May.8) Ironically, the spotlight of the Formula One paddock proved a near-sanctuary for one of cricket's greatest players.

India's Sachin Tendulkar wandered the Barcelona pitlane and sat in friend Narain Karthikeyan's Jordan contender on Saturday -- and hardly enticed a second glance.

''Don't worry,'' he laughed to a reporter, ''it's great for me!''

He and Karthikeyan are good mates, and not only because they're India's sporting elite.

Tendulkar, a Ferrari road car driver, used to hit the go-kart track with the fastest Indian on wheels. ''And I love Formula One,'' he continued.

''I would love to have a drive in one.''

And Sachin, it seems, won't be bothered if Karthikeyan succeeds him as India's biggest star.

New quali was 'a mistake'
(GMMf1NET -- May.8) 'Aggregate' qualifying - held on Saturday and also grand prix morning - was a 'mistake' for F1, Max Mosley has admitted.

The FIA president pinned the idea on F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

''The idea was that (it) would be good for TV on Sunday.

''Occasionally mistakes are made.''

The problem, though, is undoing the blunder -- so far, even those opposed to the format are vetoing a change, citing fuel tank size.

F1 'had' to ban V10 power
(GMMf1NET -- May.8) It would have been 'mad' to continue with V10 engines in Formula One.

That's the claim of FIA president Max Mosley, widely criticized because the 3.0 liter formula is promised in the Concorde Agreement to 2008.

''We didn't just dream it up,'' the Englishman said of next year's 2.4 liter V8 formula.

''The original proposal came from Ford and Renault to reduce costs. The other element ... is (reducing) power.''

Max claimed that carmakers, with the V10 rule, would have found more than 1000 horse power for '06.

''That's alright at Bahrain or Shanghai,'' he said, ''but at Spa or Monaco or Suzuka, to let the cars loose ... would be just irresponsible.''

Next year, with the V8 onset, power will drop to around 800bhp.

More 'cheats' in F1 pitlane?
(GMMf1NET -- May.8) As the shudder of BAR's two-race ban is still felt up and down pitlane, it has emerged that three more teams may also have been running an iffy fuel setup.

Britain's 'Guardian' newspaper said the trio is believed to have 'modified (their tank's) design' after BAR were found guilty of using fuel as ballast and running an underweight contender.

But, at Imola, FIA stewards did not also check - for example - the Ferrari F2005 and Renault R25's own fuel system.

''We have not even the slightest reason to believe other teams are doing this,'' FIA president Max Mosley said at Barcelona.

However, BAR's fuel cell supplier - ATL - revealed that it builds a near-identical design for several other teams.

Mosley admitted that there are 'similar systems' in pitlane, but that BAR's offence was using fuel as ballast in the secondary tank.

FIA knew BAR would lose
(GMMf1NET -- May.8) The governing FIA was so confident BAR cheated that it didn't even send a barrister to last week's court of appeal.

President Max Mosley sent along Pierre de Coninck, who is not a lawyer, and FIA race director Charlie Whiting, to argue the case that the Brackley team raced an underweight car.

On the other side, BAR hired David Pannick, QC -- one of the 'cleverest people, if not the cleverest,' in the field, Max said.

In fact, Mosley rates Pannick so highly that he hired him to argue a case for the FIA -- ironically against BAR - in the duel-livery saga of 1998-9.

''That's how they found out about him,'' Mosley smiled. ''He's brilliant. (BAR) had all of those resources (and lost).

''(BAR) sort of pleaded stupidity rather than culpability.''

Anti-Ferrari stance 'unfair'
(GMMf1NET -- May.8) Max Mosley has sided with Ferrari in the F1 row over track testing.

The FIA president said testing is no longer subject to an official rule 'so if you want to test, you can test.'

And F1 champion Ferrari, adamant it will not sign up to its nine rivals' 'gentlemen's' 30-day limit, is doing just that.

''I am not here to defend Ferrari,'' Max said in Spain, ''but it is a little bit unfair.''

He then hit out at, ostensibly, McLaren, for spending 'I don't know how many hundred million dollars' on an ultra-technology factory.

''They didn't have to do that,'' Max - contrasting Ferrari's expenditure on owning two private test tracks - continued.

''(McLaren) could spend $30 million on a test track, and (have) a slightly smaller factory.

''But to complain about Ferrari just because they've got a test track, seems to be wrong.''

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