Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
August 2, 2005
Button defends 'integrity'
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.2) Jenson Button took the rare step on Monday of
issuing a personal statement after 'Buttongate II' revved into top
gear in Hungary.
It is in reaction to press reports identifying his desire to disregard
a 2006 Williams contract with his lack of 'honesty and integrity.'
The statement said the BAR racer, in China this week on PR duty, is
'particularly upset' that Sir Frank Williams indicated they have not
yet met face to face for talks.
JB's management revealed that a meeting took place on 12 July, where
Frank Williams said: 'From what you are saying it sounds like you
don't want to be here next season'.
Jenson replied: 'No, I don't.'
The statement questioned the 'validity' of the contract, but confirmed
that Button, 25, was actually paid by Williams in 2001, 2002, 2003 and
As well as Bernie Ecclestone, though, Frank has found more support in
the form of McLaren boss Ron Dennis, who says Button should honor his
''If I try to find a way to resolve (a contract),'' he said, ''it is
behind closed doors.
''The negotiation of a mutually agreed settlement is not the subject
of public debate.''
Ferrari on August track
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.2) While the other teams honor a voluntary August ban
on testing, Ferrari returned to the Monza (Italy) circuit on Monday
morning for a four day run.
Luca Badoer covered 110 laps.
Ferrari boss Jean Todt had explained that the test, to be followed by
a further session on the private Fiorano circuit, is to 'prepare the
tires for Turkey and Monza.'
Pole and early pace might have been an improvement for Michael
Schumacher and the Scuderia in Hungary, but the French principal said
there is much work to go to get up to speed with Michelin clad rivals.
''We are better (than before) in qualifying now,'' Todt said, ''and
better at the beginning of the race. The next step is to maintain that
With regards to the titles, though, he is less optimistic.
''If this was February, then we would be full of hope,'' Jean
explained. ''But we are thirteen races into the season.''
Driver summit 'constructive'
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.2) Max Mosley held a 'constructive' meeting with up
to fourteen F1 drivers in the south of France.
On Monday, the group discussed lagging safety at tests, 2008
regulations, the granting of super licenses, overtaking and qualifying
''(It) was very constructive,'' said the FIA president in Nice.
''The discussions covered a wide range of topics.''
It is believed that the biggest news to be passed on was that team
bosses have vowed to share the financial burden, perhaps as much as
$620,000 every year, of improving the level of safety and medical
facilities at tests.
Herbert to keep racing
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.2) Johnny Herbert will not hang up his helmet despite
snaring a management job at F1 team Jordan.
The former grand prix winner says his role, mending broken relations
with the press, will not get in the way of his on-track ambitions,
like a shot at the US's NASCAR circuit.
''It's something I have been working on for a year,'' Herbert, 41,
revealed. ''Racing is still part of my life.''
The Romford-born star, who last competed in F1 for Jaguar in 2000,
also denied that he wants to test the Jordan.
He added: ''It's been spoken about but I don't think it should be
(what) I am trying to do.''
Always-chirpy Herbert said he does not see his new yellow shirt as a
ticket to a spot further up the F1 management chain.
''I don't think I am the right character to take control of a team,''
Ferrari to let Rubens go
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.2) Ferrari will not prevent Rubens Barrichello from
leaving the team at the end of the season.
As speculation of a BAR switch heated up in Hungary, scarlet principal
Jean Todt said he would now stage an urgent meeting with the Brazilian
driver 'to make him happy.
''If Rubens tells me he would be happier somewhere else,'' said the
diminutive chief, ''then I want to ... make him happy.''
Todt hinted that the Barrichello situation is something of a priority
He added: ''It ... will happen in the coming days.''
A prized commodity inside Ferrari is the apolitical and harmonious
environment; something obviously threatened by 33-year-old Rubens'
purported desire to leave.
Indeed, the experienced racer told Gazzetta dello Sport that Nelson
Piquet's Hungarian bombshell has 'created problems' in the team.
Jean Todt now replies: ''I give priority to things that make us win --
I'm not interested in pressure and tension.''
Door 'still open' for Sato
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.2) Takuma Sato will find himself with lots of time to
spend with his first child next year if current speculation about his
future at BAR turns out to be true.
The 28-year-old Japanese appears to be on the bad end of 'silly
season' banter at present, after a year spent underperforming
alongside Brackley teammate Jenson Button.
BAR CEO Nick Fry denied talk that Sato's job has 'gone already.'
''Far from it,'' the Briton added in Hungary, ''(but) he does need to
put in decent performances for the rest of the year.
''The door is still open.''
Sato's is an interesting spot in the F1 paddock. Many believe his job
is 'protected' by Honda, now a part owner of the Formula One squad.
But Fry insisted: ''We've got to have two drivers that can regularly
score points, it's as simple as that.''
