Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
August 1, 2005

Massa's off - Sauber
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.1) Peter Sauber pulled the cat from the bag when he said it is now 'too late' for BMW to retain Felipe Massa for next year.

The Swiss boss, therefore, all but confirmed the young Brazilian's 2006 departure to Ferrari, to replace a BAR-Honda bound Rubens Barrichello.

Departing principal Sauber told Gazzetta dello Sport that he would have signed the promising 24-year-old for 2006.

He added: ''But it's too late now.''

Also tellingly, Massa didn't go out of his way to deny that he looks likely to become Michael Schumacher's new teammate at the Prancing Horse.

''It wouldn't be a problem,'' he told the paper. ''If I beat him, then it would mean I'm on my way to (becoming) a champion.''

Felipe did, though, admit to some surprise that Peter Sauber let the bombshell slip.

''I don't think he said that,'' he added, ''because I am still talking with BMW. I think (going to Ferrari) can be a possibility but it's too early.''

Smoking light is on
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.1) Finally, F1's tobacco backed teams based in Britain have their piece of paper from the government.

Sport minister Richard Caborn wrote to FIA president Max Mosley with the news that Renault, BAR, McLaren and Jordan can continue to wear cigarette liveries outside of Europe without fear of criminal action.

It might not, though, matter to Jordan. It is believed that Sunday's Hungarian grand prix was B&H and Sobranie owner Gallaher's last F1 event.

And it definitely doesn't matter to McLaren. On Sunday in Hungary, all West stickers removed after a nine year partnership, new - but small - 'Johnnie Walker' decals were unveiled.

Ron Dennis, though, insisted that the $26m deal is not for title sponsorship. The front and rear wings remain logo-free.

''We are in the position where we have six months plus to prepare,'' the Woking chief said.

''We would prefer to launch our title sponsorship prior to the first race (of 2006) ... but it's still under consideration.''

Track notes - Hungary
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.1) Coincidence or not, it remains the case that - before he retired from the lead with a broken driveshaft - McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya ran over a portable generator, on the grid for Jenson Button, when taking up his spot prior to the Hungarian grand prix. Mechanics repaired damage to the front wing and right front corner. The Colombian, whose right hand driveshaft later failed, claimed the BAR generator was in the wrong place.

It might not be much to boast about, but - Imola DQ aside - Hungary represented Takuma Sato's first point of the 2005 season. BAR might have scored a lot more, said teammate Jenson Button, if not for a bungled tire selection. ''Our choice,'' he added, referring to the harder Michelin compound, ''did not work for us here.''

An hydraulic gremlin struck F1's Minardi-driving Dutchmen. ''We tried to fix it,'' said Christijan Albers, ''so at least it improves my qualifying position for Turkey.'' All the effort will put him out before Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve in Istanbul.

Williams' Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber were the last cars to pit with their two stoppers in Budapest, which at least put a better spin on a dismal qualifying. ''We ran within 0.8 of the fastest cars here,'' said technical director Sam Michael. ''Well done to the people in Grove.'' Webber, though, sounded a note of caution -- the FW27 really struggles in long, quick corners; there aren't many at the kart-style Hungaroring.

Narain's 'no' to A1
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.1) Jordan's Narain Karthikeyan has issued a resounding 'no' to speculation he might drive for India in the new 'A1' series.

The 28-year-old rookie denied reports he might even test the open wheeler car as soon as this week ahead of the category's kick off in September.

''I am certainly focused on F1 racing only,'' Narain told the Press Trust of India, ''and not on other racing disciplines.''

Kimi - 'I'm back in it'
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.1) Kimi Raikkonen counted himself back in the title hunt after taking a ten-point bite out of Fernando Alonso's lead in Hungary.

The McLaren driver, who stormed out of Hockenheim one week ago after refusing to talk to the press, moved to within twenty six points of Fernando with the Renault's pointless run to eleventh place.

''We seen to go backwards and forwards all the time,'' said Finland's Raikkonen, ''but it definitely looks better again.

''There are six races to go. If we can do this kind of result, and maybe something happens to him, we can definitely still fight for it.

''It looks much better now.''

25-year-old Kimi's Budapest triumph also coincided with his first wedding anniversary. Wife Jenni and his mother and father came along to the race for the ride.

He grinned: ''Now it feels like the best way to go on holiday so of course I am happy.''

Alonso blames Ralf
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.1) Fernando Alonso pointed the finger of blame at Toyota's Ralf Schumacher after losing a ten point chunk out of his title lead.

Even half an hour after the checkered flag in Hungary, podium man Ralf - of Germany - claimed no knowledge of the first corner Renault- squeeze.

The 30-year-old asked: ''Was he there? Did we touch? I didn't realize that -- Sorry.''

The touch dislodged the front wing from Alonso's blue and yellow racer, and it later crumbled underneath his car, further damaging its efficiency.

24-year-old Fernando said: ''I was very surprised how many moves Ralf made. He did not give me any room at all -- I was up on the curb, nearly on the grass.''

His boss, though - dressed in the brightest of bright shirts - shook off the disappointment and denied that Alonso and Renault should mourn Kimi Raikkonen's win.

''It's not a funeral,'' said Flavio Briatore. ''These things happen. We kept (Fernando) out there to get a better qualifying for Istanbul.

''I think this is a one off for us.''

Friendly Finnish face
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.1) Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed plenty of blonde haired support in Hungary; thousands of Finns travel to Budapest for their closest thing to a 'home' race.

Among the friendly Finnish faces this weekend was friend and double champion, for McLaren no less -- Mika Hakkinen.

Now a 'DTM' touring car driver, the 36-year-old told the Telegraph newspaper that the man who succeeded him in 2002 is 'back in the championship.

''He is a driver of enormous ability and is respected by the people at McLaren, especially Ron Dennis,'' Mika said.

''No one knows better than me how important that is.

''Kimi will be Finland's next world champion -- if not this year, then next.''

Drivers off to FIA summit
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.1) David Coulthard, Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber will lead the drivers' convoy to Cannes on Monday for alleged 'safety' talks with FIA chief Max Mosley.

World champion Michael Schumacher, who remains drivers' association president but is still unpopular among the ranks, will also attend -- on the day of his wedding anniversary.

The Ferrari driver refused to let too much slip prior to the summit in the south of France.

''There is no point going into details about what we want or don't want to discuss,'' said the German, 36.

''We want a good conversation and to clarify certain points that we consider to be important.''

Coulthard, though - the behind-the-scenes 'leader' of the group - has a clearer agenda. He said a driver should be promoted to the F1 Commission -- a rules think-tank.

It is believed that Jacques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher (and more) are also signed up to fly out, too.

DC, 34, also feels strongly about the regulation linking a poor race finish with a bad starting slot for qualifying for the subsequent grand prix.

''It's daft,'' he told Autosport, ''and it's not Formula One.''

The '06 F1 tire puzzle
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.1) Much of the 2006 tire puzzle will slot together in the next few weeks, with most teams expected to sign contracts by then.

Red Bull, currently with Michelin, appear the most likely to switch allegiances, with the new Ferrari V8 engine partnership to kick off.

''It is the most important decision we will take this year,'' said team boss Christian Horner, ''and it is important that we get it right.''

Also in Autosport magazine, meanwhile, McLaren's Ron Dennis played down the prospect of a mass exodus back to the most likely control tire supplier of the future, Japanese marque Bridgestone.

He said: ''I wouldn't for one minute not talk to anyone, but if you ask 'are we in negotiations', no we are not.''

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