Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
September 20,  2005

Alonso vows to attack
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.20) A six-point haul will do, but Fernando Alonso says a win would be a sweeter way to tie up his drivers' crown in Brazil.

Still rejecting claims that the young Renault driver has long gone into 'cruise and collect' mode, the 24-year-old denied that anything other than victory is the target.

''You can't do that,'' Alonso said on Monday, ''you have to want to be the best, to attack.

''So that's what I'm going to Brazil to do.''

Don't, though, rule out the fact that Alonso's famous intelligence could click into action during the Sao Paulo race. If only rival Kimi Raikkonen, for example, manages just third in Brazil, Fernando would need a mere point from Japan or China to tie up the crown. In other words, winning isn't necessary.

''For sure, I am quite close now to the championship,'' he admits, ''but I approach this race like any other.'' And to give him a final push, the R25 has a new bodywork package.

BAR sign young drivers
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.20) Alan van der Merwe and Danilo Dirani have both signed long term contracts with F1 team BAR.

Already part of the Honda-powered squad's 'young driver' program, they join Adam Carroll and James Rossiter in formalizing a deal.

''It's very difficult for a driver to get the chance to integrate into a top team like BAR,'' said van der Merwe, the 25-year-old South African who will take the wheel of the car when BAR attempt to drive through 400kmh at Bonneville (USA) next month.

Brazil's Dirani is twenty-two.

Massa vows to tackle Schu
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.20) Felipe Massa is not daunted by the prospect of moving from one world champion to another next year.

This year, at Sauber, the 24-year-old's closest rival was 1997 title winner Jacques Villeneuve. For the most part, the young Brazilian showed the French Canadian the way.

2006, however, will be an entirely different kettle of fish for the diminutive driver. Felipe's teammate at Ferrari is the most successful grand prix pilot of all time, Michael Schumacher.

Incredibly, he's not worried.

''(Schumacher) is obviously a great, great driver,'' he told the 'Sport1' publication, ''but I believe I am now at a level on which I can compete with him.

''I am absolutely convinced of my abilities. I always try to put up a fair match for my teammate.

''When I drove karts it was my dream to drive in formula one,'' Massa added, ''and now I will drive with Schumacher for Ferrari -- it's a great feeling.''

One thing Massa's countryman Rubens Barrichello will tell him, though, is to get ready for the challenge of effectively being 'number two' to his new German cohort.

Sunday's Brazilian grand prix will at least get him used to the pressure.

''I am going to have quite a lot of pressure at home,'' Sao Paulo-born Massa said on Monday, ''but it'll get me used to the sort of pressure I can expect all the time at Ferrari.''

Indy fans get check in mail
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.20) The first disgruntled formula one fans received their refund checks in the mail this week for June's United States grand prix.

According to Indianapolis' 'WISH-TV' channel-8, the local and famous Motor Speedway has begun to honor Michelin's vow to pay for full refunds for all Sunday spectators of the six-car farce.

It's not, however, over. Class action lawsuits against formula one, the tire supplier and Indy itself, are still pending, and lawyers are busy working on travel and accommodation costs to factor into further damages to recover.

Channel-8, meanwhile, reported that F1 and Indianapolis officials have 'set a tentative date of June 25' for the 2006 US grand prix.

BMW and Villeneuve
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.20) Although BMW may not agree, Jacques Villeneuve is 'certain' he will line up for the German carmaker's works team beside Nick Heidfeld next year.

BMW seemed to hint that Villeneuve's 2006 Sauber contract will not necessarily be carried over by saying in the Heidfeld statement that it fills 'the first cockpit' for 2006.

French Canadian JV, though, is adamant that his Peter Sauber-signed deal is rock solid.

The 34-year-old former world champion asked F1 Racing magazine: ''Why is it not certain? Look at Jenson (Button) -- he didn't want to stay at BAR last year, but his contract forced him to stay.

''Contracts are quite powerful things.''

Indeed, using 'Buttongate II' as another example, the English star seems to have had to fork out a whopping sum to break the Williams pledge.

Of course, the saga may not end up in the negotiating room. Villeneuve says there is 'no indication' that BMW don't want him.

And he reported: ''I'm already building good relationships with Mario Theissen and the other BMW guys.''

'Breakaway' to fall short
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.20) Max Mosley says it is 'increasingly unlikely' that a rogue team-carmaker group will race off and start a rival F1-style championship in 2008.

The president of the ruling body, the FIA, told reporters on a visit to Shanghai that setting up a new series that is not guaranteed success would involve 'a very significant financial investment.

''It is difficult to see where the money would come from,'' England's Mosley added.

The Monaco and Paris based chief also said that if the disgruntled 'breakaway' group did manage to found an alternative, there is no guarantee that the best drivers and sponsors would want to desert 55-year-old F1.

Max Mosley contended: 'All the drivers want to win the formula one world championship.''

Schu predicts more misery
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.20) Michael Schumacher has told Ferrari fans to brace for more misery in the final stint of season 2005.

