Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
August 30,  2005

Schu 'mansion' hits trouble
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.30) Even away from the race track, F1 superstar Michael Schumacher is not enjoying a successful year.

The Ferrari driver and multimillionaire has found himself in the middle of a scandal relating to the construction of his new $29 million dream-mansion in Switzerland.

'Chateau Schumi' will eventually boast three storeys, a medieval tower, a cinema, private beach, climbing wall and 63-metre trophy room.

But the Swiss 'Blick' publication reports that the German construction company has been working without a work permit, not paying employees enough wages, and working more than the permitted forty hours per week.

It is claimed that trade unionists are now on the case. ''(Schumacher) knew nothing about the affair,'' Germany's Bild newspaper added.

The 36-year-old world champion said: ''My wife (Corinna) and I are very keen that the construction (of the house) runs correctly.

''We have been assured that this is now settled and everything is running as it should.''

Kimi finds pace in cash race
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.30) While Michael Schumacher is the highest paid driver in pitlane, Finland's Kimi Raikkonen may soon be nipping his heels.

It is reported in the German 'Bild' newspaper that Schumacher's manager, Willi Weber, has recoiled from earlier demands that a new 2007 contract for his charge would cost Ferrari an extra $6m a year, taking his total retainer to around the $50m mark.

''It is natural that a new contract would involve more money,'' Weber had told the 'paper.

Ferrari's alleged talks with Raikkonen, though, might have changed the German duo's mind. Indeed, the red marque's coffers will be further stretched next year -- not only will Marlboro pump in less cash, but so will struggling Fiat. Red Bull, meanwhile, will pay around $8 million per year less than did Sauber for customer engines.

Ferrari may simply be unable to afford Weber's superior demands.

But Weber now says: ''You've got to adapt to the economic situation. Money has never been the priority for Michael.''

On the other hand, Kimi's McLaren pay packet will reportedly enjoy a $7m a-year boost from 2007 if he chooses to stay at McLaren, rather than switch to the Prancing Horse. The 25-year-old currently earns about $22m a year.

Massa expects 'special' Monza
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.30) Sauber driver Felipe Massa is expecting a 'special' visit to Monza for the 2005 grand prix.

He might already drive a Ferrari powered car, but next year the 24-year-old Brazilian really will be Tifosi-property when he races a scarlet racer alongside the Italian marque's Michael Schumacher.

''There is always a great atmosphere at this historic circuit,'' Massa said on Monday, ''but my focus will, as ever, be to score more points for Sauber before the team changes identity for 2006.''

Felipe knows Monza well (and even used to live just down the road in Erba) from his days in Formula Renault and F3000.

Monza podium unlikely - Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.30) Michael Schumacher has warned Ferrari lovers that, even at the Scuderia's spiritual home, a podium might be asking too much.

The German, 36, is used to traveling to high speed Monza - not far from Milan in northern Italy - with a championship to clinch, and expecting to fight for the win.

''This time,'' he said on Monday, ''I'm not even sure whether we will make the podium.''

Certainly since the seven time drivers' title winner joined Maranello based Ferrari in 1996, things have never looked so bad for the team.

Even so, Schumacher - although showing some early signs of frustration - insisted that the Italian squad is still 'strong.' The blame, moreover, is now solidly in Bridgestone's court.

''We have no intention of giving up. The test last week showed we have improved but I do not think we can win.''

Meanwhile, in the British 'Daily Mail' newspaper, Schumacher admitted that retirement from the sport will soon become an issue to deal with.

''I don't know when I'll retire,'' he told the publication, ''but I don't think I've many years ahead of me.''

'I'm F1 favorite' - Alonso
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.30) Fernando Alonso has admitted that he is favorite to drive away with the 2005 formula one title.

The Renault driver, who would - at 24 - become the youngest ever champion in F1 history, maintains a healthy 24 point lead over Kimi Raikkonen despite losing the last two races to McLaren's Finnish ace.

''As long as we finish the races,'' he said on Monday, ''we're ok.''

Alonso added: ''If we can get on the podium, then it will be hard to lose my advantage. I can still afford some bad races and not lose the lead.''

On the other hand, McLaren - although a much more attainable 9 points adrift in the constructors' race - and Raikkonen must charge ahead with near perfection until the checker falls in mid October.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore, meanwhile, said he would not be bothered if McLaren win the remaining five grands prix this year -- so long as Alonso is still on top in China.

''As far as I know,'' said the sarcastic Italian, ''the driver who wins the championship is still the man with the most points at the end.''

Brazil F1 revamp given 'ok'
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.30) A number of changes have been made to the Brazilian grand prix venue in outer Sao Paulo ahead of next month's F1 race.

FIA delegate Charlie Whiting visited the 'Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace' - also known as Interlagos - at the weekend to reportedly inspect the revamp.

After the 2004 race last October, the governing FIA required that organizers shorten the pitlane exit barrier at the Senna-S, add asphalt run-off near the pit entry, and improve drainage in the notorious Curva do Sol -- scene of F1 carnage in 2003.

The modifications, which were approved by Whiting, cost around $8m, Autosport reported.

'Dad's part of the furniture'
(GMMf1NET -- Aug.30) Jenson Button says his father is a part of the furniture rather than a kind of formula one mentor.

Although John Button's wallet got a severe workout in Jenson's early karting career, his current life in the fastest lane is more for his own benefit than his son's.

''He comes with me to all the races,'' Button told the Formel Aktuell magazine. ''Dad loves formula one but we don't spend all that much time together at the grands prix.

''I work and he amuses himself! He's not here to motivate me or anything like that but I enjoy having him around.''

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