Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
September 7,  2005

Rossi 'too old' for F1
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.7) MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi will not succeed if he switches from two to four wheels, countryman Giancarlo Fisichella has told the media.

Renault's Monza podium-man was quoted by the Italian 'ANSA' news agency as calling 26-year-old Rossi 'too old' to start thinking about a formula one future with Ferrari.

''He's a great champion on a motorbike,'' said Fisichella, who has long harbored the dream of driving for the red marque, ''but he's too old now.

''(Valentino Rossi) just hasn't got the experience of someone who started when he was eight.''

Fisichella, 32, called the possibility of Rossi joining Ferrari 'unlikely' and charged the Prancing Horse with indulging in hyped-up PR.

He said: ''They're doing tests (with Rossi) partly for publicity.''

'Rubens' better than Webber'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.7) Jenson Button says Rubens Barrichello would be a better teammate than Williams' Mark Webber.

So continues the English driver's campaign to wiggle out of his 2006 contract and stay at Honda co-owned BAR next year.

If he does stay, Barrichello - a six season Ferrari veteran - would be his teammate. If Sir Frank Williams wins in hauling the 25-year-old to Grove, he'll team up next to Australia's Webber.

''In my opinion, Rubens (would be) the one able to have a bigger input on the development of the team,'' Button told formula1.com. ''And in general it is always preferable to have two drivers that have the ability to win.

''I would find it very annoying to have a teammate who is one second slower than myself.''

Likewise, BAR - with works Honda power - is a better bet than 'privateer team' Williams, Jenson Button claimed.

''With BMW gone,'' JB remarked, ''Williams will (have) an engine supplier that has a big history in F1 but a rather uncertain future. And at the end it is my career that has priority for me.

''The situation at Williams has changed from a potential winning team to a question mark.''

BMW to run 'Friday' car
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.7) BMW's new works team will seek to run a third car in Friday practice sessions next season.

Dr Mario Theissen, BMW motor sport director at Williams but likely to lead the rebranded Sauber team from 2006, told the 'Kicker' magazine that he 'assumes' the option will be open for the Munich based manufacturer.

His logic is sound, no matter how you look at it. The 'Friday' option will be open to any team in the bottom six of the 2005 constructors' championship table. Sauber is presently eighth, and Williams also out of the top four.

Theissen added: ''I assume that Williams will also (run a third car) as well.''

'Kicker' magazine also claimed that the name of Red Bull's Vitantonio Liuzzi has been linked with a 2006 BMW seat.

Meanwhile, Theissen revealed that all major development on Williams' current BMW V10 has now concluded, apart from a 'small step' for the Suzuka race.

He was coy when asked about speculation that BMW, although leading the start of the 21st century, has not been one of the 2005 power horses.

''I cannot say,'' the German answered, ''because I would have to see the data of our rivals. Definitely the engines in formula one have moved closer together in performance.

''The differences today are not so obvious.''

Nick to skip Spa - official
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.7) Nick Heidfeld will sit out a second grand prix, the Williams team confirmed ahead of Sunday's Belgian grand prix.

Brazil's Antonio Pizzonia, like at Monza, is to again steer the FW27 at Spa Francorchamps, after - we can reveal - checks at a Spanish hospital showed that Heidfeld is suffering from concussion and torn muscles around upper-vertebrae, sustained in a shunt.

However, the 28-year-old German might actually be fit enough to drive. But Williams noted that with the back-to-back nature of Monza and Spa, appointing Pizzonia now avoids 'the need to make fitness assessments and driver nominations on ... Friday.'

A late decision would have meant Pizzonia or Heidfeld having to run first in qualifying.

''Our first priority is prudence in relation to Nick's condition,'' said Sir Frank Williams, who is believed to have taken up an option on Heidfeld for 2006 despite the German's speculated 2007 and 2008 BMW ride.

The team boss added: ''It is best both for Nick, and indeed the team, if we make a clear and early decision that Antonio will race this weekend.''

Rain in the Spa forest
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.7) If you look at a weather forecast for this weekend's Belgian grand prix, words like 'rain' and 'showers' jump off the page.

It's not an odd thing for the Spa-Francorchamps region, which is nestled solidly within the hilly Ardennes forest.

''There's always the possibility of rain,'' said Michelin boss Pierre Dupasquier, who notes that a wet race in Belgium would be the first of the 2005 F1 season.

Most drivers love the long, sweeping, up-and-downhill ride around eastern Belgium. There's Eau Rouge-Radillon, Blanchimont, Stavelot. When wet, they're even more challenging.

