Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
August 20, 2005

BMW boss' day out
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.20) F1's (probable) next team principal, BMW director Mario Theissen, got a taste of life in the cockpit earlier this week.

The German, just for fun, got behind the wheel of a Formula BMW single seater at Valencia.

Theissen, set to head up the Munich manufacturer's works team at Sauber next year, has never raced professionally.

Williams needs 'fresh start'
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.20) Williams plumped for Cosworth over former works partner BMW's 2006 V8 engine offer because the beleaguered Grove based team needs a 'fresh start.'

Those are the words of F1 principal Sir Frank Williams, who - in Turkey - scotched 'cynical' speculation that independent British engine maker Cosworth's 2.4 liter option was simply the only one.

The sport's newest engine 'customer' said: ''We were offered an engine by BMW but we felt we needed a fresh start. The (Cosworth) culture is truly the same (as Williams').''

A lack of performance and the loss of works power aside, there will also be a change of driver at Oxfordshire next year, Frank continues to insist.

Although Jenson Button doesn't want to know about the 2006 contract he signed in September of last year, Williams' boss and co-owner said the BAR ace should not start getting excited about using BMW's departure as a new argument for wanting to stay put.

Frank said there is no 'engine escape clause' in the driver contract, as there is not in most sponsorship deals.

Surely, though, Williams doesn't want a driver who does not want to drive his car?

''There is a lot of noise currently,'' said the calm Englishman, ''but we optimistically believe that he will be fine. In the car he will have too much to do.''

Small crowd in Turkey
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.20) On Friday, it looked as though someone had forgot to tell Turkey that formula one was in town.

Just a smattering of spectators speckled the huge grandstands at the sparkling new 'Otodrom' facility, during inaugural practice for the grand prix, near Istanbul.

Perhaps the weather - grey and with a spot or two or rain - had something to do with it.

More likely, though, was the fact that the average ticket - albeit no more expensive than anywhere else in the world - equates to nearly a third of the average monthly income on the city's Asian side.

Can Guclu, deputy general manager of the Istanbul Park circuit, said he expected 75,000 to throng here on Sunday.

''I would agree that there is not a big F1 following in Turkey yet,'' he said, ''but I believe we are building one.''

While some hope for a big crowd, others don't. Driving to the circuit from downtown Istanbul, across the Bridge, took a solid 90 minutes -- on Friday.

''We are also urging people to use public transport as much as possible,'' said a track spokeswoman, who reckons the Bosphorus' toll booths will be closed from Saturday.

Button roasts Stewart
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.20) Jenson Button has roasted triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart after the Scot lashed out at his apparent affection for a wild night out on the town.

The 66-year-old had told England's 'The Sun' tabloid that, for a budding world champion, Button seems to spend too much time having fun.

Button, 25, retorted in Turkey: ''It annoys me when people don't know anything about my private life and they have an opinion about it.

''My ... performances have been as good as they ever have.

''You have to let your hair down and have some fun otherwise it's pointless doing the job.''

It is a matter of fact that, after a week of PR in Shanghai, Button - who recently split with his fiancÚ - spent a week of the 'summer break' in Ibiza with five of his old high school mates.

''It was awesome,'' Button beamed.

''We had a villa, the weather was fantastic and we just chilled out most of the time.''

Chilling out, though, was probably a good idea, especially as the smiling Briton is presently locked in a contractual dispute with Sir Frank Williams over 2006. JB agrees that he's in 'limbo.'

''It's very frustrating,'' he admitted, ''but I want to be at BAR next year and I'm going to try (to be) 100 per cent.''

Nice touch, Schu!
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.20) He might have looked a little amateur on Friday's track, but world champ Michael Schumacher earned full marks in the PR department in Turkey.

The 36-year-old was seen with the words 'Merhaba' and 'Tessekeur' scrawled in pen on the back of his hand as he completed Ferrari duties for sponsors and guests at formula one's newest destination.

They translate as 'hello' and 'thank you' in the local language.

On the track, Michael fared less well -- at one point, he spun twice, on the same lap! But he was in good company. Also troubled by the virginal asphalt were Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya, favored to win the grand prix.

After calling the layout 'straightforward' on Thursday, Schumacher re-evaluated his opinion 24 hours later. And he admitted: ''At the moment we seem a long way behind.'' Asked whether victory was on the cards, he told the reporter: ''Do you think so?''

JV cops huge speeding fine
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.20) Jacques Villeneuve will be sitting a bit lower in his Sauber on Saturday after being told to open his wallet to pay a huge fine.

The former world champion clocked up a whopping $7000 FIA fine for forgetting to press the pitlane speed limiter during Friday practice.

JV, 34, had roared up to 87.5km/h in the 60-zone before realizing his mistake. A Sauber spokesman confirmed that, when it's driver error, the driver - not the team - must dip into his own pocketbook.

A little earlier, meanwhile, the French Canadian's Ferrari bound teammate, Felipe Massa - with the words 'the animal' now painted on his helmet - was also clocked by the Turkish speed camera and fined $1250.

