Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
May 29, 2005

Schu no snag for little Nick
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) Countryman Michael Schumacher was among the first to herald Nick Heidfeld's maiden F1 pole position.

''He can be really proud of that,'' said the seven time champion. ''Nick's performance this year has been first class. He deserves it.''

Heidfeld, the quiet, small - almost anonymous - driver, finally emerged from the midfield to land BMW-Williams' plum vacancy in 2005.

He's the top German at the Nurburgring.

''I think also in the points standings,'' Nick grinned, ''but to me I don't care if I'm ahead of a Schumacher. I want to be in front of everyone.''

History may disprove the theory, but analysts expect that Nick and teammate Mark Webber's FW27s are fuelled light.

Heidfeld said: ''I'm not saying anything. Whatever strategy we're on, we're happy.''

DC to race on
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) F1 veteran David Coulthard may be retained by Red Bull for 2006.

Although owner Dietrich Mateschitz said the 34-year-old would make room for a younger lineup, sporting director Christian Horner insists there is 'no reason' to shunt the solid Scot aside.

He said in Germany: ''He has been doing an excellent job and ... brings stability and great experience to the team.''

Some don't like it hot
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) Stifling heat should not be repeated at Sunday's Nurburgring.

While the mercury unusually soared to 50 (Celsius) on the central German asphalt for qualifying, the F1 circus does not expect a grand prix repeat.

''It's a lot hotter than normal for this part of the world,'' Williams' Mark Webber noted on Saturday, ''which is tough for the tire companies.''

Thunder storms should now hold off until early Sunday night, with a slightly cloudy top around the twenty six mark.

While tire and engine makers sweated, so too did the German crowd, several of whom were treated for heat exhaustion.

Williams' start fear
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) Can Williams' fast-qualifying men get off the Nurburgring start line?

Mark Webber, in particular, has had a shocking recent run with the Grove designed FW27 clutch.

''My start in Monaco wasn't bad,'' said teammate and polesitter Nick Heidfeld, ''but maybe still not good enough.''

Last week at Silverstone, technical director Sam Michael ordered the test team and Nico Rosberg to carry out a major program of practice starts.

''I hope we've made an improvement,'' said Webber, who called his Monaco getaway a 'joke'.

''It is clearly an area we're looking at.''

Don't, however, panic if Webber or Heidfeld muck it all up on the run to the first corner for today's grand prix.

At the Nurburgring, overtaking is a real possibility.

Who's low on juice?
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) Williams are light, Renault heavy, and McLaren somewhere in between.

That is McLaren driver Juan Pablo Montoya's fuel strategy prophecy after an unusual looking Nurburgring grid took shape.

''It's hard to say,'' said the Colombian, disappointed about the gap to teammate Kimi Raikkonen despite a similar load.

''I think Williams are quite light. I think the Renault is probably going long, and we're going where they are going.

''It wouldn't surprise me if Williams and Toyota go shorter.''

Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault race engineer Alan Permane, however, cast doubt on Montoya's forecast that Nick Heidfeld is significantly light.

''Our rivals are serious people,'' he said, ''who can't afford to take out 20kg just to get pole.''

Permane does admit, though, to surprise that Fernando Alonso has two Williams, two McLarens and a Toyota in front.

Williams, Honda and Toyota
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) BMW has denied it might split with six-year Formula One partner Williams.

''I expect the relationship to continue beyond the end of the season,'' said motorsport director Dr Mario Theissen, although reported to be taking a 'Sauber buyout' plan to Tuesday's Munich board meeting.

The real problem, though, is whether Sir Frank Williams would put up with the scenario.

For now, BMW - who know Sauber success would take time - need Frank's Grove team.

In the meantime, Honda and Toyota - who both did not rule out a collaboration - are touted as Williams' possible 'plan-Bs'.

Honda's vice president Otmar Szafnauer, though, told Autosport that the Japanese marque has had 'no serious discussion' with them about it.

''We are not against it,'' he said, ''but we don't want to ... because it would not benefit us.''

Quali debate set to return
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) Don't draw breath yet -- the format for qualifying is set to return to the Formula One news.

Although the Nurburgring debuted the single Saturday one-lap-per-car session, McLaren's Ron Dennis said the 2006 system - likely to be a one hour, 2002-like, 12-lap system - should be discussed soon.

He commented: ''The teams need to know certain elements ... within four to eight weeks.''

Why so early? Most teams are keen to get a start on some of the detail of their 2006 machines, like - so dependent on qualifying strategy - fuel tanks.

Williams' Sam Michael said the teams' biggest problem with the current format is its link with the previous race.

''If you have a bad race,'' said the technical director, ''then you are even further penalized.

''I think it's much better when everyone can go to a race on a level playing field.''

