Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
July 28, 2005

'McLaren chef dies in fall
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.28) A member of F1's traveling circus died after falling from the eighth floor of a Budapest hotel.

29-year-old Darren Hawker, who worked for McLaren's catering company - Absolute Taste - had been standing on a terrace of the Marriot hotel which was not normally used, a police spokesperson said.

''The exact circumstances are still being investigated by the relevant authorities,'' a spokeswoman for McLaren added.

Hawker, a Briton, had worked for McLaren for a year.

JB offers Williams $3.5m
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.28) F1 ace Jenson Button has made a public plea to Frank Williams to let him stay at BAR next year.

The Briton, 25, does not want to switch to the probably Cosworth-powered team so much that - it is reported - he is offering to personally compensate the Grove chief to the tune of some $3.5 million.

In the 'Buttongate' saga last year, Jenson signed a 2006 Williams contract that did not contain a works-engine clause.

Sir Frank is keen to reunite his Oxfordshire based team with the racer he brought into the sport six seasons ago.

''(BAR) is my best chance of becoming Britain's next world champion,'' Button told Autosport.

''I can understand Williams' situation but Frank has to understand mine as well. To be competitive next year any team has to be with a manufacturer that is fully involved.''

And JB was quoted as saying in The Times newspaper: ''Maybe I should have read the small print.

''I can't see why a team would want a driver who ... wants to be somewhere else.''

Five teams ponder tire swap
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.28) Up to five Michelin shod F1 teams may be contemplating a switch to rival tire supplier Bridgestone.

A Bridgestone spokeswoman was quoted in The Australian newspaper as casting doubt on the candor of a Michelin statement proposing a 'better balance' between the tire foes.

''The facts are that we have been approached by five non-Bridgestone teams,'' she said.

''If we do secure further teams it will be on the basis of mutually agreeable commercial terms.''

The five teams, in order of likelihood, are almost certainly Red Bull, Williams, Toyota, BAR-Honda and Renault.

Any Michelin exodus should not be interpreted as a reprisal after the Indy fiasco, but rather most teams' desire for a single-tire situation in Formula One.

Michelin is vehemently opposed to the idea.

F1 teams await tobacco advice
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.28) The British department of health will, in the nick of time, issue advice to UK based, tobacco backed F1 teams on Thursday.

Renault, BAR and Jordan have - for months - faced uncertainty about whether they could be prosecuted criminally for wearing cigarette liveries even outside of the European Union.

The tobacco-ad ban descends on July 31, the day of the Hungarian grand prix near Budapest.

Woking based McLaren is not included in the list of insecure teams as it will this weekend split with nine year tobacco sponsor West in favor of new backer Johnnie Walker.

The European Commission, meanwhile, warned tobacco teams to not even try to circumvent the ban by running the often seen subliminal branding, such as Ferrari's red, white and black solution or replacing tobacco brand names with alternate text but in the same font, shape or style.

''Advertising means any form of commercial communication with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting a tobacco product,'' read a statement.

The EU also expressed confidence that it would defeat the Nurburgring's legal challenge to topple the ban.

Abu Dhabi buy Ferrari stake
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.28) A company owned by the government of Abu Dhabi has snapped up a five per cent stake in Ferrari for a cool $138m.

Mediobanca's sale puts the total value of the Maranello marque at a staggering $2.75bn.

''The strategic alliance with Mubadala (Development Company), and therefore the government of Abu Dhabi, is set to bring us ... new strategies especially in the Middle East and North African markets,'' said Ferrari and Fiat president Luca di Montezemolo.

It's 'driver swap' time again
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.28) Although it was expected that Red Bull had put the 'driver swap' concept to bed, who will be David Coulthard's F1 teammate beyond the Hungarian grand prix is again up for grabs.

The energy drink-owned team's racing 'advisor', Helmut Marko, said Christian Klien will definitely drive in Budapest.

''Then we shall evaluate who will be behind the wheel,'' the Austrian told Autosport magazine.

''Neither (Vitantonio) Liuzzi or Klien have made themselves a must.''

That final statement, though, should not be interpreted as a hint that anyone other than Italy's Liuzzi would be considered.

Marko did say that Californian racer Scott Speed is a dead cert for a 2006 test drive, even despite reports that the 62-year-old former F1 driver, and Speed's manager Glen Hindshaw, had fallen out over contractual demands.

''It seems that Scott's manager would like to change the conditions of the contract,'' Dr Helmut Marko said.

FIA issue 'flat spot' ruling
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.28) F1 teams will not be penalized for changing a badly flat spotted tire during a grand prix.

That's the latest advice of the governing FIA, after teams sought clarification following Kimi Raikkonen's last lap exit at the Nurburgring.

Previously, only a puncture seemed reason enough to pit for a new tire and avoid penalties under 2005's 'single tire per event' rules.

But a FIA spokesman said that a flat spotted tire can be changed 'provided this is not done during a pitstop for ... refueling.'

Raikkonen crashed whilst leading after long term flat spot vibrations broke his suspension.

Kimi & Ron's 'arrangement'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.28) When Kimi Raikkonen dodged the press by slipping out of the McLaren motor home's kitchen door and into a waiting car at Hockenheim, it was with boss Ron Dennis' full blessing.

The team principal told ITV that he has an arrangement with the 25-year-old Finn that if he retires from the lead of a race, he is allowed to leave the circuit immediately.

''Kimi takes more than the normal two hours (to get over the disappointment),'' Ron said.

Raikkonen admitted that Hungary is set to be another tough challenge, after his German GP retirement leaves him stranded down the qualifying-slot order on a track that is almost impossible to mount a pass on.

''I will be affected by the dusty track,'' he admitted, ''but the car is quick and I will push hard.''

Meanwhile, McLaren's impressive 'technology centre' - otherwise known as 'Paragon' or the F1 factory at Woking - is on the short list for the 'Stirling' prize.

Other buildings nominated include the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh and the BMW Central Building in Leipzig.

Sato seat in doubt
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.28) Speculation is rife that Takuma Sato will be lucky to retain his BAR seat next year.

The Japanese, supported by team co-owner Honda, is frequently and comprehensively outpaced by teammate Jenson Button, and is the only '05 driver except Robert Doornbos to have failed to score a single point.

At the same time, names like Rubens Barrichello, Nick Heidfeld and Felipe Massa are all potentially on the move and both BAR and Honda might agree that another established star is a better bet.

''It's been a tough season, no doubt about it,'' said Sato, 28.

No 'easy' ride - Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.28) One year ago, at the Hungaroring near Budapest, eventual champion Michael Schumacher won an astonishing twelfth grand prix of the season and put the lid on Ferrari's title.

In 2005, victory is all but ruled out.

''This will probably not be an easy grand prix,'' the German, who has already ceded his crown to a new champion, said.

''It's not realistic to expect any big progress in performance.

''Nevertheless, we continue to test and we will surely improve.''

Indeed, at Ferrari's private Fiorano circuit on Wednesday, Luca Badoer wrapped up a two-day tire development program.

Kiesa keeps Jordan role
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.28) Denmark's Nicolas Kiesa has retained the 'Friday' driving post at Jordan for the weekend's Hungarian grand prix, the Midland owned team announced on Thursday morning.

''Maybe we'll get to see him again in the future,'' sporting director Adrian Burgess had said at Hockenheim.

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