Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
September 12,  2005

Forget Button, says Bernie
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.12) The wider implications of the 'Buttongate II' saga continue to rumble on in the F1 paddock.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has now chimed in on the dispute, advising Sir Frank Williams to forget about the 25-year-old Brit and instead bring a promising young rookie onto the grand prix scene.

''I have told Frank that he should give Nico Rosberg a go,'' 74-year-old Bernie, referring to the young GP2 title challenger and German son of 1982 world champion Keke, ''and forget about a driver who doesn't want to drive.''

No doubt, Button and his management will be pleased to hear Ecclestone's comments, as it indicates support for their attempts to wiggle out of the signed-and-sealed 2006 agreement and remain at BAR-Honda.

Interestingly, Rosberg, 20, is linked with Williams 'sub' Antonio Pizzonia's Brazil seat, after it emerged that regular Nick Heidfeld may not race again for the team this year.

Todt won't miss Stoddart
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.12) Ferrari's Jean Todt says he will miss Peter Sauber but not Paul Stoddart when his F1 colleagues exit the Paddock at the end of the 2005 season.

''Peter is a real racer,'' the French F1 principal told reporters after the Belgian grand prix at Spa Francorchamps, ''and did great work.''

On the other hand, Todt said Stoddart 'contributed nothing to F1.

''I met him once or twice when he took over Minardi and he once let Michael (Schumacher) drive his two seater. But my feelings about him have since changed.''

Clearly referring to their political scuffles, Todt uttered a resolute 'no' when asked if he would miss Stoddart, after the Australian entrepreneur sold his little Italian team to Red Bull.

The Ferrari boss also thinks Stoddart's departure will be a good thing for the future of grand prix racing. Minardi's new owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, has already allied his existing team with Ferrari and the FIA by signing the new 2008 Concorde.

He added: ''(Mateschitz's) bravery is admirable. It is courageous enough to take over a team, but to take over a second is very impressive.''

Ferrari or Bridgestone slump?
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.12) Michael Schumacher's little swipe at the helmet of rival Takuma Sato after their clash might not be forgiven, but it should probably be understood.

The German, who had urged the Ferrari Tifosi to perform a 'rain dance' on Belgian grand prix race day, discovered that the red marque's problems might just have more to do than mere Bridgestone grip.

Even with the Japanese tire supplier's fabled wet tread, the red cars continued to struggle against Michelin-clad rivals around Spa Francorchamps. One interpretation, though, is that either Ferrari or Bridgestone - or both - are in an all-encompassing decline.

''I think we can be very satisfied,'' said Michelin boss Pierre Dupasquier. ''We know we've made progress with our wet weather rubber and have continued to build on that.''

Sources report that Rubens Barrichello's intermediates were completely destroyed near the end of the race, while Michael Schumacher - still annoyed about the Sato shunt - issued a terse 'not quick enough' comment before leaving.

''We were not that strong,'' technical director Ross Brawn agreed.

Lucky Alonso's bathtub
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.12) Fernando Alonso agrees that he can just about cruise to his first F1 world championship.

The lucky young Spaniard finished second at Spa Francorchamps, meaning that a meager six-point haul in the final three grands prix of the year will prevent Kimi Raikkonen from stealing the crown -- even if McLaren's Finn wins in Brazil, Japan and China.

''I think Kimi could win all of them,'' the Renault driver agreed, ''but we don't need to risk anything. I just backed off (at Spa) to get home.''

McLaren, seemingly, is powerless to do much about Alonso's title charge. Raikkonen, 25, and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, had agreed before the start of the race not to go wheel to wheel.

''Everything looked like it was going perfectly,'' Raikkonen lamented, ''so again we are unlucky. (Juan Pablo) Montoya's crash has taken a lot of points away from us.''

Alonso, meanwhile, was one of those who didn't bother risking the change from wet to dry rubber. He explained that the Renault strategy is now to 'keep on the safe side.'

Kimi, though, hasn't quite given up yet. ''You never know,'' the Finn insisted, ''so we will fight until we can't any more.''

