Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
September 23,  2005

Rubens' Alonso tribute?
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.23) Rubens Barrichello has laughed off any suggestion he named his newly-born second son, Fernando, after the likely 2005 formula one world champion.

The Ferrari driver, who'll switch to BAR next year, made it back to Brazil from Spa Francorchamps a fortnight ago to witness wife Silvana give birth.

''I was lucky that he waited for me,'' Barrichello, 33, beamed.

While some may claim that 'Fernando' is a quiet tribute to Renault's Spanish 24-year-old, Brazilian Rubens said the name was designed to match his eldest son, Eduardo.

''It would sound funny to have something like 'Luca' and Eduardo,'' he continued. ''Fernando and Eduardo is quite nice.''

Juan slams Schu's Sato slap
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.23) Juan Pablo Montoya has hit out at outgoing world champion Michael Schumacher's loss of temper after a Belgian GP clash.

Schumacher, the 36-year-old Ferrari driver, slapped shut Takuma Sato's visor after verballing the Japanese following their coming-together.

''I was surprised he got away with it,'' Colombian-born Montoya, the McLaren driver who has often touched wheels with the German in his five-year F1 career, said in Brazil.

''If I had done that I would have been disqualified for the rest of the season or something!''

The 30-year-old also denied that he will have to move over for teammate Kimi Raikkonen in Brazil even if championship charger Fernando Alonso is in a position to land the title.

''If something changes,'' Montoya confirmed, ''then I will probably help Kimi again. It has been my decision to help Kimi, and here it's going to be the same.

''In a way it's sad that as soon as things turned around for me I had to start helping Kimi. In the last few races I've been as strong or stronger than him so it's just sad that I have to help him.''

'China to get F1 driver'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.23) China should have a local driver on the formula one grid within five to ten years, president of the FIA, Max Mosley, reckons.

On a visit to Shanghai last week, the Briton lauded its modern circuit as 'the best in the world' and said he was 'impressed' with the level of motor sport starting to take place.

''I think as a result of all this activity we will see a Chinese driver in the next five to ten years,'' said Mosley.

At the press conference at Shanghai's Garden Hotel, Max also doubted that there are enough teams left on the 'breakaway' side of F1's political debate to justify a rival world championship in 2008.

''There are many athletic meetings around the world,'' he said by way of example, ''but there's only one Olympics.

''In a nutshell, I don't think it will happen.''

Alonso eyes bigger prize
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.23) Fear not, readers of mid-week PR spin -- Fernando Alonso will race 'intelligently' in his quest for title glory in Brazil.

Despite, in a recent Renault release, vowing to attack and avoid 'cruise and collect mode', the 24-year-old Spaniard told the media in Sao Paulo that the only goal is to do enough to seal the championship.

And, even with a Kimi Raikkonen win, third place will do.

Alonso - who visited a Sao Paulo slum this week with UNICEF - said: ''If we get to the middle of the race and we are in a good position for the championship then I will try to race as intelligently as I can.''

A bit of European jet-lag aside, Fernando said he's sleeping well despite standing on the cusp of F1 history.

But, even with more photographers than usual flocking around him, Alonso says it's just a 'normal' grand prix.

''I want to have an aggressive race,'' he added, ''and we do have a car capable of fighting for the podium.''

No 'Buttongate' trilogy
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.23) Jenson Button does not think he should be criticized for the most recent 'Buttongate' debacle.

After signing a contract to drive for Williams in 2006, the 25-year-old changed his mind and had to dig into his own pocket to the tune of around $33m to settle with Sir Frank.

''I know I've been criticized,'' he said, ''but I think Frank and I have dealt with it well.''

England-born Button, in Sao Paulo, did not look like a man who had lost $33 million. Paddock speculation suggests that BAR and Honda will help bail him out, and a four-year $88m new contract will also ease the pain.

''I'm ecstatic, really happy,'' he said at a news conference. ''It's not been cheap for me, I assure you that it hurts, but I'm sure it will turn out well worth it.''

F1's cynics, though, are left with one final question -- what will 'Buttongate III' involve? ''I am sure there won't be one,'' BAR CEO Nick Fry smiled.

Politics left Liuzzi stranded
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.23) Vitantonio Liuzzi claims that Red Bull politics, not a lack of talent, have left him stranded on formula one's sideline for most of the 2005 season.

The Italian ace said team regular Christian Klien has enjoyed the lion's share of grand prix rides because - like energy drink mogul Dietrich Mateschitz - he is Austrian.

24-year-old Liuzzi told Italian magazine Autosprint: ''That is the crux of the matter.

''Red Bull invested a lot in Klien, and now they want to put him in the optimal situation to gauge whether it was a good investment or not.''

'Tonio' reckons he was 'promised' more than a four-race ride this year, but also - suggesting that Salzburg, not Milton Keynes, is making the top decisions - does not blame team boss Christian Horner.

