Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
September 22, 2005
Lauda praise for '05 champ
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.22) Niki Lauda has extended high praise to
near-inevitable 2005 champion Fernando Alonso.
The 24-year-old Spaniard could wrap up the duel with Kimi
Raikkonen in Brazil, and Niki Lauda - the former triple
drivers' title winner - says Fernando is 'an absolutely
perfect driver of the new generation.
''He makes nearly no mistakes and always knows what to do,''
Austrian Lauda told the APA agency.
Lauda, often called 'the computer' when he won his
championships in the 70s and 80s, relates to young Alonso's
ability to 'use his head' during a GP, such as settling for
a result when a win, for example, is not necessary.
Bernie hits out at A1
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.22) Bernie Ecclestone has criticized rival
open-wheeler category 'A1 grand prix', just days before its
kick off at Brands Hatch.
The F1 supremo, whose staunch (Australian GP) ally Ron
Walker may legally challenge the series' use of the 'grand
prix' descriptor, claims that Dubai organizer Sheikh
Mohammed bin Hasher Maktoum al-Maktoum reneged on an
Bernie says he offered 'advice' to the 28-year-old, but -
according to the Indianapolis Star newspaper - only on the
understanding that A1 was a series for veteran drivers in
Asia, featuring an all-England team.
''Since then they've forgotten what we agreed,'' Ecclestone,
''Now they don't want any help.''
Indy confirms 2006 F1 race
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.22) Although June's farcical six-car race
is still a woundingly fresh memory, Indianapolis will host
an event in 2006, United States grand prix organizers said
July 2, a couple of weeks later than usual, is the tentative
date, a statement revealed.
''Despite the cloud that lingered over the race, we never
stopped working on 2006 and promoting formula one racing in
the US,'' Speedway president Joie Chitwood remarked.
The future beyond the next race, however, is less clear as
Bernie Ecclestone's USGP contract runs out in 2006. ''I have
to focus on the short term,'' said Chitwood, dodging the
question. ''Now is not the time.
''We'd love to see a future. The investment we made in F1
was not just for a couple of years.''
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will also expect a pretty
smooth-running 2006 grand prix -- and, definitely, no
Chitwood added: ''I would assume that all the participants
for (the) event will be as prepared as humanly possible.''
He also hit out at the attitude of F1's drivers, citing the
example of an unnamed 'top driver' who always refuses to
accept an invitation to appear on The Late Show with David
Chitwood also insisted: ''We will do the best we can working
within the constraints placed on us by the FIA and FOM.''
Sato 'not surprised'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.22) Japanese driver Takuma Sato says he is
'disappointed' but 'not surprised' after getting the BAR
boot for the 2006 season.
The 28-year-old is the clear loser at the end of 'Buttongate
II', but may be retained as a test driver next year.
''I am obviously very disappointed with the news,'' Sato
said after Jenson Button's successful campaign to stay at
BAR alongside Rubens Barrichello next year was confirmed,
''but not surprised.
''I have many thoughts about the situation and have my own
opinions, but now is not the right time for me to comment.''
Takuma's contract runs out at the end of the year.
China to host F1 conference
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.22) Grand prix supremo Bernie Ecclestone
will headline a F1 'global business conference' in Shanghai
(China) next month.
It will take place on the Friday of practice for the second
F1 race in the country.
Also among those present will be Renault boss Flavio
Briatore. ''China and Asia represent the future of formula
one,'' said Bernie, 74.
300 specially invited Chinese company CEOs, and executives
from major advertising agencies, will make up the audience.
Montoya's no 'killer'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.22) Kimi Raikkonen is 'a killer,' but his
McLaren teammate, Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, is not.
That's the claim of retired 10-time winner Gerhard Berger,
who worked with 30-year-old Montoya when BMW motor sport
director a few years ago.
''Raikkonen is really good; he's a killer,'' the Austrian
and former McLaren teammate of Ayrton Senna, told
''Montoya, in my opinion, is not.''
46-year-old Berger, who also drove for Ferrari and Benetton
and came third in the championship on three occasions,
agrees that JPM is fast.
''But he makes mistakes, he doesn't make the most of his
chances,'' Berger told the Italian magazine. ''He will never
be a number one, he will be an eternal number two.''
Gerhard reckons the way Raikkonen, 25, has beaten Montoya
this year justifies the Finn's big McLaren salary.
''A guy like him should be paid around 20 million dollars
per year,'' Berger said.
Symonds covets teams' trophy
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.22) Renault's Pat Symonds does not agree
with his formula one team boss that the drivers' world
championship is the only prize worth winning.
Recently, with young charge Fernando Alonso closing in on
his first F1 triumph, outspoken 'Flav' claimed that no one
remembers who wins the separate constructors' trophy.