Jordan eye Red Bull, Sauber
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) Forget the duel with Minardi, Jordan intend to race the balance of 2005 against Sauber and Red Bull.

Indian rookie Narain Karthikeyan, 28, said the current lull - with the redeveloped 2004-spec Jordan car at or near the very back of the grid - is just 'a bad phase.'

''We need to get out of it as fast as possible,'' he told the Indian Telegraph newspaper.

In an injection of some optimism down Silverstone way, the team is working on a 'b' spec car that should be ready to roll after the upcoming North American GP leg.

''With that car,'' NK continued, ''we hopefully expect to challenge Sauber and Red Bull.

''It's frustrating at the moment.''

Schu won't win
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) Michael Schumacher has ruled out victory at the Nurburgring, the closest circuit to his birthplace.

''We will win races this year,'' the Ferrari driver - who completed a scrappy qualifying lap and will line up tenth - said, ''but maybe not this one.''

Not since 1993 has the German, 36 and a seven time drivers' champion, gone so long without a grand prix win.

Team principal Jean Todt added: ''We're sure we'll be more competitive in the race.''

Mercedes' Norbert Haug, meanwhile, predicted a return to form for Ferrari - but particularly tire supplier Bridgestone - in the near future.

The German marque, although with Michelin in F1, has worked with Bridgestone in DTM, GT, and - of course - F1.

''Look at their pace in Monaco, look at Imola,'' he said. ''It will be a different story for them soon.''

Button assured F1 future
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) Cockpit or no cockpit, F1 driver Jenson Button is assured a bright future.

The Englishman, forced to spectate at Barcelona and last Sunday at Monaco, slipped into the British TV (ITV) commentary box alongside former driver Martin Brundle at the latter venue.

''I have to say he put in a very good performance,'' Brundle - former Jordan, McLaren and Ligier star - told his 'Sunday Times' column.

''His observations were pertinent and his delivery stylish.''

Though questionably modest, 25-year-old Button agrees.

He said: ''It was quite interesting, to watch the race while it was actually happening.

''And I was quite good -- quite impressed with myself!''

Brundle, though, accused JB's Brackley based BAR squad of 'more than a little hype' in the lead-in to a disappointing Nurburgring return.

German pole sitter Nick Heidfeld, ironically the most likely to slip aside for Button if he joins Williams next year, admitted to believing some of it.

''I expected them to be stronger,'' he said, ''at least after what they've said recently.''

No 'b spec' Toyota
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) Unlike last year, Toyota will not build a 'b spec' F1 car mid season.

In 2004, the TF104B proved significantly better than its predecessor and confirmed the resource of the Japanese carmaker.

Speculation in Germany had suggested that a 'b' TF105 would debut at Silverstone and prove half a second quicker than the current model.

''We will follow a normal development path,'' team president John Howett told 'Premiere' TV, ''which would include three or four development stages for the car.''

Indeed, Howett said any future planning and development is already centered on 2006, when the new V8 formula touches down in F1.

Button's monkey
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) It'll all start to flow once Jenson Button throws a 'monkey' off his back.

That's the advice of triple drivers' world beater and fellow Briton Sir Jackie Stewart.

The 65-year-old Scot told 'The Sun' newspaper that the 'monkey' is Button's failure - in ninety F1 grand prix starts - to collect a victory.

''Once you have savored a win,'' said the winner of 27 grands prix, ''you know ... how.

''What sometimes happens after such a good spell is that the following year things get worse and it can turn into a bit of a nightmare.''

Button, 25, blamed his poor showing at the Nurburgring on having to race the Imola-spec Honda.

He said: ''If we could have had a fresh engine we would have been fighting at the front.

''We are confident of challenging for the win in Canada.''

Speedy Scot
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) David Coulthard left the Nurburgring F1 paddock with a lighter wallet on Saturday evening.

Red Bull's veteran Scot copped a whopping $5250 fine for speeding in the circuit's pitlane.

How's the new Quali?
(GMMf1NET -- May.29) F1 drivers have expressed mixed feelings about the 'new' single session qualifying format.

Despite bagging his first ever pole at the Nurburgring, Williams' Nick Heidfeld isn't a fan of the 2004-like system.

''I don't like it,'' said the quiet German, ''that you don't know who has what fuel load.''

The scrapped 'aggregate' system included a Saturday afternoon session run on low fuel. But, now, teams don't even test out-and-out performance with low fuel in practice.

Heidfeld continued: ''They say you can calculate (qualifying fuel) after the first stint (of the race), but I've never seen anyone do it.''

McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya, on the other hand, enjoys having a sleep-in on Sunday morning.

''Getting up to do one lap,'' said the Colombian, ''what's the point? Why come at 9am and qualifying with no public? I like it this way.''

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