Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
May 10, 2005

FIA slam new carmaker group
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) F1's five disgruntled carmakers have simultaneously launched a new alliance and earned the fury of the governing body, FIA.

Seemingly replacing the GPWC, of which Ferrari was a member, the alliance is made up of BMW, DaimlerChrysler (Mercedes) and Renault, and now Japanese rivals Honda and Toyota.

At a meeting on Sunday, they proposed to maintain the controversial V8 engine formula until the end of 2008, and 'look forward to meeting with the FIA' to talk about the future beyond the Concorde Agreement (post-'07).

Their pact is interpreted as a step away from plans to 'break away' from Formula One.

But what irked Max Mosley's FIA?

In the statement, clearly referring to the 'BAR banned' saga, the carmakers hinted that it longed for an 'independent' appeals process -- like, speculation suggests, the well-known 'Court of Arbitration for Sport' (CAS).

''Our court is impartial,'' Mosley said the other day. ''The teams whine on about it, but they know perfectly well that it is independent.''

And the FIA statement blasted: ''Those unable ... to accept (the court's impartiality) have no place in Formula One.''

'Schu's still in it'
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) Ferrari cannot be ruled out of overturning a so-called 'crisis' to power Michael Schumacher to the world title.

''You never know what's going to happen,'' said Kimi Raikkonen, who dominated at Barcelona in his silver McLaren.

''They'll need a few bad races from the other guys and then everything can be different.

''But for sure it will be hard to catch up, same for us.''

Championship leader Fernando Alonso agrees that, not far into a colossal 19-grand prix calendar, all the title talk is 'not yet very interesting.'

''I don't know if Ferrari will win the championship,'' Renault's Spaniard said, ''but definitely it will be close.''

Life's good in Flavio-land
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) Life's good for Renault principal Flavio Briatore.

Not only is the 54-year-old Italian back with former supermodel girlfriend Naomi Campbell, his F1 protégé Fernando Alonso is racing full throttle to the 2005 title.

Asked by The Mirror about his numerous beautiful girlfriends, Briatore said: ''I never count -- it's not right.

''The intention is always correct.''

More pertinent to pitlane, meanwhile, Briatore - at Barcelona - heralded rival McLaren's Spanish GP domination.

''We can't race ourself,'' he grinned. ''McLaren needed a victory and maybe Ferrari do as well.

'''If we win the title, we don't want it to be so easy.''

BAR face further penalty
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) BAR-Honda could face a further six-month ban after criticizing the governing FIA.

Honda spokesman Tatsuya Iida said a two-race ban for entering an underweight car at Imola is 'too severe' and wrong.

''We gave them proof we didn't break the rules,'' Tatsuya - also calling for 'clearer' regulations - added.

FIA president Max Mosley reacted angrily to Honda's adverse commentary by claiming the team is attacking 'the integrity' of the body.

''Any sport,'' a statement (alleging that Honda's view may be 'prejudicial to the image ... of Formula One') revealed, ''is likely to (when attacked) impose further sanctions on a competitor.

''(BAR-Honda's statements) are currently under investigation.''

With BAR's two race ban, came a further six month ban, 'suspended' for a one-year period.

Schu's 'past it' - Irvine
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) Michael Schumacher is F1's most boring world champion, former Ferrari teammate Eddie Irvine claimed.

The Ulsterman, in Barcelona after a similar paddock appearance at Imola, slammed the German as 'past it' and no longer 100 per cent committed.

''I couldn't believe (him) at Imola,'' 39-year-old Irvine told BBC radio.

''All he had to do was pass (Fernando Alonso) down the inside -- three years ago he would've done it.

''He's done worse things than that.

''The guard is changing. Under pressure (Alonso) does not make the same mistakes that Michael does. Raikkonen is up there too.''

'Bridgestone to blame'
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) Luca di Montezemolo is not a happy bunny, and pointed an unequivocal finger of blame at Ferrari's four round things.

''Our number one problem is the tires,'' he said after the 'F2005' car failed to score a single point at Barcelona.

''We have trouble being fast both over a hot lap and (in) the race.''

Bridgestone responded to the Ferrari president's 'frustrations' by insisting it would bounce back to glory.

The Japanese marque's Hirohide Hamashima, meanwhile, told La Gazzetta dello Sport that Bridgestone 'don't test enough.

''Our rivals can count on several top teams,'' he said, ''so they can improve much faster.''

Ferrari principal Jean Todt, though, admitted that Maranello 'created' the situation where it works almost exclusively on the tire.

''Having said that,'' the Frenchman admitted, ''we have nothing against (having) another top team on Bridgestone.''

Roman has eye on Monaco
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) Giancarlo Fisichella is 'very optimistic' he can trump Monaco.

The Roman steered a course for a sure podium at Barcelona until a piece of his Renault's aero bodywork broke.

Down to thirteenth, Fisichella then fought a gallant race - including a pass on Mark Webber - to fifth.

