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