Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
July 29, 2005

'06 is Schu's new target
(GMMF1NET -- Jul.29) Michael Schumacher agrees with those who have written off his chance of snaring an eighth drivers' championship this year.

''They would be absolutely right,'' Ferrari's German reluctantly agreed in Budapest, where last year he won.

The 36-year-old has not, though, given up on winning more than the farcical US grand prix before season's end.

However, the title - Schumacher admits - is gone. ''There is of course next year,'' he added, ''as this one is not possible. That is the target.''

Asked if winning another 2005 race was also a target, Michael agreed. ''We would like to win more than one,'' he smiled.

JV feels secure at Sauber
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.29) Jacques Villeneuve says he will stay at Sauber next year despite the team's recent takeover by BMW.

JV, 34 - who has not enjoyed a stellar full-time return to F1 after his five year BAR debacle - reckons the Munich carmaker bought everything at Hinwil; including his two-year deal.

''I have a contract so my chances are very good,'' said the French Canadian, who won Williams' most recent title in 1997 and is the son of Ferrari legend Gilles Villeneuve.

Jacques added: ''Why should it change? I'm not even questioning it.''

JB threatens Williams strike
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.29) One year ago, in Hungary, Jenson Button found a very icy reception in the BAR-Honda garage after announcing he wanted to drive for Williams in 2005.

Now, even the 25-year-old Briton can see the irony in wanting to jump out of a Williams contract to stay at BAR.

Spooked by Williams' loss of works BMW support, JB says Brackley is now his best bet for a swift world championship.

So much has his attitude changed, that Button is actually questioning the 'binding' nature of his Grove deal.

''We don't think the (Williams) contract is binding,'' he startlingly claimed.

Clearly, Sir Frank Williams - who brought Jenson into F1 in 2000 - is not amused. ''A deal is a deal,'' the Englishman rasped, before questioning the racer's 'honor.'

''There is no turning back for me. There would be chaos ... if drivers were allowed to ignore contracts when it suits them.''

Button, however, made it clear he is not prepared to fight fire with anything other than fire. He didn't even rule out point-blank refusing to drive Williams' car.

''I will fight this all the way,'' JB vowed.

Kimi's future is still silver
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.29) Reliability crisis and dented championship hopes aside, Kimi Raikkonen will probably stay at McLaren beyond next year.

The Finn is under contract, like Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, to the end of 2006.

''I haven't decided what I am going to do,'' Kimi, 25, said in Hungary. ''Maybe I stay, even if we've had difficult times.

''The speed of the car is good so once we get everything else sorted, I think I'll be ... happy to stay.''

If you detect some lapse in championship focus within the blonde haired 'iceman', you'd probably be right. Raikkonen admits that, with his hydraulic fluid at Hockenheim, the title chase effectively leaked onto the verge.

''We are slipping away a bit too much now,'' he agreed. ''We have to be realistic even if there's still a small chance.''

Further dampening Kimi's mood is his dead-last qualifying spot at Hungary, one of the worst places in F1 to overtake.

''This is one of the races where you are penalized a lot for that,'' Raikkonen remarked.

Tobacco teams in panic mode
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.29) Tobacco backed F1 teams based in Britain delved further into panic mode on Thursday night as the UK government's promised advice failed to turn up.

Word from the health ministry, reportedly, is that a document is now due on Friday, just two days ahead of the tobacco advertising ban.

The problem is that, according to the letter of the law, F1 chiefs face two years in jail should their tobacco liveries beam their way into British lounge rooms.

It is not, though, clear whether the UK intends such a draconian interpretation.

A source at the part British American Tobacco-owned BAR-Honda team said the team would simply pull its Lucky Strike livery should the advice not appear, while Italian based Ferrari intend to go on with Marlboro branding.

DC's milestone
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.29) F1 veteran David Coulthard will notch up a milestone in Hungary.

His 188th grand prix puts a neat overtaking maneuver on 1992 champion Nigel Mansell's tally, thus making the Scot Britain's longest serving driver.

''It's not a world championship,'' the 34-year-old, whose middle name is Marshall, said in Budapest, ''but you don't end up doing that many grands prix ... by accident.

''Irrespective of what anyone else's opinion is of me, I can still be proud of having had the longevity and the points ... results that I've had.''

Coulthard will now aim for the magic '200' figure with his 2006 contract for Red Bull.

The Dietrich Mateschitz-owned team, meanwhile, has a minor bodywork (aero) update in Hungary.