Even with 'Buttongate II' in full swing, a driver announcement at BAR
is anticipated within the next month.
New quali 'agreed' - reports
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.2) A radical new qualifying system will be installed
for the start of the 2006 season, it is reported.
Several media outlets claim that team bosses have now agreed to scrap
the current single-lap format in favor of a sort of 'knockout'
competition, which gives each driver a maximum of four laps.
The first lap will be completed in an initial 15-minute period, when -
at the end - the five slowest cars are eliminated and locked in
positions sixteen through twenty.
A second quarter-hour will determine grid slots 11 to 15, before a
final shootout for pole and the top spots. A five minute gap is to
separate each block of action.
The format will probably be run with low fuel, but David Coulthard has
already emerged as an opponent of what he describes as yet another
'handicap system' in motor racing.
''I don't agree with that,'' said the Scot.
''I'm surprised Minardi and Jordan are agreeing to it -- they will be
the first ones out and will get no TV (exposure).''
Indy-like farce avoided
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.2) Champ Car avoided an Indy-like F1 farce at the
weekend despite turning up at the new, and near-unusable, San Jose
Drivers complained that the street layout was bumpy and narrow, and
that a lack of runoff - and obstacles like rail tracks - made it too
In response, the organizers and circuit came up with a novel solution
-- a chicane. They also moved back walls and fences, and patched up
sections of the bumpy asphalt.
Eventual winner Sebastien Bourdais contrasted Champ Car's handling of
the situation with the recent six-car US grand prix disaster.
''Whoever is responsible,'' the Frenchman told Speed TV, ''it doesn't
matter. You have a duty to the fans. The difference is (we) made it
Another key difference, though, is that - in the Champ Car scenario -
circuit changes were in the interest of the entire field, not one
At Indianapolis in June, the erection of a chicane was vetoed by the
governing body because it would unfairly have penalized
Bridgestone-shod teams, who had no problem safely steering through the
banked oval corner.
Turkey GP 'nearly sold out'
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.2) Turkey's first grand prix, to be raced later this
month, is nearly sold out.
The local 'Zaman Daily Newspaper' quoted Istanbul Chamber of Commerce
president Murat Yalcintas as letting it slip on a final examination of
the new $187 million circuit.
''Most of the tickets have already been sold,'' the Zaman report said.
Yalcintas added: ''The contribution of this track to Turkey's
promotion is tremendous. It is one of the biggest investments for
The circuit is located in Tuzla, outside Istanbul city centre.
F1 can also brace for another Budapest-like sizzler at the inaugural
Turkish GP. On Tuesday, a top of 32-degrees is expected, but
temperatures should slip even higher this month.
'Ferrari back on track'
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.2) After a period in reverse, Michael Schumacher says
Ferrari took a 'step in the right direction' at Budapest last weekend.
He scored the team's first pole of the season and crossed the line
second in the thirteenth race of an otherwise near fruitless season
for the champion marque.
''From where we were (at Hockenheim), to here,'' said Schumacher, 36,
He added: ''It's been a hard job in the last few months so this is at
least a little present for everyone's effort.''
The crux of the speed-up was a brand new Bridgestone compound, and
favorable (hot) weather for single lap performance. The tire, though,
still didn't stay fast for the entire grand prix.
Germany's Schumacher admitted: ''As soon as I knew the McLarens were
gone, I started to look after them a bit.
''Anyway, it's a step in the right direction. We still have to
improve, work even harder, and see if we have found a trend rather
than just a good package for one track.''
Liuzzi to try MotoGP bike
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.2) Everyone knows that Red Bull is keen on the
occasional driver swap.
The energy drink-owned F1 team will, though, take the concept to a new
level when current 'Friday' driver Tonio Liuzzi swaps his mount with
Suzuki MotoGP rider John Hopkins.
Hopkins, the Red Bull sponsored American, will try the 'RB1' grand
prix charger at Snetterton (UK), ahead of Liuzzi's go on the MotoGP
''Tonio is a big fan of bikes,'' Red Bull boss Christian Horner told
Autosport of the special event.
Klien set for Turkey, Monza
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.2) Christian Klien will retain his race seat at least
to the Italian grand prix checker next month, Red Bull said on
In a statement citing 'recent speculation in the media,' the Dietrich
Mateschitz owned squad confirmed that the young Austrian had also been
given a guaranteed ride for Turkey and Monza.
It will extend Klien's recent run to six grands prix, after 'Friday'
tester Vitantonio Liuzzi raced four times between Imola (April) and
In total, Klien will have steered eleven races to Liuzzi's four by the
end of Monza, with four still to run.
Liuzzi, the reigning F3000 champion, will remain 'Friday' driver
throughout Klien's next stint, the Milton Keynes based team also
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