Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
July 24, 2005

Button slams 'monkey' talk
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.24) Jenson Button may be on the front row of the Hockenheim grid, but he's a hazy tenth on British magazine F1 Racing's half-term 2005 driver ranking.

BAR's English driver, second on the list less than a season ago, bristled at the news.

''I tell you, I'm driving the best I can, better than in 2004,'' he said in the 'Independent' newspaper, ''and look where I'm finishing.''

If you think that's a gentle stab at the heart of Brackley, you'd be right. JB, 25, put the blame at the team's door.

He continued of the magazine ranking: ''So many people just don't understand the way F1 works.

''Trust me, if I had been in a competitive car that can win, I would have won races by now.''

That failure to find the top of the podium, though, must be a monkey on the back of any driver with title ambition.

''That's bullshit,'' he told the newspaper. ''You don't suddenly start driving differently in order to win.

''We all know how to do it.''

Kimi's Hockenheim hurdle
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.24) Kimi Raikkonen is primed to win the German grand prix, but first he must jump a hurdle -- not crashing into that barrier.

Last year, the Finn's rear wing failed him going into turn one, and on another occasion he tasted the tire wall in a shunt with Ralf Schumacher.

''I usually end up in the same wall,'' the McLaren driver said after snaring Hockenheim P1.

''I wasn't too happy with the car in qualifying but I am fast so it doesn't really matter.''

Raikkonen, 25, said round twelve - in the battle with Fernando Alonso for the championship - will be 'important.

''We have lost points lately so we really need to gain them back and get back in there.''

Kimi denied he is 'angry' at teammate Juan Pablo Montoya for mucking up his qualifying effort and therefore failing to put a silver barrier between him and the rest of the field.

''I think he is angry with himself,'' said the Finn. ''It would've helped but that's just how it goes sometimes.''

How McLaren kept Newey
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.24) Adrian Newey postponed a long planned 'sabbatical' and opted to stay at McLaren because the team has a new 'harmonious' technical structure.

That's the belief of Woking based boss Ron Dennis.

Newey, perhaps the most sought after designer/technical director in pitlane, planned to take a long holiday at the end of the year after admitting to F1 burnout.

Instead, he'll chug ahead into 2006.

Dennis told Autosport: ''I think it is the environmental change we have achieved ... that has made many people happier.

''Not only is it working but it is delivering on circuit.''

Newey, 46, told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport that he nearly switched to Jaguar in 2001 because he had started to feel 'empty' and 'unmotivated' at the silver camp.

'CEO F1' Martin Whitmarsh, meanwhile, revealed that McLaren tried to reduce some of the F1 'pressure' that had begun to drain the Englishman.

Juan not sorry after crash
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.24) Juan Pablo Montoya blasted any suggestion he should have settled for second best rather than risk a shunt and charge for pole at Hockenheim.

The Colombian's McLaren teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, could certainly have used a silver barrier in his title chase.

But Juan Pablo, 29, rankled at the go-slow plan: ''Why would I want to nail second ... when I could have nailed first?''

Team boss Ron Dennis looked angry on the pitwall after Montoya threw it into the tire barrier, saying 'all he had to do was go round one corner.'

JPM said he's not in F1 to be second.

''If the team is looking for (that), ''then they need to hire a different driver. I am here to win races and championships.

''I think they hired me for that.''

Mercedes' Norbert Haug told 'Premiere' that he was 'slightly annoyed' at the gaffe.

''It is a gift to the others, and we don't like giving gifts,'' said the German, ''but that's the way it fell today.

''He said sorry on the radio, there was no screaming and shouting.''

Montoya quipped: ''I don't know if I have to say sorry -- I just lost it. I feel pretty upset for the whole team.''

Finally, Schu is optimistic
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.24) 'I see it as about fifty-fifty.'

Michael Schumacher is, of course, musing perhaps his best chance of a Hockenheim podium on Sunday afternoon -- rain.

Ferrari's forecasters might see the possibility at 50-50, but that's probably the only real optimism within the Maranello ranks at the German GP.

Local weather men say the inevitable showers will now hold off until late on Sunday afternoon, or well into the night.

''Some rain would not be unwelcome,'' 36-year-old Schumacher said at the circuit, ''as it throws everything into a bit of disorder and that could help us.''

