Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
May 16, 2005

Richards set for BAR return
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) Embattled BAR-Honda may re-employ 2004 F1 principal David Richards, it is rumored.

Amid the cheating scandal, lower than expected performance and the fight to retain Jenson Button, the Prodrive boss is speculated to be in the frame for Nick Fry's job.

UK publication 'People' said the Englishman is 'deep in negotiations' and could - although the team is banned from racing there - be confirmed at Monaco on Friday.

''With Richards' wealth of experience,'' a team 'insider' claimed, ''we can look forward to a calming influence.''

In another tabloid newspaper, meanwhile, it is reported that 25-year-old Button got over the break-up with his fiancée by going out with British 800m runner Emma Davies.

Toyota to get off lightly
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) Toyota will escape a heavy FIA sanction despite racing without a competition license in 2005.

Max Mosley, president of the sport's governing body, made a clear distinction between BAR-Honda's cheating scandal and the 'administrative matter.'

''I think it's an ... error with no fraud,'' he said.

Toyota president John Howett said the Cologne based team - which enjoys pitlane's second biggest budget - simply failed to renew the German paperwork.

''We do apologize,'' he remarked, ''and feel extremely embarrassed.''

Alonso in Turkey
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) Renault's Fernando Alonso drove his title leading F1 car around the Istanbul (Turkey) 'hippodrome' on Sunday.

Up to twenty thousand thronged to the area to see the Spaniard who is likely to still be leading the world championship when F1 comes to town for the first time in August.

Earlier, Istanbul was treated to a further display of grunt -- a 1977 Renault grand prix car and the Le Mans winner of 1978.

Madrid, Moscow, Lyon and Rome have enjoyed similar F1 demonstrations.

Last chance Liuzzi
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) You won't find Vitantonio Liuzzi tackling hard or sprinting for the football at Monte Carlo.

Like at Imola, the Red Bull racer is invited to play alongside men like Michael Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso on the driver's charity team.

''Maybe, like in Imola, I'll play for five minutes,'' the Italian said.

''I can't afford to get hurt. (Monaco) is a very important one.''

On a three-race stretch, the rookie - to likely be replaced for a similar stint by Christian Klien - is not guaranteed a seat in the RB1 car at Nurburgring and beyond.

Last time out, at Barcelona, he spun into the gravel. ''For sure I have to get a result,'' the reigning F3000 champion agreed.

''I think I've had some very difficult races but it is true that we have lost a bit of our speed.

''For sure Monaco is a tough place to have your last chance!''

Rossi and F1
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) Arguably motor sport's most unshakable rumor is again doing a wheelie at full throttle.

MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi is on a fast track to F1.

This time, the story grew legs when the Italian rider's Yamaha boss, Davide Brivio, said at the Le Mans venue that Rossi had targeted F1 for 2007.

Then, the back-paddling began. ''I said it might happen,'' Brivio - watering down earlier comments in La Gazzetta dello Sport - insisted.

Rossi, no doubt, is a four wheeled enthusiast, having competed in rallies and tested Michael Schumacher's Ferrari.

But he slammed the latest round of F1 speculation.

''I'll finish my career in motorcycling,'' the irritated 26-year-old - although a free agent after 2006 - hissed, ''and stay in MotoGP for ten years more.''

Tires caused Wurz shunt
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) Alex Wurz was the unfortunate star of the final day at Paul Ricard.

The McLaren tester ended last Friday in the medical centre after, in a high speed bend, writing off not only his MP4-20, but the circuit barrier he struck.

Wurz, 31, was 'given the all clear,' the Woking based team said.

''I am OK and feeling fine,'' the Austrian reported, ''just disappointed I couldn't continue.''

It is reported that Michelin is investigating what is thought to have been rear tire failure.

''We all had to return to the short track layout,'' said disappointed Sauber engineer Giampaolo Dall'Ara, also ruing Jacques Villeneuve's run-in with a curb that ended his day.

Also in France were Renault, Toyota, Red Bull and BAR, whose Takuma Sato went quickest.

Elsewhere, Ferrari's Luca Badoer tested at Fiorano on Friday and Saturday, but when Rubens Barrichello arrived, so too did the rain, ending the run.

Schu title 'gone'
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) Pack your bags, Michael Schumacher -- the 2005 championship is over.

That's the advice of a growing swathe of F1 observers, the latest being triple world champion Niki Lauda and David Coulthard, the German's current track rival.

Austrian Lauda told Bild: ''I think Ferrari have the fastest car ... but (need) good tires, and they do not have them.

''(Kimi) Raikkonen is the only guy who can overtake (Fernando) Alonso.''

Coulthard, meanwhile, agrees that Schumacher is staring at his first drivers' title loss since breaking his leg in 1999.

The Scot told the Daily Record newspaper: ''For sure he will win a race this year, but the title is all but gone.

''He is not about to retire but the lack of success will not help his motivation to stay in F1.''

Spurred on by another doubter, quadruple champion Alain Prost, Schumacher - in La Gazzetta dello Sport - was moved to respond.

The 36-year-old said: ''Everyone can have his own opinion.

''I guarantee that mine is different.''

