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Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
August 19, 2005


Massa to test Ferrari
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.18) Felipe Massa will be reunited with the controls of a scarlet Ferrari next week when he tests at Monza.

The 24-year-old Brazilian, set to replace Rubens Barrichello as Michael Schumacher's 2006 teammate, is seeing out the final third of his career at Sauber.

But, even so, the Paulista - to climb back into his Sauber on day three - is scheduled for two days at the high speed Italian track.

Massa, after an iffy F1 debut, was an official Ferrari test driver in 2003. His role next year, though, is rumored to be a short one, with the Prancing Horse said to be eyeing a different lineup for the period 2007 and beyond.

At any rate, countryman Barrichello - off to BAR despite the fact he had a year to run on his Ferrari contract - warned Massa about the 'tough time' ahead.

He said: ''But if I was in his position, young and eager to win, I probably would have done the same.''








Kimi in 'marriage crisis'
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) Despite stern warnings from his McLaren team, formula one title challenger Kimi Raikkonen has returned to the tabloids -- for all the wrong reasons.

According to a Finnish publication, the 25-year-old - so often snapped in a drunken haze - is now in the middle of a marriage crisis. Kimi was allegedly caught, by wife Jenni, in bed with another woman.

The magazine '7 Paeivaeae' ('7 Days') reported that after a recent night out in Helsinki, Raikkonen invited four women back to his house. ''Kimi was drunk,'' 19 year old Alexandra told the magazine, ''telling dirty jokes.''

At 7am the next morning, Finland-born Kimi was discovered in bed, by his 24 year old 'Miss Scandinavia' wife, with a woman called Dora.

Jenni, who called off a scheduled appearance in Istanbul on Thursday, issued a stern 'no comment' to Germany's Bild newspaper tabloid.

A McLaren spokesman, meanwhile, said the team 'does not respond to rumors.'








Will Alonso 'let Kimi go'?
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) Fernando Alonso has no doubt who he is fighting against in Sunday's first Turkish grand prix.

The Spaniard, on Thursday, said he would be tempted to 'let Michael (Schumacher) go' if they find themselves wheel to wheel on the new Otodrom circuit.

''I am fighting with Kimi (Raikkonen) for the championship,'' said Alonso, 24, who is 26 points ahead of McLaren's Finnish driver. ''That is how I have to approach the weekend -- thinking about him and McLaren.''

Will the Renault ace let Kimi go, if they are wheel to wheel? ''Definitely not,'' he stated.

It is a fact, though, that a third or fourth will do for Alonso, who really only needs to keep scoring handfuls of points to guarantee his title.

The point is not lost on Fernando. ''Losing the championship after I have led it from the second race of the year would be a big disappointment,'' he admitted.

Alonso walked the track on Thursday but already knows the layout by heart. ''I have driven (here) many times,'' he smiled of his PlayStation console preparation, ''and I win every time.''








Doornbos wants 2006 seat
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) Dutch Minardi rookie Robert Doornbos would like to stay on the grand prix grid next season.

The former Jordan 'Friday' driver, who slipped into his current cockpit after Patrick Friesacher's cash ran out in July, said in Turkey that the chance came 'a bit out of nowhere.

''We want to race (next year), for sure. Testing is nice but you develop a lot more as a driver when you are racing.''

Doornbos confirmed that his management is already hard at work on putting a 2006 deal together.

Asked if staying at the Faenza based team, Minardi, was his best bet, he replied: ''Maybe, or maybe another team.''








'I'm no number two' - Massa
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) Ferrari's young 2006 recruit, Felipe Massa, said he will try to beat his teammate - a seven time champion - next year.

The 24-year-old Brazilian denied that his one-year contract states that he is to become 'number two' to the German.

''This is not written in my contract,'' he insisted in Turkey.

Massa called Schumacher, who won his first drivers' championship when Felipe was just thirteen, the 'best comparison' for any grand prix driver.

And he vowed: ''I will do everything I can to be quicker.''

Some, though, see Massa's move to Ferrari - a team built around and centered on Schumacher - as a bad one for a promising young driver. Rubens Barrichello, now 33, admits that he's off to BAR next year because he is more likely to win with another team.

''I want to do what Fernando is doing, what Kimi is doing,'' Massa insisted. ''They went to a good team and showed what they can do.''

Barrichello agrees that being Schumacher's lackey is perhaps not what it used to be. ''These days (Ferrari) think much more as a two car team,'' he said, ''so I think Felipe will have a better time than when I joined in 2000.''

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, Massa's current Sauber teammate, also thinks the youngster won't become Ferrari's new shrinking violet.

