Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
July 4, 2005

'F1 will return to Indy'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) Bernie Ecclestone reckons Formula One will return to the US in 2006.

The F1 supremo said at Indianapolis a fortnight ago that, with the disastrous six-car grand prix, the future of his sport there was 'not good.'

''I think we'll find a way,'' he told ITV prior to the French grand prix at Magny Cours.

''We'll be back next year for sure.''

74-year-old Bernie, who some claim has never been seen so angry on the Indy grid, blamed 'egos' for ruining a potential Sunday afternoon solution.

''Well, I was upset with a lot of it,'' he admitted. ''People's egos got in the way of reality.''

In the old days, Bernie would have rounded the grid and simply demanded a race. But he told Germany's Bild that Formula One is now 'too democratic.

''That's the problem,'' he added.

But F1, in general, is okay, according to Mr. Ecclestone. ''We've done a bit of damage to our image,'' he admitted, ''but we are strong.

''One thing won't destroy it. I won't let it.''

Alonso faces tough Brit fight
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) Magny Cours may have been all about Fernando Alonso, but Sunday's British GP could hum a different tune, the Spaniard admitted.

Well on the road to becoming F1's youngest ever champion, the 23-year-old driver called Silverstone 'not a perfect place' for his Renault outfit.

He said: ''It's one of those races with a red cross against it on our calendar. We haven't gone really well there in the past.

''I think the podium is our maximum target for that one.''

In complete contrast, the former World War II airfield in Northamptonshire is a happy hunting ground for McLaren, which is good news for Alonso rival Kimi Raikkonen.

''We've tested there already this year,'' the Finn remarked, ''and we were pretty quick.

''I think we will have a good week.

'I don't know if his car or my car is quicker overall. Silverstone will be better for our car -- maybe we'll be slightly ahead (of Renault).''

Heidfeld on F1's long road
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) German driver Nick Heidfeld is on a fast road to a tasty F1 future.

Williams' 28-year-old may appear to be out of contract and making way for Jenson Button, but his manager insisted 'Quick Nick' will 'definitely' take the '06 grid.

''We have several options,'' Werner Heinz told the German 'DPA' news agency.

Heidfeld is strongly supported by Munich based BMW and Mario Theissen, who both switch from Grove to Sauber next year.

Nick drove a Hinwil built car in 2001-2003.

He didn't want to comment directly, but noted the fact that he was happy at Sauber and still has 'good contacts.'

''Ok, I live near Hinwil,'' Heidfeld grinned, ''but that will hardly be the decisive factor.

''I want to cooperate with the best team possible for me.''

German compatriot Theissen also isn't buying into the gossip. ''There is six months,'' he said, ''until we have to really think about (that).''

Indy 'no' to 2005 F1 re-run
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) Indy has bellowed a plain 'no' to Michelin teams' offer of a free non-championship F1 re-run.

Speedway boss Tony George told the Indianapolis Star: 'There will be no (race) ... this fall.

''Our position to Bernie ... is that the sooner we get the focus back on the real issues that affect all of us, the better.''

The Brickyard's spokesman Ron Green, meanwhile, confirmed that the current priority is coordinating errant F1 tire supplier Michelin's vow to repay more than 160,000 tickets.

''Priority number two,'' Green quipped, ''is working on an event for (next season).''

He said the fabled venue had 'no energy' for anything else.

Dupasquier 'cried' at Indy
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) Pierre Dupasquier reckons the Indy fiasco a fortnight ago made him cry.

During the US grand prix shambles, Michelin's 67-year-old motor sport director and Frenchman said he found a corner and 'cried for fifteen minutes.'

At Magny Cours, he also reported incredulity at the FIA's unwillingness to sanction a compromise, such as a chicane on the oval banking.

Dupasquier told Reuters: ''When a friend ... is hurt ... you do not take a rifle to shoot him.''

Sunday's French grand prix, though, was business as usual for the locally based Clermont Ferrand tire company.

Michelin clad Fernando Alonso (Renault) and Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) pounded a dominant 1-2.

''It confirmed what we always knew,'' said Pierre's colleague Nick Shorrock. ''(We) produce racing tires that unit speed, durability and safety.

''We have had no problems at all throughout the weekend.''

Mosley, DC, to meet
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) A new spat is taking shape between the F1 drivers' body and Max Mosley.

The FIA president has vowed to meet with the grand prix drivers' association (GPDA) this Friday at Silverstone after it was revealed that he gave GPDA director David Coulthard an offhand phone call.

An FIA spokesman confirmed to The Guardian that 'there was contact' between DC and Mr. Mosley.

He told the newspaper: ''There was a frank exchange of views.''

It is believed that Coulthard, 34, was singled out by Max because of his experience and the fact that his signature topped a 19-driver statement backing Michelin teams after the Indy flop.

Moreover, the GPDA appears at odds with its president, Michael Schumacher, as the Ferrari driver - who did not sign the document - disagrees fundamentally about the no-show.

Renault future sound, for now
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) A new Renault president took a close first look at F1 on the weekend.

Renault's Carlos Ghosn, 51 - with a reputation for cost cutting - is reportedly not as supportive of the French carmaker's grand prix foray as predecessor Louis Schweitzer.