Jos to A1
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.29) Dutch F1 veteran Jos Verstappen will represent his country on the novel 'A1 grand prix' grid.

The 33-year-old, who saw his grand prix career race away after the 2003 season with Minardi, is to drive for the team run by Jan Lammers, another of Holland's ex-racers.

''Jos is without doubt the most popular driver from the Netherlands,'' Lammers enthused.

Dubai-run A1 will kick off in September at Brands Hatch (UK).

It is reported elsewhere, meanwhile, that Williams' test driver Antonio Pizzonia may accept an offer to represent Brazil in the so called 'world cup' of motor sport.

Kimi not 'sporting' - Flav
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.29) Ron Dennis apparently didn't mind, but Renault's Flavio Briatore says it was not 'sporting' of Kimi Raikkonen to spoil Fernando Alonso's qualifying lap in Germany a week ago.

'Flav' seems to be one of the conspiracy theorists who claim that the McLaren driver's 'wheel on the dirt' move on his slowing down lap was more than a mere accident.

The next man out was Renault's title leader Alonso, who lost three tenths - and thus a shot at pole - through the dirty first corner.

''It wasn't nice to see (that),'' Briatore told Motorsport News. ''Charlie (Whiting, FIA race director) saw it but he took no punishment.

''Maybe (Kimi) will pay for it in the next race.''

Ferrari development 'stopped'
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.29) Development of Ferrari's 2005 car has basically now stopped, technical director Ross Brawn says.

With the Hockenheim bodywork kit now up and running, the Briton told Autosport that 'that's it' until the V8 F2006.

''There won't be an awful lot coming on the car for the rest of this year,'' Brawn admitted.

''A little bit on the engine (side) ... but nothing dramatic.''

In the interview, Ross also argued vehemently that F1 needs to do something about the fact that the current aero rules make it exceedingly difficult for one car to follow - let alone pass - another.

In line with the FIA's 2008 proposals, Brawn said: ''I'm advocating ... just forgetting downforce, because it doesn't give us anything.

''We should have wide, soft tires, and lots of mechanical grip.''

A birthday in Budapest
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.29) 2005 champion-elect Fernando Alonso will celebrate his twenty fourth birthday at the wheel of his Renault on Friday.

However, in Budapest for the thirteenth grand prix out of nineteen, the Spaniard is planning neither a cake nor party.

''No -- I'm focused on the weekend,'' he insisted.

''Maybe if I win, then we can have a double party!''

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello poked fun at the F1 youngster, who would become the youngest ever world champion.

The Brazilian, who debuted when Fernando was a twelve year old, grinned: ''How old is he? 19?''

Jenson Button joked that his F1 rivals' should band together to ensure that Alonso - a favourite in Hungary - gets 'really drunk' on Friday.

''We can do that,'' the BAR driver laughed.

The press room, meanwhile, erupted in the loudest laughter when championship challenger Kimi Raikkonen offered his droll best wishes.

''Happy birthday,'' the Finn croaked.

Even teammate Giancarlo Fisichella had to admit that - at 24 - Alonso should be applauded for crafting a 'quite easy' cruise to the title.

''He's been quite lucky this year,'' said the Roman, ''but I am happy for him. Maybe he can give me a present on Sunday!''

F1 aces play football
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.29) A football game featuring F1 drivers like Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella ended 6-6 in Budapest.

25,000 turned up at the Puskas Ferenc Stadium on Thursday to watch the grand prix chargers take on an All Star team.

''I played well,'' Renault's Fisichella smiled on Thursday, ''and scored a goal.''

Drivers back one-lap Quali
(GMMf1NET -- Jul.29) F1 will probably ditch 'one-lap' qualifying for a new format next year, but drivers themselves don't think a radical change is really necessary.

On the sport's official website, teams are asking for feedback on two proposals -- a 60 minute session, or a sort of 'knockout'.

Asked which of the pair he preferred, Sauber driver Jacques Villeneuve replied: ''Neither. I like one lap qualifying.''

The former champion would, though, tweak the format by allowing drivers to attack it on low fuel, and with an extra lap.

''So then you can really push hard,'' said the French Canadian. ''The old qualifying wasn't that great.''

BAR's Jenson Button would also keep the one lap system, and he wouldn't even tinker with it.

''I think it's good,'' the Englishman added, ''and you get to see everyone's laps too.''

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