Villeneuve called the 260km/h turn-8 the hardest corner in F1.

''Even the ribs hurt in the seat,'' he told Speed TV. ''We pull more than 4G ... so the ribs hurt -- everything hurts!''

Rubens disappoints Ferrari
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.20) Ferrari's Ross Brawn says he is 'very disappointed' that Rubens Barrichello decided to quit Ferrari and join BAR next year.

The Maranello based team's technical director, though, does have a little sympathy for Barrichello, 33, who was once F1's youngest driver and tipped to become the successor to countryman Ayrton Senna.

''He's trying to beat Michael Schumacher in the same equipment,'' Brawn told AAP in Turkey, ''and nobody's ever managed to do that. It can be a very frustrating experience.

''He's always tried hard and worked hard and done a very good job.''

However, Brawn responded with defiance to Rubens' hints that Schumacher's teammate will always find it tricky to find the support he needs to launch a championship campaign.

But the burly technical boss conceded: ''Rubens would have been world champion if Michael hadn't been there. Maybe twice.''

Barrichello might be respected, but not completely trusted. Brawn confirmed that the affable driver, although scheduled to run at Monza next week, will not now be asked to test any '06 secrets that could be leaked to BAR.

Ferrari using 'old' tire
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.20) Ferrari may have made Hungarian progress, but the Maranello based team is unlikely to build on that performance at the inaugural Turkish grand prix.

Why not?

Technical director Ross Brawn admitted that, pole and second place aside, Bridgestone have taken a tire of the old philosophy to Istanbul.

''It wasn't possible to make a tire in (the Hungarian grand prix) family which was as durable as we need for this new track,'' he told Speed TV.

''So we're back to ... another philosophy ... which isn't as good for the first lap.''

The Briton confirmed that the long left hand turn-8, and the high load on the tire, was the main concern. Ferrari's Turkey-spec tire is, therefore, a development of the France and Britain spec.

It is, of course, a big blow for the scarlet team, who hit the track for practice and were horrified to find a complete lack of car 'balance'.

At the tasty end of the field, meanwhile, it's business as usual for McLaren, who are so far dominating the grand prix weekend. Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault engineer Alan Permane, however, reckons the blue and white car is actually not far behind.

He remarked: ''I think we are a bit closer to McLaren than we have been in recent races.''

Sato to get the nudge
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.20) Takuma Sato has got until the checkered flag in Shanghai to 'prove' that he should retain his race seat at BAR next year.

The Honda co-owned team's 'CEO' Nick Fry said in Turkey that, while Jenson Button is favored to slip alongside Rubens Barrichello for 2006, the 28-year-old Japanese should not automatically be ruled out.

Sato has, though, failed to even shadow Button's '05 speed.

''We hope he can (prove himself),'' Fry said, ''because as a person we like him a lot. But this is a business and a high level sport.''

Should Sato be nudged, either as a result of the Button situation or a failure to 'prove' his worth, BAR could - however - find a job for him as next year's 'Friday' driver.

''We could discuss it,'' Fry said. ''If Jenson goes then there are no guarantees for Takuma.''

Knocking on the Brackley door is Williams' Nick Heidfeld, but also BAR tester Anthony Davidson, who is desperate to race and - Fry said - 'in with a good chance' of the seat.

Ralf snaps at reporter
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.20) Toyota's Ralf Schumacher has reportedly snapped at a reporter at the Turkish grand prix when he was asked if he will stay at the Cologne team next year.

A Mexican journalist for 'El Nacional' apparently asked the 30-year-old German - the younger brother of Michael Schumacher - if he thought his performance alongside Jarno Trulli had been good enough to deserve the ride for 2006.

Ralf signed a multiple year Toyota contract last season.

''Of course,'' Schumacher - according to the newspaper hack - barked. ''If you did your job (properly) you would not even ask stupid questions.''

Meanwhile, in an interview with the German 'Sport1' publication, Ralf ruled out winning one of the last six races this year as not 'realistic.

''Obviously it would be great,'' he added, ''but at the moment I don't think we are in that position. But that is the reason for the job -- to work hard and get there.''

Portuguese in pain
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.20) If Jordan driver Tiago Monteiro looked a little rough in the Istanbul paddock, on Friday, the Portuguese had a good excuse.

The rookie had laid awake most of the night prior to inaugural Turkish grand prix action with a painful toothache.

There were, meanwhile, a few smiling faces in yellow uniforms. Given team owner Alex Shnaider's appearance at the brand new F1 venue, he put on an entertaining media lunch for some journalists here.

At the end of the meal, a Turkish belly dancer emerged from the team's motor home. Even F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone got wind of the news and scuttled down from his end of the paddock for a look.

There was, however, some more serious news to emanate from the grand prix sanctum. Cosworth, for one, will track debut Williams' 2006 V8 engine in mid-October, but a date for Renault's maiden run - although on the dyno - is not set.

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