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Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
July 1, 2005


'Indy was title blow' - Kimi
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) F1's Indy no-go put a big dent in Kimi Raikkonen's title hunt, the silver clad Finn said in France.

''I guess it was disappointing,'' the 25-year-old McLaren driver admitted at Magny Cours, ''but there was nothing I could have done.

''It's true that Michael (Schumacher) is ten points closer now.

''Any time we don't race is not helpful. We need as many ... as possible to try to catch Renault and (Fernando) Alonso.''

Although KR's silver car has led the ultimate pace lately, Magny Cours was not a shining race for McLaren - who unveiled a 'b' car at Magny Cours last year - 12 months ago.

On the other hand, Renault's Alonso put it on pole and put up a fight against runaway title leader Michael Schumacher.

''I have to say the car is performing well at every circuit,'' the Spaniard agreed, ''and maybe even more here.''








'Michelin speed won't drop'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) Top Michelin clad F1 drivers have ruled out fears that the Indy fiasco may slow the French supplier.

Max Mosley said this week that the FIA had an eye on Bibendum, alleged to have pushed the performance envelope beyond the bounds of safety at Indianapolis, and before.

''I think the performance will be exactly the same,'' said title leader Fernando Alonso.

''Actually I think the tire is even faster -- extremely, extremely good for this race.''

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen reckons the flat out Indy banking simply caught Michelin out. Italian driver Jarno Trulli, of Toyota, agrees.

''What happened was a special case - a bad case - but it happens.

''I think we will compete again as strongly as before.''








Indy farce to help F1 - Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) Michael Schumacher thinks F1's Indy calamity might actually have given the sport a boost in the US.

Rather than accept the line that a disgraced F1 might never return to the Brickyard, the Ferrari driver - a seven time world champion - reckons he's never seen 'so much talk' about the sport in the press.

''(The saga) has probably created more spectators than before,'' the German, 36, asserted.

It's hard, though, to ignore the fans' 'US Gone Prix' messages, litigation to recoup losses, and the media's 'Good Riddance F1' headlines.

Indeed, Schumacher put an onus on the European media to 'state the facts' instead of perpetuating image-damaging hype.

''You (the media) can say it is a sport and, like when an athlete cannot run because he damages his muscle, then that's just the nature of sport.''








New look Renault
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) Renault has unveiled a new look non-tobacco paint job at Magny Cours.

The Enstone based team, although - with French owners - it calls the grand prix a 'home' race, dubbed the white swirling look on the R25's front wing, sidepods, bulkhead and engine cover, the 'Phoenix'.

It is designed by Taiwanese agency DEM, and inspired by the bird's mythological 'guardian' status.

The car is also to sport 'Paris 2012' branding, ahead of the international Olympic committee's announcement on July 6.

In the stands, meanwhile, 6500 Renault employees are expected.

11,000 flags and 7000 caps and t-shirts have been handed out to ensure plenty of blue and yellow.








BMW to decide lineup - Sauber
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) New owner BMW will determine Sauber's 2006 line-up, current boss Peter Sauber revealed.

The Swiss thus deflected speculation about under performing Canadian driver Jacques Villeneuve's 2006 deal.

''Up until the upcoming autumn,'' Sauber said, ''(BMW) will have to decide what to do.''

Felipe Massa's deal runs out at the end of the year.

Sauber continued: ''I find it ... logical that BMW wants to take care of (driver contracts).''

Meanwhile, Sauber sponsor Petronas revealed that it is 'in discussions' with the Munich carmaker about continuing the F1 association.

''(But) it's still very early days,'' the state owned Malaysian company's chief executive, Hassan Marican, said.








Dupasquier 'won't be sacked'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) Pierre Dupasquier says he will not resign or be sacked despite accepting full blame for last Sunday's Michelin fiasco at Indy.

The 67-year-old, to retire at the end of the year anyway, vowed to 'continue fighting' as of Sunday's race at Magny Cours.

''I am not resigning,'' he told The Australian, ''nor am I retiring early.

''We have to recover from this.''

Part of that recovery is an $18m bill in refunded and 2006 tickets, although Max Mosley reckons the final damage will tip the scale at $50m.

Dupasquier said: ''If it was anybody's fault, it is mine.

''But this shows that the Formula One family has collapsed and we need to repair.''

The Frenchman also rebuked Mosley, the FIA president, for promising to keep an eye on whether Michelin go through with the compensation pledge.

''When Michelin says it will do something, it will do it.

''We do not need any advice about this from Mr. Mosley,'' Dupasquier hissed.

''We all make a mistake now and then. Has anyone ever tried something that didn't work?''








JV - 'damage in US is done'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) Ticket refunds and apologies aside, Jacques Villeneuve reckons the 'damage is done' to F1's reputation across the Atlantic.

The Canadian, who won the Indy 500 in the mid-90s before making the European switch, said filling up empty grandstands is not really the point.

''We're talking about redeeming F1 in America,'' JV - who drives for Sauber - said of events since he was one of the fourteen who did not take to the 2005 Indy grid.

''It doesn't mean that Formula One is suddenly great again. And don't expect it to be back to the same (level) in two years either.''

Asked what sort of crowd a 2006 United States grand prix might attract, the 34-year-old grinned wryly: ''Maybe 20,000.''

Michelin has vowed to pay for 20,000 free tickets.








Legal action to push ahead
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) An American lawyer behind the fans' biggest Indy-fiasco court action has vowed to push ahead despite Michelin's grand prix ticket compensation.

William Bock also hit out at Formula One's governing body.

''It's not enough,'' he asserted in a public statement, ''to point a finger at Michelin and just say, 'Fix it'.

''The supposed guardians of the sport owe a duty to the fans to be part of the solution.''

