Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
July 18, 2005
F1 driver 'strike' possible
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.18) In the era of boycott and political
folly, the cloud of a threatened driver strike now hangs
over the pinnacle of racing.
David Coulthard, ensconced in a row with FIA president Max
Mosley and a key figure of the grand prix drivers'
association, said a 20-driver driver no-go is 'entirely
''That's how strongly (we) feel over the safety concerns
that have dogged us since last month's US grand prix,'' the
Scot told the Daily Record.
Angry at Max's Silverstone meeting snub, the veteran and Red
Bull driver said some - like BAR's Takuma Sato - cannot
attend the Cannes re-run.
DC, 34, added: ''We could (strike) if we are forced to do
something we don't feel is safe.
''If need be we will stick together and walk out.''
The issue at stake is safety at tests.
Alonso vows Hockenheim rush
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.18) Fernando Alonso has issued a fearsome
warning to his F1 title rivals -- I'll be quicker at
Hockenheim this Sunday.
The Spaniard told the 'Marca' newspaper that expected high
temperatures at the German circuit should suit his Renault.
''It was hot (last week) at Jerez,'' the 23-year-old
commented, ''so I am pretty confident we can be very
competitive (in the German GP).''
Alonso finished behind McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya at
But the five-time grand prix winner in 2005 smirked: ''It
was hot in Bahrain and Malaysia and we didn't do badly
''The Hockenheim circuit should suit the R25 car for sure.''
Meanwhile, Enstone based Renault is believed to be unhappy
with Alonso's teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, after the
Roman stalled his engine in pit stops at successive grands
According to ITV, the Melbourne winner's pit stop problem is
due to him using too many revs when dropping the clutch.
''It's not his fault that the system is so delicate and
clearly difficult to use,'' said pit reporter Ted Kravitz.
New 'Button-gate' to rev up
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.18) A new and ironic tug-of-war between BAR
and Williams may be set to emerge over F1 ace Jenson Button.
Last year, 25-year-old JB - ultimately thwarted by the
contract recognition board - wanted to leave BAR and re-join
Sir Frank Williams' ranks.
This time around, though, Williams appears to have the
contractual hold on Button for 2006, who - paradoxically -
now wants to stay at BAR because Grove lack a works engine.
Part Honda-owned BAR has reportedly offered the English
driver a huge salary and five year deal because it cannot
meet a performance clause, but Williams appear intent on
exercising their option.
The compromise, perhaps, might be a V8 deal between Williams
and Honda -- with JB, allowed to stay at BAR, a sweetener.
''Rest assured,'' BAR 'CEO' Nick Fry told the Daily
Telegraph last week, ''we will try to give Jenson what he
wants -- and what we want.''
If you ask Jenson's F1 mate David Coulthard, though, he
senses real goings on between JB and world champion team
''My gut feeling,'' the Scot told Glasgow's Daily Record,
''is something is happening that they are unable to announce
for whatever reason.''
'06 US GP not on yet
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.18) F1 fans have been warned not to book a
flight or reserve a hotel for next year's United States GP.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Joie Chitwood told
'AP' that, after the six-car calamity in June, he could 'not
confirm' the existence of a 2006 event at the fabled venue.
He admitted 'concern' over whether the same thing, which
resulted in lawsuits also naming the Speedway, might recur.
''We're having discussions on what makes sense for us,''
Also in America, a new female racer - after Danica Patrick
so impressed in the Indy 500 - has hit the motor sport
England's Katherine Legge, 25 - who triumphed at the Long
Beach round in Toyota Atlantic - won again from third on the
grid at Edmonton.
''I'm doing my thing and she (Patrick) is doing her thing,''
Legge remarked. ''I hope we can both be successful.''
'V8 packs less punch'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.18) Next year's V8 engines pack a lot less
That's the warning of race veteran and Toyota test driver
Olivier Panis, who debuted the Cologne based team's 2.4
liter power plant at the Jerez session last week.
''It was quite a bit slower than the V10,'' the 38-year-old
Frenchman, who also said attacking corners was less
physically demanding, remarked.
''But when you consider that this engine has around 200 bhp
less, that is to be expected.
''It even makes old men like me think about re-launching an
Panis said the 2006-specification V8 will be between 2.3 and
2.5 seconds slower than a comparable V10 time.
Williams seek speed boost
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.18) Williams is stumbling up the mountain
to recovery, the beleaguered team said after Jerez.
A statement said the Grove outfit, at the last test of the
summer in Spain, found 'some resolutions' to the recent
dismal lack of car speed.
''We made some good progress,'' technical director Sam
Michael added, ''which is evident in the lap times.''