Brit GP set for sell-out
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) Silverstone is nearly a sell-out.

Managing director Richard Phillips said July 10's British grand prix - threatened until a new five year deal was struck - is down to the final 10,000 tickets.

''If they continue to sell as well as they have been,'' he remarked, ''we'll reach sell-out in two or three weeks time.''

The capacity at Northamptonshire-located Silverstone is 100,000 on race day.

Hakk back on top
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) At the weekend, Mika Hakkinen won his first major motor race since Indianapolis' GP in 2001.

The Flying Finn, who quit F1 at the end of that year, powered - from pole - to victory in Mercedes' DTM touring car at Spa-Francorchamps.

''I can't find any words,'' said an emotional looking Hakkinen, 36, the double F1 champion.

BMW deny F1 exit plan
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) BMW has denied it may race out of Formula One because it is unhappy with Williams' current form.

German magazine 'Der Spiegel' said the Munich marque was considering a 'total exit' plan.

But the German carmaker is admitting to 'intensive negotiations' about how to squeeze more out of its huge F1 investment.

''Formula One and BMW belong together,'' chief executive Helmut Panke told Reuters in Leipzig.

Speculation links the Munich marque with Sauber, who - at the very least - look set to enjoy BMW power from next year.

Life after Schu
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) There is life after Michael Schumacher.

That is the sentiment of Ferrari's Ross Brawn, facing stark reality that - one day - F1's most successful driver, now 36, will call it a day.

''But Michael is a proud person,'' said Brawn, Maranello's technical director.

''He will stop racing only when the chance of victory is gone.''

Brawn admitted that the current state of play at the Prancing Horse will no doubt have Schumacher - the seven time drivers' winner - 'annoyed.'

But Schumacher is feeling good about Sunday's blast around the Monaco street circuit.

''I am sure we will catch up,'' he told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport when asked about Bridgestone's form, ''but I can't say when until we fully understand (the problem).''

Toyota to Trulli struggle
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) A year ago, Jarno Trulli conquered Monaco.

However, according to a test driving teammate, Renault's 2004 star is unlikely to do the double in a red and white Toyota.

''Our main problem is the bumps,'' Ricardo Zonta, of Brazil, said, ''and the car is best suited to medium fast corners.''

Indeed, the Cologne designed 'TF105' model struggled to cope with the high curbs at Imola, a similarly challenging layout for F1 suspension.

''On paper,'' test cohort Olivier Panis - 1996 Monaco winner - agreed, ''Monaco is not one of Toyota's best circuits.''

An unique F1 form guide
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) Want to know who'll win the French grand prix?

With the help of an astrologer, organizers of July's race at Magny Cours have produced an unique form guide.

Jean-Yves Espier is 'not a race fan,' a French grand prix statement insisted. ''His views were based solely on what he found in the astral charts.''

He said that while Capricorn Michael Schumacher is a 'great warrior', Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello is - unlike before - to be a 'lucky boy' in 2005.

Similarly, Takuma Sato is set to 'surprise more than a few,' Espier found, while Fernando Alonso has 'low energy levels' and his 'performances will vary.'

Williams' Nick Heidfeld 'needs to learn to be ... more far sighted,' and Kimi Raikkonen does not always 'think about the consequences.

''(He) does not look to be climbing onto the podium in France,' the astrologer insisted.

''It looks like Fernando Alonso is going to bring in yet another victory for Renault.''

Massa 'apologized' - DC
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) F1 veteran David Coulthard and Felipe Massa have kissed and made up.

Leading to raised single fingers and hands round throats, the pair tangled at the grand prix at Imola last month.

And, after the next race at Barcelona, 34-year-old DC threw a big party in the city's trendy 'Club 13' nightspot.

At one point, Massa, 24, strolled in.

''Life is too short to hold grudges,'' Scotland-born Coulthard remarked, ''and he came up to me ... and apologized.''

The Red Bull driver also grinned at speculation he might, as a twice Monaco winner, be in with a shout of a podium repeat in the Principality.

''Anything can happen here,'' the former McLaren driver agreed, ''but (winning) might be a bit optimistic.''

He said: ''If we take a gamble we could get in the points.''

'Monaco is Monaco'
(GMMf1NET -- May.16) There's something special about Monaco.

Narrow, bumpy, winding, slippery, it's the only true street circuit still left on the annual grand prix calendar.

More than that, though, Monaco - as champion Mika Hakkinen once put it - 'is Monaco.'

''I've never been a big fan of street circuits,'' said Red Bull rookie Tonio Liuzzi - Monte Carlo winner in F3000 last season - ''but I love Monaco.''

Whether it's the yacht-lined harbor, the money, the Armco, the danger or the history, the grand prix drivers' verdict is undivided: Monaco is uniquely challenging.

''Any lapse in concentration,'' said Toyota's Ralf Schumacher, ''is certain to be punished.''

Williams' Nick Heidfeld added: ''Some people say it's not safe, but it's so enjoyable!''

Two time winner David Coulthard, meanwhile, said a true Monaco-flyer - like his pole lap one year - requires a light scrape of the barrier here and there.

''One slip and it's all over,'' said the Scot. ''It's intense.''

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