Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
August 26,  2005

Monza's mega Montoya
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.26) Juan Pablo Montoya roared to yet another new unofficial track record at the Monza test on Thursday -- a blistering 1m19s.8.

With that, and with only a few days' testing left under their voluntary agreement, McLaren - unlike most other teams - packed up and went home.

Minardi, meanwhile - not often seen at a test - had rolled through the gates at 8pm on Wednesday evening, and had the garage fitted out for Robert Doornbos to make his 9am start.

''The guys did an amazing job to set up the garage overnight,'' said team manager Massimo Rivola.

In Italy, apart from the flock of press chasing men-in-the-middle Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen around the paddock, it was a lovely day, but less so for some. Takuma Sato ran into BAR gearbox problems, and tester Ricardo Zonta didn't even set a time in the 'b' Toyota.

Giancarlo Fisichella, on the other hand, racked up a mammoth 3-race distances, as the Renault weather man predicts possible rain for Friday.

Another notable appearance at the 'Autodromo' was BAR's youngster, Adam Carroll, although quicker only than Olivier Panis' V8-powered Toyota.

Mega-Montoya chimed in the last word: ''The car feels quick -- hopefully we can keep it up for the grand prix.''

Williams, Red Bull, Sauber and Jordan were also in action.

Weber is A1 team boss
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.26) Willi Weber, manager of F1 siblings Michael and Ralf Schumacher, will run 'Team Germany' in the winter's new 'A1' category.

''When I first heard about A1,'' he said at the series' Paul Ricard test in France, ''I have to admit I was skeptical.''

The USA's Scott Speed, likely to be 'Friday' driver for Red Bull in F1 next year, continued to set the test pace.

More teams, meanwhile, are set to be announced in the coming days.

Rubens exit shocked Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.26) Michael Schumacher, it seems, did not see Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello's departure coming.

Rubens, who's off to BAR next year and beyond, said the seven time world champion was 'flabbergasted' when he dropped the bombshell in front of Schumacher and technical director Ross Brawn.

''His face spoke volumes,'' Barrichello told Autosport magazine.

Obviously frustrated after six years of being Michael's rear gunner, the Brazilian admitted to often biting his tongue to avoid internal fights.

''Generally the mood (in the team) was good,'' he revealed, ''but perhaps (because) if I was critical I tried to do it in a constructive manner.''

Rubens reckons he even managed to turn around the situation that Ferrari was completely polarized around Michael.

Referring to the year he joined, 2000, Barrichello explained: ''It was unpleasant just to walk alongside.''

Who'll deny Kimi-Schu gossip?
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.26) The press' search for a clear denial proved futile on Thursday, after speculation linking Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen with a 2007 Ferrari-McLaren seat switch swamped the F1 airwaves.

Well connected sources swear blind that, at least, the information linking Raikkonen and the Prancing Horse is kosher.

''People are just making assumptions,'' the Finn's manager, Steve Robertson, chimed in on the quasi-refuting to The Independent newspaper.

He didn't, though, try too hard.

''Kimi is not happy with the reliability at McLaren this year,'' Robertson added, later saying: ''We'll wait and see what happens ... after 2006.''

Raikkonen's own statement tempted a similar 'was-that-a-denial' interpretation. ''The most recent story about 2007,'' said the 25-year-old, ''is nothing new. I am completely happy with my team.

''Why would I even consider changing teams? I'm in a position most drivers want to be in.''

Correct. But what he didn't mention was Woking's lack of title success since 1999, Ferrari's (excluding 2005) utter domination, and a reported $30m per-year offer from the Maranello based team.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis also stopped short of a defiant 'no'.

''We anticipate long term relationships with both Kimi and Juan Pablo (Montoya),'' he said. ''The team is not in negotiations with any other driver, including ... Schumacher.

''Loyalty from both the team and its drivers has always been a given in our environment.''

What about Ferrari? ''It is too soon to start talking about ... 2007,'' said spokesman Luca Colajanni in Italy.

'''We have not made any commitments with anybody for 2007.''

Renault's Spa advantage
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.26) Earlier in August, Renault tested its F1 car at Belgium's Spa Francorchamps circuit, it is reported.

Although it was believed that running at the Belgian grand prix venue was not allowed, Enstone based Renault seemingly sidestepped the notion by doing mere 'shakedown' runs on a section of the layout.

On August 17, Heikki Kovalainen did 30kms by running from pitlane, through Eau Rouge and to Les Combes, and - running backwards along the same route - back to pitlane.

Another Spa shakedown, little more than a week ahead of the Belgian grand prix, is scheduled next Wednesday (Aug.31).

''These (shakedowns) are allowed on FIA approved circuits,'' a Renault spokesman, referring to the gentleman's testing agreement, told the Autosport website.

Toyota is believed to have done a similar thing in the past.

Monteiro to debut 'b' Jordan
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.26) Tiago Monteiro has won a coin toss to determine which Jordan driver will get to race the single 'b' car in its Monza debut.

The Portuguese, 28 - in action with the car in Monza testing this week - will do the debut before teammate Narain Karthikeyan is handed a second yellow racer for Spa.

''We did not encounter even the smallest problem,'' Monteiro reported from Monza. The EJ15's debut has been delayed for weeks after reliability (mainly cooling) problems were picked up in testing.

It is believed that the radiators were redesigned to aid cooling on the reworked 'b' car.

Banker confirms Minardi talks
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.26) A Dutch banker has admitted to meeting with Minardi, and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, in Turkey.

ABN-AMRO's Jean Luc Zeguers said the meeting, headed by the 74-year-old Ecclestone, was to discuss the 'future prospects' of the motor sport.

''Nobody knows precisely what will happen,'' he added.

The Dutch 'Algemeen Dagblad' newspaper reported that Ecclestone, a Briton, also met with the group - which is said to be interested in a stake in Paul Stoddart's small team - in Amsterdam last week.

Greenfield Capital and WP Stewart are thought also involved in the Dutch consortium.

Haug denies Kimi switch
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.26) Mercedes' Norbert Haug has added his two cents to speculation that Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher will trade places in F1 pitlane for the 2007 season.

The German, who admittedly met with Ferrari's seven time world champion - twice - in Hungary and Turkey, finally stumped up with an elusive denial.

''Nothing about what has been said is true,'' Haug told the SID agency, before adding: ''Kimi has not signed a preliminary agreement with Ferrari.''

If untrue, then, where did all the speculation - supported by reliable sources - come from?

It is no real secret that Ferrari's budget has taken a recent wallop, and concurrently that Willi Weber - Schumacher's agent - is on a hunt to boost his charge's annual retainer for a 2007 deal.

Talking to McLaren, then, might convince Ferrari that they should do everything to retain F1's most successful driver. Or maybe it's a smokescreen for 2007 retirement.

Norbert Haug admits that he met Schumacher in the Turkish and Hungarian paddocks. ''But we've (met) literally hundreds of times,'' he insisted.

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