Those mighty Bridgestone wets wouldn't go astray, either. On the dries, though - even a brand new compound - the F2005 is not really the ticket.

''McLaren is faster, Renault is faster,'' said the German, ''so in normal conditions we are behind them. That is it.''

BAR's Jenson Button, second on the grid alongside Kimi Raikkonen, also doubted he would be able to keep up with the Finn or the blue Renaults.

''We haven't made enough progress to be able to challenge them,'' the Briton said.

''Maybe I should be more upbeat but that's how it is.''

Track notes - Hockenheim
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.24) Williams' Nick Heidfeld unveiled a special Hockenheim-spec helmet for his home race.

The Moenchengladbach-born driver replaced every yellow speck of paint of his design with a glittering shade of gold.

It's also a special day for Jordan's Portuguese rookie Tiago Monteiro -- he's 29 today.

McLaren has fitted a fresh Mercedes-Benz V10 engine to Juan Pablo Montoya's rear of the grid car after he threw it into the barrier in qualifying.

''I think we can have a podium, easy,'' he stated.

Toyota racer and GPDA director Jarno Trulli, meanwhile, scolded JPM's teammate - Kimi Raikkonen - for saying he doesn't care about the upcoming Cannes meeting.

''If he has an accident in testing,'' the Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport, ''let's see if he doesn't care.

''Who knows what he meant. Whether he wins or loses a race his expression never changes.''

Wind tunnel trouble at Grove
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.24) Williams has made progress in identifying the cause for recent dismal showings at races.

Team co-owner and engineering boss Patrick Head said 'one or two discrepancies' cropped up in the wind tunnel at Grove HQ.

''We've learned a bit from running the full size car in the tunnel against the 60 per cent model,'' he told Speed TV.

''It's looking a bit better (now).''

Head revealed that the FW27's main problem is 'aerodynamic instability.

''We've had two very bad grands prix,'' the English veteran and former technical director added, ''but Williams is a strong team. I'm sure we are more than capable of sorting out the problems.''

Don't, though, read too much into Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld's apparently impressive sixth and seventh on the grid -- they're low on fuel.

Germany's Heidfeld, meanwhile, denied that the team's midfield plummet has anything to do with the BMW split.

''That wouldn't be logical,'' he said at Hockenheim. ''We were all surprised by the last two races.''

Alonso vows victory charge
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.24) Watch your mirrors, Kimi Raikkonen -- title leader Fernando Alonso says he's found a fast gear for a German GP challenge.

Despite playing down his victory chances, the Spaniard - third on the grid in his Hockenheim spec Renault - now reckons the R25 could win the race.

A messy first couple of corners aside, the 23-year-old only dropped a tenth to pole man Raikkonen in the remainder of his single hot lap.

''I think the McLarens are quicker than anybody,'' Fernando admitted, ''but we are quick as well.

''I think the race will be much closer than it has been so far.''

Fernando also promised to push for victory rather than switch on the more title-focused cruise-and-collect mode.

''If I can pass Jenson (Button) at the start and fight Kimi from the beginning, then we will try to do it. If not, second place is ok.''

He said: ''That will be our approach for the rest of the season.''

Alonso thanked Kimi's teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya, for chucking it in the barrier.

''The top guys will have a bit of an easier race,'' he agreed, ''and it is good for our constructors' championship.''

'Flav' kicks habit
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.24) Believe it or not, Renault boss Flavio Briatore - often seen puffing away in grand prix pitlane - has kicked the habit.

The Italian, whose team is sponsored by Japan Tobacco brand Mild Seven, smoked fifty cigarettes a day for decades.

''I want to save money for the team,'' he joked to a German newspaper.

''Smoking leads you nowhere.

''It was difficult to stop, particularly in a job that comes with a lot of pressure.''

Ironically, the pinnacle of motor sport is finding it tougher to give up a weed it has relied on for four decades.

A European Union advertising ban kicks in at the end of the month, but Briatore does not understand why his car should be painted a different color.

''The fans don't ask for it,'' he said at Hockenheim, ''they don't care about the color -- they care about the performance and the grand prix.

''I have never seen an email in our office complaining about the livery of our car.''

''Feedback can be sent to feedback@autoracing1.com

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