Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
July 5, 2005

FIA delivers new F1 rules
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) A wad of paper landed on the desks of F1's major players on Monday morning.

The proposed (draft) 2008 technical regulations, numbering 59 pages, was approved last week by the FIA world council at a Paris meeting.

Among amendments is a rule, granting stewards the right to approve an emergency tire spec, to prevent an Indy- like flop from ever recurring.

Also new to Monday's radical changes is a ban on carbon fiber suspension, and - seemingly after the BAR cheating ban - tweaks formalizing expectations re fuel tanks.

Want to see F1 hack naked?
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) You'll forgive F1 journalist Bob McKenzie for not looking forward to Sunday's British grand prix.

Last July, in the middle of McLaren's miserable run of form, the Daily Express hack vowed in a column that if the silver team won a race in 2004, 'I'll run naked around Silverstone.'

With the vastly improved 'b' MP4-19, Kimi Raikkonen won at Spa.

On Monday, a McLaren statement entitled 'Bob McKenzie's Naked Run - will he or won't he?' was sent to the press.

Including a photograph of naked McKenzie draped in a checkered flag, the email invites fans to 'vote' on whether Bob should run 'with his clothes on or naked' on Sunday.

McLaren also said fans can 'sponsor' the journalist, with all money to be donated to 'Tommy's The Baby' charity.

Montoya still in McLaren slog
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) Juan Pablo Montoya has asked McLaren to better 'understand' what he needs from the 2005 MP4-20 contender.

The Colombian, who described his first year at Woking as 'crazy,' has struggled to match teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

''I missed a couple of races,'' the 29-year-old told Australian TV channel 10, ''and when I came back (from injury) the car felt different.

''It's been a struggle just to get a good balance. In the last few races it's been better, I've been quite quick.

''It's starting to come together now.''

Montoya called the MP4-20, in which Raikkonen is a title challenger, 'good,' but 'not 100 per cent the way I want it.

''It's still not there completely (for me).

''You never have a perfect race car but it's all about feel. There are lots of ways to get rid of understeer, but the thing for them to focus on is understanding what I want.''

Juan Pablo said: ''They need to help me get more comfortable with the car. That's what gives you the lap time.''

Title talk 'suicide' - Alonso
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) If runaway title leader Fernando Alonso could pick a place to seal his maiden crown, it'd be Spa.

''Of course,'' the Spaniard told radio Marca.

'Because that is probably my favorite circuit.

''But it is suicide to stop now and start thinking about the championship.

''We are at race eleven.''

Renault's technical director Bob Bell agrees with the 23-year-old charge that it's the worst possible time to 'lose focus' and let the mind wander.

''We need to finish the job,'' he insisted, ''rather than say to ourselves we've hit our target.

''Monaco and Montreal should have been good races for us, and they were not, so you can never take anything for granted.''

Ferrari on Mosley's side
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) Ferrari has pledged undying support to Max Mosley as political war is declared in Formula One.

Jean Todt said recent arguments about safety and tires is a smokescreen for the majority of teams' 'political' attack on the FIA boss.

''Politically, I support him,'' the Ferrari boss said in France.

''I feel Max Mosley is a great president. Of course I don't always share his views but the guy deserves respect.''

Todt suggests that all the Max-bashing, including calls for him to quit, is part of a political play to wipe out the GPWC's most able adversary.

''They don't like him,'' Maranello's team principal continued. ''(so) everything they can do to avoid him standing again (for president), they try.

''I think it's the wrong strategy. The best way to push somebody (to stay) ... is to try to push them not to.''

Whither Button?
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) 'Wait and see.'

That's the official line at present on one of the keys to the 2006 F1 driver silly-season.

Jenson Button recoiled when asked if he's likely to steer a BAR-Honda or a Williams next year.

He told newspaper The Guardian: ''I can't discuss anything of a contractual nature.''

25-year-old Button's BAR contract can be quashed if the English driver does not get within 75 per cent of the title leader's tally by August.

It's obvious the clause will not be fulfilled, perhaps compelling him to join Grove, with an unknown engine for 2006.

All Sir Frank would say was: ''I have huge regard for Jenson ... as a driver.

''(But) I'm really not in a position to discuss this.''

It is quietly suggested that a V8 deal with Honda could persuade Williams to let Button stay at BAR next season.

Brackley boss Nick Fry bristled at the suggestion.

''The two issues are not related,'' he said. ''Obviously Jenson has to think carefully about what will be best for his ... career.''

DC eager for Max meeting
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) Rather than fearing his close encounter with the FIA president, David Coulthard says he is looking forward to meeting with Max Mosley at Silverstone.

The Scot, a director of the grand prix drivers' association, was reportedly piqued after an irate phone call from Max frowned upon the now infamous 19-driver statement.

But, in fact, top of DC's own grievances list for the GPDA summit is the manner in which Mosley brought in rule changes - like single-lap qualifying and ten-place engine penalties - designed, he says, to 'handicap' Ferrari.

He said: ''It was wrong to do it for that reason. We should applaud success not penalize it.

''All this shaking the grid up artificially. Why?''

Pained Webber to race
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) Mark Webber has angrily slammed F1's qualifying format for putting in doubt his performance at the British GP.

The Australian, who had to have a burn on his hip treated after the race, plugged ahead at Magny Cours as hot air blasted into the cockpit.

