Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
May 13, 2005

Why Schu went flat
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) Ferrari supplier Bridgestone has concluded an investigation into why both of Michael Schumacher's left tires separately deflated during Sunday's grand prix at Barcelona.

To be studied in detail, they were returned to Japan after the Spanish race.

According to a Bridgestone source, Schumacher's left rear - the first to fail - went down due to structural 'weakness' of the actual carcass.

The source reported that, due to a Safety Car period early on, the German driver lost vital air pressure that was never regained, putting additional stress on the tire.

Bridgestone, meanwhile, apparently concluded that the left front deflated due to a sudden loss of pressure, caused - for example - by Schumacher running over debris.

BAR now 'accept' FIA ban
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) BAR appear to have heeded the FIA's warning and accepted a two-race ban for fielding an underweight car at San Marino.

Despite baulking at (and nearly challenging) the Court of Appeal's verdict, the Brackley team distributed a statement on Thursday, ostensibly the placate the argument.

''(BAR) now accept that ... cars must always weigh more than 600kg,'' an excerpt read.

Earlier, the Max Mosley-led body warned BAR that it faced further penalties for questioning the integrity of the FIA.

The part Honda-owned operation, to also sit out next week's Monaco grand prix, also backtracked on recent claims that the FIA's Court is not fair and independent.

''(BAR) recognize that the judges ... are fully independent, being lawyers and ... judges of high standing,'' the statement outlined.

''(The team) accept (their) decision ... as fair in the circumstances.''

Toyota top test
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) Toyota took a turn atop Thursday's test timesheet at Paul Ricard.

French tester and once Monaco winner Olivier Panis led the field of nine, also filled by McLaren, Renault, Red Bull and Sauber, in windy Le Castellet.

On Friday, the twisty, Monaco-like configuration will be changed to simulate the hard braking and long straights of Canada's Montreal.

BAR-Honda, then - who sat out Thursday as it will not race at Monte-Carlo - will resume running.

Of note on Thursday were Mercedes engine problems for Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya, and Jacques Villeneuve -- who hopped into the Sauber and went slowest of all.

Elsewhere, Williams wrapped up an exclusive test at Vallelunga, while Ferrari's Luca Badoer and Michael Schumacher also ran alone at Fiorano.

Williams' tech chief Sam Michael said: ''We spent the test working on starts and traction control performance.''

'Spice up test safety' - DC
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) F1 veteran David Coulthard has hit out at the lack of safety precautions at Formula One tests.

Red Bull's Scottish driver, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, said tests do not compare to measures at actual grands prix.

''The speeds are the same (when testing),'' he told Autosport, ''the tracks are the same.

''But the safety standards are not.''

He referred, for example, to some corners, where a single voluntary marshal - with a fire extinguisher - stood guard.

That doesn't make sense, the 34-year-old insisted, given that many more laps are amassed at tests, leading to 'fatigue.'

''Speaking for myself,'' he told the British magazine, ''I know that all my biggest accidents happened in testing.''

Stewart saved
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) Sir Jackie Stewart has defeated an embittered challenge to remain president and board member of the Silverstone-owning BRDC.

The 'vicious' row, according to the triple world champion, with ousted chairman Ray Bellm, ended with 82 (president) and 56 (director) per cent votes in the Scot's favor.

''Had I not retained a place on the board,'' Sir Jackie revealed to a media scrum afterwards, ''I would have walked away.

''So, yes, I'm relieved.''

Sir Frank Williams and Murray Walker (and David Coulthard, who sent written support) both backed Stewart at the meeting.

Hakk's baby girl
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) Twice F1 world champion and DTM driver Mika Hakkinen has welcomed a baby girl into the world.

Wife Erja gave birth to Aina Julia, sister to five-year-old Hugo, on Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, the Finn's DTM rival, and another former grand prix (Toyota) star - Scotland's Allan McNish - is also a Dad.

Kelly gave birth to their first child, a son called Finlay John Robert, on Monday.

'Don't blame Button'
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) Jenson Button would have had 'no idea' his BAR-Honda was illegal.

That is the joint belief of friend and racing rival David Coulthard, and FIA president Max Mosley.

''The driver is always the last to know,'' Red Bull's DC told the Daily Record newspaper.

''Like me, Jenson (Button) would have no idea what the inside of a fuel cell looks like.''

Similarly, Mosley - whose governing body successfully challenged a stewards' verdict that that 007 car was legal - exonerated Button and Japanese teammate Takuma Sato.

''I would be astonished,'' Max said, ''if either driver knew about it.

''I would also be surprised if either had come to know ... that he wouldn't have said 'I don't want to drive this car'.''