Even Alonso no longer rejects the 'lucky' tag. ''I have been lucky all year,'' the 24-year-old now concedes. '''But I am always there at the end.''

That's the problem. But Ron Dennis revealed that he'll be dreaming about Alonso in the bath in the lead-up to the 2005 GP finale. ''I don't wish anything bad on him,'' the Briton said, ''but Fernando could slip over in the bath.

''It is not over, just more difficult.''

Todt defends Schu's Sato slam
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.12) Jean Todt has defended Michael Schumacher after the Ferrari driver lost his cool with Takuma Sato at the Belgian GP.

The seven time world champion, 36, likened Sato's move at La Source to committing 'Hara-Kiri' -- a Japanese term meaning ritual suicide by cutting open the stomach.

''I don't know enough Japanese swear words,'' the German fumed when asked what he told the BAR driver before angrily swiping his helmet with his gloved hand, ''and children might be listening.''

''We have seen these Hara-Kiri moves of his before, and we have spoken to him about it.

''I don't know if therapy will help him.''

Asked how long it might take him to calm down, Schumacher - who pleaded with Todt to fast track the stewards' meeting so that he could leave Spa early - answered: ''No idea.''

Todt justified the usually 'cool' Schumacher's outburst by saying it was uncharacteristic. ''The way he reacted,'' the Frenchman admitted, ''is perhaps significant. He knows that a good opportunity has been lost and we have not had many good opportunities this year.''

Schumacher, though, denied that victory had been on the cards.

The German snapped: ''What race have you been watching? We were too slow, simply too slow.''

Meanwhile, while the stewards slapped Sato with a ten-grid penalty, they fined Antonio Pizzonia $8000 for his clash with Juan Pablo Montoya because Williams' sub might not still be in the car in Brazil.

McLaren question rival tactic
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.12) McLaren has criticized title rival Renault's questionable 'gamesmanship' at the Belgian GP.

The Woking based team's 'F1 CEO' Martin Whitmarsh said Renault told Giancarlo Fisichella to drive a very fast out-lap ahead of his qualifying effort on Saturday.

As a result, Kimi Raikkonen - the previous qualifier, with a higher fuel load - could not save fuel by doing a traditionally very slow in-lap. ''You could call it lots of things,'' Whitmarsh's quotes were published by Speed TV.

He added: ''It undoubtedly consumed a bit more fuel than he would ideally have done in that lap, and it kept him a little bit busy.'' Whitmarsh, though, said McLaren did not return the favor, even though Juan Pablo Montoya could have been similarly used.

''Everyone's got to do what they feel comfortable with,'' he said, although not referring to Raikkonen's race tactic to hold the field up in pitlane so he didn't have to queue behind teammate Juan Pablo Montoya for pit service.

Meanwhile, Jarno Trulli criticized Toyota after team management overruled his plea for a new set of intermediate tires - not dries - in a pitstop.

''It was wrong,'' the Italian stated. ''They made me do two laps behind the safety car (with slicks) before I came in, because I couldn't drive.''

Team principal Tsutomu Tomita defended the tactic, saying he would again employ a 'challenging gamble' if it is made with the intention to win.

Kimi needs a spoiler
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.12) Kimi Raikkonen could find an unlikely friend in his quest for the 2005 title in the form of BAR driver Jenson Button.

JB, 25, is due for a fairly significant aerodynamic boost in Brazil, and could get in the middle of the Raikkonen v. Fernando Alonso title duel.

''Maybe Renault will be taking it a bit easier from now on,'' Button said, ''so they might earn us a few points.''

With Raikkonen still a whopping 25 points behind Renault's Alonso with only thirty points left to be dished out, that is exactly what the cool Finn needs -- a spoiler.

''It would help if there were other teams taking points away from Renault,'' he admitted, ''but it's still not easy.''

And, while BAR will charge ahead with new aero bits, so too will Renault. Alonso, 24, revealed that a new bodywork package and engine spec will be ready to race in Brazil.

''Maybe it will be enough to catch up to McLaren,'' he wondered.

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