Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
July 3, 2005

Kimi in title 'KO'?
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.3) As if a ten-position grid penalty wasn't enough, title contender Kimi Raikkonen will also face Sunday's 70-lap French GP with less horse power.

After the McLaren driver's new Mercedes-Benz V10 blew on Friday, its replacement for Magny Cours qualifying and the race was an older specification.

''What can you do?'' groaned the Finn, who'll start from thirteenth despite qualifying third with a decent fuel load.

''The car is very good but this is going to cost us a lot.

''We are going to try for points but even that will be tough. I'm not sure I can get the podium.''

Speculation hints that the failed engine was a special-spec -- and not also fitted to Juan Pablo Montoya's sister car.

Kimi, 25, added: ''It didn't last long.

''The one I have now is almost as good. I think it'll be ok as we've used it before.''

Some see another likely failure to win as the knock out blow to Raikkonen's title challenge.

Although disappointed, KR doesn't feel the same.

''There are many races to go,'' he insisted, ''and so many things can happen. But Renault is in a strong position now, I know.''

Trulli to keep door shut
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.3) Fear not, Jarno Trulli will attack the last tight corner in today's French grand prix with more verve than a year ago.

Then, sailing to a sure podium in his French owned Renault, the Italian left the door open on the last lap and - to the team's horror - Rubens Barrichello slid through.

''I consider last year an experience,'' he said at Magny Cours after claiming the front row for Toyota on Saturday.

After the French incident, JT's relationship with Renault never recovered and he soon left the Enstone team.

Trulli added: ''All drivers get different experiences and learn from them. It was a big lesson last year -- that's all.''

Panis handed F1 car
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.3) Olivier Panis will take his Toyota grand prix car back home to Grenoble.

The Frenchman, one-off 'Friday' tester for the Cologne based team at Magny Cours, was last year promised the TF104B that he raced for the last time at Suzuka last October.

At Magny Cours on Saturday, the 38-year-old veteran was given the red and white racer.

''He can now take it back to ... Grenoble,'' a statement said.

F1 offers Indy re-run
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.3) Although drivers earlier scolded the rumor, the big talk at Magny Cours on Saturday was of a special 'non championship' re-run at Indianapolis later this year.

According to McLaren's Ron Dennis, the 'offer' to Tony George - made on behalf of the seven Michelin teams by Bernie Ecclestone - is 'serious.'

''We support anything that can repair the image of F1,'' he said.

The move may also be interpreted as a step towards heeding Max Mosley's advice to be seen to rectify the Indy mess.

At the FIA council last Wednesday, the seven teams were found guilty of charges. Mosley hinted that punishments may be 'lenient' based on what occurs between now and a new meeting in September.

''It is possible,'' Ron replied to incredulity that another US race - after the Chinese finale and probably not including Bridgestone runners like Ferrari - could be staged.

Teams would also pay their own way. ''We feel it is what we should do,'' Frank Williams agreed, although BMW boss Mario Theissen expressed doubt.

''It's a question of whether the fans would be interested,'' said the German. Mercedes counterpart Norbert Haug agreed that the idea is 'probably not that likely.'

Haug slams FIA rule
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.3) Mercedes' Norbert Haug has hit out at an FIA rule that he says unfairly penalizes engine makers.

The German said McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen's Friday failure, which forced the Finn from third in qualifying to the middle of the grid, is 'absolutely not right.'

Haug told Reuters: ''If you have a problem with any other technical part you are not penalized.

''I do not quite understand why an engine failure is (penalized).''

Red Bull 'no' to Mosley war
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.3) Red Bull Racing owner Dietrich Mateschitz has ruled out joining six other Michelin teams in appealing the FIA world council's 'guilty' verdict.

While Christian Horner earlier claimed that a decision has not been made, 'Dieter' - the Austrian billionaire - vowed against going 'to war' with Max Mosley.

''We will stay united on the Indy matter,'' he told La Gazzetta dello Sport, ''but - since there is no punishment - we will not appeal (the verdict).''

Not appealing is precarious in that if the other teams' appeal is successful, Red Bull will be seen as solely to blame - and solely liable - for the six-car US disaster.

Mateschitz denied that his stance has anything to do with the arrival of Ferrari power for next season and beyond.

''On political matters we are 100 per cent independent,'' he insisted.

Warm and sunny for GP
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.3) A sunny and warm day will land on Magny Cours for the French grand prix.

It was already seventeen degrees (c) early in the morning, with a top of about 29 expected for the 2pm start.

A slight chance of light afternoon rain is now completely ruled out until at least very late afternoon or evening.

''I have heard it will be quite hot tomorrow,'' Jenson Button said under mild and grey skies for Saturday qualifying.