The FIA's Max Mosley has also advised Michelin to go further than its vow to buy 20,000 tickets for the 2006 event.

He says entry to the US grand prix should be free.

But Bock hit out at the FIA world council's decision to delay punishment of the Michelin teams until September.

''Apparently,'' he said, ''(they) hope that the furor ... will blow over if they just ignore it for three months.''








'Surprise' at tire rival woe
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) Tire rival Bridgestone has expressed 'surprise' that Michelin had to pull out of the recent United States grand prix.

Head of tire development Hirohide Hamashima told Autosport that he took no joy in observing the French tire supplier struggle at Indianapolis.

''When we see a tire failure for our competitors,'' said the Japanese, ''our minds begin to worry a bit about ours.

''I don't know (if they pushed design limits too far).

''We were very surprised at what happened. In a very few laps they suffered problems, but last year they had no problems.''








'Grove on winning road'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) Williams aim to trail the exhaust fumes of Renault and McLaren at Magny Cours, with F1's most radical aero update seen in 2005.

With Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld at the wheel, the new sidepods, floor and diffuser bring up the hundredth car change since the FW27 was launched, the 'Herald Sun' newspaper claimed.

''It is the most aggressive aerodynamic program ... I have seen in my time in grand prix racing,'' said technical director Sam Michael.

''It is not a new car ... but it is, we hope, a decent step.''

The Australian did, though, play down hopes that compatriot Webber, or Germany's Heidfeld, could be set to stroll to F1's top step.

''But we hope it's a move in that direction,'' Sam insisted.








Driver 'unity' at stake
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) Indianapolis not only damaged F1's image and aggravated the political scene, the US GP fiasco may also have weakened 'unity' among the actual drivers.

A statement, distributed by Renault, last week saw nineteen race and test drivers formally side with Michelin shod teams over the decision not to race on June 19.

But, notably - while including the scribbles of Minardi's men - it lacked the backing of similarly Bridgestone clad race and test drivers for Ferrari and Jordan.

''The GPDA (grand prix drivers' association) was not involved in it,'' said director Michael Schumacher, who didn't sign.

Moreover, Schumacher - and Jordan's Tiago Monteiro, who finished third at Indy - claimed they weren't even asked.

''I think we'll be weaker now,'' fellow director Jarno Trulli contended. ''I received the document direct by email from the GPDA, so nobody can say he didn't get it.''

36-year-old Schumacher, on the other hand, said he wouldn't have signed even if he had got the email or phone call.

The German commented: ''There were things in it that were never a part of the discussion.''








'I had fuel' - Trulli
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) Jarno Trulli has denied reports he sailed to the Indy pole with a mere sniff of fuel in the tank.

Speculation said Toyota had insider knowledge that Michelin would be unable to sanction racing on Sunday, prompting Trulli's team to attack Saturday on very low gas.

If the Italian driver had raced, he would've pitted for fuel on lap 2, the reports said.

''We didn't know what was going to happen on Sunday,'' Trulli insisted.

''I (just) did an extremely good lap.

''Obviously there were people that were heavier than me, but I wasn't so light, honestly.''








Ferrari on climb to F1 return
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) Ferrari insists it is climbing back to the top of the grand prix tree.

Rubens Barrichello, who spent last week with his family in Brazil, says the scarlet package would have looked good even with fourteen Michelin clad rivals on track at Indy.

''Even if we are not on the front row,'' the 33-year-old quipped at Magny Cours, ''I would say the package is good enough to have a chance of winning.

''We are very strong in the final phase of the race.''

Champion teammate Michael Schumacher agrees that the F2004 is now closer to the field than earlier this season.

''I think we looked quite good at Indianapolis,'' said the 36-year-old German, ''and we are bringing another step here.

''Whether it is enough ... we shall see.''








No Russian driver for Midland
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) A Russian driver is not ready to race into F1 with Jordan-Midland.

That's the claim of boss Colin Kolles, who hushed speculation that Midland magnate Alex Shnaider - of Russian origin - wants to fast track his ideal Russian-Canadian lineup for the launch of the team's new 2006 identity.

''It's a possibility,'' Romanian Kolles said at a news conference last week in Lisbon.

''But not in the immediate future, nor for next year.''

He said a Russian 'school for drivers' will precede the debut of a national pilot in F1.

Colin Kolles, formerly a dentist, concluded: ''I do not think we're ready with this.''








Michelin chide FIA warning
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) Michelin has rebuked talk that it might be booted out of F1 for fielding too 'dangerous' tires.

Motor sport director Pierre Dupasquier, 67, responded to Max Mosley's scathing warning that the FIA technical department - after analysis of recent sidewall failures - might make the recommendation that F1 revert to a single supplier.

''It's nice of the FIA to have good ideas,'' Dupasquier, the Frenchman, smiled wryly.

''It would have been interesting if they had that many ideas before the (Indy) race.

''I can't understand why (the FIA would revert to a single supplier),'' Pierre told Reuters.

''I don't suspect them of that.''

He continued: ''Don't we do a good job? Aren't we friendly to the people? Don't we make good racing in all disciplines?''








JV keyed up for BMW boost
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.1) Jacques Villeneuve hopes Sauber is a case of third-time-lucky for his F1 career.

Although racing to the 1997 title with Williams, JV soon switched to BAR, which didn't come good until he left - in 2003 - after five fruitless years.

Now 34, Jacques struggled upon return for Sauber this year, but also has a contract - although to be transferred to the new owner - for 2006, when, luck has it, German carmaker BMW will take full control.

Jacques advised Sauber to axe any more development of the 2005 car.

''We should concentrate on next year,'' he said at Magny Cours.

''The groundwork is all there and I am very positive about it.

''I was at Williams at the right time and ... at BAR at the wrong time. Now I am at Sauber at the right time, which is nice. I didn't expect it.''

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