Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
June 27, 2005

New boycott threat in F1
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) More craziness could descend on Formula One if Paul Stoddart's warning of a possible French GP boycott is right.

The Minardi boss, at odds with FIA president Max Mosley, said the non-Ferrari faction may hold fast if Michelin teams are heavily penalized in Wednesday's meeting of the world motor sport council.

F1's Magny Cours boycott would follow Indy, where only six cars raced after a compromise solution was not found in the Michelin tire saga.

''In the ... situation of some kind of draconian penalty,'' Stoddart told BBC radio, ''we'd have a meeting and you wouldn't guarantee (the race).

''Are (we) going to ... say 'we can't vote (Mosley) out, but we can vote with our feet'?''

The most likely penalty is compensation for Indy fans' tickets, and further punitive fines. If so, the boycott cloud might just pass overhead.

Race bans 'possible' - FIA
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) Max Mosley indicated that total chaos could descend on F1 by revealing that race bans are possible in Wednesday's FIA summit.

The 65-year-old president of the governing body told 'The Guardian' that he 'wouldn't exclude a ban or two' after Indy's seven-team Michelin boycott.

''I felt the situation had been created artificially and deliberately,'' Mosley alleged.

Other penalties likely to trigger the teams' French GP boycott include heavy point sanctions or extreme monetary fines.

But Max added: ''Even if I want to (impose bans), the other 20 (council) members are unlikely to.

''I react badly to being pushed around.''

Mosley also aimed fire at Paul Stoddart, who unleashed the boycott threat and has repeatedly called for Max's head.

''Stoddart is a sad case,'' he said. ''(He's) obviously forgotten to take his medication.''

The FIA president then, just over a week after the Indy fiasco, played down the likelihood of another F1 boycott.

''What are they going to do?

''If they strike, they're cutting off their nose to spite their face. I'm not concerned.''

Max also hinted that he will not take Paul Stoddart's advice and wander into the sunset.

''If you're in charge,'' the Briton insisted, ''you can never walk away from a mess -- even if you didn't create it.''

Michelin keep HQ handy
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) Sauber driver Felipe Massa is pretty sure Michelin won't need to sit out Sunday's French grand prix.

''If necessary,'' the young Brazilian chuckled to Autosport, ''they can always bring the entire factory there.''

Magny Cours is the closest F1 circuit to the French tire supplier's HQ at Clermont Ferrand.

Ominously, though, the smooth asphalt is - like Indy - one of the most abrasive on the calendar.

Michelin boss Pierre Dupasquier admits that the long Estoril corner generates 'high loads' for the F1 product.

''If it wasn't there,'' the Frenchman admitted, ''we would be able to run softer tires.''

Meanwhile, Michelin is expected to endure long lasting damage in the United States, after it prohibited teams from racing around Indy.

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart told the Marin Independent Journal that Michelin should face a total F1 ban for the incident.

''That was, in my eyes, totally unacceptable,'' he said.

''I'll never ever let anybody in my family ever have a set of Michelin tires on their car.''

Berger denies BMW return
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) Gerhard Berger has refused to rule out returning to Formula One with new Sauber team owner BMW.

The Austrian, a former ten time winner of grands prix, told a Swiss newspaper that he is not currently involved in the Munich carmaker's plans.

''I know well that you never say never about anything,'' Berger - also ex joint BMW motor sport director at Williams, 45 - told Neue Zurcher Zeitung.

''But the current rumors are not true.

''I have said before that (a return) is unlikely,'' Berger said.

''To put my life back into a suitcase to hop from circuit to circuit is, I think, in the past.''

Ralf to return
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) Ralf Schumacher will return to the wheel of his Toyota at Magny Cours.

The German, 29, sat out the rest of the similarly ill fated United States grand prix after his Michelin tire failed on the high speed banking.

Schumacher also missed last week's Jerez test.

''(Ralf) will return to the cockpit alongside Jarno (Trulli) at Magny Cours,'' chief test engineer Gerd Pfeiffer confirmed.

''(He) has no lasting ill effects ... but we always make driver safety the priority. The team's medical staff decided that the sensible thing to do was maximize Ralf's recovery time.''