''Personally I am hoping for hotter conditions.''

Michael Schumacher, meanwhile, ruled out paddock speculation that novel four stop strategies - with which he won last year's grand prix here - may once again be employed.

''I don't think so,'' said the German. ''I think you will see two stops or maybe three.''

Schu can do it, brother
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.3) Ralf Schumacher has reassessed his belief that brother Michael is a 2005 championship no-hoper.

The elder Schumacher, who drives for Ferrari, closed to within twenty five points of leader Fernando Alonso by 'winning' the six-car Indy farce.

''It's great for him,'' 29-year-old Ralf told Reuters.

''Kimi had an engine problem and that (is) also going to help him.

''I didn't think (he) could (win the title), but (now) it's a totally different issue.''

Toyota's 'Schu Jr', though, admitted that an eighth sibling drivers' triumph is going to require more 'problems' for Alonso or Raikkonen.

'F1 dud has silver lining'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.3) Formula One's Indy calamity probably has a silver lining, according to ex-grand prix driver and pundit Martin Brundle.

The Briton compared the recent six-car farce with the publicity stirred after arguably an even blacker saga -- Ayrton Senna's death in 1994.

''F1 has probably never had so much exposure in the US,'' Brundle, 45, told the Sunday Times.

''It is an unpleasant fact but ... after Senna's death ... F1 took a huge leap in support.

''This kind of dramatic scene does tend to have a positive upside.''

The Englishman, who last raced a Jordan in 1996, also conveyed some insight into the reportedly dramatic GPDA meeting held on Friday evening.

As David Coulthard's manager, Martin called the affair 'rather aggressive' and 'feisty'.

''If ever they need to speak as one body,'' Brundle urged, ''it is now, when the sport appears on the edge of civil war.''

Indy left Webber 'ashamed'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.3) Mark Webber says he was 'ashamed' to play a role in the F1 shambles at Indy two weeks ago.

The Australian driver, a director of the reportedly fractured grand prix drivers' association (GPDA), told 'ESPN' that it is 'understandable' that F1 took such a beating in the US press.

He contended: ''It was pretty obvious, wasn't it?

''We are meant to be the pinnacle of motor sport, and that happens.''

28-year-old Webber, though - who drives for Williams - backed Michelin's call not to sanction the Indy tire following high speed failures.

Rather than Max Mosley's comparisons with 100m sprint races, Mark said the issue was more like an aircraft fault.

''You wouldn't just strap in and go if you're not sure the wings are glued on right,'' Webber asserted, ''would you?''

'Michelin to blame' - Narain
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.3) Jordan's Narain Karthikeyan was one of just four on the grand prix grid who didn't sign the infamous 19-driver joint statement.

The rookie, 28 - who became the first Indian to ever score a point in the six car Indy farce - told 'The Hindu' newspaper that French tire marque Michelin 'got it all wrong.'

''It's hard to pin point blame for the fiasco,'' Bridgestone clad Karthikeyan admitted, ''but perhaps (Michelin) should have learnt from their mistake.

''Last year (at Indy) two of their tires failed during the race.''

'Chateau Schumi'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.3) 'Chateau Schumi' will cost the seven time world champion a cool $29m, the Bild newspaper claimed.

It is Michael Schumacher's new triple-storey dream home on Lake Leman, Switzerland, on which 200 crew are hard at work.

The mansion includes a 15 meter medieval tower, a 30-seater cinema, private beach, parking lot for 25 cars, climbing wall and 63-metre trophy room.

''It's an extraordinary pleasure to build a home like this,'' the 36-year-old Ferrari ace told the German publication's Saturday edition.

''But it's also pretty stressful.''

Construction will not be complete until at least summer 2007, Bild also claimed.

'No joy amid Kimi's smoke'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.3) Fernando Alonso says he did not jump for joy when he watched title rival Kimi Raikkonen's weekend go up in a plume of smoke.

Ten-place grid penalty or not, Renault's little Spaniard reckons he would have raced for the win, anyway.

''We are so competitive here,'' Alonso, 23, said at Magny Cours after sewing up pole position, while third quickest Raikkonen prepared to plummet to 13th on the grid.

He added: ''There is one way to beat McLaren and Kimi -- do a perfect weekend, perform to the max.

''That's what we've done so far.

''Kimi's problem didn't affect my approach at all. When you are fastest, it doesn't matter what the others do.''

Ahead of the 70-lap race at 2pm, Italian teammate Giancarlo Fisichella - sixth because he made a qualifying error - is similarly cheerful.

''I think so,'' he answered to whether he can climb through the field to the podium.

''I even think we can do a one-two.''

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