The only modification to be made to the BAR-Honda racer at Nurburgring is six kilograms of additional fixed ballast.

Schu to quit - Prost
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) Bid farewell to Michael Schumacher.

That's the advice of Formula One's second most successful grand prix driver, Alain Prost.

The Frenchman tipped the Ferrari master to call it quits at the end of 2005 'whether he defends his title ... or not,' according to Bild.

50-year-old Prost said a single bad season is enough to squeeze all the fun out of racing.

Indeed, in 2001 - at Monaco - Mika Hakkinen told then McLaren teammate David Coulthard that he'd had enough, the Scot revealed to F1 Racing magazine.

DC said: ''I'm sure there must come a very clear moment ... when you realize you're not enjoying it.

''I remember Damon (Hill) coming up to me at Hockenheim in 1999 and saying, 'I just don't want to do this anymore'.''

Montoya to bounce back
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya should be back on song at Monaco after stumbling through his return from injury.

F1 team 'CEO' Martin Whitmarsh admitted to Autosport magazine that the Colombian lacked consistency around the Circuit de Catalunya.

''(But) it was a bloody good effort to get back in harness,'' the Englishman said.

''(Barcelona) is very physically demanding.''

Compounding the Colombian's problem, teammate Kimi Raikkonen trounced the Spanish field.

''Hopefully we've got two drivers ... with a belief that they can win (at Monaco),'' Whitmarsh remarked.

Schu 'best advertising'
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) Michael Schumacher's poor 2005 form will hurt attendance at German grands prix this season.

Nurburgring boss Dr Walker Kafitz said he would be keeping a sharp eye on the Ferrari driver's Monaco fortune.

''A successful Schumi,'' said the man who runs the nearest grand prix to Michael and brother Ralf's birthplace, ''is still the best advertising.''

Meanwhile, exactly fifty five years ago today (May 13, 1950), the first ever round of the modern world championship was held at Silverstone.

Alfa Romeo's supercharged 158 won all six grand prix that year, excluding the fabled Indy 500.

Later in 1950, at Monaco, an American driver by the name of Harry Schell debuted the first rear-engine grand prix car.

He was killed during practice at Silverstone, on May 13, 1960.

Kimi can stay forever
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen has a team for life at Ron Dennis' McLaren.

The Woking based chairman and principal said 25-year-old Raikkonen - who dominated at Barcelona last weekend - can stay in silver 'as long as he wants.'

''He has the ability to win many, many world championships,'' Dennis - aware of Ferrari's open admiration of Raikkonen - told Finland's MTV3 TV channel.

''We will fight to keep Kimi on the team.''

But Ron is aware that Raikkonen, one of the hottest properties in pitlane, will ultimately opt for success over loyalty.

''If we don't deliver (for) him,'' Dennis admitted, ''I am sure he will look at other teams.''

DC's tire fear
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) Safety at tests is not David Coulthard's only grand prix concern.

The Scot wrote in a column for the Daily Record newspaper that the new single-tire regulation is taking both car and driver 'to the limit.'

''I'm still recovering from Barcelona,'' the 34-year-old - who flat spotted a tire and drove the rest of the race with severe vibration - revealed.

DC said he noticed that Williams' front Michelins were 'down to the canvas' in parc ferme at the end of the race.

''We are definitely on the edge now,'' said Coulthard, ''and in a difficult area with potential for ... problems.''

BAR and Monaco
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) BAR will be allowed to run a motor home, entertain sponsors and generally have a presence at the Monaco grand prix.

But no racing.

FIA president Max Mosley said at Barcelona that the governing body, although overseeing a two-race ban for cheating, did not want to 'crucify' the Honda powered camp.

''We will not try to victimize them in any way.''

Williams' head of marketing Jim Wright, however, revealed that skipping Monaco - the glitziest grand prix of the year - would be an 'unmitigated disaster' for any team.

''We have a full (business) schedule for Monaco,'' he told Reuters.

Monaco resident David Coulthard described the race around Monte Carlo as a 'magic' weekend.

''But once we get out there,'' the Scot described, ''after the initial wow ... Monaco is just another race track.''

Honda support BAR
(GMMf1NET -- May.13) BAR's Japanese co-owner and engine partner Honda has thrown its support behind the banned F1 team.

''Honda has confirmed that BAR Honda did not act fraudulently,'' the statement - attributed to Honda president and CEO Takeo Fukui - revealed.

BAR-Honda will, like at Barcelona, sit out next week's Monaco grand prix after - at Imola - Jenson Button's car was found to be illegally using fuel as ballast.

Another except from the statement said: ''At (the Nurburgring), our team ... will continue to pursue, in a fair and proper manner, victories in the (championship).

''Please continue to give us your support.''

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