Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
September 6,  2005

Ferrari cop Italian pain
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.6) Wounded Prancing Horses aside, Ferrari takes no more biting pain than from the Italian press.

La Gazzetta dello Sport said watching Sunday's grand prix, at the Autodromo Nazionale, was 'agony.

''Monza for Ferrari was a debacle,'' the daily continued.

Indeed, the lack of points aside, Michael Schumacher mathematically yielded the world championship, and -perhaps more directly than ever - pointed the blame squarely at tire supplier Bridgestone.

''Schumacher is a mere shadow of his great self,'' newspaper 'Tuttosport' added.

Although the F2005 is gripless, though, the time gap to Jordan and Minardi - the other Japanese clad teams - is smaller than ever before.

Jean Todt calls this evidence of the 'period of transition' underway at the Scuderia. ''We are trying to learn with new processes,'' the Frenchman added.

Nonetheless, all is not well at all for Bridgestone.

Jordan's Tiago Monteiro hit out at the rubber product after Monza, where he said the Bridgestones got 'worse and worse' as the race wore on.

''I do not understand how the tires could act like this,'' the Portuguese rookie remarked.

Klien wins Spa ride
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.6) Christian Klien is set to race for a twelfth time this year after Red Bull said he, and not rookie cohort Vitantonio Liuzzi, would take the wheel at Spa Francorchamps.

In a statement, the Milton Keynes based team confirmed that, although Liuzzi's grand prix tally numbers just four in 2005, the Italian would remain mere 'Friday' driver in Belgium.

''It's great to have another chance to race,'' 22-year-old Klien, of Austria, said. ''I'm learning more about the car all the time and gaining in confidence with every race.''

Dieter Mateschitz-owned Red Bull, meanwhile, revealed that David Coulthard's 2006 teammate - either Klien or Liuzzi - will likely be revealed 'at the end of the year.'

On the 'Sport am Sonntag' TV program, Red Bull's Austrian 'advisor' Helmut Marko insisted that 'continuity is an important factor.

''On the other hand, we know that Vitantonio will need another chance to race so that we can judge his potential,'' said the Austrian.

Alonso's magic number is '4'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.6) For Fernando Alonso, the magic number at Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps circuit is four.

Another four points on his already 27 point lead over Kimi Raikkonen will comfortably sit the young Renault driver down in the 2005 drivers' championship throne.

But the Spaniard is not celebrating just yet.

''If I don't finish the next two races,'' Alonso, 24, warned, ''I could be just seven points ahead at Suzuka, so it's still difficult. Kimi could win the last four races.''

Certainly, the McLaren driving 'iceman' - Finland's Raikkonen - is not yet giving up, but admitted that beating Alonso to the title is going to require an exchange of ill fortune from his camp to Renault.

But he insisted: ''We have to make our own luck, by working harder on the car's reliability.

''We've got to get that right.''

It's going to be tough for McLaren, particularly as Renault have turned down the wick and are now playing a defensive game. ''They're doing the intelligent thing,'' 'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh conceded, ''which is lower risk and unfortunate for us.''

McLaren boss praises Alonso
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.6) Ron Dennis is not one to hand out praise lightly, but the McLaren boss has admitted to seeing something special in likely 2005 champion Fernando Alonso.

While the Woking principal insists that title charger Kimi Raikkonen will become one of the true F1 greats, he does marvel at Spaniard Alonso's calm when under pressure.

''He has surprised us by his calmness,'' Ron smiled, ''considering he is from Spain. He's impressive about how he approaches his races and also strategically very clever.''

Alonso's Renault teammate Giancarlo Fisichella, meanwhile, has devoted his Monza podium - the first for an Italian since the late Michele Alboreto in 1988 - to the memory of the former driver.

''I was lucky enough to race together with him in touring cars,'' the Roman said, ''and he was a really special person.''

'Buttongate II' rumbles on
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.6) 'Buttongate II' remains in limbo-land despite meetings between Jenson Button's management and the Williams team at the Italian grand prix.

The 25-year-old BAR driver's manager, Richard Goddard, was spotted in conference with Williams' Chris Chappell in the Monza paddock on Saturday.

But Goddard told the Independent newspaper that there is 'no progress' on plans to extricate the English star from a contract he signed - under old management - to rejoin Williams.

Incredibly, Button's 2006 deal did not include a clause that would render it null and void if Williams lost its works engine.

Goddard rubbished suggestions of a $90m settlement. ''We have definitely not discussed things such as how much or when.''

Button, for his part, has actually visited the Grove team's HQ, but Sir Frank Williams is adamant that the Briton should honor his pledge.

Triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart scolded Button's willingness to tear up a deal by saying: ''If you make your bed, you have to lie in it.''

