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 possible.

''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 Silverstone.

But the five-time grand prix winner in 2005 smirked: ''It was hot in Bahrain and Malaysia and we didn't do badly there.

''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 prix.

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 Ferrari.

''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,'' Chitwood revealed.

Also in America, a new female racer - after Danica Patrick so impressed in the Indy 500 - has hit the motor sport headlines.

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 punch.

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 F1 career!''

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 statement read.

Sauber-bound BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen, though, does 'not expect a miracle' for the marque's home race.

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 targets.

''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 championship.

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 Nick Heidfeld.

''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 Norisring.

''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 'new' team.''

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 unwanted asset.

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 - 'really frustrating.'

''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 team.''

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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