Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
June 28, 2005

Ralf keen on smooth return
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) Ralf Schumacher will present himself for duty '100 per cent fit' at the French grand prix.

Toyota's German driver was told not to complete the Indy weekend after smashing into the oval wall with tire failure.

Schumacher, who will turn thirty on Thursday, confirmed that - although also sitting out last week's Jerez test - he is now ready to drive again.

''I think every driver is pretty eager to race at Magny Cours,'' the 29-year-old, referring to Michelin teams' Indy boycott, told his website.

Ralf, whose teammate is Jarno Trulli, has not enjoyed a sparkling season so far in the Cologne designed car, but Magny Cours might just be the ideal scene for an F1 resurgence.

Two years ago, in a Williams, he won his last GP, in rural France. 'Schu Jr' also expects a quick racer in 2005.

''Magny Cours is a very smooth race track,'' he noted, ''which should suit our car more than some others.''

Let's test at Indy - Michelin
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) Michelin will ask the governing body to allow tire testing at Indianapolis prior to the next F1 grand prix there.

Ahead of partner teams' Wednesday hearing at the FIA world council, the French company released a statement insisting that tires taken to the US GP - leading to the disastrous six car farce - were 'not intrinsically' flawed.

''But (they) were insufficiently suited to the extreme racing conditions encountered through turn 13 ... this year.

''Testing at Indianapolis was not possible,'' it read. ''Michelin had to carry out simulation work based on the results of less severe testing.''

The Clermont-Ferrand based tire supplier to seven of F1's ten teams also insisted that adding a 'chicane' would not have left fans 'deprived of a high class competition.'

Michelin then vowed to take 'safe, competitive tires' to the remaining ten races of 2005.

DC, Button in plane scare
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) F1 veteran David Coulthard was last week involved in his second plane scare in five years.

Sharing a private jet with fellow British racer Jenson Button, Coulthard's pilots made an emergency landing at Madrid airport after sensing an unidentified burning smell.

It turned out to be a malfunctioning coffee machine.

DC, 34, and BAR's 25-year-old Button, were returning from the test at Jerez to attend last weekend's Goodwood festival.

''At no time were the drivers in any danger,'' Button's spokeswoman told Autosport, ''and there was no cause for concern.''

In 2000, two pilots were killed when David Coulthard's plane crashed in France. The Scot emerged with broken ribs.

Red Bull blast France
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) Red Bull ditched convention and instead hit out at France in a pre-Magny Cours grand prix statement.

A typical F1 'preview' glosses over the nature of country and race circuit, and provides the media with driver and team management quotes.

But Red Bull, the new F1 kid in pitlane after buying Jaguar from Ford, roasted France -- where, incidentally, the caffeine-filled 'energy' drink is banned.

''According to American writer Mark Twain, France has usually been governed by prostitutes, which is a bit unfair,'' the statement began.

Red Bull called the French grand prix in rural Nevers ''the dullest of the year. It is a great place,'' it said, ''if you like to look at cows.''

Local hotels, with 'broken plumbing and dangerous electricity' got a blasting, as did the local town of Nevers.

''If you pronounce it the English way,'' Red Bull said, ''it perfectly describes how many times people want to come back.

''The French ... have never been forgiven for moving the race to an industrial estate in the middle of the countryside.''

Even French capital Paris failed to escape the F1 team's vitriol. ''Do not bother with the Eiffel Tower,'' the pre-race statement concluded, ''until they have removed the scaffolding.''

F1 teams to meet
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) Most of F1's non-Ferrari teams will meet on Tuesday to discuss Wednesday's FIA world council hearing.

Every Michelin clad team was summoned by the governing body to face possible penalties for the Indy boycott.

''The teams (have) agreed not to make any comment until Wednesday,'' England's The Guardian reported, ''but sources ... hinted that the seven are divided in their approach.''

Clearly, the 'approach' in question pivots around Paul Stoddart's bombshell that another race boycott lies in wait should the seven be slapped.

''The teams were totally innocent victims,'' said the Bridgestone shod Minardi team owner.

It is suggested that some teams may not even show up at the FIA council in protest of Max Mosley's running of the sport.

Others are believed to want to offer to compensate fans for the six car United States debacle, in a peace-making bid to stave off further discord.

Jordan fans disappointed
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) Jordan fans have expressed disappointment with the F1 team's decision to abandon traditional pre-British grand prix festivities at Silverstone HQ.

After Eddie Jordan sold to Russian-Canadian billionaire Alex Shnaider earlier this year, the now 'Midland'-owned team said there would be no 'village' for the fans in 2005.

''Fans are therefore denied their annual pilgrimage to the home of the team,'' said Jordan Fans Online's Phil Giles.

Jordan's Chris Leat was quoted in Giles' report as apologizing to disappointed fans.

''Midland ... will host events in the future,'' he revealed, ''and we look forward to welcoming ... fans back to our ... factory.''