On his first visit to a Formula One paddock at Magny Cours, Ghosn held a news conference.

''As an individual, I am very interested in motor sport,'' he contended.

''(But) we are not in F1 out of habit or tradition. It is a cost if you don't get results. It is an investment if you do.

''It is an investment now and for the next few years.''

Williams wants BMW 'answer'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) Williams has commenced talks with BMW about a V8 engine supply for 2006.

The pair were set to continue a six-year works deal until 2009, but Munich based BMW splashed out and bought Sauber.

It leaves Frank Williams pondering BMW's offer of a second rung deal, or heeding Mark Webber's advice to make a 'clean break' and go elsewhere.

Sir Frank has also spoken to Honda, Toyota and Cosworth.

''I would like (BMW's) answer by week thirty,'' Williams said in the Magny Cours paddock. ''We are now in week 26.''

He said Grove 'failed' in dissuading BMW from abandoning their 2009 contract.

'No pressure' in Ferrari snub
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) Ferrari's Jean Todt has denied that he 'put pressure' on Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello to ignore a 19-driver statement backing Michelin teams' no-go at Indy.

It's suggested that, while Minardi's Bridgestone clad men signed, the four Ferrari and Jordan drivers heeded their employers' political posture and strayed well away.

''We prefer to put pressure in the tires,'' the French principal, Todt, grinned.

''That's more important to us.''

Todt said: ''I think it's unfair to (put pressure on a driver). If they feel they should do something, they should do it.''

Roland Ratzenberger
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) Roland Ratzenberger is often referred to as the 'forgotten' driver of Imola '94.

The popular Austrian, aged 31 - who just a fortnight before had qualified for his first ever grand prix - slammed into the barrier during practice.

The next day, triple world champion Ayrton Senna crashed and also died at the race in Italy.

On the fourth of July 2005, Ratzenberger - who drove into F1 on a five-race deal for Simtek - would have turned 45.

Also celebrating birthdays on Monday are former McLaren and Stewart driver Jan Magnussen, 32, and 57-year-old winner of seven grands prix in the 70s and 80s, Frenchman Rene Arnoux.

Kimi catch to carry on
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) Kimi Raikkonen's horse power disadvantage will drag into the upcoming British grand prix.

The Finn's new spec Mercedes V10, the only at Magny Cours, failed on Friday, meaning that an older spec had to be fitted.

But teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who tackled the entire Magny Cours event with the older Merc, will have a new spec power plant fitted from Friday practice at Silverstone.

Kimi, though - due to the two-race engine rule - must plug ahead with his French unit.

''What happened on Friday really destroyed our weekend,'' he said on Sunday. ''Ok, I only dropped two more points to Alonso but we wanted to win.''

McLaren boss Ron Dennis, meanwhile, also reckons the 25-year-old could have won in France if not for the ensuing ten-position engine change penalty.

And the Briton remarked: ''His qualifying lap ... was the best I have seen from him.''

'Grove needs urgent test'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) BMW's Mario Theissen wishes this week's trek from Magny Cours to Silverstone was for a test.

The German 'motor sport director' said Williams' new bodywork package 'desperately' needs to be sorted out before the next race.

''But with this calendar it's impossible,'' Theissen, referring to July's unprecedented four grands prix, said.

Mario, at Magny Cours, did not pull any punches after the race in calling the performance of the FW27 'weak.'

''Clearly the updated car is not working properly at the moment and we would normally want to test it to find out why.

''We'll look at the data and maybe find some answers,'' he said.

Merc to defy BMW lead
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) Mercedes-Benz, with a forty per cent team stake, will not follow German rival BMW into the Formula One ownership game.

That's the view of Norbert Haug, who said at Magny Cours that he admired Munich based BMW's new 'commitment' to the sport.

The German, head of the Stuttgart link with Ron Dennis' McLaren crew, grinned: ''I am happy we do not have to pay for it (like BMW do).

''There is no need for us to change our thinking.''

Beer in bar for BAR's Button
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.4) Fourth may seem like nothing to celebrate, but Jenson Button found a bar near Magny Cours and ordered a rare glass of beer.

The BAR driver, who had a podium confiscated after the Imola no-no, said it felt 'so good' to be back on the scoreboard.

''It's not the podium,'' said JB, 25, ''but it's still nice. We have had a horrible year but this is good going to the UK.

''We are not going to win (at Silverstone) at the moment but third might be a good target.

''I'm not going to build up something that's not going to happen.''

BAR boss Nick Fry admitted that being beaten in the constructors' world championship by Minardi and Jordan had become 'embarrassing.'

''At least we're off zero now,'' he beamed at Magny Cours. ''But the next objective is a podium and then a win.''

Fry, meanwhile, said he would not reprimand Jenson's Japanese teammate, Takuma Sato, for botching an impossible overtaking move on Jarno Trulli.

Speed traps revealed that Sato entered the braking zone a huge 40km/h quicker than usual.

''He was ambitious in the extreme,'' said Fry, ''but that's Taku's fighting spirit. Clearly we don't want it to happen every time.''

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