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
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
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
''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
''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
''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
''(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
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
Sam Michael, meanwhile - technical director and also an
Australian - revealed that 'some' of the new parts will be
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
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
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
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
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.
Alonso doubts Schu revival
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.27) Fernando Alonso doubts whether reigning
champion Michael Schumacher is a serious threat to his 2005
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
''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
''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
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
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
''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
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
''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
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
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
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