''I am a realist, plain and simple,'' said the German, who - for the first time since 1999 - will reach the grand prix season finale next month without the drivers' world championship in the bag.

Beleaguered tire supplier Bridgestone, though, intend to use its more competitive Turkey-spec tire in Brazil. Nonetheless, 36-year-old Schumacher is not very optimistic.

The seven time champion told his website: ''I can't think of anything that would cause us to suddenly improve drastically.''

And, anyway, Ferrari must work at its own pace, not be led by the 'crisis' news headlines, he said. ''It's all about long-term thinking,'' Michael continued.

''We can't let outside distractions put us in a hectic mood.''

F1 needs 'charisma' - Watson
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.20) Charismatic drivers should be in the F1 spotlight, according to former 70s and 80s grand prix pilot John Watson.

The Ulsterman, who came within 5 points of the championship in 1982 with McLaren, said that unlike in the past, modern F1 aces are 'introverted'.

In Watson's era, rivals like Niki Lauda, James Hunt, Graham Hill, Alan Jones and Gilles Villeneuve shared the track.

''People relate to the drivers,'' said Watson, who will commentate for the new 'A1 grand prix' winter category.

59-year-old Watson told the Telegraph newspaper: ''We need to realize that it is the drivers who attract the public.

''We need drivers with charisma.''

The Briton laments formula one's slip down the technology-is-king route, and rule changes like the advent of single lap qualifying. ''(And) I'd like the sport to be a lot less political -- what we should be looking at is how to harness public passion.''

Happy Birthday to Juan
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.20) Happy Birthday to McLaren's Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya, who turns thirty today.

Other current drivers who have broken the twenty-something barrier are Michael Schumacher (36), Jacques Villeneuve (34), David Coulthard (34), Rubens Barrichello (33), Giancarlo Fisichella (32), Jarno Trulli (32) and Ralf Schumacher (30).

On September the twentieth thirty five years ago (1970), Belgian Jacky Ickx led a Ferrari one-two at the Canadian grand prix at St Jovite.

Seventeen years later, on the same day in 1987, Alain Prost won the Portuguese GP at Estoril for McLaren, but would finish just fourth in the championship behind Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, and title victor Nelson Piquet.

Ferrari win '05 test race
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.20) If 2005 was a testing race, Ferrari would be world champion by now.

While every team rival of the scarlet Scuderia signed up for a voluntary 'gentleman's agreement' to limit testing to 30 days this year, Ferrari - with three races to go - has clocked up more than double that with 75 days so far.

Meanwhile, five teams - Renault, McLaren, Toyota, Williams and BAR - will reach their 30-day limit with respective two day tests after Brazil.

Following the back to back Japan-China grands prix, though, the agreement runs out and the winter period is basically ungoverned for testing.

By the way, Red Bull has used twenty five of its thirty days so far, Sauber 21, Jordan 15 and Minardi just six.

'Fast but fragile'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.20) 'Fast and fragile' -- that's a pretty good description of McLaren's 2005 MP4-20 F1 racer.

Team boss Ron Dennis defends the Woking built car's lack of reliability so far this year as a side-effect of pushing performance 'to the limit.

''It's the simplest thing in the world,'' he told Bild am Sonntag, ''to build a slow, reliable car.

''We are concerned with having a fast car -- but hopefully it shouldn't be achieved at the expense of reliability.''

No doubt, the silver machine is the quickest in pitlane, but it's Renault commanding the drivers' chase, and still with a slight edge in the constructors' world championship.

Engineering boss Pat Symonds reckons the championship situation reflects some of the 'strategic engineering decisions' taken by Renault in 2005.

He said: ''We do not want a car that is fast and fragile, we want a car that will finish every Sunday because that is how championships are won.''

Speed aside, Symonds thinks both titles will ultimately 'come down to reliability,' even with just three races to go.

''If (McLaren) fail to finish,'' the Briton insisted, ''then we can beat them.

''So, firstly, we have to make sure we finish the races.''

Fisi 'fine' after Spa shunt
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.20) Giancarlo Fisichella says he is fighting fit after his high speed crash at Spa Francorchamps' fabled Eau Rouge corner in the Belgian GP.

The Renault driver even tested last week at Silverstone and felt 'really good.

''I'm fine,'' Fisichella, the 32-year-old Roman, confirmed.

''I was a bit sore the day after (the crash).''

The diminutive Italian, meanwhile, also denied that he would need to interfere with the world championship battle between teammate Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen. ''It should be quite easy now for (Fernando) to win,' Giancarlo said.

He is keen, though, to bolster Renault's uphill struggle for the constructors' crown. ''I want to win another race,'' claimed.

Fisichella won the wet 2003 Brazilian grand prix for Jordan. His current R25 car will be fitted with revised bodywork and Renault V10 engine for the weekend's event.

He acknowledged: ''But maybe we're still not as quick as McLaren.''

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