''I'm in a good position now for Monaco,'' he said, referring to the starting order for the first qualifying.

On the dusty and tight Monte-Carlo circuit, perhaps more than anywhere else, a late qualifying effort is essential.

Better still, Monaco is one of Giancarlo's favorite F1 tracks.

He said: ''I've always been quick there and the Renault was very quick (there) last year.''

'Hands off our Finn' - Ron
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) Ron Dennis has vowed to guard Kimi Raikkonen from any Ferrari advance.

The McLaren chairman admitted that the team in red have already signaled an interest in his talented 25-year-old Finn.

''It's always flattering,'' Ron said in the UK Mirror newspaper, ''but I intend to keep Kimi as part of our family.''

Renault youngster Fernando Alonso is also, although not as perpetually, linked with the seat to eventually be vacated by Michael Schumacher.

Dennis, clearly very protective of Raikkonen, told ITV that Maranello would be a 'good place' for Renault's Spaniard.

But Schumacher, 36, is - even in the middle of a scarlet 'crisis' - showing little sign of hanging up his helmet.

Ferrari boss Jean Todt, though, knows how quickly a seven time champion might tire of the grand prix midfield.

''(Schumacher) deserves a good car and a good team,'' the Frenchman said.

BAR 'chose to play' - Todt
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) Where there's smoke, there's probably fire.

That's the stance Ferrari boss Jean Todt took when asked about a two-race ban slapped on rival BAR for cheating.

Refusing to weigh in on the technical argument or critique the FIA's sanction, Todt nonetheless insisted that Ferrari 'would never' have got into a similar situation.

''If you choose to play,'' said the Frenchman, ''it all depends ... where you want to play.

''For them, they took a risk and you can end up paying for it.''

While not wanting to 'judge' the Honda-powered team, meanwhile, Todt did suggest that an underweight Jenson Button cost Michael Schumacher - who lost time behind him - the San Marino GP.

''But all that is history,'' he quipped.

Paris to host 'RoC' again
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) The popular 'Race of Champions' will again be held in Paris' Stade de France this December.

The event, pitting - for example in 2004 - Michael Schumacher against rally champion Sebastien Loeb - is heading for a December 3 date.

Loeb and countryman Jean Alesi will attend the 2005 affair, the organizers confirmed.

NASCAR ace Jeff Gordon, meanwhile - after missing last year's RoC due to illness - will also turn up in France.

''It gives us the opportunity to talk to other drivers and learn about ... different forms of racing,'' the American said.

More than 60,000 filled the Stadium in 2004.

JV 'moved' at Fiorano
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) When Jacques Villeneuve recently tested at Fiorano, he couldn't help but remember Dad.

The French-Canadian was just eleven when Gilles, in a Ferrari, died in a horror qualifying shunt (1982) at Zolder.

''It's as if he were still alive,'' 34-year-old Villeneuve - now driving for Ferrari-powered Sauber - told the 'La Presse' newspaper, translated by his official website.

JV said he visited Fiorano - just down the road from Ferrari HQ - 'often' as a youngster.

''My father's big fans came to say hello,'' Villeneuve revealed after the Sauber test.

''How can you not be moved?''

Ferrari hope 'deflated'
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) 'Ferrari must heal its wounds and find a solution for the errors of a grey winter and for underestimating its rivals.'

That's how Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport reacted to the scarlet showing at Circuit de Catalunya.

''The hope of Imola deflated,'' another Italian publication - Corriere della Sera - added, ''like the air from (Michael) Schumacher's tires.

''At least there are fourteen grands prix,'' the article continued, ''to save ... face.''

Similarly eager to add his adversative opinion, McLaren principal and chairman Ron Dennis called the Ferrari crisis one of Maranello's 'own making.'

He said every top Bridgestone team steadily switched to Michelin when the exclusivity of the Ferrari collaboration became clear.

''They should remember,'' Ron told BBC radio, ''that when they have an inferior tire, (it was) their efforts to put themselves in a unique position.''

McLaren to run V8 engine
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) Following Honda's lead, Mercedes-Benz will next week track debut its new V8 engine.

grandprix.com said the 2006-spec 2.4 liter engine will, prior to Monaco, run in a hybrid McLaren at Elvington airfield.

However, while preparations for next year may already be in full swing, former F1 winner Gerhard Berger lauded a 'truly great' 2005 GP season.

''You really don't know which car you should bet your money on,'' the former BMW motorsport director told Williams' official F1 website.

Heidfeld on golfing green
(GMMf1NET -- May.10) Thought you'd never read about a Formula One car racing on a golf course?

On Monday, west of London (UK), it happened.

For the BMW-sponsored PGA tournament, Williams' Nick Heidfeld flew direct from the Spanish grand prix to fire up a FW27 at manicured Wentworth.

Golfer Paul Casey tried a Formula BMW single seater, before the pair - Heidfeld, 28, still wearing a racing suit - teed off for a nine-hole.

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