''He had no influence,'' Liuzzi said.

Schu not sick of F1
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.23) Not even losing his badge as world champion can sour Michael Schumacher's affection for grand prix racing.

Thus, the German - once again - sent speculation packing that he might soon ride away from Ferrari and the formula one grid.

''I feel like a little boy who can indulge himself in his greatest passion,'' Schumacher told the SAPA news agency.

Meanwhile, to a throng of reporters in Sao Paulo for the Brazilian GP, Michael revealed that he is 'getting used to' turning up for a race but not expecting to win.

''Of course we want to win,'' he insisted, ''but we can only give our best. We are waiting a little bit now for Japan and China, where we will get some new things for the car.''

Schumacher also advised Kimi Raikkonen that he will not be able to catch Fernando Alonso in the fight for ultimate spoils.

''I think he has to accept second place now,'' said the German. ''Fernando will be champion.''

Sato to walk away from BAR
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.23) Takuma Sato will walk away from BAR after the team gave him the chop as race driver, his manager Andrew Gilbert-Scott says.

Gilbert-Scott said the only point of staying on as a test, reserve or 'Friday' driver would be for the possibility of returning to the top job.

''Obviously there are two race drivers on long-term contracts,'' he told Reuters, ''so we want to ... move forward.''

Sato, the often erratic Japanese driver who has struggled to keep up with Jenson Button this year, was strongly supported by BAR co-owner Honda. It is suggested that BAR is now under pressure to keep Sato in the team, particularly as the only real option for Sato is the Toyota-powered 'Midland' team.

But Gilbert-Scott said Sato's priorities are to race elsewhere on the F1 grid. ''I'm not looking at America or anything else,'' said the manager.

''I'm hoping, I'm optimistic.''

BAR CEO Nick Fry, meanwhile, maintained on Thursday that the Brackley based team is working with Gilbert-Scott to ''help with (Sato's) future. But we don't know what that will be.

''We want to help make sure he can have a good future.''

Rosberg favorite - Webber
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.23) Nico Rosberg is first in line to be Mark Webber's 2006 teammate.

That's Australian-born Webber's personal opinion, in the aftermath of 'Buttongate II' and Sir Frank Williams' decision about who'll fill the seat.

''I think he is (most likely),'' the 29-year-old, referring to 1982 Williams champion Keke Rosberg's twenty year old son, told Reuters.

Mark is known to have pushed for 2005 regular teammate Nick Heidfeld over alternative Antonio Pizzonia at the end of last year's Buttongate saga. Now, it's young Rosberg who has found favor.

''(Antonio) has been here for four years,'' Webber - who thrashed Pizzonia at Jaguar in 2003, continued. ''Nico's been here for four months. But (he's) beyond his years really.''

Of course, Webber's number one choice would have been Jenson Button, who has forked out millions to stay at BAR-Honda.

Queanbeyan-born Webber said: ''There have been many knocks and this is just another one.''

No 'number one' at BAR
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.23) Rubens Barrichello will share equal 'number one' status with Jenson Button at BAR, team CEO and principal Nick Fry insists.

He said that Button (25), although on a longer contract and almost certainly a higher retainer than current Ferrari driver Barrichello (33), will not get either preferential treatment or equipment -- or both.

''They will be pulling together and fighting hard on the track,'' Fry said.

''The other important thing is I am convinced Jenson and Rubens will work very well together.''

Sao Paulo-born Barrichello agrees that BAR will next year have two drivers both capable of winning the world championship. He said of the 'Buttongate II' outcome: ''I was really hoping he could stay.''

Heidfeld eyes Suzuka return
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.23) Williams' injured Nick Heidfeld could be back in the cockpit as soon as the Japanese grand prix in two weeks.

The shy German, who has signed to switch with BMW to Sauber next year, is presently resting a broken shoulder blade and sore fingers following a bicycle accident.

It is understood that 28-year-old 'Quick Nick' could be ok to test at Jerez next week.

''My little finger is pretty sore ... but it's not too bad,'' he told Autosport. His cracked shoulder, too, was reported as being worse than it is.

Although a Suzuka return is possible, Shanghai (China) - a week later - is probably more likely. Heidfeld said the biggest problem with his shoulder is swelling and soreness.

''But it's improving day by day, so I'm optimistic.''

Meanwhile, there is no suggestion that either Williams or BMW would deliberately delay Heidfeld's 2005 return simply due to his contractual arrangements next year.

No 'Friday' car for Minardi
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.23) Minardi could go without a 'Friday' car in Brazil because Enrico Toccacelo is involved in the Italian entry of the fledgling 'A1 grand prix' championship at Brands Hatch (UK).

Rome-born Toccacelo, 26, finished second in last year's F3000 championship, and also fared in the current 'World Series by Renault' series.

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