Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
August 18, 2005

Ferrari drive on
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.18) Little more than a day ahead of inaugural Turkish track action, Ferrari continued to collect the miles back in Italy.

On the last day - for now - Luca Badoer drove another 174 laps of the Maranello team's Fiorano circuit, working on 'electronics'.

F1 in 'mess' - A1 chief
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.18) The new 'A1' open wheeler category hopes to succeed where F1 is 'failing'.

One key objective for the 'world cup' series, set to fill grand prix racing's winter months when it kicks off next month, is to keep costs down.

Running a national franchise for a season, for instance, costs about $9 million -- five or six times less than plugging away on the rear of the F1 grid with a team like Minardi.

''We don't see ourselves as rivals to F1,'' marketing director Guy Nicholls told Britain's Telegraph newspaper.'

He added: ''But we recognize that there is an opportunity to succeed where F1 is failing.''

A1, founded by the Dubai ruling family's Sheikh Maktoum Hasher, is designed to be attainable by those not necessarily normally associated with - or with access to - top global motor sport.

Nicholls said F1 has become 'too big' for 'its own good.

''The costs involved (are) unworkable. The price of entry is impossibly high and all but a few are losing out,'' he added.

''As a result the sport is in a mess.''

Webber has Turkish link
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.18) F1 driver Mark Webber's grandfather was killed in action in Turkey during world war one, it has been revealed.

Williams' Australian star, in Istanbul for the first ever Turkish grand prix, said his grandad died during the infamous 1915 'Gallipoli' landing.

''(He) will reportedly travel to Canakkale to visit his grandfather's grave,'' the local Zaman daily newspaper read.

28-year-old Webber, meanwhile, effectively ruled out landing on the Otodrom's top-3 podium on Sunday, but - after scoring points in Hungary - is confident of making further progress with the FW27.

''I hope we can,'' Mark remarked, ''so we can challenge for podiums again before the end of the season.''

Fisi's move was 'mistake'
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.18) F1 principal Peter Sauber reckons former team driver Giancarlo Fisichella was wrong to switch to Renault this year.

The Swiss, who will step down as Hinwil based boss at the end of the year after BMW bought Sauber, told F1 Racing magazine that Fisichella - from Rome - is 'fantastically good.'

'Fisi', 32, drove for privateer squad Sauber last season but returned to Enstone based Renault where he has struggled in the race seat alongside Fernando Alonso.

''I'd wanted him for a long, long time,'' Peter Sauber - who revealed that his 'people' had been 'keeping data' about the driver - remarked.

''I have to say I think it was a mistake for him to go to Renault. Why? Because, after one year with Sauber, he had an excellent reputation -- but who wants him now?''

Sauber, though, is not fooled by the 57 points and five wins that separate the achievements of Renault's '05 pair.

He said he is 'convinced' that Giancarlo Fisichella is 'doing a better job' than his results would have us believe.

The blue and yellow clad team, though, may also be convinced. It is strongly speculated that Fisichella will retain his seat for 2006.

BAR seat to be filled
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.18) BAR presented a list of potential 2006 drivers to Jenson Button, the Brackley based formula one team has revealed.

Even though the English star is likely to be forced to honor his earlier commitment to Williams next year, BAR wanted the 25-year-old to have a say on who might have been his new teammate next year.

''Rubens (Barrichello) got his full approval,'' the Honda co-owned team's 'CEO' Nick Fry told Autosport. ''As far as Rubens was concerned, Jenson was very positive.''

With the Button-Barrichello 'dream team' spelled out, then, the future is looking bleak for BAR's current Japanese star Takuma Sato, who has enjoyed Honda support.

With Button almost certainly to depart, a key racing seat - with Williams' Nick Heidfeld reportedly top of the list - is therefore available. Fry, though, confirmed he has also spoken to 'a number of (other) drivers' about the probable vacancy.

'Otodrom' a pain in the neck?
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.18) Hermann Tilke's latest F1 circuit could be a real pain in the neck for the grand prix drivers.

Like Imola and Interlagos, the 5.340km 'Otodrom' layout - located on the Asian side of the Bosphorus bridge - is, in contrast to most other circuits on the calendar, anti-clockwise.

The Turkish layout also features a lot of natural gradient, and some challenging corners, the renowned German formula one architect told Setanta Sports.

''There is a 180 degree corner consisting of several straight segments,'' Tilke - referring to turn-8 - added. ''It's not easy to meet the racing line there. If a driver manages to do so, he can stay on full throttle there.''

Indeed, the 'Otodrom' - whose inaugural race should take place in slightly cooler conditions than expected and maybe even some rain - is already attracting some comment from F1's field of 20.

Jarno Trulli spoke about some apparent 'blind corners'.

''Once the drivers start to complain,'' Hermann Tilke giggled, ''one has to assume that it's a ... good circuit.''

Pantano to IRL
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.18) 2004 Jordan driver Giorgio Pantano has landed a ride in the US based 'Indy Racing League' series.

The Italian driver, whose formula one run came to an end when his sponsorship coffers dried up, will drive at the upcoming road course circuits - not the ovals - after Darren Manning was let go by the 'Chip Ganassi' team.

26-year-old Pantano, enduring a difficult run in the F1-support GP2 category, will be teammate to Scott Dixon and ex-Toyota F1 tester Ryan Briscoe at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. Jacques Lazier will continue to drive the oval races.

''This will be my first experience with IndyCars,'' Giorgio commented, ''and I can't wait to get a feel for it.''

Pantano's manager, David Sears, told Autosport that he is looking at F1 and Champ Car opportunities for next year.

''This is a chance for him to prove himself again at the top level.''

F1 hack tests Toyota car
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.18) According to formula one hack Peter Windsor, being a grand prix journalist is the 'second best job' in the world.

That's true, anyway, if you get to try out Toyota's F1 car -- and the Englishman did just that recently at Paul Ricard.

Windsor, the voice in qualifying and grand prix FIA press conferences at races, got a total of fourteen laps at the wheel of the Cologne based team's red and white racer.

''I slept badly,'' he said of the night before, ''and woke early.'' At the French circuit, he was shown around by Olivier Panis, then introduced to his 'engineer' for the day, Italian Gianvito Amico.

When strapped into the cockpit, the day is cold -- just 5 degrees. ''I feel an impact in the back,'' Windsor says, describing the feeling of coming off the pitlane speed limiter and onto the track.

He has trouble heating up the tires and brakes, and spins in the final corner of his out lap. ''Ok, Peter,'' Gianvito says on the radio. ''We'll have a go on intermediates.''

In the end, Windsor clocked up a top speed of 270km/h. ''I woke up the next day with bruises on my shoulders and hips. I was bruised and battered, but the pain was exquisite,'' the Briton smiled.

Narain earning 'big bucks'?
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.18) India's first ever grand prix driver, Narain Karthikeyan, is not yet in formula one's big league.

A recent F1 'rich list' put the 28-year-old Jordan driver equal second-to-last, with an estimated 2005 income of $250,000.

That doesn't, though, mean he is not attracting the attention of the Indian corporate world. Indeed, on a recent trip to his home country, he - according to The Hindu newspaper - sewed up new sponsorship deals with Reebok and, amusingly (given his F1 car's speed), JCB -- a tractor firm.

So, where's all the cash, Narain?

''This game is not like cricket,'' he said. ''The money is not for personal use.'' In other words, Karthikeyan is honoring an agreement to pay for his drive.

He confirmed the inference. ''At this stage of my career, all the money goes to Jordan. It's only in the next couple of years that I expect to earn the big bucks of formula one.''

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