Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
July 20, 2005

Ferrari in Italian action
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.20) In defiance of every other F1 team's voluntary test pact, Ferrari engines howled in sunny and warm Italy on Tuesday.

Luca Badoer, to be replaced by world champion Michael Schumacher on Wednesday, kicked off at the Mugello circuit, with the new bodywork.

Closer to home at Fiorano, on Ferrari's other privately owned test circuit, Spaniard Marc Gene shook down Hockenheim bound F2005 racers.

He will move to Mugello on Wednesday.

''Unlike some people,'' 36-year-old Schumacher said ahead of his home grand prix, ''we have not written ourselves off.

''But we do admit that our situation has worsened recently -- but that doesn't mean that it can not improve.''

'Game on' - McLaren
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.20) McLaren has roared 'game on' in the battle for the '05 championship.

Kimi Raikkonen is twenty six points behind Renault's title leader Fernando Alonso, but the gap would be smaller if not for recent poor reliability.

The MP4-20 is, at present, a mite quicker than its blue rival.

''The championship battle is still on,'' said Finland's Kimi, ''and I'm determined to work on closing the gap in Germany.''

At Magny Cours and Silverstone, Raikkonen, 25, suffered pre-race Mercedes engine failures, resulting in successive grid demotion penalties.

In testing at Jerez (Spain) last week, yet another Brixworth-built V10 bit the dust.

Kimi urged: ''We need to make the most of the car's speed.''

Indeed, team 'CEO F1' Martin Whitmarsh revealed that 'an extra focus' would now be put on chasing reliability in the eight-grand prix run to the flag.

''We are often asked if Kimi will be able to pass ... Alonso,'' said Mercedes' Norbert Haug.

''The answer is -- we don't know.

''Unfortunately we have missed opportunities for wins and one-twos.''

Doornbos 'can't wait'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.20) Perhaps more than any other, one racer can hardly wait for the green light at Germany's Hockenheim.

The Netherlands' Robert Doornbos, drafted in from a 'Friday' driving role at Jordan to replace Minardi's Patrick Friesacher, will make his grand prix debut on Sunday.

''I can hardly wait,'' he told his website.

''This year Jordan could not yet hand me the opportunity to race -- now Minardi does.''

The 24-year-old from Rotterdam said he is 'really fit' and 'more motivated than ever' to attack the track in Paul Stoddart's black challenger.

He added: ''I can't wait to get started. I hope many of my fans will come to Hockenheim to give me a cheer!''

'Care' urged in quali verdict
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.20) Another opponent to scrapping the unloved single-lap qualifying format has emerged in the form of Toyota's Mike Gascoyne.

Much like Renault counterpart Pat Symonds, the technical director claims that going back to a proposed low-fuel run may lead to boring grands prix.

Gascoyne, though, does not deny that an alternate format would spice up Saturday afternoon.

But he said: ''It (would) mean that there are less strategy options in the race.'

''F1 ... has to be careful to make the right decision,'' Mike told Autosport.

Single lap or not, though, Gascoyne urged the pinnacle of motor racing to make up its mind so that teams can finalize car designs for 2006.

Next year's smaller V8 engines, also with lower fuel consumption, could impact fuel tank size, but such design details are halted while F1 ponders the 'fuel' or 'no fuel' qualifying question.

'Title on way to the wire'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.20) Finishing races reliably and on the podium will be the key to Renault's championship glory.

That's the promise of technical director Bob Bell, whose Enstone based camp is 26 points ahead of McLaren in the drivers' chase, and just 15 in front for the constructors' prize.

''Quite simply, we've got to finish with both cars in the points,'' he said with 8 races to go.

''But in reality, we really have to get on the podium. We need to keep Fernando (Alonso) winning races, and aim to do the same for Fisico (Giancarlo Fisichella) -- and if he can't, get him on the podium.''

Renault, now with an outpaced R5 car, has enjoyed recent breathing space courtesy of McLaren's iffy engine reliability.

But Bell warned that Renault 'can't expect' that trend to continue.

He said: ''It is imperative that we do not drop points.

''I am sure the fight will go down to the wire -- I think it's going to be very close.''

Happy F1 birthday!
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.20) Wednesday is a busy day in the world of Formula One birthdays.

Top of the list is Alex Yoong, 29 -- the only Malaysian to have tasted racing's upper echelon, although he left the spotlight after often failing to qualify his Minardi in 2002.

Alex will head and drive Malaysia's A1 grand prix entrant.

Probably the best driver never to win a grand prix was New Zealand's Chris Amon, who had the uncanny knack of finding the right team at the wrong time.

He is 62 on July 20.

Also blowing out candles will be 41-year-old Bernd Schneider, and female F1 star Giovanna Amati, who - in 1992 - three times failed to qualify her Brabham for three grands prix.

Today, she is 46.

Cloud still above Hockenheim
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.20) Rain is still expected to fall on Sunday's usually sizzling German grand prix at Hockenheim.

A revised weather report said a downpour is expected on Wednesday evening, although it is expected to clear by Friday.

Temperatures, though, will be in the low twenties, with cloud and possible drizzle throughout qualifying-Saturday.

However, grand prix Sunday sees the highest possibility of rain -- an ominous sixty per cent.

''The new circuit is much like many of the others we go to,'' said Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve.

McLaren 'favorite'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.20) McLaren is now 'favorite' to steal the 2005 crown.

Despite the fairly consistent gap to championship leaders Renault and Fernando Alonso, Mercedes' Norbert Haug also warned that the already quickest MP4-20 challenger even has 'room for improvement.

''We did not enter the season as title contender,'' the motor sport boss told Germany's Deutsche Presse Agentur, ''but we were made favorites after a handful of races.

''The truth is that our direction is right.''

Lead driver Kimi Raikkonen, though, has suffered a list of recent reliability setbacks, mostly engine related.

Haug, however, insisted: ''Only those who get over this ... will be first in the end.''

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