The Scot, though, is not entirely impartial. These days, he wears a Williams shirt after negotiating team sponsor Royal Bank of Scotland's multi million dollar deal. Clearly, RBS would be happy with Britain's top driver at the wheel of its logo.

But Stewart warned to BBC's Radio 5 Live: ''If he is going to be disruptive then I don't think any sponsor wants to be associated with that. You don't build relationships and trust by making sharp decisions.''

I've signed nothing - 'Ant'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.6) BAR tester Anthony Davidson has denied that his upcoming run for Jordan means he is a dead certainty for the 2006 race drive.

The Englishman, although contracted to the Honda co-owned camp, will drive the Toyota powered 'b' Jordan car at Silverstone next Wednesday.

''It doesn't mean anything at the moment,'' 26 year old 'Ant' told ITV. ''I haven't signed anything with Jordan.''

Clearly, Davidson is absolutely desperate to get off the test bench and race next year. He would reportedly abandon a chance to possibly land Jenson Button's Brackley seat if Jordan owner 'Midland' offered him a contract right now.

He has also spoken to BMW about 2006.

''People always say, 'Davidson -- he's quick, but can he race?' So let me race!

''Let me show these bastards that I can.''

Anthony's Jordan drive will probably, though, be dependent on the Silverstone test attracting potential (British) sponsors to the team.

Jordan's 'sporting relations manager' Johnny Herbert, meanwhile, was coy when asked if Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro remained in the picture regarding the '06 lineup.

''I guess they are,'' the Brit told Reuters, ''but we've got to look at what's out there.''

Pizzonia on Spa standby
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.6) Williams' 'supersub' Antonio Pizzonia is on standby for the Belgian grand prix in case Nick Heidfeld does not recover from headaches that sat him out of the Monza race.

Brazil's Pizzonia, ironically back alongside Mark Webber in Italy after their 2003 pairing at Jaguar, drove from 16th on the grid to an impressive points place at Monza.

He reckons a full weekend will put him back into contention for a 2006 F1 ride.

''I hope people in other teams have noticed the work I've done,'' Pizzonia - who will turn 25 on the day of the Spa Francorchamps event - remarked.

If 'Jungle Boy' were to slot onto the '06 grid, BMW seems the most likely vacancy. But he also has an eye on 'Buttongate II' and Williams' indefinite lineup. ''If they need me,'' he said, ''I'm available.''

'Ferrari v. Toyota'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.6) Ultimate glory gone, Ferrari finds itself in unfamiliar territory -- the battle for third in the 2005 championship.

The Maranello based team's rival? Toyota. The gap? 8 points.

Clearly, Michael Schumacher isn't too interested in the fight. The German, to end his run of five drivers' crowns, just wants to win again.

''That's all I would like from 2005,'' the 36-year-old told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. ''Am I asking too much?''

Maybe, but not if you ask Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo. He said at Monza that the scarlet marque 'will win' again at either Brazil, Japan or the Chinese finale.

''We will beat Renault and McLaren again,'' the Italian vowed.

How on earth can he be so sure? According to di Montezemolo, some 'precise assurances' have been made by Bridgestone's top management that some 'super' tires are on the way.

He continued: ''I've got an extraordinary effort from Tokyo.''

So while Ferrari appear less concerned about third in the teams' standings, Cologne based Toyota see an opportunity.

Jarno Trulli said: ''We are bearing down on Ferrari and will really push to catch them.''

Monza in crowd decline
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.6) Italian GP organizers had worried about a 15 per cent drop in attendance at the 2005 Monza race.

In the end, it didn't happen -- the decline was actually a far worse figure of 20 per cent.

Just 60,000 gathered at the Autodromo Nazionale on Sunday. Expensive tickets, the Italian economy and Ferrari's decline are probably most likely to blame.

Ferrari principal Jean Todt agreed that Ferrari's public admission that Michael Schumacher would not be in the hunt for victory probably played a part in the poor figures.

''I don't know,'' the Frenchman added, ''I don't have any evidence that it's the only reason, but probably.''

Ferrari 'foolish' - Lauda
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.6) Niki Lauda says putting Valentino Rossi in a Ferrari race seat in 2007 would be too big a risk.

The Austrian and triple world champion told 'News Formel' that deciding on a driver based on his talent on a motorcycle is 'completely foolish.'

''I cannot imagine Ferrari teaching their race driver how to drive a car and how to race,'' the 56-year-old - who won two of his drivers' crowns for Maranello - exclaimed.

Meanwhile, the thirtieth anniversary of Niki Lauda's first world title in 1975 has been commemorated by Austria by putting his famous image on a set of collectable stamps.

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