''From a personal point of view,'' engineering director Pat
Symonds said this week, ''I am always very proud to win the
As far as he is concerned, the constructors' prize is 'a
symbol' of the whole team's contribution.
But that's not to say that he doesn't see the value of the
drivers' trophy. Symonds agrees that, in terms of image,
that is the one to win.
The Briton added: ''Everybody remembers the world champion
driver, not the world champion team. But within the team,
there is a very strong drive to claim the constructors'
title as well.''
Ultimately, while Alonso can now protect his drivers' lead
with relative ease, the carmakers' prize will probably fall
to faster rival McLaren.
Late Renault V8 is 'shrewd'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.22) Flavio Briatore has defended Renault's
seemingly late track debut of a 2006 V8 engine.
Rather, the team principal reckons keeping current testing
of the 2.4 liter unit in the Enstone factory is 'shrewd'.
Most other F1 rivals have now appeared at test tracks with
early or prototype versions of new engines for 2006 rules.
''Building a hybrid car ... is useless,'' Briatore told
Italian magazine Autosprint. ''What's the use (when) you can
do (it) on the test bench without moving people and
The Italian boss did, however, reveal that Renault would run
a V8-powered R25 car at two tests after the current season
is over. Briatore insisted: ''But the new engine will come
with the new car.''
Renault is no doubt looking forward to the change of engine
regulations, as its current V10 - the only remaining
72-degreee design on the grid - is heavier and still a
little down on top power.
Ralf reckons on rainy race
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.22) To find out what the weather's like in
Brazil, what better to do than refer to a man-on-the-spot.
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota driver, arrived in the sprawling
city of Sao Paulo on Monday.
''I wanted to come early to adjust to the time difference,''
the German told his website.
So, with weather forecasts looking pretty glum for the
weekend of racing, how did Schumacher, 30, enjoy his week
ahead of round seventeen?
''Yes, the weather has been pretty inconsistent,'' the
younger brother of Michael Schumacher answered. ''I think we
could see a similar situation to Spa two weeks ago.''
Ralf, though, probably wouldn't mind another spattering of
rain -- with a better strategy, he might have won in Belgium
with his TF105.
''I definitely hope (the weather) is not as chaotic,''
Schumacher smiled, ''as the last one!''
While Ralf told his wife that he was off early to Brazil to
adjust to the different time-zone, there might also have
been another reason -- great steak.
Schumacher, a meat lover, says he has never been to a
country that cooks it so well. ''You can find good
restaurants,'' he reported, ''practically at every corner.''
Flavio's 'no party' policy
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.22) Renault's Flavio Briatore has
reportedly banned any team members from organizing - or even
being prepared for - an impromptu party in Brazil this
If Fernando Alonso's only title rival, Kimi Raikkonen, fails
to score five points or more in Sao Paulo, the 24-year-old
Spaniard could sit out Interlagos, Japan and China, and
still become world champion.
But, still, Briatore - the party-loving Renault boss - has
ordered a strict 'no party' policy.
''I want no planning, no preparing of any celebration,'' he
said this week, ''because I am superstitious.''
Alonso, too, is remarkably cool considering he is on the
cusp of slotting into the formula one history book as the
youngest ever drivers' champion.
He reported: ''I'm not nervous.
''Sure, I'm really close to the world title but I'll treat
this race like any other.''
Briscoe vows to race again
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.22) Former formula one tester Ryan Briscoe
is out of hospital and back on his feet after an horrifying
and fiery IndyCar shunt.
The 23-year-old Australian, with broken collar bones, bad
bruising and contusions, was back at team Chip Ganassi's HQ
on Wednesday and hopes to re-take the wheel in a couple of
He denied that the Chicago flip on September the 11th had
quenched his thirst for racing.
''Racing is what I love,'' Briscoe, who last year tested
Toyota's F1 cars, told the Australian Herald Sun newspaper,
''and I want to do what I love.''
Lauda queries Red Bull move
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.22) Former triple world champion Niki Lauda
has doubted the wisdom of Red Bull's decision to buy
From a marketing point of view, the 56-year-old thinks
Austrian countryman Dietrich Mateschitz has played a good
card in setting up a 'rookie' team.
But in terms of winning the world championship, or merely
establishing a decent F1 effort, Niki - the former Jaguar
boss and aviation businessman - is less convinced.
''If I had a team in a period of build up,'' he advised, ''I
think I would not distract myself with a second team.''
In an interview with the 'APA' agency, Lauda also urged
energy drink company Red Bull to leave Minardi at Faenza
(Italy) for the time being.
He said it would not be wise for Red Bull Racing, located at
Jaguar's former Milton Keynes factory, and Red Bull Rookie
(Minardi) to share a base.
Lauda, who raced 171 times for teams like Ferrari and
McLaren, added: ''They should use synergies only once the
number-1 team is really established.''
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