Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
July 14, 2005

F1 soap-opera moves to Monaco
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.14) F1's political soap-opera could round another corner on Thursday as Max Mosley and the FIA senate meet at Monaco.

Also present will be Ron Dennis, representing six Michelin clad teams, and Christian Horner, on behalf of the more impartial Red Bull.

On the Michelin cluster's agenda is purported 'new evidence' that could reportedly overturn the world motor sport council's recent 'guilty' verdict regarding Indy.

The hastily convened Monaco summit is seen by some as an opportunity for Mosley to ease F1's worrying political tension and move towards re-uniting the divided stakeholders.

''The spectators are the people who matter most,'' said Renault's Flavio Briatore, whose recent interview with Welt am Sonntag first hinted at the conciliatory mood creeping in.

''Everyone should get together and start talking,'' he said.

''We need unity, we need everyone moving in the same direction.''

Heads shake at broken pact
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.14) Toyota and BAR-Honda had heads shaking at Jerez on Wednesday as the duo appear sick of the all-except-Ferrari test agreement.

Both camps hit the hot Spanish session with more than the agreed two cars limit.

In the Toyota pit, Ralf Schumacher emerged the quickest of the 13-car field, as his cohorts Ricardo Zonta and Olivier Panis - with the 2006 V8 engine in tow - also ran.

BAR had four cars in the garage. Both teams seem to have exploited a loophole by not actually running more than two cars at any given time.

But the violation angered teams like McLaren, who - in the spirit of the agreement - did not have a 'spare' car in tow for Juan Pablo Montoya after his Mercedes V10 failure.

Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella, too, encountered technical trouble, while Williams devoted one of their two cars to debut the BMW V8 unit, which - predictably - ran into teething difficulties.

Second test driver Nico Rosberg, meanwhile, sat out much of the day with a stomach bug.

Over at the Paul Ricard track in France, Ferrari's Marc Gene tested in occasional rain.

Jordan will get going on Thursday, with Narain Karthikeyan scheduled to be at the wheel of the 'b' racer.

'Hungarian GP in decline'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.14) A new date for the Hungarian grand prix may affect race attendance, locals have claimed.

Hotel owners told the Budapest Sun newspaper that the July 31 date, two or three weeks earlier than usual, seems to have put some fans off.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is thought to have hustled Hungary into July in order to beat the EU's tobacco-ad deadline.

But one hotelier said the change has resulted in a twenty per cent dip in bookings, perhaps because July skips many holiday periods.

Another, though, said the grand prix - staged on perhaps the dullest circuit on the Formula One calendar - has been in decline for a while.

''(Is) it the change of date,'' he wondered, ''or because the race has become boring?

''It is not like two years ago, when everything was full.''

Williams' 'risky' route
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.14) Sam Michael has admitted it was a 'risky strategy' for Williams to unveil a new bodywork package without thoroughly testing it.

The Grove based team headed to Magny Cours, the start of a dismal team double header, after just two days running at Jerez.

''We saw a couple of problems there but I think we underestimated how big they were,'' said the technical director.

Sam said Williams had 'thrown a lot of bits' onto the uncompetitive FW27 so far in 2005.

''A lot of it is untested,'' he insisted, ''but most of the time it works. This time it bit us.

''But we'll pick it all up and sort it as soon as we can.''

F1's 'minute of shame'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.14) Formula One has copped a media roasting after a 'minute of shame' on the Silverstone grid.

The drivers, and also bosses Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley, congregated before the British grand prix to honor those lost in London's terror.

In the supposed minute of silence, though, TV cameras captured a grinning Jacques Villeneuve turn to Juan Pablo Montoya for a chat and giggle.

Then, F1 supremo Ecclestone's voice could be heard, and Jenson Button was snapped in a predictably teethy-grin moment.

''It is not clear what would make the members of the F1 parade pause for thought,'' wrote scathing Telegraph hack Jim White.

''Maybe a thermo-nuclear explosion in their wallet.''

White called the display 'shameless' and also blamed team bosses for failing to instruct their men how to look solemn for 'a mere 60 seconds.'

Rubens 'keen' on BAR, Toyota
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.14) Rubens Barrichello has admitted to looking around for a new F1 ride.

The Brazilian, who reckons his chance of a Ferrari future is 50-50, said he is taking a 'keen look' at Japanese duo Toyota and Honda.

Rubens, a close friend of compatriot and new BAR sporting boss Gil de Ferran, told the Brazilian press: ''I think there is a lot of potential lying idle there.''

Speculation first struck the 33-year-old after disputes with teammate Michael Schumacher and a subsequent refusal to be perpetual 'number two'.

Barrichello is under contract to the end of 2006.

''Every time I say something a bit critical ... people believe that I am leaving already.''

And, contract or no, Rubens admits to negotiating with Williams about joining for 2005.

He said: ''But no team ... could offer me the working conditions that Ferrari could.''

Renault to hit cruise mode
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.14) Renault has issued a taunting message to title challenger McLaren -- we're on a cruise to '05 glory.

Engineering boss Pat Symonds told La Gazzetta dello Sport that, unlike the silver squad, Renault 'can work conservatively' to protect healthy leads in the title chase.

''Our rivals,'' he added, ''need to catch up and ... take risks.

''We know full well what attacking at all costs means,'' he said.

Symonds no doubt refers to last year, when - in the battle for second behind Ferrari - Renault suffered an indignant loss to BAR-Honda after hitting full-attack mode.

Championship elect Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, revealed that the R25 challenger's main weakness is chilly weather.

''As soon as the temperatures go up,'' said the 23-year-old Spaniard, ''(the car) goes at its best.''

'Brace for less power'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.14) Olivier Panis says F1 drivers should brace for a lot less power in 2006.

The French veteran and Toyota test driver debuted the Cologne built 2.4 liter V8 at Jerez before it ground to a halt.

''You expect more power to come,'' the 38-year-old told Autosport.

''First and second (gears) it is okay but after that there is no more.''

Panis ended the day the slowest of the 13-car field, with a lap time nearly five seconds off teammate Ralf Schumacher's V10-powered effort.

Williams' Antonio Pizzonia, meanwhile, steered BMW's maiden V8, posting slower times and even more immediate gremlins.

'Boost button' backed
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.14) Renault has added its approval to the FIA's plans for 'push to pass' power boost buttons to aid overtaking in Formula One.

Engineering director Pat Symonds said most overtaking in grands prix occurs when a car has a 'different performance profile' to the one in front.

''That's when we see good racing with a lot of passing,'' the Englishman said.

Symonds said the 'boost button' is one idea, as are 'different tire characteristics' and 'pit stop strategies. Things like that.

''I think these are neglected areas that should be looked at.''

Pat's Toyota counterpart Mike Gascoyne, though, reckons overtaking is not necessarily the be-all-and-end-all of racing.

''You don't want artificial overtaking,'' he said, citing the example of the overtaking-mad Indy Racing League.

The Briton remarked: ''In the first race, everyone thought it was fantastic, but five races later they had to change it. There's no easy solution.''

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