Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
August 23,  2005

Schu manager denies switch
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) Michael Schumacher's manager has poured scorn on speculation that the German champion may switch from Ferrari to Mercedes powered McLaren in 2007.

Willi Weber, who also looks after F1's younger Schumacher, said the silver swap would make 'no sense' fifteen years into 36-year-old Michael's grand prix career.

But, apart from that, the German said Schumacher still believes in the Prancing Horse.

''They're still the best,'' Weber insisted, ''and they will be back at the front. You will see Michael win again.''

Schumacher's old Mercedes sports car teammate, though - ex-F1 pilot Heinz Harald Frentzen - sees something in the rumor. After all, the DTM driver said he'd 'do the same.

''If he doesn't want to stop, and he does not think Ferrari can carry him to another title, then it makes sense,'' said the ex-Williams and Jordan ace.

Todt hopes for tire switch
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) Jean Todt has his fingers crossed that speculation linking Red Bull and Toyota with Bridgestone next year is true.

The Ferrari boss said Ferrari, presently in a competitive ditch with the Japanese tire supplier, would 'definitely' get a boost from their switch from Michelin rubber.

''We would do combined testing,'' said the Frenchman, who added that the scarlet situation in Istanbul - although Bridgestone had to revert to an older specification of tire - was 'very dark.

''I've lost the dream to win both championships,'' Todt continued, ''but at least we have to secure third, if possible.''

McLaren doubt Kimi triumph
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) McLaren are more likely to win the constructors' championship than the drivers' crown for Kimi Raikkonen, the Woking based formula one team admits.

With the points deficit to Renault down to just nine points, and with a quicker car than the blue and yellows, boss Ron Dennis said the carmaker scrap is 'our strength.

''But we're still focused on giving Kimi the best opportunity to win the championship.''

Indeed, team 'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh reckons Raikkonen's best chance to curb the 24-point gap to Fernando Alonso - a much slower moving deficit despite victory in Hungary and Turkey - will be for Renault to make unforced errors.

''It's only going to take something like that,'' he insisted, ''and we're back in it.''

From a performance point of view, though, McLaren are on top of the world. Whitmarsh said there's 'no reason' the MP4-20 can't secure one-twos from now until the Chinese finale.

BAR advise Davidson to split
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) BAR has told Anthony Davidson to look for a grand prix drive elsewhere.

Although the Brackley team admitted that the test driver is one of 'three options' for Jenson Button's potentially vacant seat, it also vowed to patiently wait for 'Buttongate II' to find an answer.

Davidson, desperate to race in 2006, has an eye on Jordan or BMW.

''One of our options is to go with Anthony,'' BAR-Honda principal Nick Fry admitted, although so are signing someone else or sticking with Takuma Sato.

While the Sato option is unlikely, Williams' Nick Heidfeld is thought a more probable choice than Davidson.

With that in mind, Fry doesn't really hesitate in telling the diminutive Englishman to go racing by jumping ship.

''Ultimately he has to take his chances,'' the boss added, ''but whatever he does he certainly goes with our blessing.''

Jordan set for giant step
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) Pending the outcome of this week's bumper test at Monza, Jordan may debut the long delayed 'b' 2005 car in the Italian GP.

And, although it has had its problems, Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan - with a 50-50 chance of getting to pilot the single Monza-spec racer before a second is ready for Spa - predicts a big step forward with the EJ15.

''It's very compact, very nicely done,'' said the 28-year-old.

''Touch wood ... we will race it.''

Jordan, certainly in Turkey, was outpaced by back of the grid minnows Minardi. That, though, could change if Karthikeyan's prediction is accurate.

He said: ''We expect (an improvement of) seven tenths (of a second per lap) out of it.

''If we have (a) one second (improvement) we will be really happy.''

F1's speedy four
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) Sauber's Jacques Villeneuve and Felipe Massa weren't the only ones to fall foul of the speed gun in the Turkish pitlane.

Red Bull's David Coulthard copped a $1500 fine for breaking the 60kph limit on Friday, while Takuma Sato had to fork out $500 for his 2kph error.

Massa gets lukewarm welcome
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) You would be forgiven for thinking Felipe Massa's Ferrari welcome by Ross Brawn for 2006 was a tad half-hearted.

The English technical director, who earlier expressed disappointment that Rubens Barrichello is off to BAR, said he was 'quite happy' with his Brazilian sub.

24-year-old Massa's one-year contract, though, is very much a proving year, Brawn insisted.

''He clearly has the raw speed,'' the burly Briton agreed, ''but he was rocky when he started. We are going to find out next year how much progress he has made.''

Is Massa the long-term replacement for Barrichello? ''It's really up to him,'' said Ross.

''I'm sure he can be.''

