Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
July 2, 2005

'Safety first' - Bridgestone
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.2) Bridgestone might be seen to have thrown its hat into the Indy-fiasco ring by claiming that tire safety is priority-one.

Perhaps a reference to rival Michelin's differing approach to F1, Bridgestone boss Hiroshi Yasukawa said performance is only chased when safety has been guaranteed.

''Our company is always concerned about safety ... first,'' said the Japanese. ''Then, afterwards, we discuss (with teams)... different compounds, construction, or whatever.''

At the US grand prix at Indy two weeks ago, the fourteen Michelin shod teams did not start due to fears about tire failure.

Bridgestone clad Ferrari's Jean Todt agreed that the pairing often 'decide to compromise performance' for a safer tire.

''The tires we took (to) Nurburgring, for example,'' the French principal quipped, ''were definitely a compromise.''

Yasukawa also denied Michelin's claims that the Indy banking was different this year, or that Bridgestone benefited from the Indianapolis 500 experience of sister brand Firestone.

He said: ''Our engineers checked the banking ... and it was exactly the same as (before).

''Indy cars and F1 cars are totally different. One tire is slick, one grooved. Angles, downforce -- totally different.

''Of course (Bridgestone and Firestone) sometimes discuss (share data), but basically not.''

Jordan move hotels
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.2) Jordan has switched hotels near Magny Cours after an outbreak of Legionella bacteria was discovered.

''We decided to move,'' team boss Colin Kolles confirmed in France, ''because it's too dangerous.

''They found (the) ... bacteria ... at a very high rate.''

Legionella causes the potentially fatal Legionnaire's disease, a form of pneumonia.

Kolles said the hotel in question was The Kyriad.

'July to hurt Ferrari'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.2) One objector to Bernie Ecclestone's proposed 20-race 2006 F1 calendar is Jean Todt.

The Ferrari boss said a squeezy schedule is a hindrance if your grand prix squad is trailing the timesheet.

''It is tough,'' Frenchman Todt, commenting on July's unprecedented sequence of four grands prix in five weekends, said, ''for everyone.

''It'll definitely give an advantage to the teams that have the best cars at the moment.''

Jean added: ''There is very little time (between races) to ... improve the situation.''

'US laws add to Indy no-go'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.2) Indiana's state laws contributed to the fourteen car 'no show' a fortnight ago.

That's the claim of McLaren boss Ron Dennis, who fronted an unarranged press conference with the six other Michelin clad team chiefs - and Bernie Ecclestone - at Magny Cours.

Last week in Paris, they were found guilty by the FIA world council on two charges after the six car United States farce.

Because Michelin had formally stated that the tire was unsafe, Ron reckons teams would have been 'subject to legal actions' whether a fatal crash had occurred or not.

''(It is) a law which renders you liable,'' he insisted, ''if you carry out an act ... you know could be dangerous.

''No one seems to understand that we did not have the option of racing in those conditions.''

74-year-old F1 supremo Ecclestone, meanwhile, performed a striking back flip as he reported relief in the fourteen car warm-up lap slight.

''I think we could easily have lost somebody there (in a fatal shunt),'' the Briton said, ''so maybe we got lucky.''

Bernie also praised Michelin, who he said 'stood up like men', accepted blame, and vowed to refund Sunday tickets.

Still erring on the bright side, Mr. Ecclestone then said all the bad press in America had at least made F1 'well known.'

''You have to look to the good in anything, even with the bad,'' the billionaire quipped.

Ralf pet 'dog-napped'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.2) Ralf Schumacher reckons his Chihuahua, Scoopy, has been dog-napped.

Toyota's German F1 driver, wife Cora and little son David were holidaying in St Tropez (France) last week when Scoopy went missing on a walk.

''I have heard about dogs being stolen in the south of France,'' said the 29-year-old, ''and then they try to sell them back.

''We haven't heard from anybody yet. Cora and I are pretty upset about it.''

Reports said Ralf bought the dog as a puppy, for son David, after a test in Barcelona.

He says he has already organized for 'Lost Dog' posters to be put around St Tropez.

On matters closer to the track, Schumacher said he felt 'fine' at Magny Cours despite sitting out most of the Indy weekend after a crash.

''I expect us to be around fourth or eighth, something there,'' Ralf - who turned thirty on Thursday - continued.

''We had a nice party with the team. I cut a cake and we all had a glass of champagne.''

Schu no-hoper - Button
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.2) BAR's English driver Jenson Button watches tapes of last year's grands prix to cheer himself up.

The 25-year-old, who - despite soaring to the podium ten times in 2004 - has failed to amass a single point this season, revealed how he passes time between races.