Revival road is 'long' - Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) Reigning world champion Michael Schumacher has warned that the road back to the top in Formula One 'is a long' one.

And Ferrari's number one driver, despite winning the farcical US grand prix last Sunday, said Magny Cours is unlikely to prove a 'huge leap forward' over the competition.

''But we can certainly do better,'' the German insisted.

''The title race is now a little more open. However, we have to avoid becoming overly optimistic. The gap to ... Fernando Alonso is a big one.

''At least we are now in a better situation.''

Schumacher, 36, also rejected the interpretation that the next four races - to be run over the next five weekends - will prove 'decisive' to the title.

''There are so many races after July,'' he remarked, ''that it makes no sense (saying that).

''We will see what we can get out of Magny Cours.''

India 'no' to free TV for F1
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has not succeeded in taking the pinnacle of racing to India's masses.

Although the 74-year-old offered 'millions' to the Broadcasting Corporation of India (Prasar Bharati), the government refused to allow Narain Karthikeyan's yellow car to be seen on national television network Doordarshan.

In hugely populated India, F1 is - instead - aired on a private sports channel.

The Press Trust of India (PTI) branded the government's decision to ban any tobacco-related broadcast 'obsessive'.

''Prasar Bharati was offered millions of dollars by ... Ecclestone to telecast the event on Doordarshan,'' said the public TV broadcaster's CEO K S Sarma, ''but ... the health ministry struck it down.

''(Bernie) said 'sky is the limit' ... but the health ministry refused.''

Rubens' 'big fight'
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) All is not well, or so it would seem, between Rubens Barrichello and his Ferrari team.

The Brazilian admitted he is having to 'put up with a lot of things' within the red camp.

An obviously frosty relationship has developed between Rubens and teammate Michael Schumacher after near clashes at Monaco and Indianapolis.

And, believed to be no longer willing to play second fiddle to the championship winning German, Barrichello is now linked with a switch next year to BAR.

''You know, I'm just a little Brazilian against a very big world.

''It's a very big fight.''

F1 dead in US - Andretti
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) Michael Andretti says F1 kissed America goodbye by allowing a six car shambles to descend on the US grand prix this month.

The son of 1978 world champion Mario, and Ayrton Senna's short-lived McLaren teammate in 1993, told the Toronto Sun that it would 'never have happened' in the States.

''You can't treat fans that way,'' 42-year-old Andretti said. ''We think about the fans.

''Over there the fans take a back seat to the politics. I was over there a full year, so what happened didn't surprise me.

''It's a different world with ... completely different priorities.''

BMW to plough on at Grove
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) BMW may have bought Sauber, but the German carmaker will not abandon Williams' ship, motor sport director Mario Theissen vowed.

He says race wins are still the joint objective in 2005.

''We want success,'' Theissen, to take up a top job at Sauber from 1 January 2006, added, ''and we want it this year.

''We will pursue this target with no limits whatsoever.''

Champ Car in F1-fiasco coup
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) Champ Car capitalized where F1 stumbled by honoring the grand prix tickets of more than 1000 dissatisfied Indy fans at the weekend's Cleveland race.

''It's great they did this,'' said one F1 spectator in Cleveland.

Asked who he blamed for the F1 fiasco, Justin Yager replied: ''It's all Michelin.''

Cleveland's Champ Car event is staged at Burke Lakefront Airport.

One notable racer on the actual tarmac, meanwhile, didn't turn down an opportunity to aim fire at his former Formula One circus.

''There's so much technology ... involved with those cars,'' former Toyota driver Cristiano da Matta - who won the recent Portland race - told USA Today, ''that you learn what makes the car drive.''

Alonso expects tough battle
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) Title leader Fernando Alonso is expecting to encounter a tough battle for victory at Magny Cours.

The Spaniard, who has won four grands prix in 2005, singled out McLaren to be fast on the ultra smooth asphalt, 'like they are everywhere.'

23-year-old Alonso's Renault camp, though, turned up in France - the team's home race - with a mighty challenger a year ago.

He snared pole and wound up battling with Ferrari.

''We expect to be competitive,'' Fernando agreed. ''Will it be enough to win? It definitely won't be easy.''

DC regrets joining McLaren
(GMMf1NET -- Jun.28) David Coulthard says he shouldn't have signed for McLaren a decade ago.

Red Bull's current racer, who left the Ron Dennis-led Woking camp last year after a nine season run, admitted that he could have stayed at Williams and driven to the 1996 or 1997 world championships.

''I sat on that grid for my first race (for McLaren in 1996) and realized I'd sold out,'' the 34-year-old told the 'Mail on Sunday' newspaper.

''I guess money meant a bit more to me back then.

''You should never take payment over performance. It was wrong.''

When the Scot finally did reside a race winning McLaren, he was up against Mika Hakkinen, eventually a double world champion who had Ron on his side.

Twice, DC moved over for the Finn.

''That's two races I could, and should, have won,'' Twynholm-born Coulthard insisted.

''And it has bugged me to this day.''

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