Ferrari boss Jean Todt, however - whose son Nicolas manages Felipe Massa - is clearly a bigger supporter of the little Paulista. Asked if Felipe would 'help' Michael Schumacher win the 2006 title, he replied: ''Why should he?

''Michael doesn't own Ferrari. Felipe will do the job for Ferrari.''

Michelin not to blame
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) Tire supplier Michelin has distanced itself from Williams' five right-rear failures in Turkey last weekend.

The phenomenon brought back memories of 'Indy-gate', where the French marque refused to race in fear of failure.

But Michelin's F1 chief, Nick Shorrock, reckons the sharp curb in turn-13, or something specific with the Grove built car, are much more likely causes.

Indeed, competition director Pierre Dupasquier said 'it is clear' that the failures were 'not related (with) the tire.'

''(Williams) will be the ones that will know (the cause) first,'' the Frenchman insisted.

Dupasquier suggested that a piece of the FW27's bodywork may have been rubbing on the tire.

Turkey is F1's 'new Spa'
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) Istanbul's new 'Otodrom' track is a sort of 'new Spa,' McLaren boss Ron Dennis reckons.

In 'The Australian' newspaper, the Woking based chief - like F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone - put Hermann Tilke's Turkish venue, with challenging corners and lots of gradient, in the same league as Belgium's fabled Spa-Francorchamps.

But in a lot of ways, Ron insisted, Turkey is even better.

''Spa is a great circuit but it hasn't got hotels, it hasn't got a city, it hasn't got a big airport, it hasn't got all these things,'' he said.

Dennis believes that some of the new circuits, like Tilke's Malaysia or Bahrain, are 'not particularly challenging.

''But (Turkey) shows that it can be done.''

Schu asked to test at Monza
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) Michael Schumacher has been told to call off a planned week at home so he can test for crisis-struck Ferrari at Monza.

The last minute change of plan, which will see the German world champion on track on Wednesday and Thursday after the dismal showing in Turkey, is a desperate effort by Ferrari to avoid embarrassment at the Italian marque's home grand prix.

''Monza is very important for us,'' Schumacher, 36, said. ''We want to do the best we can as we owe it to our fans.''

Michael's unplanned Monza test will, though, be tinged with disappointment for the seven time drivers' title winner.

It means he must call off his attendance at German compatriot Thomas Haussler's farewell football match in Cologne.

''I would love to have gone. It's a shame,'' Schumacher rued.

Renault guilty of team orders
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) McLaren tester Pedro de la Rosa says championship rival Renault is guilty of imposing illegal 'team orders' in Turkey on Sunday.

The Spaniard said countryman Fernando Alonso was '100 per cent' helped by the Enstone based formula one team to pass teammate Giancarlo Fisichella.

Indeed, Alonso's engineer Rod Nelson - just before the switch - came onto the radio and told him: ''Fernando, you're faster than Fisi, overtake him.''

''What they told Alonso on the radio is a clear example of what is illegal,'' de la Rosa - hinting that the 'order' was an example of surreptitious wording - told the Spanish 'Marca' newspaper.

Pedro continued: ''What could not be heard was what they told Fisichella before that.''

'Team orders' were banned by the FIA after the controversial Austrian grand prix in 2002, where Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello were booed on the podium after switching positions.

Carmakers make V8 pledge
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) The controversial 'equivalency' debate was effectively put to bed in the Istanbul F1 paddock.

Some manufacturers were understood to have been considering running a rev-limited V10 engine next season, after the FIA left the option open in the first year or two of the new V8 formula.

The governing body, though, intended the 'loophole' for small teams like Minardi, who will stick with a Cosworth V10 because it is a cheaper option than buying a brand new V8.

However, a manufacturer or three are believed to have considered following suit, in the expectation that the V10 - even rev limited - might actually out-power its V8 rivals.

At the Turkish grand prix, all six F1 carmakers - including Ferrari - agreed to run a V8 in 2006 and 2007 by signing a document to that effect.

Ferrari man helped McLaren
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) Ferrari is helping McLaren to dominate formula one this year.

That's the claim of Maranello's technical director Ross Brawn, who pointed out that a key McLaren aerodynamicist - Nicolas Tombasis - honed his talent at the scarlet F1 marque.

''(He) left Ferrari and went to McLaren and that had an effect,'' Englishman Brawn said.

''All the things that we worked on, all the philosophies and cultures we developed, were suddenly made available to another team. He knows how Ferrari works and that is the nature of F1.''

Alonso's off to Russia
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.23) Renault's Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella will power up their Renault F1 cars this Sunday -- in Moscow.

The Enstone based team announced on Tuesday that the drivers will pilot a year old car around a temporary city circuit.

50,000 Russians showed up in the capital city in 2003 to see Renault's first F1 demo run.

''We will be driving in front of the Kremlin,'' title leader Alonso enthused. ''I can't wait to get back to Moscow.''

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