Standing down from the Cologne-based lineup in France, though, will be 'Friday' tester Ricardo Zonta, who makes way for one-off local hero, Olivier Panis.

''After flying straight back across the Atlantic,'' the Brazilian grinned at Jerez, ''I think I deserve a rest!''

Bernie phoned Danica again
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) F1's Bernie Ecclestone has again phoned female Indy 500 racer Danica Patrick to apologize for the 'domestic appliance' clanger.

After telling the press at Indy, and again to the 23-year-old American on the phone, that all women should dress in white, Bernie insisted he didn't intend to 'insult' the diminutive driver.

''All I know,'' Patrick was quoted as saying by Press Association, ''is he seems like he's trying to make amends.

''On the other hand, where that may be ... a good joke in another country, we obviously didn't get it here.''

Williams' '05 starts here
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) As far as the Grove based outfit is concerned, Williams' 2005 F1 campaign starts at Magny Cours.

The BMW-powered squad will unveil a 'MK2' bodywork package at the usually quiet French grand prix in rival Nevers.

A pre race statement said the new aerodynamic kit is a step forward in an 'aggressive' program.

''I hope we will make a good step forward,'' 28-year-old German driver Nick Heidfeld agreed.

Teammate Mark Webber, of the same age, concurred that Frank Williams' team is 'excited' at the prospect of new parts.

The Australian said: ''I hope we're able to get the most out of them.''

Sam Michael, meanwhile - technical director and also an Australian - revealed that 'some' of the new parts will be 'obvious.'

Ferrari in tire 'box' row
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) A new row is brewing between Ferrari, the governing FIA, and the other teams in pitlane.

The FIA says the Maranello based champion's controversial tire heating 'box' does not contravene the rules.

But, according to Autosport, some Michelin clad rivals do not agree, arguing that Article 75F of the sporting regulations dictates that only 'blankets' may be utilized.

FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting has allowed the scarlet painted boxes to be used because their internals are the same as a blanket.

The boxes' benefit, though, is that a tire is effectively suspended in air, and - also - that the rim is better heated.

Hill to test GP2 car
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) 1996 F1 champion Damon Hill will test a GP2 car this week at Paul Ricard.

The Englishman, now 44, retired in 1999 and has only re-retaken the wheel of the odd historic F1, or Minardi's two seater.

Now, though, he's helping another Briton - Ulsterman Steven Kane - reach the F1 pinnacle.

''I could not resist the opportunity to have a go,'' said Damon, who will evaluate the car as a potential next step for Kane.

GP2 boss Bruno Michel is also looking forward to Tuesday.

He said: ''To be able to get feedback ... from a F1 world champion ... is a big boost.''

F1 legends Jacques Laffite, Patrick Tambay and Adrian Campos will also test the GP2 in France.

Meanwhile, another son of a former world champion, Nelson Piquet Jr, was - at Goodwood - at the wheel of his father's 1987 Williams F1 racer.

''I would love to take it to Silverstone,'' the young F3 racing Brazilian told formula-2.net, ''do some quick laps on slicks and really push.''

'B' Jordan on track
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) Jordan's 'b' spec EJ15 rolled onto the tarmac at Barcelona last Friday.

After a terminal oil leak a day earlier, Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan finally got to sample the revised yellow racer ahead of its planned debut at Magny Cours.

Portugal's Monteiro, though - who amazingly landed on the Indy podium a week ago - played down the technical glitch.

''(It was) just a teething problem,'' he insisted.

''We are here to check that everything is in order to allow us to use the new car in France.''

Indian teammate Karthikeyan, the quicker of the Silverstone based pair, lapped nearly four seconds slower than Catalunya's leader, F1 champ Michael Schumacher.

Silverstone a sell-out
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) Silverstone's British grand prix is sold out.

The Northamptonshire circuit announced that, for the second year running, 100,000 will attend the F1 race next month.

''A sell out crowd is exactly what Silverstone, F1 and, more importantly, the fans deserve,'' said circuit managing director Richard Phillips.

He marveled: ''Last year's event ran smoothly from start to finish -- we even received a compliment from Mr. Ecclestone!''

Alonso doubts Schu revival
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) Fernando Alonso doubts whether reigning champion Michael Schumacher is a serious threat to his 2005 crown.