The problematic 'MKII' bodywork package has also undergone a
'range of modifications,' a separate pre-Hockenheim
Sauber-bound BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen,
though, does 'not expect a miracle' for the marque's home
But he denied that the Munich carmaker is now focused on the
2006 switch to team ownership.
''BMW is supporting this (Williams) program every way we
can,'' the German insisted.
BAR 'can win grand prix'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.18) Honda powered BAR is determined to win
its maiden grand prix in 2005.
Honda's F1 project leader, Takeo Kiuchi, admits that the
joint owned F1 collaboration has not yet 'reached its
''But I believe we can definitely do that in the near
future,'' the Japanese opined.
Brackley based BAR-Honda strolled into 2005 determined, more
than any other objective, to climb the rostrum.
A lack of performance and race bans, though, has the team -
steered by Jenson Button to second behind Ferrari last year
- better only than Minardi in the 2005 constructors' world
Kiuchi, though, claims the 007 car is now 'at a good level.'
He commented: ''I think we can reach our objective in the
second half of the season.''
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.18) The F1 world expects a hot weekend at
Hockenheim, but the earliest report forecasts a glum F1
grand prix in Germany.
From Friday until race day on Sunday, mild temperatures and
a high chance of rain is predicted for the region between
Frankfurt and Stuttgart.
Still, Michelin's motor sport director Pierre Dupasquier
said harder compound tires would be taken to the event
because rears take a battering in the hotter weather.
''This is something we have to keep a very close eye on,''
the Frenchman, 67, admitted.
Not everyone, meanwhile, is a fan of Hockenheim's new
configuration, after the long forest-lined straights got the
shove after the 2001 race.
''I must say I preferred the old layout,'' said local hero
''It was unlike any other. But the new circuit is better for
the fans and for safety.''
Michelin told to do more
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.18) Michelin has been told to do more to
appease angry spectators at last month's farcical United
States grand prix.
Lawyer Henry Price said the F1 tire maker's $10m pledge to
refund every Sunday ticket to the Indy debacle 'won't
settle' fans' compensation lawsuits.
At least four other lawsuits have been filed in
Indianapolis' US District Court.
The pledge came as Michelin, which ordered the withdrawal of
fourteen cars from the Indy race, and the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway, rolled out the refund process.
Account holders will be sent a letter, while other ticket
holders are urged to send their ticket stub and a Claim Form
to the 'Brickyard' next month.
''We hope through these gestures to encourage the further
development of F1 in (the US),'' said Jim Micali, president
of Michelin North America.
Piquet to Rotterdam
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.18) Nelson Piquet Jr, son of the Brazilian
triple world champion, will join Christijan Albers on the
streets of Rotterdam next month.
Piquet is set to steer Dad's 1989 Lotus-Judd around the
Dutch city's 2.7km street circuit.
The GP2 star, whose mother was born in Holland, also
recently drove Nelson Piquet's Williams-Honda at Goodwood.
Meanwhile, quadruple F1 champion Alain Prost beat five other
title winners - including Nigel Mansell, Emerson Fittipaldi
and Jody Scheckter - at the DTM charity race at the
''The cars resemble F1 cars a lot,'' said Prost, now 50.
BMW on lookout
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.18) F1's newest team owner, BMW, is on the
lookout for a chief car designer.
A half-page advert in the latest Autosport magazine outlines
the intention to add the post, as well as key
aerodynamicists, to the 2006 Sauber lineup.
''... the new positioning of BMW's Formula One)
activities,'' the advert read, ''leads to the building of a
BMW also seeks a CFD aerodynamicist and (wind tunnel) model
designer and maker.
Meanwhile, the rumor mill surrounding Jordan has stepped up
a gear, with reports that former BAR boss David Richards may
be involved in a bid to buy Alex Shnaider's allegedly
It is also suggested that the 'b' EJ15 car may not now be
ready to race until the grands prix of Turkey or Italy.
Fisi blasts 'sabotage' claim
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.18) Giancarlo Fisichella has lashed out at
suggestions he is not being treated equally at Renault.
The Roman, who has endured a nightmare run since conquering
all in Melbourne, called media speculation of favoritism
towards Fernando Alonso - and even internal sabotage -
''People outside the team do not see what happens inside,''
he said Monday, ''how hard we all work to improve.
'I know they are supporting me 100 per cent. We work as a
Renault's Enstone based technical director Bob Bell also
denied the charge. ''Quite simply,'' he replied to the
accusation of preferential treatment, ''we don't do it.
''It makes no sense to favor one driver over another.''
Bell also said Renault worked on Fisichella's pit stop stall
problems at Jerez last week, to 'make the car ... easier for
the drivers to use reliably.'
He then revealed: ''Fernando (Alonso) has also come very
close to having similar problems.''
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