''It can be dry in one part,'' Ralf Schumacher explained, ''and wet in another. I'd be surprised if we get through the weekend without any rain.''

One man doing a rain dance in the Spa paddock is Jean Todt. The Ferrari principal knows that the F2005 package will not be up to scratch against the Michelin/McLaren/Renault lead.

''But then it might rain,'' said Todt. Bridgestone, although nowhere in the dry this year, traditionally build the best wet weather tire.

He added: ''But things may have changed. I don't know.''

If you seek a humorous appraisal of the weekend ahead, go no further than Red Bull's preview. ''If the cows near the circuit are lying down,'' it read, ''it is raining.''

Red Bull's preview continued, ''Other interesting facts about Belgium: ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ''

More Honda horses
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.7) Honda will unveil a new engine specification for the Belgian GP.

The BAR package looked good in qualifying at Monza, but - at all other times - Jenson Button and Takuma Sato ran worryingly off the Italian pace.

''We have some engine and aerodynamic upgrades for this race,'' said sporting director Gil de Ferran, ''so hopefully we can look forward to a more competitive weekend.''

Meanwhile, Jordan's Narain Karthikeyan will finally get his hands on a 'b' EJ15 in the Belgian Ardennes, after only Tiago Monteiro raced it at Monza.

''There is more downforce in Spa than at Monza,'' said the rookie Indian, ''so our car should be more competitive there.''

Alonso wins Spanish award
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.7) Fernando Alonso has taken home what is known as the 'Spanish Nobel' prize.

The formula one driver, likely to shortly be labeled the youngest ever drivers' champion, won the 'Prince of Asturias Prize' for sport, on Tuesday.

Held in Oviedo, where 24-year-old Alonso was born, the award's jury - chaired by former Olympics president Juan Antonio Samaranch - called Fernando 'an ... example to Spanish and world youth.'

Alonso also won $63,000 in prize money.

BMW must honor JV's contract
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.7) Jacques Villeneuve says BMW cannot ignore his 2006 contract, even though Peter Sauber - and not the new team owner - signed it.

Asked if the French Canadian and 1997 champ was '100 per cent confirmed' for the new collaboration, 34-year-old JV replied: ''(It's) never been a doubt as far as I'm concerned.''

Villeneuve reckons only one or two things would have given the Munich carmaker grounds for asking him to go -- if Sauber had gone bankrupt, or a contract clause.

''There was no clause concerning that in my contract,'' Jacques told ITV, while it is clear that Sauber is selling up as a going concern.

'JV' says he 'lucked into' the BMW scenario.

''When I signed with Sauber I didn't sign because of the BMW deal,'' he explained, ''because I didn't know that was going to happen. I'm very happy.''

Trulli not a dud racer
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.7) Jarno Trulli has hit back at the common suggestion that he is a great qualifier but a dud racer.

So often, the Italian - who has outpaced highly rated Toyota teammate Ralf Schumacher all season - puts his car in the top five but then struggles to keep up his mighty speed in the grand prix.

''It's always the same story,'' the 31-year-old told Speed TV.

When you think about it, Trulli's logic is sound -- if he is able to pull more than 100 per cent out of his car over a single lap, it is obvious that superior cars will ultimately line up behind him over much longer runs.

Trulli said: ''The driver who has qualified the car in the front will look much worse than the guy who is nearer the back.

''I will look stupid because I will only queue everyone else behind me.''

Juan: 'Kimi's no better than me'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.7) Juan Pablo Montoya has denied that he is the 'inferior' McLaren driver.

The Colombian has won two to championship charging teammate Kimi Raikkonen's five grands prix so far this season, and thus finds himself with the painful role of supporting the Finn's quest.

''I don't feel inferior to Raikkonen,'' 29-year-old Montoya told Tuesday's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. ''If he's been unlucky on many occasions, I also haven't had an easy season.''

Montoya, who missed races earlier this year after his alleged 'tennis' mishap, also reckons the MP4-20 was 'built around' Raikkonen, and therefore is designed to lean towards a basis of understeer.

''Exactly the opposite to what I like,'' Juan Pablo continued.

''With time have I managed to modify it, even though it isn't yet 100 per cent to my taste.''

Even if Raikkonen pulls off a miracle and wins the championship, Montoya doesn't think his position within the McLaren camp would change. ''Kimi's got his group he works with,'' JPM said, ''and I've got mine.

''At the moment he looks a bit stronger than me but I'm not too concerned. All I need is to find a bit better balance.''

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