Schumacher, Ferrari's great 36-year-old driver, closed the gap to within 25 points of Alonso by winning last Sunday.

The German told Gazzetta dello Sport: ''From now on things should go a little better.''

But Alonso, the 23-year-old Spaniard who drives for Renault, warned: ''He's back because he scored ten points at Indianapolis and eight in Canada.

''We know we were more competitive than Ferrari at Indy,'' Alonso told the BBC at Goodwood, ''and (were) in front of him in Canada when we retired.''

The dark haired racer admitted to harboring more fear for McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen, who have a 'quicker car.'

''We have to continue developing (our) car,'' he insisted, ''and win more races if we want to win the championship.''

Sauber, BMW, to kick off now
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) Sauber could benefit from BMW's input as soon as this season, team driver Felipe Massa predicted.

The young Brazilian said Munich based BMW's 2006 buyout of the Swiss team leaves Sauber with 'no excuse' not to quickly develop.

''For once Sauber will have no excuse,'' Massa, driving his third season for the Hinwil camp, told Autosport magazine.

''Knowing there will be a (bigger) budget next year, we can start investing in some development, which would be the base of 2006,'' he claimed.

Nicolas Todt-managed Massa, was coy, though, about whether his future lay with the BMW owned and managed Sauber.

The 24-year-old answered: ''I am sure I will be driving ... somewhere (next year).''

Team owner Peter Sauber, meanwhile, reported to be keeping a 20 per cent stake in the team, said he would not now 'start something new.'

''I hope things will be a little calmer for me,'' said the 62-year-old Swiss, to remain a BMW consultant next year.

And, on Massa's claim, Sauber confirmed that the test team - for example - would shortly add a second car, and the impressive wind tunnel another shift.

Indy boss vows to wait
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) Indy president Tony George has vowed to wait until Wednesday's FIA council meeting.

Only then, he insisted, will the disgruntled 'Brickyard' have more to say about last Sunday's disastrous six-car farce.

Asked by the Indianapolis Star about ticket refunds for angry race goers, he replied at the IRL race at Richmond: ''I don't know what's going on.

''I hope we can come up with something, but I don't know.

''There's a lot going on (within F1). We'll have to see.''

George did admit, though, that he felt 'very compromised' and 'helpless' by F1's unilateral decisions at the 2005 United States grand prix.

And, pressed about plans for the 2006 edition: ''I'm formulating it.''

JV feels secure at Sauber
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) 1997 champion Jacques Villeneuve says he feels securely protected by a two year Formula One contract at Sauber.

The 34-year-old told Canada's 'TSN' network that there are 'not many ways' the 2005 and 2006 driving deal can be broken.

''Yes, contracts are breakable,'' Villeneuve admitted constant speculation that Peter Sauber may soon replace him.

He added: ''But it all depends how it's written.

''When Peter and I started to talk, we both decided to have a short contract without twenty million ways of screwing each other.''

Sauber will be BMW-powered and owned as of 2006.

Another week of F1 war
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) A Magny Cours boycott could force Max Mosley to resign, triple world champion and F1 stalwart Sir Jackie Stewart predicted.

The Scot cast light on the majority of teams' reported threat to sit out the French grand prix in protest of potentially heavy penalties in Wednesday's FIA world council.

''You can't reign ... if you don't have the people behind you,'' he told a BBC radio show.

Stewart said a boycott, just a fortnight after the embarrassing six car Indy disaster, would be 'scandalous.'

''To give a no show is unacceptable,'' he added.

''The sport cannot go on with the leadership it has if that is the case.''

Team owner Sir Frank Williams, meanwhile, is not optimistic. He equated going to Paris with 'storming a castle ... with bows and arrows.'

''Max just wants to humiliate us,'' the Englishman told Autosport.

Patiently on the sidelines, on the other hand, are the title contending grand prix drivers, who just want to race.

''I hope the meeting goes well for all the teams,'' said Fernando Alonso. ''I have no doubt that there'll be a race.''

Somewhat more politically, world champion Michael Schumacher hopes sanity prevails and the Michelin seven hop to Magny Cours with nothing more than a reprimand.

The German told Bild: ''I think (they) have been punished enough.''

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