Latest F1 news in brief
by Andrew Maitland
September 24,  2005

No Fuji, says Bernie
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.24) F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has denied that Toyota's Fuji circuit will be added as a second Japanese grand prix next year.

The sport's commercial boss said the teams would like to see the schedule cut back from 19 grands prix to 17 in 2006.

''So we'll have 19,'' the 74-year-old giggled.

Bernie also reckons getting the 2006 calendar together has been a tough task, with both Germany's World Cup and the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne to accommodate. Bahrain will be the season opener.

Webber voted off GPDA board
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.24) Australia's Mark Webber is no longer a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association.

Williams' often outspoken 29-year-old was reportedly voted off the board - now made up by trio Michael Schumacher (president), David Coulthard and Jarno Trulli - some time after an internal decision to reduce the number by one following the Indianapolis situation.

''They thought four was one too many,'' Mark revealed in Sao Paulo.

''I haven't lost any sleep over it.''

'Kimi's not better' - Alonso
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.24) Fernando Alonso has hit back at claims that there is another driver on the F1 grid more worthy of the 2005 title.

Renault's Spaniard, who now admits to taking a more 'conservative' approach in the second half of the season, is no doubt referring to the suggestion that Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren are clearly now the quicker package.

''If our rivals have reliability problems,'' the 24-year-old retorted, ''that's not our fault. If I am 25 points ahead of Kimi, it's because I've been 25 points better.

''I don't think it's fair to say someone else has been better.''

Alonso is, though, glad to have the best drivers around him. He reckons his 2005 drivers' world championship - now almost inevitable - will mean more because seven time title winner Michael Schumacher is still in the field.

''Imagine the Tour de France,'' he quipped.

'''The next winner will not have beaten Lance Armstrong.''

BMW have eye on Villeneuve
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.24) BMW is currently assessing whether Jacques Villeneuve is quick enough to stay at Hinwil next year.

The French Canadian and 1997 world champion has a Sauber contract for 2006, but Dr Mario Theissen - BMW's F1 boss - suggested that whether the new owners would honor the agreement is another matter.

Germany's Theissen admitted that 34-year-old JV's performance earlier this year 'was certainly not encouraging.

''We just decided we wanted to see him in the second half of the season,'' Mario told Reuters.

Villeneuve, meanwhile, is adamant that his deal signed by Peter Sauber in late 2004 is iron-clad and cannot be broken.

Dr Theissen added: ''You will see the definite (2006) line-up at the first race (next year).''

Sloppy start for A1
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.24) Former formula one team owner Eddie Jordan is a keen spectator at the 'A1 grand prix' series' Brands Hatch debut this weekend.

''I'm here to have a good look,'' the Irishman said.

It was definitely a spectacle on the opening day. The so-titled 'world cup of motor sport' is a one-make series boasting big names and pitting country against country.

But the flock of fledgling drivers didn't look overly professional in opening practice. India's Karun Chandhok turned in on ex-F1 ace Jos Verstappen. Qinghua Ma (China), Tengyi Jiang (China), Ryo Fukuda (Japan) and Jan Charouz (Czech), Nikolay Fomenko (Russia), Adrian Sutil (Germany) and Christian Jones (Australia) all either spun off or shunted.

America and F1's Scott Speed set the pace, with Nelson Piquet Jr (Brazil) second, France third, Britain fourth and Malaysia's former grand prix driver Alex Yoong in fifth.

The backmarkers trailed a worrying 12 seconds off the pace.

'Ant' to stick with F1
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.24) Ryan Briscoe's enormous Indy Racing League shunt has convinced formula one tester Anthony Davidson to stick with Europe's racing pinnacle.

Should the Briton and long-time BAR test driver not land a Midland, Williams or BMW ride next year, one very real option was to jump the Atlantic and try IRL or Champ Car.

''I might try my luck (here) for a longer period now,'' he told Autosport. Last year, Australian-born Briscoe was Toyota's grand prix test driver.

Davidson has a solid fall-back offer to stay as Brackley based BAR's main test driver, and probably 'Friday' driver for the 2006 season.

But he wants to make the move to a race drive now, and recently tested Jordan's car. ''Now it's down to whether they can get the sponsorship,'' he told the magazine.

Button branded 'stupid'
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.24) Juan Pablo Montoya has branded F1 rival Jenson Button 'pretty stupid' for constantly changing his mind about where to race.

The always blunt Colombian agrees with Eddie Jordan's description of the 25-year-old Englishman as 'tainted goods'.

''Probably for him, it will change a lot -- the way people regard contracts with him,'' the 30-year-old told ITV.

''If people start disregarding their contracts, that's bad.''

Montoya insists that, even though McLaren's form looked woeful last year, he stuck to his contract and switched to the Woking based camp for 2005.

''Now everyone says 'you made a great move' even though last year they said I was stupid!

''I respect my contracts and I always will. Last year, (Button) wanted to leave BAR ... and now suddenly it's the other way round.

''I don't know, it's pretty stupid.''

BMW and Dan Wheldon
(GMMf1NET -- Sep.24) Add another name to the list of serious players in F1's 2005-2006 silly season -- Dan Wheldon.

The runaway Indy Racing League winner and Briton is hunting hard for a racing seat. His manager Julian Jakobi - who also works for Juan Pablo Montoya - is in Brazil and on Friday met with likely '06 BMW boss Mario Theissen.

England-based Williams also have an opening.

''All I can say is that he hasn't re-signed with (IRL employer) Andretti-Green yet,'' Jakobi told 'Speed TV'.

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