''It's interesting to see the steps you have to climb up (to get to the podium) because I've forgotten where they are,'' he told The Sun newspaper.

''It's been a horrendous year. It's not all bad but we do not have the quickest car.''

Button also singled out Ferrari's Michael Schumacher as a championship no-hoper, despite the German's claim that a genuine win is on the way.

''I feel no one can touch McLaren,'' he said in the Magny Cours paddock.

''Ferrari have improved but Michael is too far behind, not just in points but also in speed.''

Red Bull may still appeal
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.2) Red Bull may join the other six Michelin teams in appealing the FIA world council's verdict.

The Dietrich Mateschitz-owned team, to be Ferrari powered and probably Bridgestone-tired next year, was defended separately and did not side with the others' immediate response to the 'guilty' ruling.

Team boss Christian Horner said the team has seven days to lodge an appeal. ''We're currently evaluating our options,'' he told Speed TV in France.

The danger of taking the verdict on the chin is that, if the six teams' appeal is endorsed, Red Bull will be seen - in terms of image but also legally - as solely responsible for the 14-car no-go.

Horner added: ''We have not said we won't appeal.''

Alonso swallows Paris backing
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.2) Spanish driver Fernando Alonso has distanced himself from his Renault racer's 'Paris 2012' logos for the French grand prix.

The 23-year-old title leader told Reuters that he'll root for Madrid during the International Olympic Committee's announcement next Wednesday.

''Sometimes (the team) brings sponsors which make you more or less happy,'' Alonso - an avid Real Madrid football fan - told Spanish network Telecinco.

''I'm hoping Madrid wins and they have to eat these stickers.''

The Renault driver was among the F1 racers who attended a convened grand prix drivers' association (GPDA) meeting on Friday, to discuss threatened disunity after not all signed a statement in support of Michelin teams' decision to not race at Indy.

Former GP pilot and TV commentator Martin Brundle is among those critical of the driver group for being too 'limp' amid talks about the US boycott.

He told Teletext: ''The drivers didn't exactly perform very well in fighting their corner at Indianapolis.''

Snub BMW, Webber tells Frank
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.2) Williams' Mark Webber has advised his team to reject the offer of a customer BMW engine.

''Clean break,'' the emphatic Australian told Autosport when asked about the best option for '06.

BMW, the German carmaker, opted - after five years with Sir Frank and Patrick Head - to turn its works attention elsewhere and has bought Sauber.

''(They've) done it for a reason,'' 28-year-old Webber said. ''I've been here only five minutes ... but for the team I think it could be better to have a new start.''

Williams has reportedly spoken to Honda, Toyota and Cosworth about V8 engines next year.

Webber, meanwhile, insisted that the BMW split does not alter his plans to stay at Grove.

He said: ''It's not ideal because you want harmony within a team, but I have been through tougher times before.

''Frank is a fantastic individual.''

David Purley
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.2) David Purley lived life to the max.

The Briton, initially a parachuter in the army, went motor racing with the help of his father's 'LEC Refrigeration' sponsorship.

He debuted in F1 with March in 1973 and was heralded that year for trying to save countryman Roger Williamson who was trapped in a burning car.

In 1977, the fearless sportsman suffered an enormous crash - and horrible injuries - in the 'LEC' car at Silverstone, when he struck a wall at more than 100mph.

On 2 July, 1985 - exactly twenty years ago today - Purley, 40, died when his aerobatic plane crashed into the sea.

Meanwhile, five years ago to the day, David Coulthard drove perhaps his best race in F1.

The Scot's McLaren muscled past Michael Schumacher at Magny Cours on 2 July 2000, giving his German rival a distinct 'finger' on the way.

''My emotions were running high,'' he later apologized.

''I knew I needed to win in order to be in a position to battle for the championship. That's what I am trying to get done.''

'No more dosh for US flop'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.2) Michelin has ruled out extending its compensation package for the image-smashing US grand prix flop.

Motor sport director Pierre Dupasquier said at Magny Cours that the French company would not be bullied into a corner.

''Hand on heart, we said we screwed up,'' he told The Guardian.

At a cost of more than $10m, Michelin has vowed to refund everyone's race day ticket to the ill fated American farce, as well as buy 20,000 for them for next year's event there.

Dupasquier added: ''But we're not open to negotiation. We've made a statement and that's it.''

He then seemed to aim fire at Max Mosley, who has openly condemned 'Bibendum' and reckons the Clermont-Ferrand marque should dish out more dosh.

Dupasquier added: ''There has been too much finger pointing. That is not the right way.''

And he spurned Max's veiled suggestion that F1 would be better off without a second tire.

Pierre remarked: ''If they want (that), why don't they just say so? Then I can go fishing.''

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