''He's not one who will just accept being behind,'' said the Canadian. ''He's very good.''

Meanwhile, the Brazilian press is peeved that Ferrari seem to have barred Massa from talking to them in Turkey.








'New blood' to boost Ferrari
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) Michael Schumacher is not worried that Rubens Barrichello's departure at the end of the year could destabilize Ferrari.

The seven time world champion sees 24-year-old Felipe Massa, currently at Sauber, as a worthy successor. ''It's not a problem,'' Germany's top driver said in Turkey.

''I rate Felipe highly. We always talk about Alonso and Kimi but we should also talk about him.

''I believe he is very quick.''

Like Barrichello, Massa is from Sao Paulo but was born nine years later. Schumacher, 36, reckons 'new blood' can sometimes boost a team.

''That remark should not be taken as a lack of respect for Rubens,'' Michael - rumored to have fallen out with Barrichello in Monaco - continued. ''I respect his decision. He is probably the best teammate I have ever had.''

How, then, will the F2005 go in Istanbul?

Schumacher, who put it on pole in Hungary and finished second, thinks 'skepticism' is the best predictive tool for now. ''We were better (there) than I expected. It is hard to know where we are.''








'High threat' for Turkish GP
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) The London bombings moved Turkish authorities to 'double' security at the new Istanbul circuit ahead of Sunday's F1 race.

Turkish motor sport federation boss Mumtaz Tahincioglu, father of Jason - who will 'demo' Jordan's F1 car here - told Pakistan's Daily Times that around 7,000 police will wander the 'Otodrom'.

This month, a bomb not far from the circuit killed two people. Armed police and sniffer dogs had a visible presence at the track on Thursday.

Even so, drivers like England's Jenson Button - whose own government warns of a 'high (security) threat' - feel safe. The 25-year-old said his own motor home is parked next to a police station.

He said: ''I think here, they know they have to have good security.''







'06 to be 'interim' BMW year
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) Those expecting BMW's new works formula one team to win the world championship next year are likely to be disappointed.

Even Mario Theissen, motor sport director and probable 2006 team principal of the new Sauber project, told grandprix.com that full integration takes more than a moment.

''(2006) will be an interim year,'' the German admitted.

The 'ramping up' will begin at Hinwil, Sauber's existing HQ. BMW plan to erect new buildings, hire new people and simply 'learn' about owning a whole grand prix team.

Theissen added: ''It may take 18 months or something like that, so for that reason next year will be a ... start up year.''

Further down BMW's job list is to select a replacement for Ferrari bound Felipe Massa, and to decide whether Jacques Villeneuve's existing Sauber deal should be honored.

Dr Theissen said the driver factor would be considered 'soon -- maybe at the end of August.'








Villeneuve has had 'no talks'
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) Jacques Villeneuve is adamant that his $2m Sauber deal will be honored by new owner BMW next year.

The Canadian told Reuters that his management has not had a single conversation with an alternate F1 employer.

''There'd be no point,'' he insisted in Istanbul on Thursday. ''I'm not the kind of guy to ... talk ... if I already have something in my hands.''

34-year-old JV, though, knows all about earlier speculation of Peter Sauber wanting a quicker driver. His confidence, then - and the fact that he's still plugging away at Hinwil - might be a sign that his contract is watertight.

However, Villeneuve hinted that he has not had any real contact with the team's new owner.

Peter Sauber, meanwhile, told F1 Racing magazine that he 'expected more' from the man who - in 1997 - beat Michael Schumacher to the drivers' crown.

''He's clearly improving,'' the Swiss added, ''although he's still not as consistent as Felipe.''








Indian eyes 'different' 2006
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) While many in the paddock stare anxiously at their rapidly expiring F1 contracts, Narain Karthikeyan is oddly confident of not only remaining part of the furniture, but of a better ride.

The Jordan rookie, who is India's first grand prix driver, says 'everybody' has now figured out that the hugely populated country is a big potential market for the sport.

''Things will be different next year,'' Karthikeyan, 28 - faintly referring to his mid year slump in the outdated Jordan, told the Rediff publication.

He insists he is negotiating not only with Jordan's owner Midland, but also with others.

Narain insisted: ''(2006) won't be a repeat of this year. Any team I will be associating myself with will speak to potential sponsors.''








Button having Frank talks
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) Although 'Buttongate II' appears no closer to a finale, the racer in the middle reckons he is at least on the blower to Sir Frank Williams.

Jenson Button, who wants to stay at BAR next year, said in Turkey that he has 'been talking' to Williams. The Grove principal intends to make the 25-year-old honor a contract to return to his team.

