Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
September 19,  2005

Ron's letter to Kimi
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.19) Ron Dennis has confirmed that he wrote and sent a letter to the management of Kimi Raikkonen after the Finn's spate of alcohol-fuelled episodes.

With the latest incident allegedly occurring at the recent Monza test, the McLaren principal was moved to go further than a verbal reprimand.

''I explained in a friendly and polite manner that we have a responsibility to our partners,'' Ron told Sunday's Bild newspaper, ''and that there are clauses in the contract requiring all team members to behave appropriately.''

Certainly, though, Dennis' warning letter should not be seen as any indicator that McLaren is tiring of the speedy 'iceman'. Mercedes' Norbert Haug again denied that the 25-year-old driver has already signed something ahead of a 2007 Ferrari switch.

''In my view he will continue with us, 100 per cent,'' said the German.

Toyota to build second tunnel
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.19) Clearly, Toyota is sparing no expense in the chase for F1 victory.

The Cologne based team said it will build a second 50 per cent wind tunnel at the German HQ.

''The new (tunnel) will double-up as an aerodynamic research centre for other Toyota ... activities around the world,'' said executive vice president Yoshiaki Kinoshita.

Construction will begin next month, with the tunnel up-and-running by the start of 2007.

More immediately, Japan-owned Toyota's F1 challenge is to beat Ferrari to third in the 2005 championship. ''We are only ten points behind,'' Italian driver Jarno Trulli noted.

Rain for Brazil
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.19) F1 is bracing for another sodden weekend after weather reports predict a 50 per cent chance of rain for the Brazilian grand prix.

''I wouldn't be surprised if we had some rain,'' said Williams' 'sub' Antonio Pizzonia, who was born in Brazil.

The race at Interlagos, a southern district of sprawling Sao Paulo, will be raced a month earlier than the season finale of last year.

Significant at the undulating, bumpy and anti-clockwise circuit are little rivers that can run across the track when it rains. At the turn three left hander in 2003, one such river claimed a throng of drivers, including champion Michael Schumacher.

Sir Sid
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.19) 'Sir Sid Watkins' has an appropriate ring to it, a group of supporters of the long serving former FIA doctor say.

''It is an injustice that for this work Professor Sid has only been awarded (an) OBE,'' an email statement announcing an online petition for Sid Watkins to be knighted, declared.

Watkins, a neurosurgeon who also founded the Brain and Spine foundation and is still head of the FIA safety committee, was medical delegate for twenty five years.

The petition's target is 50,000 signatures, whereafter it will be presented to Tessa Jowell, government culture secretary and chief in charge of the New Year's honors list.

F1's Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart, Frank Williams and Jack Brabham are already knighted.

Find the petition at http://www.sidwatkins.co.uk

Schu sister strife
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.19) Schumacher sister-in-laws Corinna and Cora are not getting along well, German newspaper 'Welt am Sonntag' said.

It claimed that the wives of formula one siblings Michael and Ralf Schumacher hardly speak.

''Mine and Corinna's personalities are totally different,'' Ralf's 28-year-old wife Cora revealed to the 'paper.

''I am not a Mother Theresa type.''

BMW wanted Schumacher
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.19) BMW's Mario Theissen has revealed that he asked Michael Schumacher if he wanted to switch formula one teams in 2007.

''I would be negligent if I did not speak to the best drivers,'' the German answered.

''I have, however, the impression that Michael wants to end his career with Ferrari.''

Of course, the likely 2006 Hinwil-based BMW team principal knew that Schumacher, 36, would not really be interested. After all, a BMW-powered Sauber is not going to steer quickly to the front of the grand prix grid.

''I am expecting that Williams will have the stronger package next year,'' Theissen, referring to BMW's six-year team partner, continued. ''This is a reality that we mustn't ignore.''

16-race grumble
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.19) With sixteen grands prix in the bag within the space of six months, the odd grumble will now be heard in the F1 paddock.

Renault's sporting manager Steve Nielsen is one of those who will tell you that the unprecedented nineteen-event 2005 calendar is 'a little' tiring.

''Two years ago the championship had already finished,'' he grinned, ahead of the final three flyaway races.

But that's not really the problem. The problem is that the huge schedule is still crammed into an eight month timescale.

Nielsen, however, added: ''The August break was very useful (and) we're still fighting for both championships.

''That incentive means you can cope with the all-nighters.''

