Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
May 12, 2005

Trulli worried about failure
(GMMf1NET -- May.12) 2004 Monaco winner Jarno Trulli is not sure his Toyota engine will last the distance this year.

The Italian, who tasted the top step for the first time in a Renault last May, finished second with the two-race (Monte-Carlo) spec V10 at Barcelona.

But, nonetheless, he sensed a problem with the Toyota powerplant.

Even though Monaco is not tough on engines, Trulli noted that his Toyota - which spewed fire in one pitstop - 'was not too strong' in Spain on Sunday.

''My speeds were not as good as (teammate) Ralf's,'' JT added.

Even so, Trulli has an eye on the glitzy Principality, and noted that the driver can mean the difference between a good result and - maybe - a win.

He said: ''I'll be giving it 110 per cent, you can be sure!''

Schu to Portugal
(GMMf1NET -- May.12) Michael Schumacher will, at the weekend, travel to Portugal for the 'Laureus' sports awards.

With tennis' Roger Federer, cycling great Lance Armstrong, swimmer Michael Phelps and MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi, the 36-year-old Ferrari champion is nominated for the men's award.

The German bagged the 2004 prize, handed out annually at Estoril.

''This is really unique,'' Federer told the German media. ''After all, it is awarded by a jury which includes a number of sports legends.''

BAR return to F1 action
(GMMf1NET -- May.12) Banned F1 team BAR-Honda powered around the Paul Ricard (France) test circuit on Wednesday.

Brazilian test driver Enrique Bernoldi managed the seventh (out of eleven) best lap time, while McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen - Barcelona winner - continued to dominate the order.

Toyota, Renault, Jordan, Red Bull and Sauber also got going on a short, Monte Carlo-like layout - damp in the morning - at Le Castellet.

Rain is forecast later in the week.

Of note, part time Renault tester Heikki Kovalainen completed a mammoth day (750km), while, interestingly, BAR - although banned from racing there - helped test tires for Monte Carlo.

Elsewhere, Michael Schumacher joined Ferrari tester Luca Badoer at an artificially-drenched Fiorano, and Williams' Mark Webber joined Antonio Pizzonia - who practiced getting heat into the tires on a GP warm-up lap - at Vallelunga.

28-year-old Webber, though, spent a lot of time in the garage with technical trouble.

'Forget' title, big brother
(GMMf1NET -- May.12) Ralf Schumacher has told big brother Michael to 'forget' about winning an eighth drivers' championship in 2005.

Ralf, who drives for the rival Toyota team, told Bild newspaper that Ferrari's number one is now too far behind - 34 points - F1 drivers' leader Fernando Alonso.

He said: ''That's a huge amount, especially when Renault continue to win.

''You have to be realistic.''

Earlier, though, Michael warned that anyone who wrote him or Ferrari off, 'doesn't know us.'

But Ralf persisted that Schumacher's '05 dream is over, 'as much as I would delight in an eighth family title.

''It will no longer be.''

Montagny and Jordan
(GMMf1NET -- May.12) France may not go unrepresented on the grand prix grid for much longer.

While the country fielded a local in F1 for multiple decades, Olivier Panis' last dance at Suzuka last year left a notable F1 Paddock hole.

According to speculation, though, Bernie Ecclestone has told Magny Cours' race promoter Jacques Regis that he will help work on a solution.

In fact, a Frenchman - Renault test driver Franck Montagny - could burst off the start-finish line as soon as Montreal (Canada) in mid-June.

The 27-year-old is now linked with Tiago Monteiro's Jordan seat.

Senna case on final lap
(GMMf1NET -- May.12) The infamous and long-lasting Ayrton Senna court case appears finally to be at an end.

An Italian prosecutor stood in a Bologna court on Wednesday and asked that manslaughter charges against Williams personnel be dropped because too much time had elapsed.

But the accused are seeking an explicit vote of not guilty, rather than a mere dropped case.

''In (motor racing) you have to accept that there is a risk factor,'' their lawyer, Luigi Stortoni, insisted in Italy.

Brazil's Senna, 34 - one of the greatest F1 drivers - died after he crashed oddly at Imola's Tamburello bend in 1994.

A case against F1 bosses, including Adrian Newey and Patrick Head, resulted in acquittal in 1997 and (on appeal) 1999, but was reopened in 2003.

Judges will rule on the latest development on 27 May.

Mercedes and Concorde
(GMMf1NET -- May.12) A rumor cropped up at Barcelona last weekend that Mercedes-Benz is contemplating joining Ferrari in signing Bernie Ecclestone's new Concorde agreement.

'Autosport' reported that parent company DaimlerChrysler's new CEO, Eckhard Cordes, had - at least - met with the F1 'impresario'.

''(Cordes was in Spain) ... to attend a meeting of the manufacturers,'' McLaren's 'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh explained.

Sure enough, the carmakers' group - also including BMW, Renault, Honda and Toyota - announced, a little later, that they had set up a new alliance.

Whitmarsh then continued: ''It shows how ill-informed people who start these rumors are.

''I heard the rumor before the weekend and I didn't even ask him about it because it's not credible.''

Renault vow to fix Fisi gloom
(GMMf1NET -- May.12) Giancarlo Fisichella has been let down by Renault so far this year.

That's the admission of technical director Bob Bell, who referred to the Roman driver's third - in five races - R25 car failure in 2005.

Meanwhile, teammate Fernando Alonso is enjoying perfect reliability.

''It's disappointing,'' said Bell. ''Giancarlo drove a stunning race (in Barcelona) -- we have to get on top of (it) quickly.''

The team is still investigating how Fisichella's car floor got damaged while he held second in Spain.

Renault principal Flavio Briatore also exonerated 32-year-old bad-luck-struck Fisichella.

''The way he fought back,'' said Fisi's countryman, ''showed he can do great things.''

F1 parade slammed
(GMMf1NET -- May.12) Melbourne's F1 city parade in March has been slammed as unsafe and potentially fatal for thousands of keen spectators.

Despite the 80km/h speed limit, Melbourne's 'Herald Sun' newspaper clocked, for one, Christijan Albers' Minardi grand prix car at 200km/h.

And, despite the publication of a glowing council report, a road safety spokesman said 'experts' saw the installation of only plastic barriers as 'positively dangerous'.

Anthony Carey added: ''What we saw ... is considered by experts as possibly criminal negligence.''

Button to launch 'Gumball'
(GMMf1NET -- May.12) F1 driver Jenson Button will wave the green flag for one of the world's wackiest and more controversial motor rallies.

In London on Saturday, the grand prix ace - currently 'resting' while his BAR team is banned - is slated to say 'go' to the 2005 'Gumball 3000'.

The race, made up of celebrities and exotic sports cars, lasts six days and - at often break neck speeds - winds through Belgium, Vienna, Budapest, Sicily, Rome and Florence, and ends at Monaco.

In fact, the finish - in fabled Casino Square - coincides with the traditional 'day off' (Friday) of the Monaco grand prix.

''Competitors will relax on the Gumball super yacht in Monaco's harbor,'' read a Budapest Sun newspaper report, ''... and watch the grand prix.''

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