JB cautiously welcomed the news that Rubens Barrichello has been signed by Honda co-owned BAR. ''If I'm lucky enough to be here,'' he said, ''then I think we will be a very good team.

''We still don't know what he can do when he is given equal equipment, so ... we will see.''

Surely, behind the scenes, 'Buttongate' is nearing a solution. All Button would say is that, as time drags on, 'things aren't much clearer.'

Whatever the situation, it is not a vote of confidence for Button's current teammate, Takuma Sato. Even if Button has to move on, BAR is reportedly keen on Nick Heidfeld.

Jenson defended the Brackley based team's apparent slight of the Japanese driver. ''We all make mistakes,'' he said, ''but it is about being consistent, consistently scoring points. That's just the way it is in F1 these days.''

Barrichello, meanwhile, told BAR that he doesn't mind who is in the sister car next year. ''I have no further comment,'' the Brazilian said in Turkey. ''Jenson is a good guy, he is one of my friends in the paddock, so it would definitely be no problem.''








Ralf's wife offered top ride
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) Cora Schumacher is on the cusp of following in the wheel tracks of husband Ralf as a professional motor racing driver.

Although a modest Mini Cooper is her current mount, the blonde haired German - and mother of three year old David - has reportedly been offered a pukka full time ride in the Porsche Carrera Cup.

The 'Bild' newspaper said Cora, 28, secretly tested the car in Leipzig two weeks ago. ''If I am honest,'' said Mrs. Schumacher, ''then I have fallen in love with the Porsche.''

Sources close to the deal, though, insisted that a contract is not yet signed. Cora is said to be carefully considering whether a second full time racing career would be a best thing for her family.

So, what does Toyota driver Ralf think of the fact that a third 'Schumacher' may soon be targeting a post race podium?

''He stands behind me, one hundred per cent,'' Cora insisted.







'Watch out for the dogs'
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) 'Watch out for the dogs.'

It's not something heard at many formula one circuits on the calendar, but that is partly the appeal of the pinnacle of global motor sport -- the diversity of culture.

A buzz in the sparkling new paddock warned of a local feature in Tuzla, the suburb where - a half hour drive from downtown Istanbul - the $200m 'Otodrom' track was built.

Wild dogs seem to roam free, moving circuit designers to erect a perimeter cyclone fence.

''I think I'll need to do a few more laps on the motorbike this afternoon,'' Red Bull's Christian Klien said on Thursday. ''The layout looks pretty tricky.''

After Klien, Sauber's Felipe Massa borrowed the Red Bull motorbike and joined a growing army of praise for Hermann Tilke's latest F1 design.

The feature is turn eight, a 260km/h left hander that could require up to three apexes. ''For sure it's the biggest challenge,'' said Renault leader Fernando Alonso.








Klien eyes 2006 seat
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) Forget 'driver swaps' -- Red Bull might face a quandary if it cannot offer Christian Klien a full time F1 ride next season.

The Austrian, impressive alongside David Coulthard in the RB1 but likely to soon give up the seat for Vitantonio Liuzzi, has been given another two race slot to wow the team in Turkey and Monza.

''It's really good,'' he said on Thursday. ''I can show my potential to Red Bull but also to the others. I want to be in the car again next year.''

Youngster Klien, whose Jaguar debut was funded by Red Bull last year, said his number one priority was to remain on the grand prix grid in '06 and beyond.

He continued: ''If I don't get an opportunity at Red Bull then I have to open my eyes and look at the other teams.''

Klien also confirmed that he is fighting fit despite rolling his car at the first corner in Hungary two weeks ago.

''I had a bit of a headache the next day,'' he grinned, ''but maybe that was from the party we had on Sunday night!''








RB won't quit Ferrari early
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.19) Rubens Barrichello has poured water on a rumor in Turkey that he might leave Ferrari before the 2005 season is even complete.

The Brazilian, who will swap Maranello for Brackley based BAR next year, will be replaced by countryman Felipe Massa.

But 33-year-old Rubens said an early end to his six year scarlet tenure would be 'impossible.

''It would also be a lack of respect,'' he said, ''to say 'I don't care about Ferrari any more'. I don't think there is any chance I will finish the year early. I'm glad to say I'm carrying on.''

Barrichello thanked Ferrari boss Jean Todt for simply allowing him to, rather than demanding a BAR 'buyout', slip out of his 2006 contract.

What convinced the experienced racer to quit the Prancing Horse, though, was a stark realization that - next to Michael Schumacher - winning the drivers' title wasn't really a realistic ambition.

''I saw that my chances were much higher (with BAR),'' Rubens - playing down a rumored internal rift - claimed. ''That was more the reason that took me to (BAR).''

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