Schu doubts Rossi switch
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.19) Michael Schumacher has backed Valentino Rossi's claim that the MotoGP rider is unlikely to soon be seen on the F1 grid.

Rather, Ferrari's seven time world champion sees flamboyant Rossi, 26, in the occasional red car 'to have some fun.'

''I cannot see much in all these stories,'' he told Autosport.

Five time 500cc champion Mick Doohan, though, is a believer of the Rossi-to-F1 speculation, even though the Australian admitted that he once personally turned down an offer to test a McLaren because his 'heart was always with bikes.

''But Valentino is young enough to make a switch,'' Doohan added. ''I think anything is possible for him.''

Red Bull target title
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.19) Formula One principal Christian Horner has denied that Red Bull is all image and no ambition.

The drink company's team sporting director told 'Sporting Life' that the aim is to emulate the 1990s feats of Benetton by winning the title.

''That is very difficult for an independent team but not impossible,'' Horner asserted.

''If a clothing company can do it then why not a drinks company?''

Red Bull, at least, already appear more ambitious - not to mention more successful - than Jaguar Racing, the team's former Ford-owned guise.

The Milton Keynes-based outfit has pumped up the Jaguar-level staff numbers, even forking out big dollars for guys like designer Mark Smith, and a $45 million 'rookie' team for young drivers.

Alonso to get 'stronger'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.19) Becoming F1's youngest ever world champion will make Fernando Alonso even stronger.

That's the claim of Alain Prost, the four time drivers' title winner and the most successful driver of the era just prior to Michael Schumacher.

France's Prost was 30 when he won his first championship (1985). Schumacher was 25 (1994).

Alonso, although Kimi Raikkonen could mathematically still steal the Spaniard's crown, will be 24.

''For him it is just the beginning,'' Prost told Germany's Welt am Sonntag. ''He has his whole career still ahead and (winning the title so early) will make him stronger.''

Prost says Alonso's first title could hardly be more different from his. ''Three times before 1985,'' the former team owner and driver explained, ''I just missed the title, so winning was a relief.''

On the points standings, Alonso will be a winner, but Prost, 50, says 2005 also has a 'moral victor' -- Kimi Raikkonen.

He continues: ''We have a Spaniard and a Finn but they are actually quite similar; cool, serious and concentrated.''

Ferrari's Schumacher, to drop his first championship since 1999, agrees that Alonso cruising to the title is now ''very academic. I am pretty sure he will do it,'' the German told Autosport magazine.

Ferrari 'too conservative'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.19) You will no longer read too many 'Ferrari blame Bridgestone' headlines -- today, the story coming out of Maranello is that the car, too, is not a star.

Added to Ross Brawn's recent admission of aerodynamic imperfection, team principal Jean Todt says Ferrari 'reacted too conservatively' to the revised 2005 regulations.

''Our rivals did a better job,'' the Frenchman told Bild. ''On top of that is the tire problem, which we are trying to solve as fast as possible.''

One analysis of the scarlet decline is that the 'Schumacher era' is now coming to an end. At the end of 2006, it is entirely possible that Michael Schumacher, Todt and Brawn will all hang up their uniforms.

Todt insists that life will go on.

''The successes we have enjoyed have not been down to three people,'' Jean explained. ''It is also true that each history has an end.''

The V8-V10 question
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.19) 'Engine equivalence' is a buzzword in F1 technical circles at the moment.

In a nutshell, manufacturers and most teams are desperate that their brand-new-for-2006 2.4 liter V8 power plants are not out-paced by a dusty old Minardi.

BMW's Mario Theissen is the most outspoken, particularly since the obviously well financed Red Bull snapped up Minardi and vowed to go ahead with Paul Stoddart's plans to stick with a rev limited V10 in 2006.

The German says the V10 option was mooted by the FIA as an 'emergency solution' for cash strapped small teams. At the moment, the detail of exactly how the V10 will be cut down by 200hp is lacking.

''It is essential that the V10 restrictions will be defined so that if you want to win a race, you must have a V8,'' the BMW boss told Motorsport Aktuell.

He added: ''Otherwise, everyone has a V10 already on the shelf.''

Theissen is worried that merely with a rev-limit, the V10 could still be more powerful - or have more torque - in the slower corners. There is a real fear, for example, that Scott Speed - in a 'Red Bull Rookie' car - drives through the field to win at slow circuits like Monaco or Hungary.

Dr Mario Theissen added: ''The V10 must be limited so that not only maximum performance is compromised, but (so too is) the performance in the entire range.''

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