''It was bloody agony,'' he told the Herald Sun.

Webber, 28, said the only reason he didn't pull out was because the penalty - running late for qualifying at the next race - is too big to ignore.

''If if wasn't for this f***ing qualifying ... we have got, I would have (stopped).''

A Williams spokesman praised Webber for showing 'real Aussie grit' to plough on despite the injury, pain and lack of performance from the car.

The Queanbeyan born driver, meanwhile, insisted the 'large raw burn' - although painful - would not jeopardize his Silverstone race.

He said: ''There's no question of it stopping me racing.''

'Quit, or I'll sell Minardi'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) Paul Stoddart has vowed to quit F1 and sell Minardi if Max Mosley does not resign as FIA chief.

At the end of a long quarrel between the pair, Australia's Stoddart said enough was enough after Mosley's handling of the recent Indy flop.

''The teams have had a gutful of Max,'' he told News of the World.

'''Either he goes or F1 as we know it today will go. I think a breakaway series is guaranteed.

''It doesn't matter who replaces him. He is so bad now that anyone could do it.

''If Max does not resign then I am not staying in F1. Life is too short to be involved in this political s**t.

''That's it as far as I am concerned. I will finish this season off and see what happens.

''If Max stays, I am going to put the team up for sale.'' [Editor's Note: That would be the best thing that could happen to F1.]

Bourdais and F1
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) Sebastian Bourdais is dead-set on becoming France's next F1 star.

The Champ Car driver, who aced F3000 not long ago, toured the F1 Paddock at Magny Cours and reckons the sport 'needs' a Gallic ambassador.

''There is nothing concrete,'' he told a news conference, ''but I was never in such a good position.''

Bourdais, though, played down the obvious link with Renault, the French carmaker and team.

He said: ''There is no Italian driver with Ferrari, for a long time. But I will say we need a French driver on the first row, not at Minardi.''

Bourdais said he is not interested in becoming a test driver. ''I am 26 years old,'' he insisted. ''If I make the jump it has to be (somewhere) that will allow me to perform.''

He denied that Champ Car's Cristiano da Matta and Alex Zanardi showed that the American series is not a good proving ground for grands prix.

''A good driver,'' Sebastien Bourdais stated, ''is a good driver. If not, I'm screwed.''

Toyota target third
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) Toyota has targeted third in the constructors' world championship.

Given Williams' woeful form even with an updated car at Magny Cours, Mike Gascoyne - technical director - said he would be 'very disappointed' if Cologne didn't trail just Renault and McLaren by October.

''Third ... is not out of the question,'' he said.

''But ... starting from second on the grid (in France) we should have done better.''

Also in Autosport magazine, McLaren boss Ron Dennis cheekily devised a new plan to help Kimi Raikkonen win the title.

Referring to Juan Pablo Montoya's so-called 'tennis' injury at Easter, Ron grinned: ''Maybe we should encourage Alonso to play (tennis) more.

''That seems to do the trick.''

Jacques jaded
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) Jacques Villeneuve has lamented a late race 'off' that he says cost Sauber a few points in France.

''A point is better than nothing,'' the French Canadian told his website, ''but I'm a bit disappointed with myself.''

The 34-year-old, who has struggled for pace in 2005 despite being a former world champion, said his C24 'bottomed' in a flat out corner.

''I ran wide,'' JV admitted.

''I'm annoyed because I said to myself 'Jacques, be careful -- just be on your toes'.''

Worse still, Silverstone should be a struggle, Villeneuve - who has not tested at the Northamptonshire venue this year - reckons.

He admitted: ''There is a question mark over this one. But things are improving within the team all the time.''

Puzzled Ferrari back to work
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) Unlike every other F1 team, Ferrari - not restrained by a voluntary test pact - returned to the track on Monday.

Baffled by the unrelenting lack of pace at Magny Cours, the Maranello team sent Luca Badoer out to a drizzly Monza.

Team boss Jean Todt admits that, like Michael Schumacher, he thought Ferrari had turned the corner with the F2005 and Bridgestone at Magny Cours.

''We made a mistake,'' the Frenchman admitted. ''We thought we had better pace -- but we were over a second slower.''

Schumacher, 36, agreed that not only was he surprised by the continuing gap to Alonso's Renault, but 'even Kimi's (McLaren) form was striking.

''I honestly thought we were in with a chance of victory.''

Todt admitted that, with four races this month, it is difficult to find the time to go testing to analyze a weakness.

He vowed: ''But we try nonetheless.

''I will do everything I can to try and turn it around. Whether we manage it or not is not possible to predict,'' Jean said.

Scarlet praise for Alonso
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.5) A minute too slow for the checkered flag, Ferrari boss Jean Todt thus found time to extol Fernando Alonso's charge to '05 glory.

Reportedly with a keen future eye on the Spaniard, as well as title rival Kimi Raikkonen, the Frenchman avowed a few choice words of compliment.

''(Alonso) makes almost no mistakes,'' Todt said of the Renault driver.

''He finishes nearly all his races. We know that when things go well, it allows you to score good points and win titles.''

As a driver, Fernando - still just 23 - reminds the scarlet principal of a certain seven time champion.

Todt added: ''He's a great driver but as people they are fundamentally different. (Fernando) reminds me of (Michael) Schumacher in terms of a driver.''

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