Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
August 4, 2005

Button threatens sabbatical
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.4) Jenson Button has reportedly fired a warning at Frank Williams -- let me stay at BAR, or I'll spend the year on the F1 bench.

F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone rubbished the suggestion as media mischief-making.

''There's no danger of that happening,'' the 74-year-old billionaire told the Mirror newspaper.

He said: ''He has a contract. We need a British driver in F1.''

25-year-old Button's warning is evidently in reaction to Williams' stated intention to haul the Englishman back to Grove, even against his wishes.

JB's current boss, BAR principal Nick Fry, may be about to lose his man, but the clichés keep coming -- the contractual adversity, Fry said, is making Jenson 'stronger.'

''People who take a few knocks often come out the stronger,'' the Briton added.

Fry urged the public and media to cut Button, who drove the 'maglev' train in Shanghai at 430kmh on Wednesday, a little bit of slack after also bungling his contracts last year and appearing disloyal and fickle.

''He's a race car driver,'' said Nick. ''I think it's very harsh to point the finger.''

'Interesting' F1 test - Rossi
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.4) Motorcycle champion Valentino Rossi kept tongues wagging by lapping within three seconds of Michael Schumacher's Fiorano record after a second day at the wheel of a F1 racer.

The flamboyant Italian, 26 - who will continue to ride for Yamaha in 2006 - said he requested the two-day session to 'get a better understanding' of a grand prix thoroughbred.

''The two days were intensive and interesting,'' Rossi, supported by Marc Gene, added.

Also interesting was the presence, at the private circuit near Maranello HQ, of Luca di Montezemolo and Jean Todt.

Meanwhile, further north at Monza, Luca Badoer completed a third successive test day in the F2005, lapping 86 times.

Massa earned top job - Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.4) Michael Schumacher thinks new 2006 teammate Felipe Massa has earned his spot at team Ferrari.

Massa, who is also from Sao Paulo but nearly ten years younger than Rubens Barrichello, will replace the BAR-bound Brazilian after a three-year Sauber stint and a season as test driver in 2003.

''I am happy for Felipe,'' said Schumacher, the seven time champion. ''He has been doing a good job for quite a while.

''We have not been the only ones who were interested in him.''

36-year-old Schumacher, thought to have fallen out with Rubens particularly after their last-lap Monaco moment, wished his six-year teammate 'all the best' at BAR.

''With him I shared a lot of beautiful memories,'' said the German.

Massa, 24, meanwhile, made no bones about it -- he intends to slip on scarlet overalls for one reason only; race wins.

''Driving for Ferrari is every driver's dream,'' said the youngster. ''I expect to learn a lot and challenge for wins.''

Ralf revival
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.4) Ralf Schumacher, who has struggled to keep up with teammate Jarno Trulli this year, hopes his Hungarian podium for Toyota was the first of more in 2005.

The 30-year-old said his TF105, with which he has had a tough time adapting to, was quick from the first practice lap.

''We were in the top five all the time,'' the German told his website, ''so I had a feeling it might turn out right.''

In the race, podium man Schumacher led home Jarno Trulli, who nursed bodywork damage all day after taking an early hit from Rubens Barrichello.

Ralf, to spend the break with his young family in Austria, is also pleased that the hard working Toyota team can also enjoy a breather in the August test and grand prix ban.

He said: ''They really deserve a few days with their families. Some very hard and hectic weeks lie behind us now.''

Dream 'not over' for Narain
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.4) Narain Karthikeyan, F1's first and only Indian, is confident that his dream is not yet over.

The 28-year-old and manager Piers Hunnisett, on a trip back to India for the August break, revealed that 'talks are going on' with a team or two.

''Some teams have shown interest,'' said Karthikeyan, who - according to speculation - has already been told by Jordan-Midland management to look elsewhere for '06.

Asked about Midland, he added: ''Anything can happen. We are keeping our options open.''

Narain, visibly jet lagged after a huge round of sponsor calls, enjoyed an impressive start to his rookie year but, lately, has earned all the wrong news headlines due to some wild driving and mistakes.

Hunnisett, meanwhile, said Karthikeyan's F1 objective is to ''win, stand on the podium. We aren't sure we can get that with what we have.'

He said he might consider a 'test driver' role for the Indian youngster with a 'big' team.

''One has to think of the long term,'' Narain's manager quipped.

'06 Indy still not on
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.4) Indianapolis officials still have not decided if F1 will be invited back to the irritated 'Brickyard' next year.

Speedway president Joie Chitwood admitted that the memories of booing fans and flying beer bottles at the sight of the 2005 US grand prix have not yet abandoned him.

''We have to make sure having (it) is good for us,'' he told the St Petersburg Times newspaper, ''the city ... and the fans.

''We have to make the right decision for all involved,'' Joie said, ''and right now we're seeing if it's possible.''

The tricky thing for Indianapolis is the significant investment made at the venue for F1, not to mention a signed 2006 contract.

Chitwood added: ''We're not looking for it to be over yet.''

In Indy's favor, though, is the Speedway's commitment - and appeal - to the sport run by Bernie Ecclestone. The Speedway's president doesn't think a US GP would work elsewhere.

He added: ''I'm not sure a race in Las Vegas or wherever would really match up to what we have.''

Rubens has 'multi year' deal
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.4) Departing Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello has already signed a contract to race elsewhere next year and beyond.

The Maranello marque's president, Luca di Montezemolo, let the news slip by referring to the Brazilian's acceptance of a 'multi year' contract, no doubt at Honda-powered team BAR.

Barrichello, 33, was contracted at Ferrari for 2006 only.

His replacement and young countryman Felipe Massa, on the other hand, has - significantly - only signed a one year deal, perhaps putting into context Valentino Rossi's new Ferrari test and similar '06 MotoGP ride.

Pressed on the subject, 24-year-old Massa said: ''Results are more important than contract lengths.''

With that, he laid out the plan for 2007, where he still expects to be fighting at the top -- ''I hope to battle (title challengers) Kimi (Raikkonen) and (Fernando) Alonso.''

Massa has, though, already attracted a doubter. Five grand prix winner of the 70s and 80s, John Watson, told the BBC that Ferrari - who he said could not attract a top driver to be Michael Schumacher's teammate - will be 'weaker' without Barrichello.

And on Felipe Massa, the Ulsterman said: ''Obviously he's capable, but he looks like a chubby kid (and) he used to drive like a on-off switch.''

'A1' in action
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.4) With F1 hungrily easing into a well-earned break in grands prix and testing, many racing eyes turned to Silverstone on Wednesday for the first major test of the new 'A1' category.

Great Britain, with Robbie Kerr at the wheel, set the pace on the 'national' track layout, with fifteen other nations - ranging from New Zealand to Switzerland and China - also in action in the UK.

Brazil's Nelson Piquet Jr was also quick, as was Swiss entrant and ex-F1 tester Neel Jani, and Portugal's Pedro Lamy.

1980 world champion Alan Jones' Aussie son Christian steered the green and gold open wheeler, Alex Yoong piloted for Malaysia and Thomas Scheckter for South Africa, while F1 veteran Jos Verstappen got going for Holland.

Also testing were France, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan and the US.

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